We are leaving on Friday for our first full week of vacation since May 2015, and I am more than ready, especially since the worst of the summer heat seems to now be behind us.
Since we bought our new-to-us RV back in May, our second RV, we’ve enjoyed two weekend trips and one slightly longer trip over the 4th of July, but those shorter trips are just not the same as a full week off with a weekend on either end.
This will be a solo trip for us and the dogs, and it will also be a slightly different RV trip for us, as we will enjoy both rural camping and camping in town for a change to allow us to take advantage of some activities and dining options nearby. We will also be able to do a bit of fact finding for possible future trips back to this area in the RV, too.
Our upcoming trip will be our first longer trip in this particular RV, and it will also be our first test trip in colder weather. We’ve really had to give some thought to suddenly going from hot summer days to cold nights near freezing and cooler days next week. We normally don’t make a trip in cold conditions until the winter months, so our packing efforts are quite deliberate in hopes that we don’t forget something important.
The following discussion came after several recent visits with fellow RV friends who also vacation by RV regularly. Some are new to RVing and some are not. We all face the same challenge of code restrictions that limit the amount of time our RVs can be parked at home, only 24 hours at a time. While we all approach our loading process in much the same way, we all vary our loading processes just a bit, too. Below, I’ve shared information on our own approach that works quite well for us.
We just vacation in our RV at this point in our lives, and our loading process for each trip varies, depending on our destination and the weather forecast. We must do most of our loading while the RV is in covered storage, as we cannot park it at our house except for very short periods of time, due to restrictions in our area. We are actually fine with this process, as we’ve learned to load the RV in storage pretty efficiently over time. We’ve also found that we are able to get away faster on our trips by simply departing from the storage facility, rather than leaving from our house and fighting more traffic.
Preparing the RV and loading prior to a trip basically looks something like this for us. Checklists definitely help expedite the process, and this list is not necessarily everything we do… just the main things.
Immediately after returning from a trip:
- Wash all RV linens and return them to the RV right after we return from a trip.
- Make the bed so we are ready to go if we want to make a trip with short notice.
Weekend prior to departure:
- Get gasoline and/or propane for the RV and check all fluid levels. (We filled up for only $1.83 per gallon!)
- Wash the RV, and/or clean the windshield and other windows, as needed. (We power wash the windshield and hand wash the front of the RV when we arrive at storage at the end of a trip in the non-winter months to get the bugs off, but it still gets pretty dirty in storage at times, even though it sits in covered storage.)
During the week prior to our trip:
- Unload any items that we will not need for our upcoming trip from inside the RV and from the basements. (RV weight management)
- Load any items that we need for our trip that we’ve stored at home, except food items, including refreshing first aid items.
- Load a few jugs of water inside for the drive because we never carry water in the RV holding tank while driving to minimize that weight.
- Load clothes and shoes… and coats! (We adore camping in cooler weather, especially after a hot summer.)
- Load non-refrigerated foods and prescription meds. (We load our meds at least a day early so that we lessen the risk of forgetting them.)
- Plug in the RV to charge the house batteries. If storms with lightning are in the forecast, we sometimes opt to not plug in until the risk is lessened, even though we have a good surge protector on the RV.
- Turn on the refrigerator when plugged in, giving it at least 24 hours to reach proper temps.
- Clean kitchen and bathroom and other areas, as needed.
Day prior to departure:
- Check air in the tires and add air, as needed.
- Verify that the fridge and freezer are at proper temperatures and adjust the thermostat, as needed. (We keep a thermometer in each section.)
- Buy fresh produce, preferably at one of the farmer’s markets seasonally, if possible.
- Load food and supplies for the dogs. (We carry their food in sealed containers.)
Day of departure:
- Load refrigerated and freezer foods. (I stage these items on a shelf by themselves in the fridge and freezer at home because it’s definitely not good to go off and leave food behind that I missed, especially on trips where we don’t bring the car along and/or when we are camped in very remote locations. Been there, done that.)
- Load small electronics and camera bag. (We keep extra chargers in the RV.)
- Attach the trailer to the RV, if we are taking it.
- Leave car(s) in our covered storage as we depart in the RV.
The longer the trip, the earlier we generally start the loading process. For our ten day trip coming up, we have actually completed most everything up to the items we take care of on the day before or day of departure, with the exception of our food. This gives me more time this week to work planning our menu and cooking in advance for our trip, as well as writing a blog post about it all!
We no longer load any items in the RV fridge or freezer until shortly before we leave. We have a RV neighbor who shares our set of plugs in storage that routinely does something to throw the breaker on our set of plugs, even though we’ve reported this many times to management. Also, we just feel better loading all those items closer to departure because we take food safety seriously, especially on our RV trips. And even though we don’t have any issues with squirrels or other animals at our storage facility, we never keep food in the RV that might attract them if we can help it. We’ve heard horror stories about chewed wiring, etc., especially from squirrels, and that’s yet another good reason for us to load in storage. We have many squirrels in our neighborhood and in our own tree in front.
Fortunately, we do not have a long drive from our house to the RV storage facility, so loading while in storage is a viable option for us. If we lived further away, though, loading in storage would be more problematic and time-consuming. We also have several good shopping options near the storage facility, if we need to pick up any items and carry them straight to the RV in storage instead of bringing them home first.
On another RV related subject, we have already made our camping reservations for….
Yes, this is still August.
I am amazed at just how early people are now reserving their RV sites for both Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday weeks, and we were fortunate to think of making our reservation for that week before we totally missed out in securing a site reservation. When we started traveling by RV five years ago, we had no trouble getting a site for Thanksgiving, but that’s definitely no longer the case.
Autumn is now our Summer in so many ways. It is the time we tend to take our RV out as often as we can find a way to do so because it is the very best time of the entire year weather wise. The weather is already cooling off and some seasonal monsoon rains are showing up once again. Such is the case now and for the past two weeks, and we definitely have RV travel “fever” once again.
I’ll be away from the blog for awhile during our trip, but I hope to return with some good photos of a truly beautiful area and maybe even some helpful RV tips on traveling there.