Your rig is packed and fueled up. You’ve found your sunglasses and are wearing your comfy “long-haul clothes.” Your opened water bottle sits patiently in the cup holder and snacks are within easy reach. In short, you are ready to go! But wait just a minute! You’re not fully ready to head out on the road until you perform the following tasks. You must follow these things to do before every RV trip. They are important. Every time. For your safety, the safety of your passengers, and anyone who may travel along your same route—do not skip these simple, but vital actions.
These are the things to do before every RV trip
Set the seat
Settle down into the driver’s seat. Check to see that the seat position is comfortable for you and that you can easily reach the foot pedals as well as the gear shift, etc. Because Hubby and I trade off driving our fifth-wheel RV, we each have our own preferred seat positions. Even if you are the only driver for your RV, it’s a good idea to check the seat position. On any given day, a small adjustment to the seat may make for a more comfortable drive, especially when traveling a long distance.
Check the steering wheel
Position the steering wheel at a comfortable distance from you. The steering wheel should not obstruct your view out the windshield. Be sure that you are able to see all of the gauges on the dashboard, as well.
There are two types of mirrors, convex and flat.
- Convex mirror: This curved mirror can show up to three lanes of traffic when adjusted properly. From the driver’s side convex mirror, you should be able to clearly see the side of your RV and a small part of its traffic lane, as well as the adjacent two lanes of traffic. The same goes for the rider’s side mirror. When adjusted like this, mirrors will reduce your blind spots and enhance your safety. (Keep in mind that this mirror will not reflect distances accurately. For distance, you will rely on the flat mirrors.)
- Flat mirror: The flat mirror is used to see distances behind you. These mirrors are also used to see vehicles on either side of your rig. Adjust the flat mirrors so that you can see just a fraction of the side of your RV. That way, most of your view will concentrate on traffic around you. Also, adjust the mirrors so that the rear horizon line appears approximately 3/4 of the way up from the bottom of the mirror. That way, you’ll be able to see more highway and less sky.
- Getting it right: When both the convex and flat mirrors are properly adjusted, you’ll see a rear-approaching, distant car in your flat mirror first. The flat mirror should keep that vehicle in view until it appears in the convex mirror.
Before every RV trip you must check your lights. This is most easily done with a partner. Usually, I go outside while Hubby turns on the truck and RV lights. I watch from the back of our rig as he signals right and left, applies brakes, and activates the emergency signal lights. We also check the truck’s exterior lights to make sure that others who travel alongside, in front of, and in back of us can know our intentions based on our lights.
Have dimensions and insurance info handy
Another thing to do before every RV trip is before you leave home, be sure to post all of your RV’s pertinent dimensions and weight in a prominent place on your dashboard.
Be sure your insurance card and contact information are easily accessible inside your truck and RV, as well as carry an insurance card in your wallet or purse. In the event of an accident, you want to have an insurance card handy. If you carry separate roadside assistance insurance, be sure to also carry that information with you.
Make a last-minute check of the weather and road conditions (potential closures and detours) along the route you plan to travel. Make necessary adjustments as needed.
Make sure that both the driver and any adult passengers understand the proposed route. Non-drivers may help by watching and alerting the driver of upcoming turns or interchanges, if the driver welcomes the help.
If you have previously made reservations at a campground, it’s a good idea to call ahead to confirm your arrival time—or approximate time. If you are going to be late getting to your reserved campground spot, be sure to alert the campground ahead of time. If the situation demands that you cancel your reservations, do so as soon as you can.
Now you can fire up the truck! But don’t put it in “drive” until you’ve removed the wheel chocks! Then, hit the road. Stay safe and enjoy your trip!