RV Pre-Trip Checklist for Your Next Adventure

Learn essential preparations before setting out on your next RV trip, including mechanical checks, planning tips, a packing list, and more. An RV driving down a mountainside road above a river on a sunny day.

What better way to hit the open road for a camping adventure than in an RV? Whether taking a quick weekend getaway or going on holiday across the country, a family RV trip leads to lifelong memories. However, preparation is critical—and realizing you forgot a crucial step in the planning process can ruin a vacation.

Our blog has all the essential tips, tricks, and know-before-you-go as you plan an RV trip, so when the time comes, the only question on your mind is, “Are we there yet?”

Spring RV Safety Checks

The snow has melted, and flowers are blooming—it’s time for your RV’s annual checkup! Road trippers in parts of the country that experience winter need to warm their vehicles up to the new season before routing any potential trips. Even for parts of the country that experience sun 365 days a year, we suggest hiring an RV inspector to conduct a professional annual evaluation.

However, you can do this yourself if you know what you’re looking for:

Checking Your RV’s Electrical System

Now that warmer weather has dried out your vehicle, it’s the perfect time to check on your electrical system. 

  • Previously removed batteries need to be reinstalled and fully charged.
  • Test flooded batteries with a hydrometer
  • Investigate all power cords and extension cords for signs of fraying and cracks.
  • Check the GFCI for proper operation.

Checking Your RV’s Propane System

The propane system needs to be assessed if your RV has been unused for several months:

  • Investigate hoses and rubber connectors for damage from rodents or weather.
  • Clean the interior and exterior furnace vents.
  • Change batteries in smoke alarms and propane and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Clear all debris and spiderwebs from interior and exterior vents.
  • Clean the burner area of your water heater.
  • Flush the inner tank of your water heater, ensuring it is refilled with water before turning on the burner or heating elements.
  • Sanitize and flush your freshwater system.
  • Hire a professional to conduct a timed pressure drop test on your RV’s propane system.
A camper van parked on a residential driveway on a sunny day.

RV Pre-Trip Checklist

Now that your next road trip is officially on the calendar, you need to complete the following mechanical checks no sooner than a month before your departure:

Checking Your RV’s Tires

Tire blowouts are the leading cause of motorhome accidents, mainly because RVs will likely be unused for long periods. Make a habit of conducting thorough tire inspections.

  • Check the tread and sidewalls of all tires, including spares, for signs of wear.
  • Ensure it isn’t time for replacement or rotation—your RV’s tires should be rotated every 6,000 miles and replaced every five to seven years. 
  • Top off the air in your tires.
  • Be sure all lugnuts are tightly screwed.

Checking Your RV’s Engine

If your engine isn’t in tip-top shape, you won’t get very far on your trip. It’s essential to inspect your engine compartment thoroughly before each RV trip.

  • Ensure all fluid levels are good to go, including oil, engine coolant, transmission fluid, windshield washer fluid, and brake fluid.
  • Examine belts and wiring for signs of wear.
  • Check for any leaks or cracks surrounding the engine and hoses.
  • Remove any debris blocking the engine, such as leaves and cobwebs.
  • Inspect the air filter and air tank.
  • Check your freon level using an AC recharge kit.

Additional RV Mechanical Checks

Before setting out, check the following components to ensure they’re in good condition.

  • Roof. Check for broken seals and cracks.
  • Filters. Clean or replace all filters, including the engine air filter, cabin air filter, oil filter, and fuel filter.
  • Lights. Test your headlights, turn signals, hazards, and tail lights.
  • Appliances. Make sure everything in your vehicle is functioning correctly, including your generator.
  • Windows. Inspect for cracks and chips in the windshield and windows.
  • Leaks. Pull your RV out of its parking space to inspect for evidence of any leaks. 
RVs parked at a camping ground during the late evening.

RV Trip Planning

Are you ready to set out? Ensure you haven’t overlooked any planning details:

  • Know your route. Plan for what roads you’ll be taking, and have a physical copy or downloaded version of your map in case you lose service. Remember that not all routes can accommodate your RV, so research what roads you can’t take. Also, be wary of your RV’s height and plan to avoid tunnels that won’t give ample clearance.
  • Watch the weather. Follow the forecast to avoid driving into hazardous conditions, and be prepared to change your route or prolong your stay if things get messy.
  • Break up the trip. RV experts will advise you to follow the 2-2-2 or 3-3-3 rule. Using these guidelines, your family will travel 200 miles daily, check in to the campsite at 2:00 pm, and stay for two days. You should also plan where to take rest stops and avoid driving at night.
  • Make reservations. Do not assume that every campground will have space for you. Always call ahead to secure your spot.
  • Protect your home. To ward off unwanted visitors while you’re away, take precautions to keep your home safe. Leave your lights on an automatic timer and arrange for someone to pick up packages, mail, or newspapers. When you leave, make sure to lock all doors and windows.
  • Plan your meals. You don’t want to bring too much or too little food. Plan what meals you will cook, and pinpoint any restaurants and diners you want to stop at. Also, mark down any grocery stores you will pass or stay near.

RV Trip Checklist

While you don’t want to forget anything important, you don’t want to pack too much. Below is a checklist of the essential camping items you’ll want to have on hand.

Essential RV Travel Packing List

  • Fully stocked travel first aid kit
  • Insurance and health documents
  • Wallets, IDs, credit cards, and passports
  • Sunglasses
  • Waterbottles
  • Medications and EpiPens
  • Chargers for personal devices
  • Portable chargers and batteries
  • Emergency work lights and flashlights
  • Spare batteries
  • Basic RV tool kit
  • Food
  • Cookware, including pots and pans, hotplates, and a coffee maker
  • Kitchen items, including aluminum foil, plastic wrap, and plastic bags
  • Plates and cutlery
  • Cooking and serving utensils
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Garbage bags
  • Toiletry items, including toilet paper, soaps, hygiene products, shaving kits, towels, toothbrushes, and toothpaste
  • Bedding and blankets

RV Camping List for Family

  • Maps, a GPS, and compasses
  • Tents and sleeping bags
  • Two-way radios
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellant
  • Pocket knife
  • Matches or a lighter
  • Hiking gear
  • Rope
  • Fishing equipment
  • Games
  • Camera
  • Binoculars
  • Nature guides and travel information

Exterior RV Storage Items

  • Portable water hose
  • Sewer hose supports, extension, coupler, and clamps
  • Hose repair kit
  • Fuses
  • Electrical system repair tools
  • Grounded electrical extension
  • Electrical adapters
  • Vehicle cleaning supplies

Find RV Storage Near You With Storage Star

Once you return from your incredible vacation, you’ll need to find a secure and affordable place to park your RV until your next adventure. Storage Star offers a wide selection of covered and uncovered parking spaces for large vehicles. Our boat and RV storage options feature quality amenities so you can have peace of mind while waiting for your next trip. 

Browse our list of storage facilities to discover a location near you, and contact us today to get started on finding your ideal vehicle storage solution with some help from Storage Star.

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