Updated: January 27, 2022
Unless you are blessed with the memory of an elephant, you’ll probably forget something when setting up your RV.
You might forget to disconnect the safety chains, level your RV side-to-side, chock the trailer wheels, or unlock the slide mechanism. (Or if you’re like me, you’ll forget to do all those things.)
Changing Gears has provided the web’s best RV setup checklist for more than 15 years! We’ve listed all the steps you need to deploy your RV safely and quickly at your new campsite.
This online RV arrival checklist is for travel trailers and 5th wheels. For our motorhome edition, visit this other checklist.
The Advantages of a Printable RV Setup Checklist
Having an RV checklist is a great tool for any RVer, whether newbie or veteran. A checklist ensures that you do it right every time, the first time. It eliminates the worry of forgetfulness (and dare we say, a good checklist has saved a few marriages, too).
A setup process can avoid serious damage to your RV. More than one RV traveler has damaged their rig by operating their fridge off-level, jacking up the RV too high with stabilizer jacks, or forgetting to plug in their surge protector. A checklist takes the memory variable out of the equation.
Your checklist will evolve with your camping style and choice of RV. A downloadable printable checklist like our expanded version has empty rows where you can add your own checkpoints and reminders.
Thanks for “checking out” the Changing Gears family checklists, budgets and forms! Our online RV checklists are provided to you free of charge.
Other Changing Gears Checklists
- RV PDI Inspection Checklist
- Arrival & Setup Checklist – Motorhome
- Arrival & Setup Checklist – Towables
- Departure Checklist – Motorhome
- Departure Checklist – Towables
- RV Must-Have Accessories List
- New to RVing? – Getting Started
- Road Test Checklist – Motorhome
- Road Test Checklist – Towables
- RV Camping Gear List
- RV Types Pros & Cons Chart
- RV Basic Lifestyle Budget
All checklists are provided as-is. Use at your own risk. No merchantability for any use express or implied. See Website Terms & Conditions.
Download This Checklist!
We’ve developed an expanded, in-depth version of this checklist with over 75+ reminders for setting up and deploying your towable RV!
- Divides the setup process into easy-to-understand Sections, Instructions, and Notes.
- Each Section has room to pencil in your own reminders.
- Important Reminders are called out with colored icons so you don’t forget.
- Checklist has special tips and Reminders for boondocking and dry camping.
It’s the most comprehensive RV Arrival and Setup Checklist on the web. Download the expanded arrival checklist at Etsy.com. Download it once – use it forever!
And it costs less than a Snickers bar. That’s cheap insurance against forgetting to level your camper within 3 degrees and burning out your fridge!
You can download the checklist PDF, no waiting, by clicking here. Thank you for helping to support this website and all the free information available at Changing Gears!
How to Use Our RV Setup Checklists
Our RV setup and arrival checklists cover common topics and tasks like:
- Connecting to sewer and water hookups
- Verifying your rig has sufficient clearance to fully deploy
- Properly testing pedestal power before powering on your RV!
- Hooking up to the city fresh water system, or turning on the water pump for freshwater tank supply
- Deploying an awning (wind and weather permitting)
These checklists are compiled using the experience of hundreds of days of full-time RVing all across the country!
Free Version (Below)
Please use this checklist as a guide and customize to your specific trailer and your own needs. Review the Owner’s Manual supplied with your RV to ensure that you complete all necessary steps for the safe operation of your RV.
Many items on this list may be completed out of sequence. Some items may not apply to you or may not be necessary for every type of RV camping.
Our Forever-Free version is posted here online for your reference and free use. We encourage you to bookmark this page and return any time you need a refresher.
Expanded PDF Version (Downloadable)
In January 2022, we overhauled our expanded RV setup checklist and added additional checkpoints for boondockers and dry campers. You can download our expanded printable RV setup checklist at our Etsy shop. There’s even space on the downloadable checklist to add your own custom reminders!
Pro Tip: We recommend downloading the expanded version, laminating it, and then using a dry-erase marker to check off items as you complete them!
Super Pro Tip: If you find yourself often setting up camp at night, use a glow-in-the-dark dry erase marker when checking off your laminated RV arrival checklist!
RV Towable Setup Checklist (Free Version)
Arrival & Checking In
- Park RV near entrance or office as indicated by signs, doing your best not to block other trafficCheck in
- Ask if discount is offered for RV club members such as the Good Sam Club, or
- Escapees (generally 10% to 15% discount on daily rates)
- Request a map of the park and directions on best way to drive to your slot
- Request directions to park facilities of interest, including entry codes, if any
- Ask if Internet access is offered and details on how to use it (WiFi SID and password, data phone line location, etc. See Internet Access)
- If arriving after office is closed, look for after-hours check in instructions posted near entrance or office
Locating RV Slot
- Find your slot on park map and determine entry and exit paths
- Walk or take alternate transportation to RV slot before driving RV into park (Strongly recommended for large RV’s to avoid potential tight spots. See article Hard Labor Creek State Park Earned Its Name.)
- Before driving RV into park, determine if park roads can safely accommodate RV entry and exit (keep an eye on narrow roads, sharp corners, low trees, etc.)
- Before driving RV into park, determine if RV will fit into slot and if all [an error occurred while processing this directive]s can be deployed (keep an eye on trees, fences, utility poles, picnic tables, etc.)
- Confirm that slot has expected facilities (electricity with correct amperage and plugs, water, sewer, etc.)
- Test water faucet, especially in freezing weather
- Plan RV approach path and angle
Driving In & Parking
- If slot has no sewer facilities, drive to dump station and empty waste tanks, if needed
- If slot has no water, drive to water source and fill fresh water tanks, if needed
- Perform a two-way radio check, if using a spotter
- Drive RV into slot and position as desired (be considerate to your neighbors by not crowding too close to their space)
- Confirm that all necessary facilities are reachable from this position (electric, water, sewer, cable TV, etc.)
- Walk around RV to confirm position allows deployment of slides and other RV features without obstruction (consider slide positions as deployed, awnings, steps, decks, etc.)
- Check for high obstructions such as tree limbs (even small limbs almost touching RV can cause noise and damage slide covers in wind)
- If clearance cannot be accurately determined, temporarily deploy slides and other features to confirm clearance
- If slides or other features were temporarily deployed to check clearance, move slides, etc. back in until RV is completely parked and level
- Determine if RV is level laterally (place level on floor inside RV or use level attached to outside of RV)
- If RV is not level laterally, place leveling blocks in front of or behind the wheels on appropriate side and drive RV on top of blocks
- Chock trailer wheels
- Place blocks to prevent sinking and marking paved surface
- Lower leveling or tongue jacks until they support front weight of trailer
- Remove safety chains
- Remove sway bars
- Disconnect RV coupler from the tow vehicle
- Disconnect RV cable from the tow vehicle
- Store umbilical cord and breakaway switch cable in RV compartment, if available
- Unhitch RV from tow vehicle
- Install coupler lock (optional)
- Level RV lengthwise (use tongue or leveling jacks to raise or lower front)
- Deploy steps and hand rails
- Unlock slide mechanism, if available
- Deploy slides (from inside RV, confirm that slides form a seal all around)
- Deploy decks and other heavy external features
- Lower or install jacks and apply enough tension to minimize RV movement (do not place a significant amount of weight on stabilizing jacks or attempt to lift a portion of the RV with them)
- Check if RV is still level in both directions, and adjust leveling jacks, if necessary
- If you have an electric outlet tester, use it now
- If you have an RV surge protector, plug it into the outlet
- Connect electricity and make sure breaker is turned on
- Connect cable TV and telephone line
- Connect water hose and [an error occurred while processing this directive]
- If slot has sewer: Connect sewer hose and make sure both ends are secure
- If slot has sewer: Open gray tank valves
- If slot has sewer: Empty black tanks, if needed
- If slot has sewer: Close black tank valves (to prevent odors escaping through roof vents)
- Turn on all propane bottle valves and check for leaks
- Fill water heater tank by opening hot water faucet valve until water comes out
- Turn on propane water heater, if needed
- Turn on water pump, if no external water source is available
- Confirm that refrigerator is turned on and running on AC
- Turn on air conditioners or furnace and set thermostat
- Remove items from RV which are kept outside (chairs, grills, etc.)
- Remove all fasteners used to secure cabinet doors and other items
- Unlock tabs on external range hood vent
- Return all items to their normal locations
- Raise roof-mounted TV antenna
- Raise roof-mounted satellite dishes
- Lock all external RV panels
- Record tow vehicle’s ending miles:
- Record towing miles in trailer log book (ending miles minus starting miles)
- If using an engine tuner in the tow vehicle and have returned the engine to “stock” programming before towing, then re-install desired performance programming
Printable Towable RV Setup Checklist (PDF Download)
For our expanded downloadable RV setup and arrival checklist for towables, visit our Etsy shop.
You can print once, use it forever. Download it. Laminate it. Personalize it.
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Andy Herrick is a blogging nerd, #8 Enneagram, wannabe bread baker, INTJ, RV industry professional, and small business entrepreneur. He can be found hanging out with his lovely wife and family, skiing, cycling, climbing, hiking, and convincing anyone who will listen why dogs aren’t really that great of pets. Also, he runs this website.