Remembering everything you need to do to set up an RV at a campsite for the first time can be overwhelming! A checklist is helpful to have so that you don’t forget anything. Depending on what type of RV you have, your list will vary. Here is what to do when you arrive at a site with your rig.
There will be signs explaining where to park while checking in. During check in you will most likely get a map of the property, info about the park and a site assignment. This is a great time to ask other questions you may have. If you like to stay up late by the campfire, or you’re an early riser, you may want to ask what time the site's quiet hours start and what time they end.
Scout The Space
As you pull up, get out and walk around the site. Make sure there isn’t any broken glass or debris in the site that could damage your rig. Take note of where the hookups are, so you know where to place the rig in space. If you have slides, you’ll want to make sure you notice where trees, large rocks or electrical posts are. You have to make sure your slides will have room to open fully.
The way you pull in will vary, depending on whether you have a pull-through site or a back-in site. Pull through sites are the easiest to get into. You literally just pull on in! For back in sites, having a backup camera is extremely helpful. If you don’t have one, hopefully you have a partner with you that can assist you. Your passenger should have a walkie talkie (because phones don’t always work in spotty service areas) and stand in the back of the site, helping guide the driver in.
Level The RV
Lots of rigs come with an “auto level” button which is an automatic leveling system that levels the rig and brings the rest of the jacks down, but other rigs sometimes don't always have that luxury. This leaves you having to level your rig yourself, but don't be intimidated. There are a lot of ways you can level your rig.
It probably goes without saying that you want to park your rig in the flattest spot possible. The more level the area, the easier it is to level your travel trailer. But perfectly level sites can be a rarity. Before you unhitch, level your trailer from side to side and consult your bubble level. To do this, stack a series of leveling blocks in front of (or behind) the tire(s) that need to be lifted. Then back/pull the trailer onto the blocks. Continue checking your bubble level until it says you’re level.
Disconnect The Tow Vehicle
The basic principles of unhitching the trailer are common to all rigs that can range in size from a small trailer for hauling brush or garbage to a fifth wheel RV. First, Move the trailer and vehicle to a level surface. You want to find a place where the trailer is neither slanting uphill or downhill and that it isn't leaning to the right or the left. Chock the wheels. This keeps the trailer from rolling or shifting while you remove it from the hitch.
Then disconnect the wires and chains between the tongue of the trailer and the tow vehicle. Lower the jack on the tongue of the trailer until it rests on the ground. Slowly begin to lift the trailer off the bumper. Once the trailer releases the ball of the hitch and is resting above the ball, pull the trailer away from the vehicle.
First, plug the surge protector into the electric panel. Next, turn on the breaker to make sure it works. Then turn it back off. Plug in the power cord. You now have electricity! Connect the water hose and turn on the water, then the sewer hose and your outside connections are complete.
If your RV has slides, someone can go inside and start opening them up as soon as the rig is level. One person pushes the button to open the slide while another person watches the space that is opening up to ensure nothing has fallen or is in the way of the slide opening up. Then you are free to start unloading the inside and storage bays. Anything that needs to be straightened up and put back in place can be done after the slides are out.
Now that your RV is set up, you are ready to enjoy the campsite or set out on an adventure. RV’s are our home on wheels, it's important to take the time to properly set up your site. Setting up the rig rig properly is also for your rig’s safety. By not properly setting up, you could run the risk of your rig rolling away and crashing. Follow this checklist to ensure fun and safe camping in your RV!