Read This Before You Go

Before we head out on an RV trip, we run through a checklist beforehand. Here’s what we do, and you can feel free to take this or adapt it to suit your own needs.

  1. Top off everything. That means making sure your tires have the proper air pressure, and all fluid levels are at the right amount – simple things like the gas tank, wiper fluid, oil levels, but also things like transmission fluid. Test the battery. If you are unsure, bring it to a trusted mechanic and they can do the checks for you. Now is the time to do preventive maintenance so that you don’t have unexpected (and expensive) issues along the way.
  2. Make sure everything works! Check the bulbs for the head, tail, and signal lights. Look over your appliances, plumbing, and ventilation systems. Run the heat and the air conditioner. Inspect the fire extinguishers. If you have a generator or solar kit, make sure that works the way it should as well.
  3. Give it a good cleaning. Sure, wash the outside, but clean the inside too. Clean the appliances, again inside and out. Check all filters and change them if necessary. If you start out clean, it will be easier to keep it that way.
  4. Make packing lists. Include everything you think you’ll need and then a little more. Make sure you have any prescriptions you take with to cover your whole trip. Pack an auto repair kit with the things you’ll need: tire patches, reflectors or flares in case you have to pull over in an emergency, jumper cables, a tire gauge, and whatever else will help you stay moving. Don’t forget the cords! Pack an extra charger for your phone, computer, camera, and whatever else you’ll need to charge along the way. If you are bringing your pets, make sure you have toys, leashes, food, bedding, and anything else they might need. And make a spare set of keys! Check your list as you pack to make sure you’ve got it all.
  5. Do the administration part of the trip to verify all the details. Confirm your reservations. Make sure your license, registration, and insurance are up to date and won’t expire along the way. Cancel or forward your mail and phone calls. Notify your neighbors that you’re leaving and when you plan to return – give somebody your contact info in case your house gets robbed or burns down while you’re gone. Make sure you have copies of any pertinent records (health, prescription, even veterinary) that you may need so you have them available in case of an emergency.
  6. Get ready! Load your gear. Check your lists again and make sure you have everything you want to have. It is a good habit, even if you were not hooked up, to check and make sure that everything is disconnected – the water and sewer hoses, tv antenna or satellite dish, and the electrical cord – and stowed properly. Retract the stairs and awnings if you have those. Secure the windows and the lock outside doors. Do a last check of everything and then:

We’ve done this list so many times that it feels automatic, but we have it written down to run through every time. It makes Allie feel better, for one. For another, we’re able to add things as we have more trips under our belts (there is a reason Allie felt the need to add the bit about spare keys, and I will never live that down). So that’s what gets us out the door and on the road!