Preparing a Travel Trailer for a Campout

As we’ve gotten older, we’ve discovered that tent camping is not as easy as it once was. It’s not so much the lack of amenities, it’s the physical work of setup and the difficulty of getting up and down from the ground. So, we acquired a travel trailer.

This is a whole new ballgame when it comes to preparations. Both the inside and the outside has to be checked, then the loading process needs accomplished. There are two big concerns with loading. How to stow everything is rather obvious, but if you’re towing a travel trailer, weight is another. The truck can only haul so much.

Outside Checklist

Leaks: If you don’t use the trailer much unless you’re camping, one of the concerns to check for is any leaks that may have developed. If you live in an area that gets rain on a consistent basis, that will be much easier. As we live in Southern California, we have to use the old hose method. One of us is inside while the other sprays the hose in areas that could have this problem.

Doors: Do the doors fasten properly? Are the locks working well? Before you leave, you should check every one of them to make sure they are closed and locked. We actually forgot to do one once and had to pull over to get it taken care of. You don’t want to do that on a freeway.

Antennae: If you have it raised, make sure it’s down. It could snap off.

Vents: Like the doors, the vents have to be closed prior to leaving. They can snap off as well.

Batteries: If you are camping where there are no hookups, you’re going to depend on your batteries for some of your needs. They won’t power the air conditioner, but they do provide light and electrical outlets.

Propane: Your stove, oven, heater, hot water heater and refrigerator usually run off of propane. Check to make sure the tanks are full, especially if you are going somewhere that gets colder than you like.

Inside Checklist

We use our trailer for a couple of things besides a home away from home. I use it as my office, and we also use it as our earthquake kit. As such, there are a few things that we have to do on this list that you may not require.

Batten Down: Anything lying around in the trailer is likely to be bounced off of what it’s laying on. If it’s breakable, this is a problem. It can also make a mess. You should also check your cabinets. Items inside will shift during the ride and you don’t want a glass jar of spaghetti sauce crashing down on your head when you get to where you’re going.

Slide Outs: Some slide outs are automatic, but ours is not. It has to be pushed in manually, and then secured so they don’t slide out during the trip.

Groceries: As mentioned before, weight is a big issue. If you’ll be camping in an area that has plenty of grocery stores, you may not have to bring all of your food straight from home. If you aren’t plan your menus carefully, keeping weight in mind.

When acquiring groceries, don’t forget the nonfood items you might need, whether it’s shampoo or paper plates. We use trial and travel sized versions, not just because they weigh less but because they fit in the cabinets better.

Sleeping: You may want to have an extra set of sheets along with you. If you don’t know what the temperatures at night are going to be, but suspect it’s going to be cold, an extra blanket or two may be a good idea as well.

Towels: You can’t have enough of these items. You’ll need bath towels for showers or if you get into water somewhere, kitchen towels and various types of rags. A few sponges are a good idea, too.

Camping Stuff: You won’t need much, as you’re basically bringing a small house with you. However, flashlights, lanterns, perhaps a travel sized grill and other items come in very handy.

Hauling In: Before we can load the trailer, we have to bring in what we don’t need to take with us. My office equipment, the earthquake supplies and other odds and ends take up space and add weight.

Tanks: Trailers usually have three tanks. One holds fresh water, one holds “grey” water such as from the kitchen sink and the other holds “black” water. Many campgrounds offer hookups that will take care of them, but some don’t. Before you leave, you should find a place that allows dumping and make sure the tanks are ready to go.

Traveling with a trailer or RV is a lot of fun, and it provides amenities a tent just can’t. Whether it’s your first trip or you’ve been doing this for years, Making sure you have these things handled will make a big difference.

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