Getting Ready for an RV Road Trip

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We’ve been lucky to embark on a few long RV road trips in the last couple years. Over that time, our process for getting RV ready and preparing our rig for a big trip has gotten a bit more streamlined.

It’s still not a perfect process and things can definitely still go wrong along the way. But having these checks in place before taking off helps make the process a lot smoother and catches some minor issues before taking off. I hope this list helps you in preparing for an RV trip, as well!

getting ready for an rv road trip

Pre-Trip Check for an RV Road Trip

One of the most important things we do before setting off on an RV road trip is to go through a full pre-trip inspection at Camping World. They have a full 45-point pre-trip check that checks everything from brakes to the generator to the tires. It helps us feel confident that all the major systems are in good shape.

For instance, we got alerted this last time that our front two tires were getting worn and didn’t have much life left. It was a good reminder to switch them out before heading off on a long RV trip, and to also make sure we had a full-size spare ready. It was also great to know that our battery, which we replaced about a year ago, was in great shape. Check out your stove, water heater, A/C, heater, oven, microwave, fridge, and all the other appliances.

We also learned to seal off any holes or openings to the outside or underneath the rig. We had a very annoying mosquito problem that we solved with sealing tape and wish we’d done this beforehand! We were really glad that Camping World had checked the roof and knew that it was in good condition and well sealed.

Oil Change and Fluids Check for Your RV

It’s also really important to get an oil change before heading off on a trip, especially a longer one. For us, we knew we’d be driving many miles this summer so actually looked up several oil change locations along the way, as well. Camping World does actually perform oil changes in certain locations, as well (though sadly doesn’t at our local one as it’s a smaller shop). Make sure you find oil change locations that will work on RVs!

While there, ask them to check other fluid levels and, make sure you have extras on hand of transmission fluid, windshield washer fluid, antifreeze, etc. Fill your propane tank and consider whether you need extra on hand.

Alignment, Wheel Balance, Tire Rotation

Alignment is something else to make sure you get done before driving a ton of miles. Our local tire shop takes care of this for us, and can also do a wheel balance and tire rotation when necessary. You definitely want to make sure these are in excellent working order so you don’t cause other issues to creep up!

RV Mechanical Check

If you’ll be driving long distances, especially in the dark, make sure that your headlights are in great working order (the Camping World pre-trip check alerted us that one of ours was out!). We replaced ours with super powerful ones that will be especially helpful in areas with lots of wildlife. Make sure to check all the filters, belts, hoses, brakes, and more.

Stock Water/Food/Cleaning Supplies/Toiletries in Your RV

This probably seems obvious but it’s something that we sometimes push to the last minute and always regret! We have these dispensers mounted in our shower area (here’s another great option) so we like to make sure they’re topped off. We also have this one in the bathroom and this in the kitchen for dish and hand soap. Plus, we always need to make sure we’re well stocked on things like RV toilet paper, toothpaste, disinfecting wipes, contact lens solution, healthy road trip snacks, etc. We also make sure to fill water in the RV, and have water bottles accessible for everyone while buckled and driving.

Get RV Cleaned, Wash Bedding, and Plan for Laundry

I always love starting off a long trip with a fresh, clean RV! We always love having a cleaner come to make sure we start off nice and fresh. It’s a small space so it’s usually very inexpensive and it’s nice to start off with things sparkling. This includes cleaning things like windows and mirrors for safety.

I also love starting with fresh bedding. We love having Beddy’s bedding on our bed as it is so easy to make without needing to squeeze a comforter in the sides and also stays looking neat and tidy even when we’re driving. We also stock our towels – we love these for bath towels because they’re lightweight and dry fast, and everyone has their own color. We also always keep some dish towels and quick dry towels on hand.

We also like having a little mini portable washing machine with us (very similar to this one) so we can do a quick load of wash or even wash sheets if a kiddo has a nighttime accident. It’s inexpensive and doesn’t take much space and is truly SO handy.

Also, make sure that your black and gray water tanks are empty (and showing empty!).

Gather RV Emergency Road Trip Supplies

There are several things that we always like to have on hand as far as emergency RV supplies – a battery-powered jump starter, air compressor, tire pressure monitor, amongst several others. (Our Good Sam Roadside Assistance and emergency GPS device have come in VERY handy recently!) Definitely prepare these in advance so they’re ready to go if and when you need them.

Packing For An RV Trip

Of course, packing is a huge part of getting ready for any trip – and an RV trip is no different! Here are a few different packing lists we use to make sure we’re prepared and have everything we need:

One extra we always make sure to pack when heading on an RV road trip is cash, including some small bills. This can be really helpful at some unattended campgrounds and state/local parks. And when packing, make sure that everything is safely stored in secure cabinets inside your rig. We try to avoid putting anything heavy in higher cabinets just in case, and also have these baby locks on upper cabinets for some added security.

Be sure to check your rig’s Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) to see how much weight you can safely carry, and then weigh in at a highway weigh station.

Plan, Make Reservations, and Prepare Maps for an RV Road Trip

A big part of the trip isn’t just getting the RV ready, but getting ready to go to the places! Especially if you’re traveling during peak camping season, a lot of campgrounds and RV parks may book up in advance. Be sure to make any reservations you need and figure out your stops in advance (or prepare for boondocking). Don’t forget to purchase physical maps as well as download offline Google Maps for your location. We have this great Milepost book for Alaska.

Apply for a Credit Card with a Good Gas Bonus

Whenever getting our rig ready for a big trip, we know that we’ll be spending a fair bit of money on gas. So it’s nice having a credit card on hand that gives a higher percentage back on gas purchases. We really like the Amex Blue Cash Preferred, which offers 3% back on gas. With high gas prices (and also going through a lot with an RV), both Dan and I each have this card since a lot of gas stations have a cap on the amount you can spend with one card.

Bonus: Learn About the Place We’re Going

And, of course, the most important part of the trip is not just how we get there – but the trip itself!! We love learning about places we’re going with our kids in advance. In preparing for Alaska, for instance, each of our kids picked one of the 8 national parks to research and taught the rest of the family about wildlife, history, indigenous peoples, and more. It was such a fun way to get excited about our trip together!

If you’ve gone on a long RV trip before, what are some things you like to do in advance to prepare?

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