New RV'ers are always a bit apprehensive before making their first trip. This apprehension generally has them searching for some form of checklist to make certain that they are not forgetting some important items. To help these new RV'ers I have developed some items that are intended to stimulate the though process--------------. You will note that the following is not a checklist but items that may be included on your personal checklist.
Checklist for arriving at or checking into a campground:
There are any number of things that can and probably should be taken care of when checking into a campground. The items presented below are just some of the things you may want to include in your checklist. Remember, we all have different comfort levels and are traveling with many different needs and security issues. We will all vary greatly on the importance of these items.
1. Name & Address of the Campground. If by chance you have to make an emergency call you need to be able to tell someone where you are. DAH! Some campgrounds have a map/or pamphlet that they give you with pertinent phone numbers. We usually try to get two of these one for the motorhome and one for the Saturn. If you are in a BAD wreck and have one of these pamphlets in your automobile it will give officers some information on where you may be staying. That could be very important if you have animals (cats, dogs, birds etc.,) in your RV that need to be tended to.
2. Name of the person giving you the information. If you happen to be challenged for doing something in the campground during your stay you want to be able to tell them who it was that told you that it was OK! This usually is not important to us but if we wanted to go for a midnight swim in the pool or hot tub we might want to know the name of the employee that said it was OK. Use your judgment.
3. Where is the nearest emergency shelter?
Don't be bashful about determining where the emergency shelter is. We never use campground bathrooms so we never get a key to get in the bathroom door nor do we get the combination if it is a touchpad type. Well, let me say we used to not get a key or the combination, that has changed. It changed when we were in the Casino Campground in East St. Louis right across from the arch. This is a real nice RV-Park with locks on their bathroom doors. The bathrooms happen to be the storm shelter. To make a long story short when it is time to get into the storm shelter, say at 3:AM, you need the key/combination to get into the storm shelter. Now if the restrooms are the storm shelter we get the key/combination, and you should also.
4. Ask the manager or person checking you in where they go in case there is a tornado. If they give you a "deer-in-the-head-lights-look" you will want to ask someone else. Those folks behind the desk are part of the crowd that is going to wonder what to do in case of a tornado when it is 2AM and there isn't anyone to ask. You saw those folks on TV after hurricane Katrina.
5. Ask about the source of water for the campground. Is it from a well or municipal source? Ask if there is anything about the quality of the water that you should know about. Many campgrounds are not connected to municipal water supplies that are monitored and presumably provide safe water. When you ask they are obligated to inform you about things they may not otherwise disclose to you (but you have to ask).
6. Ask about the campgrounds water pressure, is it over 45-psi?
7. Ask what COUNTY the RV-Park/Campground is in.
8. What is the Campground phone number?
9. Ask the person that is checking you in what you should know about
crime in the vicinity-----assault, robbery, burglary, firearms, etc.,?
10. Ask if 911 is the proper number to call for emergency.
11. Ask where their favorite restaurant is, where do they shop for groceries, and "must see" attractions in the area. Ask them about unique things to see or do that might not be classified as tourist attractions. Things like Rodeo's high-school football games, fishing tournaments, lumberjack contests, manufacturing plant tours, plant nurseries, large trees or plants, beautiful views, special spots on the lake or river, farms where one can pick fruit, riding stables, places to take a "post card" quality picture, farmers markets, flea markets, neat hardware stores, tubing/canoeing opportunities, hiking trails, old houses or sections of town and local landmarks.
12. Ask if there is any concern with flash flooding. Out west many campgrounds are located in canyons along creeks/rivers that can overflow through the campground. It is best to ask especially if rain is in the forecast.
Once checked in you will move to your campsite and:
12. Before connecting electricity check the campground voltage and polarity. If voltage is below 105 volts or above 130 volts things are not right with campground electricity. Also if polarity is not correct that could cause major problems. Speak with campground management about these issues before plugging in.
13. Connect a water pressure regulator to the campground hose bib then connect your fresh water supply hose to the pressure regulator. That way you are protecting your supply hose as well as your RV.
Breaking Camp ----- or Leaving Campground/RV-Park Checklist:
1. Turn on weather radio & listen while working.
2. Wash glasses & sun glasses--
3. Record your odometer reading or generator hours in a log book-
4. Record the name of the campground, address, phone number or whatever-
5. Check the level of your tanks-fresh water, gray & black tanks.
6. Assure that your "batwing" TV antenna has been lowered
and properly been made ready for travel-
7. You may want to turn off the TV antenna booster-
8. Assure your glass shower door is closed-
9. Close the shower & sink (kitchen & bathroom) drain plugs--
10. Start your computer and GPS and bring up your mapping program-
11. Verify all cabinet doors are closed--
12. Verify that everything is stowed for travel in the kitchen, bathroom & living area.
13. Check & assure all the cooking stove knobs are in the off
14. Assure that all windows are closed------or set for travel. Also
check the roof vents and assure they are set for travel.
15. Adjust blinds for travel.
16. Disconnect your electric power cord from the campground ---- after about 5-minutes check the charge in your house batteries. It is very important that you do this without the power cord being plugged into the campgrounds power because you will be reading the output of the converter/battery charger if you check with the power cord connected. You want to know the charge on the house batteries-------------not whether the converter/battery charger is working.
17. Turn your water heater off, furnace off and make sure that your
refrigerator is on Auto.--
18. Check tires on your motorhome & towed vehicle (our Saturn).
19. Check under your vehicles for fluid leaks (gas, diesel, hydraulic, transmission, antifreeze etc.,) -
20. Stow awnings and empty the trash from the motorhome.
21. Clean windshield.
22. Check & lock all external hatches, check your propane level.
23. Check engine fluids; water, oil, & transmission fluid.
24. Stow hoses (fresh water & 3"sanitary disposal hose)--
25. Disconnect electric cord from campground power and stow electric cord.
26. Crank vehicle (motorhome) & immediately raise leveling jacks.
27. Put the motorhome in gear and pull away from the site.
28. Connect your tow car and check to assure that all the lights
Checklist of things you should have in your RV before heading out:
1. Extra fresh water hoses, make sure you get the white hoses specifically
make for supplying drinking water. If you do not use the white hoses
specifically designed for supplying drinking water you will get a
rubber taste. Enough said, you have been warned, 3 separate hoses
25' each should be enough. The reason 3-lengths of 25' are needed
is because RV'Parks/Campgrounds can have all kinds of configurations
for their utility access. One never knows where the campground water
bib will be located. On other occasions you may be stopping at a relative
or friends home. In other words you need to be prepared to reach fresh
water in other than ideal circumstances.
2. A pressure regulator for the fresh water input. Some people get away without having one of these for a time. However, if you travel around the country you will pull into a campground that has 100 or more pounds of water pressure. Your RV will not like more than 45 pounds of pressure. The excess pressure will blow out lines in your RV causing EXPENSIVE problems. It won't be pretty, or cheap. Use your head with the water pressure regulator and connect it at the hose bib, thus protecting your white input hose. I have actually seen people put their regulator on their RV and have their input hose blow up.
3. Water hose to wash RV & automobile. You will need 50' to 75' to reach in many places.
4. Bucket, long handle scrub brush, and favorite cleaning rags/chamois. If you are out in your RV for months at a time you will have to wash the car and RV.
5. Extra length of sewer hose & fittings & elbows & rubber dough nut thingee required in many states. Each state has rules and regulations that apply to sanitary sewage connections. Be prepared to comply with each of these requirements. Some states require a "rubber donut" to seal the connection with the parks sewage system. Other states require a screw on connection, however, screw on connections can come in different sizes so you have to be prepared to connect to these different sizes. That is easy to accomplish if you just purchase one of those elbows that have multiple size threads. These things are available in Wal-Mart or any RV-store. I carry a small can of "liquid-tape" it is a liquid rubber substance that can be brushed on with the supplied brush to patch small pin holes in the slinky sewer hose. You can find "liquid-tape" in the electrical department of hardware stores and places like Lowe's and Home Depot.
6. Duct tape. You never know when you will need duct tape, but you will.
7. WD-40, spray silicon lubricant or light weight spray lubricant. You need to be spraying silicon on your Kwikee step joints and leveling jacks on a monthly basis. You should not be using WD-40 or other lubricant on these since they will leave a film that will attract dirt. You don't want to attract dirt.
8. Tube of clear silicone. You want to be able to seal water leaks around your windows and joints.
9. Zip ties-- Various sizes (Don't ask, you'll know when you need them)
10. Basic tools (crescent wrench, pliers, screwdrivers, dikes, etc.) Multi meter etc., Even if you aren't smart enough to fix things having these tools will enable others to help you. Think about it.
11. Windex & telescoping window washer ( You need to be able
to clean your windows & windshield) and don't think that gas stations
have equipment that will reach your big motorhome windshield!
12. Look into water filters. Some people do not leave home without them while others do just fine without them. Most RV'ers utilize a sediment filter that filters all water entering the RV. I think that is a good idea especially if you are traveling around the country. All campgrounds are not connected to city water systems. Also, you don't want to allow sediment to get into your fresh water tank, do you? We have a solid block carbon filter installed under our kitchen sink that feeds a goose neck faucet on the side of our kitchen sink and another goose neck faucet in the bathroom. The water out of a solid block carbon filter is safe to drink. A solid carbon block will filter virtually all "bad-stuff" out of the water. The downside is that the output is extremely limited (you can't take a shower with it). We use it for drinking water, coffee, tea, ice etc., in the kitchen and to brush our teeth in the rest room. One RV'er has put together some excellent information on water filters. If you are looking for more information on water filters for your RV check out Phred "Phrannie's" Tensith's Poop Sheets at: http://www.phrannie.org/phredex.html
13. You will want a Kill-a-Watt power tester or one of those electrical circuit testers with two yellow lights and one red light. Unfortunately, qualified electricians do not wire every campground and RV-Park. While most are wired correctly 5% or more are wired incorrectly. Plugging into incorrectly wired campground power sources can result is serious consequences. If the campground has wired the ground incorrectly you could touch metal on your RV while standing on the ground and receive a severe shock. Appliances can be damaged by an incorrectly wired power supply. By plugging in one of those circuit testers you can be assured that it is safe to plug your RV into the campgrounds electrical power outlet. The Kill-a-Watt power tester is useful to determine how many watts each appliance draws. This information is useful when you are trying to run more electrical appliances than the available power can supply without popping a circuit breaker. Electricity in an RV must be "managed", something that you do not think about in your stick-and-brick home. While you may have a 50-amp motorhome, that doesn't mean that you will always access to a 50-amp connection (not all campgrounds have 50-amp electricity available). While staying in one of these campgrounds you may be connected to a 30-amp supply. When that happens you will have to limit your total electrical consumption to 30-amps. In order to be able to control your consumption you need to know how many amps each appliance is using so that you don't pop the campgrounds circuit breaker.
14. Most people carry some type of product to seal roof leaks. For some that is a tube of self leveling rubber roof sealant and rubber roof patch stuff. I have an aluminum roof and carry a similar product that can patch a small imperfection in the roof.
15. I carry JB Weld, several tubes of crazy glue as well as some wood glue. If you are in the habit of repairing things around your home you will also need these items in your RV. If you do not make repairs then these items may not be necessary.
16. A pack of rubber gloves---for handling the sewer hoses & dumping.
17. I think you should carry a phone line. Some people insist on carrying a 100' phone line. The need for a phone line will be different for each RV'er.
18. Electrical adapters that enable connecting to 20, 30, or 50 amp power sources. One never knows what source of power is going to be available. If you are out in your motorhome and you have to spend a few days in a repair shop you may have to get by with only 15-amps of electricity. Trust me, the vast majority of the repair shops that are repairing your drive train will not have a 30-amp or 50-amp connection. You best be able to connect to the only electrical outlet that is available.
19. A 30-amp extension cable. For RV'ers traveling around the country you will need this 30-amp extension cable because eventually you will be in a campground that has the power post in the most inappropriate location. How these things happen I'll never know but they do. Additionally, you will eventually stop by a relatives house and need to connect to their house power. I even carry a heavy duty extension cord for those instances when we need to "reach-out" for power.
20. Campground guides (Trailer Life, Woodall's, Wheelers) There are a lot of other sources to locate campgrounds but these books need to be in your arsenals.
21. If traveling a lot, a $50 one-year membership in Passport America could be a good deal.
22. A brand new heavy duty sewer hose. A heavy duty sewer hose will resist holes so much longer.
23. Wrench for the wheel lugs, with proper socket, tire pressure gauge and air pump. If you have a BIG motorhome you may not want to try to change a tire. I don't. But if you have an RV where you could change a tire you should be prepared for the occasion.
24. Emergency signal kit, flares, flashlights, spare keys hidden for outside access
25. Change (especially quarters) for tolls, newspapers, vending machines, pay phones and laundry
26. Debit card with direct deposit, we use a debit card to get cash from Wal-Mart and grocery stores.
27. Prepaid phone card. We have an AT&T prepaid card from Sam's that we use on those rare occasions when I cannot download e-mail via my cell phone or wifi.
28. If you have dogs you will need lots of plastic bags to pick up dog poo.
29. Laundry detergent and bleach for laundromats.
30. 400w inverter with both cigarette lighter plug wires and battery clamp wires. The inverter will come in handy for powering a laptop computer, and battery chargers for things like video cameras and digital cameras, cell phones and other gadgets. We always have one of these portable 400w inverters in our automobile.
31. Spare 12v light bulbs, batteries for clock, fire alarm, spare 12v fuses various sizes
32. A big flashlight. We have two of those quality flashlights with 3-D cell batteries located near the motorhomes front door.
33. Fire extinguishers. Depending on how safety conscious you are you can have one near the exit door, the kitchen and bedroom.
34. Cell phone to call ERS.
35. Various wooden blocks to put under your hydraulic jacks to help you get level. You will need these.
36. Now for some thoughts on food:
As far as menu planning goes, some brides go through a routine before leaving on a trip where they actually lay out a menu for however many weeks/months they are going to be on the road. Not that they ever followed it in any fashion but it helps them make sure that they don't forget to pack something that would later be hard to find on the road - like pepper sauce (vinegar & hot peppers) that southerners put on collard greens. Outside of the southeast that stuff is as hard to find as hens teeth. Canned Brunswick stew is another thing that we find we have to stock up on before we head out west. You will want to stock up on specialty items that you take for granted. We know Canadians who stock up on good Canadian tea which you simply can't buy in the US or Mexico. Once you hit the road you will discover your own set of those items that are only available in your neck of the woods.
If you are still looking for more checklist items try:
Mike & Joyce Hendrix
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