Once again, we are in the process of packing up and setting off to our next destination. I’d like to say that we are up and out of a place within 15 or 20 minutes, but that typically isn’t the case. When it comes to packing up our 26 foot motorhome and leaving, we have learned that this process can take a couple of hours, minimum. If we are work camping at a location for a month or more, we may spread out the tasks over a period of days.
There are four key areas of our RV that we zero in on before departing a location. They include close inspection of our tires, care of windows, tank maintenance, and occupant safety by securing personal effects.
RV Travel Preparations: Four Things to Check Before your Next Road Trip
We want to always make sure the wheels on the RV (and tow vehicle) go round and round…all the way through towns and to our next site. We do everything we can on our end to ensure a safe ride.
Initially, we perform a visual inspection of each tire, looking for any detrimental wear and tear. This means checking for any foreign objects penetrating the surface, bulges, or deformities. Any of these are red flags and the tire should be fixed/replaced before leaving. We also check the depth of the treads using the Penny Test or tread depth gauge. Tire depth is measured in 32nds of an inch (speaking strictly in our country.) According to the United States Department of Transportation, when depth has decreased to 2/32″ it’s time to replace the tire.
Checking tire pressure is typically the next step in this process. Sadly, until full time RVing, I never paid much attention to my tire pressure and would only fill them if the gauge yelled at me with the bright flat tire picture. The video below takes viewers through the steps of checking and filling tires to their appropriate capacity. It was also my first lesson.
If we have been sitting for a few months, we will make sure that our lug nuts are properly tightened. This prevents a whole gamut of unnecessary tire debacles like completely destroying the bolts or (worse yet) completely loosing a tire. In the video below, Levi details the steps necessary to torque your lug nuts.
Windows and Mirrors
Almost every road trip includes bouts of rain. To quote Forrest Gump, we come across all kinds of rain. “Little bitty stingin’ rain… and big ol’ fat rain. Rain that flew in sideways. And sometimes rain even seemed to come straight up from underneath.” Clean windows and mirrors plus functional wipers equal our best friends, in this case. However, if we neglect to care for them, they tend to suffer and retaliate.
We learned this the hard way with our wipers, in particular. They had been sitting in the bitter cold and baking sun for a while without being utilized, inspected, or covered. When we fired up the engine for takeoff and tested the wipers, we were dismayed to find the rubber brittle and barely hanging on.
Just replace it, right? Piece of cake, right? Wrong! Our motorhome requires a specific wiper, so specific that it took us three states and five stores to find. We ultimately got our hands on a pair at a Camping World,;this was after visiting a Walmart, a couple of auto shops, and another Camping World. My point, especially if you are traveling in a motorhome, be wary of the wipers’ condition and always, always carry a spare!
As far as improving visibility with your windows and side mirrors, products like Rain-X repel rain and avoid adhesion of natural elements like frost, mud, and bugs. This makes for a safer, smoother ride through those unexpected patches.
Something else we do before embarking on the open road is thoroughly clean our water holdng tanks: fresh, grey, and black. Levi details the processes below in his Keep the Tip video.
One of the last measures we take is securing items on board; batten down the hatches, if you will. This includes items inside and outside the RV and tow vehicle.
Inside the RV, we remove items from countertops or shelves that would otherwise slip and slide or fall during transit. We take personal belongings off hooks or handles that could rock or fly off. We make sure doors, drawers, and cupboards are securely closed.
Since we are traveling with pets, we make sure that they have access to their comfy beds and blankets, litter box and no spill water bowl.
Outside, we lock all storage compartments and walk the entire perimeter of the rig to make sure slides and awnings are pushed in completely. Just a little tip, we keep our RV keys laced on a ribbon or zip tie attached to the TV antenna handle as a reminder to bring it down.
We do have a carrier on the back of the RV, as well as a dolly towing our little Toyota. I think we check the tightness of the ties and cords at least 10x a day to make sure everything is locked down. It may sound paranoid or obsessive, but better to be safe on the road than cause a accident with a loose bicycle.
What do you think are the most important things to check before departing? Let us know in the comments, below!
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Wherever you are on your travels, be safe and happy trails!