1. Make a list and check it twice.
If you’re new to RVing or only take a few trips a year, having a written list is a great way to ensure important things don't get forgotten or left behind. Some preparation steps are critical to complete, and missing them can be the difference between a great trip and a total disaster. A great tool to use to help with this is the Togo RV app. It’s free to use and includes checklists for pre-departure, campsite pack up and RV maintenance. I, personally, love it because I can complete a checklist and then easily reset it for our next trip. However, if you don't want a digital option, using a whiteboard or a printed checklist is a good alternative to ensure everything gets done.
2. Trip Planning Tools.
When it comes to getting road-ready, trip planning is always the first step for us. I ask myself questions like: Where are we going? How long are we planning to be gone? What weather do we need to plan for? We have tried and used almost every trip planning app there is, but our favorite is Roadtrippers. Unlike Google Maps or other mapping apps, Roadtrippers shows us both the route (including an option to avoid major highways) and all the interesting places along the way in one easy-to-use map interface. We can basically do all of our planning right in one place!
Once your destination and duration are set, start figuring out the clothes you’ll need and any meals you intend to cook. Our favorite meal planning app is AnyList. We use this to plan recipes and keep a running grocery list. It syncs to all devices, so no matter who is doing the grocery run, the list is available. It’s important to meal-plan before a trip so you know exactly how much food needs to be packed (space is limited in an RV!) and when to account for a grocery stop once supplies get low.
3. Prepping the exterior and interior.
When it comes to getting your RV road-ready, the beginning of this process can be slightly different depending on if your camper is coming out of storage, being de-winterized or even used seasonally and gearing up to move for the first time after the change in season. We’ve taken the basic steps and categorized them into exterior and interior road-ready lists.
RV Exterior: Exterior preparations happen when everything physically located on the outside of the RV gets an inspection. This includes things like tire quality, air pressure, even looking for signs of cracks, sun damage or unwanted visitors. This is also the time to inspect hoses, cables, lights and awnings to ensure nothing has broken or malfunctioned.
When it comes to inspecting your attachments for campground hookups, be sure to carefully check your water hose, electrical power cable, and gray and black water hoses. Also check the RV house batteries. If the RV has been in storage for a while or it’s been a long, cold winter, there’s a good chance the batteries have drained themselves.
Finally, do a full inspection of your hitch and towing equipment. Regardless of whether it is a bumper pull trailer, a fifth-wheel trailer or a motorhome towing a car, ensure all equipment is working as expected, is clean and well-oiled.
Some tools we’ve found useful to have on board include:
- Tire pressure gauge
- Tire jack
- Tire iron
- Rechargeable drill
- Hex screwdriver
RV Interior: Interior preparations are usually our last step in the road-ready process. Once we know the vehicle is ready for the journey, we turn our focus to the inside of the RV. Make sure you not only have the necessary clothes and food (silverware included), but also any fun extras or technology items like board games, cards, cameras or chargers. We always throw in an extra power strip just to provide a few extra outlets. Before you take off, be sure to clear the counters (use the sink or shower as extra storage areas, if needed) and tie-down or secure any loose items that may move during travel.
Lastly, make sure you have what you need for the drive itself. Most RV trips are accompanied by long drives through the amazing countryside, so plan for a good audio book or podcast. Our kids love word puzzles, coloring, handheld electronics and, of course, the iconic backseat nap. And don’t forget to pack some of your favorite snacks!
4. Take Your Time.
Bringing it all to a close, it’s important to remember to take your time through these steps. Plan ahead and start this process at least one week prior to departure. Rushing through these steps will not save you any time in the long run if you have to stop and fix a major issue along the way. Once you have gotten your RV road-ready a few times, this process will become a familiar routine and you may even have some fun with it!