Friday, October 7, 2022


Don’t forget the important stuff before departing campsite

By Greg Illes

Ready to go? Let’s go! Anything missing? Nah. (Famous last words!)

safe-736If you’re a quart low on oil, or you forgot that coffee mug on the tree stump, even the camp shovel leaning against the back side of that tree, well, no big deal – you can wander on down the road to your next destination with little or no penalty.

BUT there is some stuff that’ll hurt, big-time, if you forget it. If you roll out of your camp under those low trees with your TV antenna still sticking up, your antenna and roof will cost you plenty. If you leave the power cord or the water hose still connected, get out the checkbook.

It pays to develop some bulletproof methods to remember the critical departure items. As a private pilot, I always praised the use of checklists – and if you can make these work, great. But even better are visual “flags” which shout out for attention.

The walk-around
No matter where you are, how short or long you’ve been there, or what the weather is like, always walk completely around the coach before you drive away. Open cargo doors, untied bicycles, power cords and sewer lines, even soft tires, will all be clearly evident. After doing the walk-around a few score times, you’ll quickly recognize things that are amiss.

Unfortunately, stuff up on the roof isn’t as obvious and not so easily checked in a 360-degree stroll. I did my usual (thorough) check one day, drove out of camp, and stopped at the exit when several people furiously waved at me. My TV antenna was valiantly waiting for the first low bridge.

That same day, I bought a $2 stretchy key ring and snapped it over the TV antenna crank. When the antenna goes up, the key ring is hung on my ignition switch. It stays there until I bring the antenna back down. Same method for the cell phone booster antenna, but I used the connection weather cap.

You can figure out your own memory joggers – just try to make them visually obvious and foolproof. It will help to keep you and yours “happy campers.”

Greg Illes is a retired systems engineer who loves thinking up RV upgrades and modifications. When he’s not working on his motorhome, he’s traveling in it. You can follow his blog at



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Judy and Bob
2 years ago

We use an “AFLAC” key holder, no keys, that is put on the gear shift. Apropos to prevent an accident with the antenna!

2 years ago

I have a carabiner clipped to the antenna crank. When I put up the antenna, I put the clip on the trailer plug so that it is a reminder and does not interfere with anything. The rule is that carabiner is on the crank, in my hand or on the plug, nowhere else.

2 years ago

As a retired pilot, I have learned the importance of a “Check List” . You can find one on several app pages or just sit in a quite place and make your own. List in sequence all the item you need to assure are in the proper place and condition and use the list as you do your walk around. Over the years my memory has dimmed and my attention span has shortened and my eyes are a little less focused, but the written check list never forgets. Stay Safe and God Bless

2 years ago
Reply to  John

Have used a checklist for many years and it REALLY helps!

Randall Joe Davis
2 years ago

Our 2019 Tiffin Allegro RED 37PA is on a Freightliner chassis. It has a checklist that you can customize that pops up on the dash display every time you start the engine.

Ray Leissner
2 years ago

This is a great article. They should take a poll to discover the most common thing forgotten, or almost forgotten, when breaking camp. I suspect its between a chalk block and the antenna for first place.

Tom Kuhn
2 years ago
Reply to  Ray Leissner

I agree it will be a chalk block or antenna, I have left more then 1chalk block

Kaeleen Buckingham
2 years ago

We hang the ignition key or all mh keys from the crank.

Ed D..
2 years ago

I hung a hanger of clothing on the crank, and my crank fell apart.

2 years ago

A check list has never failed me. It’s in a clear sleeved page protector and it sits on the driver’s seat. If this works for you make one that has just the critical items on it that if not checked would cause damage/injury. One problem is that some people make these lists too long and include things that really belong on a maint. check list.

2 years ago

I have a fool proof method for ‘breaking camp’. After I disconnect everything, stow away all of our stuff, etc., my wife comes out and checks up on me. Just like home. Actually, I take care of the outside and my wife secures everything inside. Then we swap places and check up on each other. Never missed anything. Yet.

2 years ago
Reply to  Dan

We do the same.

Brenda G.
2 years ago

Being a former private pilot, regardless of years of flying experience, pilots ALWAYS do a physical “walk around” and utilize a physical and/or verbal check list prior to every take-off. Now, being an rv’er, I do a similar routine. “Old habits are hard to break”…..but, more importantly, they can prevent an occasional bout of forgetfulness. 😁

2 years ago
Reply to  Brenda G.

Same. Plus laminated checklists. I also bought six or seven red cloth keychains that look like “Remove Before Flight” pilot tube covers. I think I got them from Sporty’s Pilot Shop. I attach them to mission-critical points as soon as we park. I also use one with a velcro rip-tie to remind me to put the truck’s transmission in towing mode before we roll out.

2 years ago

We do the same thing with a wooden clothesline clip.