Freewheeling is a way of life when you experience the world by RV. You can go where the wind blows you and take your home with you too. Plus, if you don’t like your neighbors when you arrive, you can just turn the key and leave. It’s that easy! But what’s not so easy is when you’re a new RVer and trying to get a grip on campsite arrivals and departures. Here’s a simple way to minimize your stress and avoid campground catastrophes.
Divide Inside Duties from Outside Duties
Setting up camp and tearing it down simply revolves around “Inside” and “Outside” duties. Divide up your tasks between the two and you’ll avoid driving away with your awning out. If you’re part of a traveling couple this is easy to do. However, even solo RVers can stay problem-free by following this structure.
Campsite Set-Up Procedures
Once you pull into your campsite, designate one person to tackle chores that revolve around the outside of the rig. These tasks include:
- Unhitching the tow/toad and parking it.
- Doing a walk-around to look for travel-related issues, like tire problems or engine leaks.
- Leveling and stabilizing the RV with jacks, wheel chocks and if necessary, leveling blocks.
- Plugging in water, electric and sewer utilities.
- Setting up a patio mat and lawn chairs.
Meanwhile, whoever agrees to tackle the inside duties will quickly turn your RV into a palace. The inside duties task-master is responsible for:
- Carefully opening cabinets to rearrange objects that shifted.
- Opening vents and windows.
- Extending slide outs, awnings, etc.
- Removing tension bars from cabinets and the refrigerator.
- Turning on the hot water heater.
- Getting your favorite beverage ready for another spectacular sunset.
Campsite Tear-Down Procedures
When departure day arrives and you’re ready to go, things get a little more complicated but it’s nothing you can’t handle. Tearing down a campsite involves more focus. Once your home on wheels is moving down the road, you’ll avoid calamities by divvying up tear-down chores into:
Outside Tear-Down Chores
Typically the same person who does outside set-up also does outside tear-down. These critical tasks include:
- Stowing bicycles/gear.
- Hitching up the tow/toad.
- Unchocking wheels.
- Unplugging utilities.
- Dumping holding tanks.
- Doing a final walk around to look for extended awnings, antennae, etc.
Inside Tear-Down Chores
Whoever handled interior set-up procedures should also have a strategic way to prepare for departure. Critical departure duties for most RVers include:
- Stowing breakable and spillable items.
- Securing tension bars to cabinets and refrigerator.
- Examining bathroom and kitchen areas and removing objects that may loosen or shift.
- Turning off appliances.
- Retracting slide outs.
- Closing windows, securing cabinets and locking doors.
- Preparing pets by crating or leashing them.
- And for those of us with manually-extending steps, putting up those steps!
When exterior and interior RV campsite tasks are complete, it’s time for one last task. Check your driving and brake lights. One person stands behind the RV while the other one goes through the motions of using turn signals, braking and shifting into reverse. Solo RVers will have an easy time checking everything but brake lights. Perhaps placing a weighted object on the brake lever then walking around back to inspect is one way to do it.
Traveling as a team has its benefits, like ensuring that nothing is forgotten when your wheels start turning. On the other hand, solo RVers have the freedom to determine exactly when and how those tasks get done. As long as nothing is skipped by anyone involved, there’s always good times ahead on the road to your next destination.
About the Author:
Rene Agredano, a Coach-Net member since 2015, is a self-employed full-time RVer who enjoys writing, jewelry design and animal advocacy. Her adventures with a three-legged dog and husband Jim are chronicled at LiveWorkDream.com.
Frank P. ~ “I recommend Coach-Net to ANYONE I talk to about RV or road service issues. I have two friends who have signed up as a result of this. Best roadside assistance service available, if you ask me!”
I would add one thing to Tips For Stress-Free RV Setup and Tear down above. On the inside setup add to the list “Before sliding out slide-outs look for any cabinet doors that may have opened AND any items that may have fallen on the floor and will be smashed or prevent the slide from opening all the way…can be disastrous otherwise.
Dewey DeFalco said:
I have a list on my smartphone of all the things I have thought of and it has grown to over a dozen things as reminders. After doing as many things that I can recall, I read through the list doing the remaining things. Then I do a slow walk around looking for potential hazards. Lastly, I pull away very slowly checking both rear view mirrors (and listening) for anything I missed.
Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA said:
This article assumes that there are at least two people in the camping party. As a single female full-timer, one of many single female and male RVers, I’d like to remind the author that not everyone is partnered. I’d love to have a genie that I could let out of the bottle when I need a hand with the many camp chores we need a hand with! Otherwise, I love the freedom that comes with being a freewheeling single person.
Thankfully, I know how to do it all. Not only inside, but outside & also drive our 36′ Class A,
With a 16′ enclosed trailer, with two HD Classics. But, when leveling & letting the slide outs, also make sure there is enough room for the slide outs. Sometimes there might be a pole, a tree, or whatever. Wouldn’t want to put a big dent in the RV. Hasn’t happened, just a
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Mike Tuerck said:
Add: Before extending slide-out check for clearance of stationary objects, trees, utilities and the like
As to checking the brake lights alone, someone on the View/Navion forum suggested a great technique. I now keep a spring-loaded curtain rod in the driver’s stepwell, adjusted slightly longer than the distance between the brake pedal and the bottom of the steering wheel. WIth a slight compression it squeezes in and holds down the brake pedal while I go outside to check.
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Taylor Bishop said:
Thanks for going over some tips for setting up and tearing down an RV set up. I appreciate that you mentioned to try to do a final walk around the RV to look for any extensions that are still open, like antennae or awnings. It sounds important to also take your time when walking around just to make sure you examine everything and nothing on the RV will be damaged.
RV Windows said:
Thank you so much for sharing a great article. Keep up the great work!