The Most Important RV Tool You Should Have...the Checklist!
Last month I wrote about some of the essential equipment that you want to make sure you have before heading out on your camping road trip. This month I want to talk about one of the most useful tools an RV’er can have...the checklist! Now there are lots of checklists available for campers and trailerites out there on-line and many are actually, quite good. In fact, many manufacturers supply a check list with the owner’s package of your trailer. Can Am RV Centre has one available as well, just drop by and ask for it at our reception desk. But I would recommend using any of these check lists as a starting point to making your own list. Once you have a list that you are happy with, go and make a dozen copies to keep in the trailer and tow vehicle. You may find that it will need to be edited with every trip you take, as more items and procedures need to be added.
There are three aspects to your camping checklist that you should address. The pre-trip, the departure, and the arrival will all require a list.
On this section of the check list you should think about all of the things that you and your family have to do before leaving on vacation. This could be everything from cancelling the mail delivery, setting timers for lights and watering systems, arranging a kennel stay for Fido and giving the neighbor a key. The steps you take to get ready to leave home are very individual to each household and it is well worth your time to have the check list ready and taped to the refrigerator door well ahead of exit day. There is nothing more disheartening than actually getting out of the driveway at the crack of dawn just to realize two hours from home that no arrangements were made for mail delivery or watering the houseplants.
The departure section of your check list will cover all the things you need to do to actually hitch up and pull out of your driveway or campsite. Although much of the list is going to be generic to any RV or trailer, a really good and useful list will cover very specific details that apply to your family’s needs. Your list will have, disconnect from shore power, retract stabilizer jacks, disconnect water line, retract antenna, close roof vents, turn off propane, fold up the stairs, secure loose interior objects, lock the refrigerator door, connect the hitch system and umbilical cord. These steps and a few others are going to be common to most RVs. What you should add to make it super helpful are the personal steps that can get overlooked in the hustle and bustle of an early dawn exit plan. Things like, put food for the dog in the tow vehicle, pack the phone charger, maps needed for this leg of the trip, passports handy to the driver if crossing the border, good tunes for the road, books or games for the kids. Believe me there will be enough stops for bathroom breaks and gasoline without adding extra ones so the kids can find the iPad packed deep in the camper storage bins.
Although it would seem like getting to your destination should be pretty simple, there are still some important step to take to make sure your RV will be ready to have an enjoyable stay. When you are backed into or pulled into your camp site you still have to make sure your trailer is level both side to side and front to back. Wheel chocks need to securely plant your trailer in place before you unhitch. When all is level you will need to put down the stabilizing jacks. If the services are available you can connect to electricity, water and sewer. If you have slide outs they can be extended once you are stable, level and powered up.
The Passenger’s Lists
This is an optional idea for a list, but it is a great idea if you have kids or other passengers that you can distribute some of the packing tasks to. Each passenger can have their own short check list to help with a smooth transition from site to site. This can be things like, pack snacks for the trip, charge phone, pack homework or books to read, pack headphones, put a pillow in the tow vehicle, extra clothes in case the weather changes (or the driver has the A/C cranked!) This extra step will encourage your passengers to take responsibility for their own travel bliss and hopefully take a couple items off of the driver’s lengthy list.
But above all, take your time, try not to be too last minute and enjoy the journey. With a well planned vacation you will have much more time to enjoy the scenery, the campgrounds and most importantly the people with whom you travel. Happy Trails!