The most important RV list: The departure checklist
Friday, September 04, 2020
There are plenty of lists online on what to take when RVing. I find a list for leaving a campsite even more important. If you are new to RVing, this is a critical step.
Even for the experienced RVer, it is helpful for those mornings when you leave when you are still groggy, under pressure to clear the site quickly, interrupted in your routine by something, or if it has been awhile since you left a campsite after a long stay.
Missing something on your list may mean having to replace the rug you left at the campsite, having to stop to put away the flying soap, or damage to your RV and the campsite electric post when you pulled away still plugged in.
Many people print out their checklist. We divide duties so that each person knows what to do with some overlap of checks for the major items. I use a memory game to remember my 15 items by grouping them in three sections.
Everyone’s list is different. Here are some suggestions:
Secure items in the refrigerator.
- Put away loose items. These are the things you move during your stay to a more convenient place. The TV remote has a travel spot. In the kitchen, all those items like the block of knives are stored in the sink. Don’t forget anything on the bathroom counter or shower.
- Put in place the items you use to secure the RV for travel. For us, these are the tension rods in the refrigerator to keep items in place, a foam sheet to keep the microwave plate from rattling, and the pillow we place in front of a drawer that sometimes pops open on sharp curves. You may have other tricks like nets, Velcro, or towels.
- Do a check of drawers and cabinet doors to make sure they are all shut. Especially check the refrigerator door. Soda cans and pudding cups don’t do extremely well after flying out on a turn.
- Close windows and vents so you don’t have to hear the wind noise as you go down the road.
- Windows and curtains: Put away the foil window covers. Put the blinds and curtains in your preferred travel position (we close some of the side blinds to keep the heat down).
- Electrical and propane settings: We turn off the antenna booster and turn on the inverter to run a small electrical fridge, but most people turn off the inverter. We turn off the water pump and water heater. Use whatever are your preferred travels settings. Many people shut off the propane when traveling.
- Bag your trash and recycle items to drop off on the way out.
Remember to bring in the slides, awning, leveling pads, and chocks!
These are sort of between exterior and interior.
- Clear the path and bring in the slides. The path needs to be checked if you are like us and store items in the nook of the slide or if the driver’s seat can interfere with the slide travel. Outside you may need to check that there isn’t a cord or hose in the way. You would think bringing in the slide is obvious, but many people have forgotten this. We almost did this once after a long stay and we’d gotten used to the look of our extended interior. Luckily our RV wouldn’t start with the slides out but that isn’t true for trailers, fifth wheels, or older motorhomes.
- Shake and bring in the exterior rug at the doors. If you haven’t cleaned the interior rugs, shake them out too.
- Retract the awning and be sure it is locked for travel. There are many horror stories about these opening on the road.
- Store those electrical items you put out. This includes putting down the TV antenna and/or bringing in the satellite dish and any solar panels. Forgetting to put the antenna down is a frequently forgotten step.
- Bring in your outdoor items (tables, camp chairs, grills, etc.).
- Move out the arms on the side mirrors on the RV. These are frequently moved in during camping.
- Water/septic: If you can do this at your campsite, empty your gray and black tanks and fill your clean water tank as necessary.
- Electric, water, sewer, cable: Disconnect and store all your lines and all the items. There are MANY stories of people forgetting to disconnect their electric cords. Also watch that you store small items like the water filter or plug adapters and don’t forget them after laying them on the ground or utility pole while you were winding up that hose.
- Clean windows and mirrors (those stupid birds like to mess up our side mirrors). Other cleaning might include brushing off debris on the awnings.
- If you have a maintenance list, do it. This may include checking the oil, checking tire pressure, or lubricating the slides.
- Make sure all outdoor compartments are closed and locked.
- Bring in the jacks or put away the leveling pads. Don’t forget storing the chocks.
- Connect your toad and/or put up the bicycles, kayaks, etc.
- Light check: We check the lights, blinkers, and brake lights on the RV and our toad every time. This checks the wiring connection along with whether a bulb has burnt out.
- Check to make sure the back camera is working.
- Put away the keys. We keep car and RV keys on hooks near the door. It is better to put them here versus forgetting them in your pocket at the end of the day.
- Complete walk around. Both of us check the campsite and the RV for anything we missed. Make sure you look up on this walk around or you’ll miss seeing the awning and antenna.
- Make sure the steps are in at your door, if it isn’t automatic.
- If you couldn’t dump at the campsite, stop at the dump station for this task and perhaps refill the freshwater tank too. Drop off your trash here or at the campground trash hopper.
- People and pet check: With only two people, we have never had this problem, but if you have kids or pets, make a final check that they are actually sleeping in back and didn’t make a last-minute run to the bathroom before you get on the road.
The list looks long, but many of these take only seconds. Forgetting any step can be inconvenient, costly, and even dangerous. And…we’ve all forgotten a step at least once!
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