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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.