90+ RV Checklist – Departure – Towables

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Table of Contents

Unless you are blessed with the memory of an elephant, you’ll probably forget something when embarking on your voyage.

You might forget to connect the safety chains, check the tire pressure, or shut off the propane. (Or if you’re like me, you’ll forget to do all those things.)

Changing Gears has provided the web’s best RV checklists for more than 15 years! We’ve listed all the steps you need to depart with your RV safely and quickly.

This online RV pre-departure checklist is for travel trailers and 5th wheels. For our motorhome edition, visit this other checklist.

The Advantages of a Printable RV Departure 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 departure process can help you remember something essential! 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.

Download This Checklist!

We’ve developed an expanded, in-depth version of this checklist with over 90+ reminders for preparing for your RV trip!

  • Divides the setup process into easy-to-understand Sections, Instructions, and Notes.
  • Each Section has room to pencil in your own reminders.
  • Extra column to assign duties and responsibilities!
  • Important Reminders are called out with colored icons so you don’t forget.

It’s the most comprehensive RV Towables Departure 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 This Checklist

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 departure.

This checklist was designed for full-featured trailers and it does not include specific steps for RV’s such as Class A, B or C motorhomes.

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 May 2022, we overhauled our expanded RV departure checklist and added additional checkpoints for dry campers. You can download our expanded printable RV 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 packing up camp at night, use a glow-in-the-dark dry-erase marker when checking off your laminated RV arrival checklist!

Days Before Departure

  • Print this checklist
  • Print the RV Arrival & Setup Checklist: Trailers
  • Confirm reservations at destination
  • Change postal mail forwarding instructions (hold or start sending to new location)
  • Pay RV bills for current location (ask about deposit refund)
  • Prepare maps and directions
  • Wash laundry (if facilities will not be available during trip)
  • Buy groceries and supplies for trip
  • Check propane bottle levels, fill if needed
  • Check generator fuel levels, fill if needed (keep in mind fuel weight)
  • Check RV battery charge (required for trailer brakes in case of breakaway)
  • Check two-way radio batteries (for communicating with spotter)
  • Check flashlight battery
  • Check tow vehicle fluid levels (oil, transmission, brake, coolant, power steering)
  • Apply grease to hitch mechanism, where needed
  • Inspect hitch to make sure it is attached securely to tow vehicle (nuts, bolts, welding, etc.)
  • Close sewer valves to collect water for flushing sewer hose after dumping
  • Fill freshwater tank to desired volume

Day of Departure

  • Check tow vehicle tire pressure
  • Check RV tire pressure
  • Check RV wheel lug nut torque
  • Fuel up the tow vehicle
  • Clean tow vehicle windows and mirrors
  • If using an engine tuner (chip, Superchips, etc.) in the tow vehicle only while not towing, then return engine to “stock” programming
  • Pick up postal mail
  • Arrange breakable items in fridge to prevent breakage
  • Fill drinking water containers

Departure

  • Lower roof-mounted TV antenna
  • Lower roof-mounted satellite dish (TV & Internet)
  • Collect and store all items from outside the RV (chairs,
  • mats, satellite dishes on tripods, grills, etc.)
  • Secure items inside cabinets and storage compartments
  • Secure items on kitchen sink and counter
  • Secure items on bathroom sink
  • Secure items in shower
  • Secure all other loose items
  • Latch shower and closet doors
  • Latch all cabinet doors (use heavy Velcro strips, rope, or elastic cords for doors likely to open during adverse driving conditions)
  • Latch refrigerator doors
  • Close and latch stove top and oven door
  • Lock tabs on external range hood vent
  • Secure TV’s and sliding TV trays
  • Secure other entertainment electronics (stereo, DVD, VCR, etc.)
  • Secure computer and accessories (laptop, monitor, printer)
  • Close roof vents and windows (except those left open for ventilation)
  • Remove decorative and other items from RV and store (lights, bird feeders, etc.)
  • Stow and secure awnings
  • Check slide tops for debris and water
  • Move items out of the RVs’ way inside the RV
  • Move in slides and lock slide mechanism, if available
    Lay down and pad large items which may fall or shift (chairs, tables, cabinets, etc.)
  • Turn off air conditioning units
  • Confirm that all sliding trays are latched and secure (external storage compartment trays, propane bottle trays, battery trays)
  • Empty black tanks (do this first so sewer hose gets flushed with contents of gray tanks)
  • Close black tank valves
  • Empty gray tanks
  • Close gray tank valves
  • Add treatment chemicals and a small amount of water to black tanks
  • If traveling with pets, make arrangements for their needs (put food, water, bed, leash, etc. into tow vehicle)
  • Disconnect cable TV and telephone line, and store cables
  • Disconnect electricity, and store cable and adapters
  • Disconnect sewer hose, and store hose and relating accessories
  • Disconnect water hose, and store hose and relating accessories
  • Turn off all RV lights (to prevent unnecessary battery drain)
  • Turn off water pump
  • Confirm that refrigerator is running on 12 volt DC or is turned off
  • Turn off all other propane appliances (water heater, furnace)
  • Shut off all propane bottle valves
  • Discard all trash
  • Stowe all remaining external RV features such as hand rails, steps, decks, etc.
  • Secure all items carried on outside or roof of RV (chairs, bicycles, coolers, etc.)
  • Raise or remove all stabilizer jacks 
  • Remove coupler lock
  • Lower truck tail gate before backing up for hitching
  • Close front storage compartment door (may not close after truck is in hitched position)
  • Hitch RV to tow vehicle
  • Connect RV cable to the tow vehicle
  • Connect RV ciyoker to the tow vehicle
  • Attach sway bars 
  • Attach safety chains
  • Raise leveling or tongue jacks
  • Collect and store leveling blocks from under jacks
  • Remove wheel chocks
  • Confirm that all is clear under the RV (all jacks are raised or removed)
  • Confirm that all slides are moved in completely and check overall exterior of RV for protruding items
  • If RV wheels are resting on leveling blocks, move RV off blocks, collect and store blocks
  • Close all internal doors (bathroom, bedroom, living room)
  • Lock all external RV doors and panels
  • Check RV and tow vehicle lights (including signal and break lights)
  • Check RV brakes (three methods: press tow vehicle brake pedal, engage RV brakes only by using trailer brake controller inside tow vehicle, pull breakaway switch cable on RV)
  • Double check that trailer is hitched securely to tow vehicle. Confirm that all safety devices have been correctly applied.
  • Perform a final walk around. Look under and around RV. Confirm all jacks are up and nothing is protruding from sides or roof.
  • Check tow vehicle mirrors, and adjust if necessary
  • Record tow vehicle’s starting miles:
  • Leave marker in RV slot, if returning (common markers are tables, chairs, or a vehicle)
  • If you are not certain how much your RV weighs, drive to a truck scale and confirm that all weights are within tow vehicle and trailer ratings (see Understanding RV Weights and Truck Ratings for RV Towing)

Printable - Towable RV Departure Checklist

For our expanded downloadable RV departure checklist for towables, visit our Etsy shop.

You can print once, use it forever. Download it. Laminate it. Personalize it.

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