Drive Smarter: James' RV Check-Lists for Pre-Trip Prepping

Hi everyone. It's James from The Fit RV.

Stef and I actually set out to write this article together, since we both have different roles when it comes to packing the RV before a trip. But it turns out co-writing when your spouse is just as big of an opinionated (but cute) know-it-all as you isn't fun. It's sort of like riding a double kayak or a tandem bike together. Since we're both control freaks, we end up weaving all over the place and getting nowhere. To stay happily married, we learned long ago that kayaking and biking solo works best. Turns out writing solo does, too.

But there are some areas where we divide and conquer like champs. Getting ready for an RV trip is a perfect example. Stef tackles packing up the inside of the RV, and ensures the kitchen, bath, and all the fun things get loaded up. In fact, she's created some awesome packing checklists that she's shared over on her article HERE. While she's packing up the RV, I'm working on getting the rig prepped and road-ready.

I've made two lists. The first is a list of maintenance items you'll want to pack. The second is a pre-trip checklist of all your automotive and motorhome systems. And if you're interested, here's a link to a printable PDF of the lists.

Using a checklist really does make the prepping part of your trip run much more smoothly!

Packing List for RV Maintenance

  • Batteries (for flashlights, smoke detector, accessories, etc.)
  • Matches or lighter
  • Ropes
  • Hatchet and saw
  • Bungee cords
  • Folding Shovel
  • Rags
  • Duct tape
  • Gloves RV Tool kit
  • Leveling blocks
  • Fresh Water Hose
  • Water Pressure Regulator
  • In-Line Water Filter
  • Jump Starter Kit or jumper cables
  • Tire pressure gauge
  • Motor oil and appropriate coolant
  • RV Toilet Paper
  • Holding Tank Chemicals
  • Sewer Hose(s) and Fittings
  • 20, 30 and 50 amp adapters and cords
  • Extra Fuses
  • Broom and dust pan
  • Mat (for outside door)

Pre-trip Checklist

  • Check beneath RV for leaks, loose objects, or anything out of the ordinary
  • Check all fluid levels: oil, coolant, washer fluid, brake fluid, etc.
  • Check Tire Pressure and fill according to vehicle load
  • Check for unusual tire wear
  • Check engine starting battery: clean connections, proper state of charge
  • Make sure all turn signals, running lights, and hazard lights are working
  • Check horn operation
  • Verify that the generator (if equipped) starts, runs, and delivers power
  • Turn on fridge: For absorption refrigerator, operate it on gas and look at burner to see if the flame is blue.
  • Check the air intake filters on your air conditioner and clean as necessary
  • Verify that the fire extinguishers are present and fully charged
  • Test smoke, carbon monoxide, and propane leak detectors
  • Ensure kitchen and roof vents function properly
  • Make available RV manuals, appliance manuals, etc. (download or print)
  • Check operation of waste tank level indicators (start trip on empty)
  • Check operation of water heater
  • Charge batteries on accessories (Tire Pressure Monitor, walkie talkies, etc.)
  • Fill Propane
  • Fill fresh water
  • Add any needed chemicals (or compost medium) to holding tanks

So, there you have it. That's the procedure I use and the items I bring on every trip we take. It may seem like a lot, but really doesn't take long at all. Honestly for me, it's a completely enjoyable process, and it keeps me from watching the mayhem that is Stef packing. Plus, I've got the upcoming trip as the reward for all my efforts. And the best part: if any MISadventures do pop up, I'll be ready.