Whether you’re on a multi-stop road trip, or you live on the road full time, travel days can be a chaotic time. When breaking camp, it seems like there’s so much to do and that 11am checkout time seems to be approaching at warp speed! Or maybe you’ve arrived a little later than planned, it’s dark, the family is hungry, and setup needs to happen as soon as humanly possible! We’ve all experienced the craziness that travel days can present. But having traveled full time in our Holiday Rambler Vacationer for over a year now, we have gotten travel days down to a pretty tight science. Even with extenuating circumstances, we’ve learned how to shorten the process so we can get on the road or set up camp in as little time as possible. In this article we’ll be sharing our process for setting up and breaking down and how we make it as smooth a process as possible to avoid the chaos!
RV Camp Break Down
The best way to get your process in order is to take the time to list out all the things that need to be done. Then take that master checklist and break it down into several smaller task lists. For example, when we have been at a campground for a month, there are tons of steps that need to be taken to go from living mode to ready to roll. The larger of these task groups include putting away all outside gear, disconnecting and putting away water/sewer/electric hookups, hooking up the Jeep to be towed, and breaking down inside the RV to bring in the slideouts. Each of these overarching tasks can then be broken down into its own list of steps. For example, disconnecting the hookups includes draining and rinsing the holding tanks, disconnecting and putting away the sewer and water hoses, switching from city water to on-board fresh water so it can be used during travel, shutting off and disconnecting the power cord, and making sure all storage bays are locked.
As you can see, the number of steps from start to finish can be quite large, and that’s why having the different checklists is helpful. Typically, I handle the stuff on the outside of the coach, and Kristi takes care of getting the inside set up and going. But it’s a good idea to know all the tasks for the inside and outside. There was a 2-week period that Kristi and Kade flew back to Baltimore and I drove our Vacationer solo from Montana to Indiana. So, having a good idea of everything that needed to happen inside was helpful. At some point it will become second nature, but it’s always good to review the lists before rolling to make sure you didn’t skip anything inadvertently. Trust me it’s never fun to find out the hard way that you forgot to lock the fridge while taking a tight turn out of the campground. It’s happened more than once to us. So, make sure to lock the fridge!
Another thing we do to keep the breakdown process from being an overwhelming fire drill on moving day, is tackling as many of the tasks as we can on the day BEFORE moving day. It all takes longer than you think it will, and that checkout time never seems late enough. So, we have found that if we can tackle a lot of the secondary items the day before when we’re not rushed, it helps lighten the load the morning of. And we still checkout late sometimes, so we’re not perfect by any means! The key is to lessen the amount of rushing that you need to do. When you’re in a hurry, things tend to get skipped. And that’s when you arrive at your next destination only to discover you left the socket wrench used to tighten down your bike rack on the picnic table at the last campground…4 hours away.
I have said it before, but a few years ago I was adamantly against going camping. I was a to-the-core hotel guy! My in-laws have been camping for decades and Kristi grew up making long road trips across the country. And to this day, her parents are still active campers with their travel trailer. The first time they invited us to join them on a trip (still in my camping denial stage) reinforced my love for hotels. Watching my father in-law spend so much time getting the trailer set up confirmed that this was not for me. Fast forward to today and I have to say that one of the biggest things that sold me on a Class A coach was the ease of setup. When I realized how simple it was to level and hook up our Vacationer, it made the whole experience much better for me since less time was spent setting up, and more time was spent enjoying the new spot! There have been times when we have rolled into a campsite late, in the dark, in pouring down rain. Not ideal by any means, but we can get set up and operate without even leaving the coach. I level at the touch of a button, put the slides out, and use the house batteries or fire up the generator. Then I can wait until daylight, hopefully without rain, to get all hooked up. And in normal, nice conditions, I’m usually level and all hooked up in less than 30 minutes…including unhooking our Jeep! Our Class A Vacationer is definitely the way to go!
As for our typical setup routine, we basically just use the same RV setup checklists we have for breakdown and reverse them. The biggest difference with setup is that there is no checkout deadline looming! So, we usually get the main items checked off the list, then hang out for an hour or 2 to see how we really want to “move in” and set up the site. We may even take a walk or a bike ride to explore the new campground or area before we get everything out.
The key to smooth travel days is a good routine and not rushing. Whether it’s breaking camp, rolling down the road, or getting all set up, you don’t want to be frantic or hurried. That’s when things get missed and people get frustrated. After all, the RV life is all about slowing down, enjoying the small things, and spending as much time in beautiful locations as possible. So have your RV camp checklists at the ready (ours are on a smartphone app, but laminated physical copies work just as well), take your time, and enjoy the day! And make sure to lock the fridge!
Meet Spencer, Kristi and Kade, a.k.a. the Adventurtunity Family! In September 2020, they embarked on an adventure to live full-time in their 37′ Holiday Rambler Vacationer. Originally from Baltimore, they have traveled the country in their RV and are sharing their adventures, insight and tips with others in the hopes of inspiring them to hit the road and explore, too.