Wondering why you need an RV departure checklist?
Well, let me tell you a little story about how we left $400 sitting on a tire and didn’t remember until we were miles down the road and it was long gone.
OK, maybe it wasn’t a pile of cash, but it was our TPMS system that retails for over $400, and it was left sitting on the tire … and it is long gone.
Even the most organized and experienced person can make a mistake, and that is where a checklist can save you from making one of your own, big or small.
When we first embarked on our RV adventures, we did not have an RV departure checklist of our own. We had seen several but we had it in our minds that we needed to get a few trips under our belt to really know what to look for in a checklist or to see if it would be applicable.
Here we are, almost 2 years later and we are finally putting pen to paper to create a checklist – not only for ourselves but for you too!
How to make RV departure day easy
First, we highly recommend that you print out a checklist – whether it’s ours or another one. A checklist will help to keep you on track, will force you to double-check your work, and will make your tear-down process easier and safer.
3 tips to help you prepare for a successful RV travel day
#1: Plan Ahead - Route Planning
The night before your travel day, review your route and make a plan for what time you will want to leave the campground by.
Work backward from that target time, and create a schedule of what time you will need to wake up, what time you will need to start tear-down, and what time you will plan to be on the road.
Having this time in mind is a great way to timebox the tasks that you need to complete in order to tear down your RV safely, and will help you to avoid the last-minute rush, which is more likely to lead to making a mistake.
#2 Plan Ahead - Task Ownership
Before you tear down your RV and campsite, it can be really helpful to create a plan to decide who will own what tasks.
Divvy up the tasks that need to be completed so you each have a sense of what you will focus on to help move the work forward.
TIP: After you become comfortable with your part in the process, it is vital to cross-train each other. Learning how to do every aspect of the process is so important, in case something should happen and one of you needs to step in.
(And it can be a relationship saver by having an understanding of what your partner is doing!)
#3: Plan Ahead - Head Start
Get a head start on the teardown process in the days leading up to your departure. Here are some of the things that you could consider packing up the day before: grill, outdoor furniture, outdoor rugs, and any wall hangings or decor.
You can also clean and tidy up the RV, wash dishes and put things away that you won’t be using. Having these few things already done and out of the way will make your teardown and travel day run that much more smoothly.
Did you notice a trend? It all comes down to planning ahead.
Waiting until the last minute to do anything, opens you up to making mistakes and when it comes to the RV lifestyle, mistakes can be dangerous. This is also why it is so important to have good systems in place to ensure you don’t miss any tasks!
Here's how to tear down your RV for a travel day
Whether you are an RV newbie, or you are getting your RV ready to depart on your 100th trip – we can all use a refresher on the tasks required to tear down for travel day, and that is why an RV departure checklist can be helpful to everyone!
PRINT OUR FREE, EASY-TO-USE RV DEPARTURE CHECKLIST
Grab our printable RV departure checklist to prepare for your next RV departure day. Tasks are broken out into categories including indoors, outdoors, safety, hitching up, and leaving it better than you found it.
The RV departure checklist flow will help you organize tasks and we’ve included spaces to add any custom items to your list, too!
Disclaimer: your specific RV may require additional steps to ensure the safety of you and your equipment. Use this checklist at your own risk.
Our Grand Design Imagine 2670mk with the slides closed and packed for a travel day
What's on your RV departure checklist?
Here are the basic tasks that you will need to complete in preparation for your departure. We recommend printing out our RV departure checklist and doing a walk-around to validate that it includes everything needed to safely tear down your RV, as models vary and your needs may be different.
Basic tasks needed to tear down your RV for a travel day
Inside Your RV
Tidy up, wipe down, and dust surfaces
Close all vents, windows, and blinds/curtains
Sweep / vacuum / mop floors, under slides
Check all cupboards and drawers secured
Tie back or secure interior doors
Secure TV and other electronics
Secure wall hangings and decor
Turn off AC / heat
Turn off the water pump and water heater
Turn off lights, radio, fireplace, etc.
Empty waste bins
Secure shower head and door
Secure shower products
Drain water from the faucet if emptying tanks
Add toilet treatment
Pack refrigerator and turn off / travel power
Put away cleaners, any loose items
Pack away countertop appliances
Ensure the oven pilot light is off
Test lights, brakes, hazards, and turn signals
Check tire pressure and TPMS
Check and clean windows and mirrors
Check the exit route for any obstacles
Check tow vehicle oil and fluids
Feed pets and provide plenty of water
Exercise pets & administer any medications
Provide reassurance and create a routine
Outside Your RV
Sweep roof and slide tops
Secure vent covers/roof
Sweep/vacuum and secure steps
Store outdoor furnishings (rugs, chairs)
Retract awnings and close slides
Lower/remove and secure antennas
Fill fresh water tank if needed
Drain and rinse black tank(s)
Drain and rinse gray water tank(s)
Disconnect, rinse, drain and secure all hoses (sewer hose, water hose)
Unplug and store shore power cords, adapters, and surge protector
Turn off propane tanks
Stairs Up and Handle In
Steps to Hitch RV to Tow Vehicle
Retract stabilizing jacks
Hitch to the vehicle, adjust the weight distribution
Connect safety chains and breakaway cord
Plugin trailer plug to the tow vehicle
Remove and store leveling blocks & wheel chocks
Final walk around camper to re-check compartment doors, and windows, check for loose tools, etc.
Leave it Better Than You Found It
Clean debris from the fire pit
Check site for litter and pick up any debris
Remove temporary fixtures like clotheslines
Recycle campground flyers, and registration tags
Dispose of garbage and recyclables
Whether you are preparing for your very first camping trip with your brand new camper or you are full-time RVers on the road like us, we hope that this info is helpful to you and makes your travel day just that much easier.
Even three years later, we pull out our RV departure checklist regularly to refresh, make updates and ensure that we are doing everything as safely as possible.
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We would love to hear from you!
We would love to hear your thoughts! Is there anything else that you would add to the RV departure checklist? Drop your feedback in the comments!
Until next time, thank you for reading, and hope to see you down the road!