Some people dread travel days! Who wouldn’t when you have to pack everything up and move your whole house several hundred miles and set it up again! Well in our opinion the key to a successful travel day is preparation.
When you RV full-time, it means packing all of your possessions. If it was just the odd weekend getaway and we had less stuff, it would probably be less of an issue. But when we move our RV, our whole house is essentially undergoing a long earthquake.
We enjoy our travel days and thought we would share our tips to prepare for RV travel that will keep you safe and reduce the stress!
Start the day before you leave!
Prep Prep Prep!
The day before a travel day is as important as the travel day itself. The inside preparations for the travel day are essential to keep your home intact and your family safe. We don’t plan any big activities the day before travel and try to allow our daughter to spend the day playing, running and cycling outside with friends. We focus on:
Plan the Route
As we both drive separately to each location we ensure we both have the correct address and a rough idea of the route we will be taking. The challenge here is that with the RV having height and width restrictions, George can’t just use any sat-nav. So George has to put the details into his CoPilot Truck sat nav while I drive the car using Waze.
This can lead to the sat-nav’s wanting to take us along different routes! I try to stay behind the RV the best I can but sometimes with heavy traffic, we still get separated. But as long as we are both prepared, we just meet at our new location. Planning each trip the night before helps reduce the stress and allows us to get a (sometimes) realistic idea of drive time.
Do the Laundry and Clean the RV
One of the great parts of living in an RV is no more hours of cleaning. It only takes around an hour to deep clean our entire home! There is nothing nicer when arriving at your next location than walking into a nice, clean RV, without feeling that there’s even more work to do.
So I always set aside time the day before we travel to deep clean the van. I’ll get any laundry done in the morning, start putting loose objects that will not be needed in their homes. In the late afternoon, all the toys will be put in their relevant boxes and securely stored away. I vacuum the entire van, sofas, material furnishings, clean the bathroom and kitchen, and dust.
Clear up Outside
George focuses on the outside of the RV, putting the BBQ and outdoor toys away and if the awing is dry that is rolled in, in case it rains.
Charge your Devices
One of the most important tips – charge all of your devices! We use apps for navigation and although we can charge them while driving I prefer them to be charged.
We also charge the iPad and Fire tablet so Olivia can watch movies, tv, read books and play apps. This keeps her busy for many hours in the car.
We also charge a set of walkie talkies that we use for talking to each other on the road. When we get a little separated, we can call out upcoming turnings, roundabout exits etc as the radios aren’t blocked by other vehicles when on the road. They’re also very helpful for manoeuvring, so having them charged and ready is important.
Prepare Food and Snacks
It can be really hard finding the right place to stop for food with a large RV and a Car. We can’t just stop at any fast-food joint and even some petrol stations are too low!
So on our last shopping trip before travel day, we load up on snacks. I normally make wraps for everyone which are easy to eat while driving, then add snacks like biscuits, crisps, fruit, cereal bars, cake and cucumber sticks, and this makes for a much more pleasant journey. If possible we try to find somewhere to stop and eat together in the van or on a picnic bench. This also allows us all to use the toilet and have a quick stretch of our legs.
Take it Slow and Have a Checklist!
Rushing or being distracted causes mistakes and these can be unsafe and possibly costly. There is no shame in making a list of things that need to be done as well as double and triple-checking! We will write out a list of tasks to be completed on our whiteboard and tick them off once done. This also means the kids can have jobs to be getting on with keeping them busy and part of the process.
However, with a handwritten list, you can still forget things. George has been moving us to an online multi-user checklist he’s been developing to help ensure we get everything done because:
Faux Pas we have Made
- Forgotten to put chocks away, leaving them on the motorcycle tray and losing them as we went around a roundabout.
- Ran over chocks when we have been in a rush to leave and forgot they were in place; and when the RV runs over a chock, the chock explodes!
- Left the sliding dividing door inside unhooked which moved when going around a corner sending it crashing into the wall opposite.
- Didn’t lock the fridge and had the door swing open on a corner.
Work as a Team
Working as a team, sharing the workload, means everything gets done quicker and we are not in each other’s way.
We have kind of fell into a pattern of which jobs each of us does although we do both double-check to ensure doors have been secured, drawers and fridge are securely shut and lockers are shut and locked.
On Travel Day
Let the Kids Play
On the morning of a travel day, if you have kids that are old enough to go and play outside, let them. They are going to be stuck in the car/RV while your travelling so let them go and run off some energy. Otherwise, they’ll just get in your way while you’re finishing the last few bits of packing!
Have a good breakfast
Make sure you have a good size breakfast, first thing, as this will help keep you going for longer. It will also be longer before the kids are wanting their first snacks.
Finish the Cleaning and Packing
Once everyone is fed and dressed the last cleaning and packing starts.
We get the washing up done and put securely away, along with the kettle and any other loose equipment. Make sure all cupboards, doors, fridge and freezer are properly closed. You really don’t want them opening when your driving along! We’ve had the fridge door open on one trip, thankfully nothing came out and the door was not damaged. George managed to shut it at a set of traffic lights.
The TV needs removing from its mount and secured to the bed. Dehumidifier and heater have to be relocated. We also switch off any sockets that will not be required while travelling. This also means that if we use our inverter, we aren’t wasting any battery power unnecessarily.
All the toiletries which are normally on the side in the bathroom are stored in the sink and the plug is put in. Ensure the toilet lid is shut and all cupboards, shower door and bathroom doors are shut properly.
We have two slide outs on our RV. They are amazing and add so much living space. But if things go wrong with the slides, its expensive. To ensure slides are in top working order it’s important to make sure there are no obstructions when moving them. If you’ve been parked under trees they need to be checked for leaves and twigs so as to not damage the slide toppers and rubbers. Bringing in the slides is one of the last things we do so this allows us to still have space while packing.
Pack the Car and RV Drivers Area
Make sure your kid’s travel kit is packed to keep them entertained.
Ensure close to hand you have a drink, snack, money/cards for tolls and sunglasses just in case. There is nothing worse than getting on the road and having to stop because you can’t find or reach something.
Unplug the RV
If you have been on electric hook up the cable needs to be disconnected and carefully wound up and put away. You don’t want it to be in a mess when you get the other end and you definitely don’t want to rip off by driving away with it connected!
Once everything is secured, slides are in and electrics unplugged its time to lift the legs. George starts the engine and lowers the RV onto its suspension. I collect the wood we use under the feet and put it away in the locker. I also collect any chocks and ramps at this point and secure them away.
Dump the Tanks
Now its time to dump the waste, both black and grey tanks. We learnt the hard way that if you travel any distance with full tanks you can get splashback!
Check the Lights
Double-check all lights and indicators are working ready for getting on the road safe and sound.
On the Road and on Site
Take Regular Breaks
Once you are on the road don’t forget to take breaks!
We try to get on the road as early as we can. If we know we will be on the road more than 4 hours we will try to plan breaks. We make sure when we stop we have a bit of a walk, go to the toilet and have a snack. You can try and play some games with the kids like Simon says or the bean game to use up some energy before getting back in the car.
Once you arrive at your wonderful new location you have to get set up. If everything was packed correctly this should not take long. We can generally fill the water tank and get set up in about 20 minutes. As you have already done all the cleaning and washing, once you are set up you can just sit back and relax.
Hope we have helped
We hope that some of these tips help you make your travel days less stressful and more enjoyable. Travel days should not be dreaded, the journey should be an exciting part of the adventure.