RV Tips: Pre-Trip Reminders

May 11, 2012

Last month, I completed my RV spring preparation checklist and we took our first RV trip of the season. We loaded the RV and headed to the Gettysburg KOA in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. If you ever get a chance to visit Gettysburg, I highly recommend it. Standing on the battlefield, walking through the cemetery and reading the Gettysburg Address brings a reality to the sacrifices made by our forefathers that have allowed us to enjoy the freedoms we have today.

The Gettysburg KOA is centrally located to Hershey, Pennsylvania, the Amish country, Washington, D.C., Antietam and Baltimore, Maryland. This KOA makes a great home base when planning some terrific day trips to all the surrounding areas. If you’re a Harley-Davidson fan don’t miss out on a factory tour of the York Harley-Davidson facility right down the road in York, Pennsylvania.

Now that we have this first RV trip of the season behind us, I wanted to offer a simple RV pre-trip checklist you can follow to keep your RV road-ready for all your trips this camping season. Regardless of the type of RV you have, you need to get in the habit of making these pre-trip checks every time you use your RV.

Taking a few minutes to complete these simple checks before leaving home or before leaving your favorite KOA can save you time and money on unnecessary repairs to your RV.

Let’s start with the outside of the RV:

  1. Check and adjust the air pressure in all tires. Always check the tires when they are cold, before traveling more than one mile
  2. Check the lug nuts on the wheels. Discoloration and stains around lug nuts indicate they may be loose
  3. Make sure all items in the storage compartments are secure. Lock all outside compartments
  4. Check the bike rack and bikes for secure mounting, if applicable
  5. Make sure the power cord, water hose and the sewer hose are disconnected and properly stowed
  6. Make sure all slide-outs are stowed and slide-out travel locks are securely in place
  7. Make sure the TV antenna and/or satellite are down and stowed in the proper position for traveling.
  8. Check the awning. Make sure that it is securely retracted and all travel locks and knobs are tight and locked
  9. Raise all stabilizer jacks or hydraulic leveling jacks
  10. Look under the RV for any indications of leaks (motorized) or anything out of the ordinary
  11. Stow or retract the steps
  12. Fill the fresh water holding tank with enough potable water to get to your destination
  13. Check and secure the cap on the sewer outlet
  14. Turn all LP gas appliances off and turn the gas supply off at the tank or bottles
  15. Double check all hitch work on towable RVs and on vehicles being towed behind motor homes
  16. Check all fluid levels for motorized RVs and tow vehicles
  17. Remove and store wheel chocks and any type of leveling blocks
  18. Check all running lights, turn signals, brake lights and headlights on the RV and tow vehicle
  19. Check for an up-to-date inspection or emission sticker and license plates
  20. Check trailer brakes for proper operation
  21. Make one final walk around the outside of the RV and check for anything you may have overlooked. You might be surprised what you missed the first time around.

Don’t forget about the inside of your RV:

  1. Walk through the entire RV and secure all loose items that could move, fall or get damaged while traveling
  2. Turn off all appliances, gas and electric. Turn off all pilot lights
  3. Close all windows, blinds, roof vents, doors, drawers, range top cover, and cabinets
  4. Check for anything in the refrigerator that could spill. Lock the refrigerator and freezer door
  5. Turn off the 12-volt water pump
  6. Turn off all 12-volt lights and accessories that could drain the auxiliary battery. Don’t forget the TV antenna booster
  7. Secure any items like TVs and computers that might move or fall while traveling
  8. All weight in the RV should be distributed evenly. Adjust your mirrors and seat and hit the road

This pre-trip checklist does not cover everything, but it’s a good start. You can add to this list and tailor it to your specific type of RV. The most important thing to remember is to use this checklist every time you use your RV. It’s easy to forget something without a reminder!

Happy RV learning,

Mark J. Polk

For more information on how to purchase, use and maintain your RV be sure to visit www.rveducation101.com. This is an excerpt from my Checklists for RVers E-Book available at www.rveducation101.com


  • Donald McCreary


    Regarding your pre-trip checklist, you might want to add a condition to turning off the LP, if you’ll be using the refrigerator.

  • Francis A. Rath

    For many years now, we have created ‘LEAVING CAMPSITE’ and ‘ARRIVING AT CAMPSITE’ Checklists and laminated them on a 4 by 6 card, front and back. A short leather loop is attached so when we arrive, the checklist is hung on the rear-view mirror. When driving, it’s stowed on the center console. After we’ve done (or THINK we’ve done!) everything before leaving or arriving at a campsite, we read the list out loud to make sure we’ve not missed anything. Our Checklist insures we always know we’re REALLY ready for the road or relaxing!

  • Bernard Boland

    Several years ago I joined KOA, and enjoyed lots of stays in KOA campgrounds . Unfortunately, my wife died over three years ago, and I sold our RV because obviously, at almost 74 years of age, I could not afford to run the RV, and I was not going to to find another partner. Little did I know!! After a couple of years I got to know a lady, active in theatre as I am, and a fervent camper, and we are now very happily married!

    I had let my KOA membership lapse after my wife’s death, but my new bride and I have bought a small RV and want to go camping in KOA campgrounds as we cross Canada — but I cannot get a membership card. I cannot join as a new member, as my name is still in your records — but nor can I join as a returning member, because I threw out my membership card when my wife died. What can I do?

    There is a new KOA campground on the western outskirts of my home town, Winnipeg, MB, Canada; should I go there and get membership there?

    Please let me know, as we would love to stay at KOA’s on our big trip to Quebec in August.

    Thank you,

    Bernard Boland & Joan Wilton