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RV Set Up & Tear Down Checklist

Having and using an RV arrival and departure checklist is essential for novice campers, but it’s also recommended and useful for seasoned RVers. Haven’t we all seen a motorhome or trailer on the highway with something dangling or leaking from it that shouldn’t be?

A comprehensive set up and tear-down list makes for better organization and improved safety. While the steps will vary whether you own or are renting a motorhome/camper versus a trailer, many guidelines are the same. Of course, hitching and unhitching a trailer comes with certain safety rules to follow.

Set Up

Upon arrival at the campground confirm that the site you reserved has the required necessities. Find a level spot to park the unit; verify the distance to any hookups and make sure that there is space for any slide-outs and awnings. Look out for any obstacles such as large rocks or tree branches before you park or back up into the spot.

Exterior

  • Once parked, use a bubble level of your own or the unit’s auto-levelling system. (There are even apps to assist with levelling an RV!)
  • Level the RV from side to side and front to back with the available/preferred method and any levelling blocks that you own or those included in the rental.
  • For added safety chock the tires to prevent tire shifting after levelling; engage the emergency brake if necessary.
  • If applicable, disconnect from the tow vehicle and finish levelling the trailer from front to back.
  • Deploy stabilizers and/or place support blocks under stabilizing jacks. Never try to level off these jacks!
  • For a trailer, lower any tongue jacks, electric or manual; disconnect power cords and safety chains; disconnect the breakaway cable; verify that the trailer is unhitched and secure the trailer hitch.
  • Connect the campsite’s main power supply in this order: ensure that the breaker is off; plug in the surge protector; turn breaker on; set up any extension cords; plug in the cords to the RV.
  • Turn propane on.
  • Hook up any water filters/hose to the main campground water connection and to the freshwater inlet valve on the RV and run the water to test it; make sure all valves inside the unit are closed first!
  • Bleed out any air in the hot water tank and turn it on.
  • Using gloves, hook up the sewer hose if applicable; leave valves closed for black and gray water. Verify the tank monitoring system if there is one.
  • Put out the awning and outdoor items.
  • Raise any antennae.
  • Lower the outside step and unlock any exterior compartments.

Interior

  • Inspect slide-out area for obstructions then extend it when safe to do so.
  • Turn on the refrigerator (or switch over the power source).
  • Turn on heat/AC or simply open windows to air out the unit.
  • Bleed off any air from the stove’s gas line then light the oven pilot light.
  • Fill toilet with water and flush (repeat a few times) then fill to the line again before adding the black tank treatment.
  • Run the shower to test the water line.
  • Unpack what you need, put away toiletries (verify where the first aid kit is!) Patricia: link to new first aid article and set up the kitchen area.

Tear Down

When it comes to leaving a campsite, many RVers start with shutting down and packing away systems/electronics and items on the inside first since it’s crucial that everything is switched off and secure for when the rubber hits the road.

Interior

  • Turn off the AC/heat and close any rooftop vents.
  • Turn off the water heater and pump.
  • Turn off the oven pilot light.
  • Switch the refrigerator to the in-transit power source, safeguard items inside and lock or secure the fridge door.
  • Lower any antennae.
  • Secure and lock windows; latch the shower door.
  • Leave enough water in toilet to make a seal (but not too much or it may splash when the RV is in motion).
  • Secure all cabinet doors and drawers and put away items that may slide or fall while in transit.
  • Close slide-outs.

Exterior

  • Turn off the propane and secure the cap.
  • Store away all outside gear (chairs, rugs, etc.).
  • Retract and secure the awning.
  • Sani flush inside of the black tank if needed then empty the black tank.
  • Empty the gray tank.
  • Disconnect, drain, rinse and store all hoses.
  • Unplug any power cords and adapters.
  • Retract the stabilizing jacks.
  • Hitch up to the vehicle if necessary and attach the breakaway switch and any safety chains, plug in trailer brake lights.
  • Remove blocks and wheel chocks and store them away.
  • Check the tire pressure and trailer lights and/or rear brake lights and turn signals.
  • Lock the underbelly storage and all exterior cupboards.
  • Stow and secure steps and lock main entry door.

On the final walk around look below and around the RV for any loose connections, hanging cords or camping/sports items you may have missed. Clean up and discard any garbage that you find.