In our last post with Tips for First Time RVers, we discussed the types of trailers you might want to buy and items you’ll want to purchase afterwards to supplement your purchase.  In this episode we’ll help you get ready for your first RV trip.

You’re excited, we know, to have that RV parked in the driveway! It means trips are mere moments away, right? Not so fast! You’ve got the RV fully stocked, yes, but there are still some things to do before you hit the road.

  1. Sanitize your fresh water tank. To do this, use 1/4 cup of bleach for every 15 gallons of water your fresh water tank holds.  So, if yours holds 30 gallons, use 1/2 cup of bleach.  Mix the bleach with water in a container that will easy pour water into your fresh water tank.  We use a 3-gallon camping water container with a spout.  Pour the water in and then use your hose to fill the fresh water tank almost full of water.  Once you’ve done this let the tank sit for 10 minutes or so.  Turn on the water pump (You may want to plug in the RV before you do this, especially if your battery isn’t charged.) Then open the faucets inside and run them until you can smell the bleach.  Turn the faucets off and again let everything sit for about 30 minutes.  Then empty the tank (reuse the water somewhere if you can!).  You may want to then refill the tank half way and run water through the faucets again to clear any remaining bleach odor.
  2. Charge your battery. This will happen naturally when the RV is plugged in.
  3. Plug in the RV a few days before your trip to charge the battery and cool off the refrigerator.
  4. Make a campground reservation.  If possible, try to find a place close by that has water available and electrical hookups.  This way you’ll be able to try out all the features of your camper.  If you don’t have any real campgrounds close by, you can boondock on public land or even plan a “camping” trip in your driveway!

    Dolores River Campground
    Standard sites at the Dolores River Campground come with all the amenities: electric, water, sewer, and cable.
  5. If you’re nervous about backing the camper, try to find a campsite at your nearest campground that’s a pull-thru site. Pull thrus can ease the anxiety of actually getting the RV into the campsite itself.
  6. Once you’ve made it to camp and filled up with water, get parked.  If you’ve got someone with you, you can split up the duties:
    1. Once the trailer is level, one of us works on exterior set-up – unhitching the trailer, lowering the stabilizer jacks, hooking up the electric, etc.
    2. The other works on interior set-up – setting up the dinette, putting out the trashcans, getting the food box situated, getting out the camp chairs and patio mat, etc.  This way we’re done with all the set-up work in a mere 10 minutes!
  7. Now it’s time to relax for a bit and enjoy your favorite beverage of choice.
  8. For the remainder of your time, test out everything! Test the awning (don’t leave it open in strong winds), test the hot water heater, the stove/oven/microwaves, the shower.  This is the time to test everything.  If you’re in a large campground and aren’t sure about something, ask your camp hosts or a nearby neighbor.  RVers are super friendly and are always willing to help!
  9. Before you start packing up, make a list of things to do and check: turn off the fridge, the water pump, etc.  When the trailer is hooked up, make sure the brake lights and blinkers work, remove all the chocks, lock the outside storage, etc.

Your next step will be to empty your gray and black water tanks at the campground dump station or a nearby one. Use to find a close dump station if your campground doesn’t have one. To learn more about emptying your tanks, read our recent article here.