Before hitting the road with your motorhome or travel trailer, it is important to perform a thorough pre-trip check to ensure your rig is safe and roadworthy. Performing this check can help you avoid embarrassing and potentially dangerous situations, such as forgetting to bring in your entrance steps or cranking down your roof antenna. To help you avoid these issues and ensure a safe and comfortable trip, we have compiled a comprehensive pre-trip checklist for motorhomes and travel trailers.
For The Engine
Keeping your motorhome’s engine well maintained is crucial. There are some simple things you can do to prolong your RV’s life and avoid having it break down on your travels.
If you are buying your own RV for your road trip, we strongly recommend getting a pre-purchase inspection done by a trusted mechanic. This can save you a lot of headaches down the road.
RV Engine Checks
Some helpful items you can keep in your RV that will help with any engine needs:
- Oil – Find the correct type of Oil that your motorhome takes and then buy a few gallons to make sure you’re covered when you hit the road. It’s a good idea to check oil and water levels every time you head off on a big drive. You will probably need 5W-20 or 15W-40 depending on your motorhome. Read the owner’s manual before putting any in. You want to get an oil change every 5000-6000 miles to keep your engine healthy.
- Empty Gas Can – These come in super handy when you get a little too cocky on how many miles per gallon your RV can get. It’s not easy to push an RV to a gas station if it runs out of fuel. So keep an empty gas can in the coach in case you do run out. We recommend a 5 or 10-gallon. 1 gallon might not get you to the gas station.
- RV Battery Starter – You don’t want to be stranded, off-grid, and not have any way of getting your camper jump-started. Cables work, but you need another car to run for 20 minutes or so to charge the battery from dead. Get a battery starter pack so you can jump-start yourself from anywhere.
Inside the Motorhome
Life inside the motorhome can get crammed and messy if you don’t keep on top of the mess. It can make it an unpleasant place to live if it’s dirty and starts to smell. These are items that made life a little easier inside the rig:
- Broom/Mop – With people coming in and out of the motorhome so often, RV floors can quickly get dusty, dirty, or sandy. Having a broom or mop on board will allow you to have sparkling clean floors in minutes.
- Brush and Shovel – These are perfect for tidying up any breaks or spills in the motorhome. If you secure your items properly, you can help avoid these. Scroll down to Secure the Interior for more on this.
- Handy Wipes – these are great for cleaning any surface and you don’t necessarily need running water to help clean everything, so it’s perfect for an RV.
- Camping Lantern – Most lanterns charge while you drive, or you can get solar ones. These are perfect if you are going off-grid and can’t plug your RV into a power source. Or if you just want to limit your camper’s battery or generator use.
- Playing Cards or Board Games – Great way to fill in your downtime in the camper. The Struggle for Catan was our personal favorite.
- Portable Battery Bank – You can charge these in your RV and then plug your phone or laptop in when the battery runs low. It’s perfect for when you’re going off-grid or hiking for a few days and still want to take pictures or use your devices.
- Portable Wireless Router – for connecting to the internet when you go off the grid. Perfect if you plan on working online while you travel.
There are lots of things that can go wrong on an RV Road Trip, but by being organized and preparing properly before setting off, you can help avoid these.
- Surge Protector – If you plan on connecting to an outside power source on your travel, then you need one of these. All it takes is a power spike to completely fry your RV electrics and cost you thousands in repairs. A surge protector can be an expensive investment but look at it as insurance; a $200 outlay could save you your RV or at least thousands of dollars.
- Travel First Aid Kit – These come in handy sometimes; you never know what you might need. Fill it with band-aids, antiseptic creams, and painkillers/medication.
- Insect Repellent and Sunblock
- Cell phone
- RV Fire Extinguisher – Self Explanatory. A fire could rip through an RV in no time, so it is crucial to have a small fire extinguisher on hand. Especially with all the cooking inside that is done in an RV.
- A Door Lock – Doors to Motorhomes aren’t very secure, especially older ones. We learned this the hard way, as one night when we had it parked on the street, the door into the motorhome was broken into and kicked in. An RV secure door lock could easily have prevented this.
Secure the Interior
If you haven’t done much driving in an RV, then you need to know how important it is to secure the interior before hitting the road. Otherwise, you will hear a lot of banging and crashing as you start driving and going around corners. If you don’t secure cupboards, clear counters and benches, and lock the fridge or freezer, then you will be dealing with a big mess when you stop driving.
- Waffle Grip Mats are a great way to prevent this. You buy these in big rolls and then cut them to fit your cupboards. This creates friction and will protect your items from getting thrown around the motorhome as you drive.
- Adjustable Fridge Bars are perfect to stop things flying out of your fridge or freezer when you’re on the road. On our road trip, our fridge door flew open when we went round a corner, and a full grocery shop ended up on the floor, not a fun clean up.
Off-Grid Camping Extras
- Camping Chairs and Table – Great for RV Road Trips in good weather, gives you a lot more space for preparing and eating meals (there’s not a lot of room in an RV kitchen…) and a nice outside area to hang out. Get ones you can easily fold down and put in the storage under your camper. Tip: Get Low-Quality ones that work great, for $5 at Walmart.
- Tent – If you like to get off-road and go further into nature, you will want to bring a tent with you. They also work as extra sleeping room if you haven’t got enough beds in the camper. Get one that doesn’t take up too much storage room.
- Hammock – When you’ve parked the RV up, it’s nice to kick back in a hammock and read a book in the sun. These are a great investment if you have crammed sleeping areas in your Motorhome. Hook it up between a tree and your RV.
- Grill – A camping grill can be easily kept in the storage underneath the RV, and they are an awesome way to extend your living area and cook outside. We used ours a lot on our West Coast Road Trip as it was almost always sunny outside
- Chilly Bin or Cooler – If you need extra fridge space or just somewhere to keep your beer or wine chilled, then keep a chilly bin in your RV. (This one holds up to 36 cans
- Portable Insect Repeller – When you’re out in the wilderness and have a fire going or lights on in your motorhome, you will get hounded by mosquitos. Keep bugs out of your campsite by putting one of these just outside your R
- Leveling Blocks – Some RVs have inbuilt leveling blocks to make sure you have a flat sleep, even if you’re parked on a hill. We didn’t have inbuilt leveling blocks and didn’t buy portable ones, and there were a lot of nights parked on a hill or a serious lean. These could’ve stopped us rolling on top of each other in our sleep
- RV Solar Panel Kit – If you want to reduce your energy usage while on the road and want to have a renewable power source on your RV, then invest in an RV Solar Panel Kit. As long as there is sun, you will have power inside the motorhome. You can still plug into power sources to top up your battery levels even if there is no sun.
Items for RV Dumping
- A good quality RV Sewer Hose – you won’t have any leaks, and you’ll be able to store it easily, unlike an old bulky hose.
- Support stands for the Sewer Hose – this makes it a lot easier to clean, and your hose won’t lay in any leftover liquid from previous campers.
- Disposable Gloves – It’s a messy job, and gloves help a lot.
- Organic Holding Tank Chemicals – Removes any smell from your waste tanks, and it’s organic, so it doesn’t put nasty chemicals into the drain.
- Water Hose – You need this to fill up the freshwater tanks in the RV, and they come in handy for cleaning up any messes. Especially after the RV Dump, you will want a good hose.
Q1. How often should I perform a pre-trip check on my motorhome or travel trailer?
A1. It’s important to perform a pre-trip check before every trip, to ensure that your rig is safe and roadworthy.
Q2. Can I customize the pre-trip checklist to my specific rig?
A2. Yes, it’s important to personalize the pre-trip checklist to your specific motorhome or travel trailer, to ensure that you don’t forget anything important.
Q3. Why is it important to check the tires before every trip?
A3. Checking the tires before every trip is important because proper tire pressure and tread depth can prevent blowouts and other tire-related issues on the road.
Q4. Do I need to turn off the propane before every trip?
A4. Yes, it’s important to turn off the propane before every trip to avoid any potential fire hazards.
Q5. What should I do if I find any issues during my pre-trip check?
A5. If you find any issues during your pre-trip check, it’s important to address them before hitting the road. This may involve making repairs or scheduling maintenance before your trip.
Performing a thorough pre-trip check is an essential part of ensuring a safe and comfortable journey with your motorhome or travel trailer. By following this checklist, you can rest easy knowing that your rig is in good condition and ready for the road ahead. Don’t forget to personalize the checklist to your specific rig and to perform the pre-trip check before every trip to ensure that your rig is safe and roadworthy.