RV Advice

Tips for Packing Up Your RV Site

April 22, 2024

No one wants to think about leaving a holiday or packing your bags and campsite. The great thing is that checking out and packing up from your camping site can be fun and manageable.

Folding up, rolling and loading your recreational vehicle (RV) is a normal part of camping. Whether it’s the end of your vacation or the start of your next one, organizing your RV will make future trips a breeze.

With these handy tips, you can pack up your RV quickly and seamlessly.

1. Check out on a Weekday

One of the most significant tips for packing up an RV site is timing. What happens when everyone plans to check out on the same day? If most campers leave on a Sunday afternoon, you can expect some traffic and delays regardless of your planning. Setting your checkout date on a weekday is a great way to avoid congestion. You will enjoy shorter lines at the dump site and checkout points, giving you more time to pack efficiently.

Additionally, weekday traffic — apart from the rush hour — is often less congested, which means you can get home with enough time to enjoy the rest of your day.

2. Pack Some Items the Night Before

Start packing the night before instead of scrambling to pack and store everything in the morning. A good rule of thumb is to start outside and work your way in. Store all camp chairs, awnings or umbrellas and rugs to prevent them from getting damp overnight. This strategy also keeps your gear in good shape, as storing damp items can attract mildew or develop rust and stains.

If you are getting an early start, you might even pack up the inside of your RV — just be sure to leave out a change of clothes and the necessary toiletries so they’re easy to access in the morning.

3. Confirm Checkout Times

It can be easy to overlook your checkout time on your booking confirmation. When you are having a great holiday, the last thing you want to think about is leaving. However, there is nothing worse than realizing you got the checkout times mixed up. Not only will you have to pack up your RV in a shorter time, you might also delay the next campers from checking in.

Packing under pressure can also lead to leaving items behind and making mistakes when hitching up your RV. To avoid holding up the campsite and ensure smooth packing, confirm your checkout time the day before you leave. Set a reminder on your phone or note it to help you remember your exit times.

4. Divide and Conquer

Whether camping with friends and family or enjoying a couple’s trip, get everyone to help with packing to make the process more seamless. Create a roster or checklist and assign specific tasks. One person might be in charge of the kitchen and the other might check the RV exterior and store hookups, hoses and other components away.

If you’re camping with kids, get them to help with minor tasks like picking up trash and collecting toys. This activity can be fun for kids and give them something to do while everyone packs and checks off their items.

Man checking an RV refrigerator during dewinterization.

5. Clean While Packing

Another hack for packing up a campsite is to clean as you go. The last thing you want is to clean appliances when you arrive home, or unpack your appliances and utensils on your next trip only to find they are greasy. Cleaning while you pack is an excellent way to maximize your RV packing process. Empty and wash coffee grinders and clean and wipe fishing gear, chairs, bikes, kitchen appliances and other objects you use on your trip before storing them.

6. Store Everything in the Right Place

Focus on logically packing and storing everything in your RV. Wrap power cords, roll up your chairs and pack appliances in their designated compartment or storage space. Putting equipment back where it belongs will make finding it easier on your next trip and save you time setting up. Use labels to mark where things go for easy identification.

Tie or strap down anything that might move around during transit. If you hit a bumpy road or slam on brakes, cast iron pans, kettles, toasters or other appliances that are left out can easily hit a window or passenger.

Organizing your gear also ensures you distribute your cargo weight evenly. Packing without a plan can overload one side of your RV, straining either side of your tires. This additional pressure can lead to a blowout while driving.

An aerial view of a back-in RV site with a travel trailer and SUV.

7. Carefully Connect the Tow

Attaching your RV tow to your truck is a delicate task. Distractions during this process can lead to accidents or incorrectly hitching your RV or motorhome. Keep kids and pets away from the process to avoid potential injuries.

8. Consider Your Fellow Camper

One of the most essential tips for packing up a campsite is leaving your area in excellent condition. Even though RV camping is different from sleeping in a tent, the same rules about protecting the environment still apply. The principle of leave no trace means that you leave your campsite exactly as you found it.

Before driving out of your campsite, do one last walk around, picking up any left-behind papers, wrappers, bottle tops or any other debris. Remember, your campsite is someone else’s holiday destination, so leave the area how you would expect to find it.

Family unpacking the RV at a KOA campground.

How Do You Pack up a Campsite?

Creating a tear-down checklist is a great way to pack up your RV site effectively. This list details tasks to do in and around your RV before leaving a campground. It can make packing more organized and ensure you remember essential tasks like disconnecting your water hose. Here’s an example of an RV tear-down checklist:

  1. Secure and stow away loose objects
  2. Turn off the water heater and pump
  3. Close all vents
  4. Secure refrigerator bars
  5. Leave enough water in the toilet but not so much that it splashes while driving
  6. Turn off lights, TV and radio
  7. Lock all cabinets
  8. Turn off the oven pilot light
  9. Clean countertops, floors and driving windows
  10. Remove bathroom and shower items
  11. Clear a path for slide retraction
  12. Retract slides and awnings
  13. Fill the fresh water tank
  14. Disconnect fresh water and sewer hoses and stow away
  15. Unplug power cords and adapters
  16. Turn off propane
  17. Retract stabilizer jacks
  18. Hitch the RV
  19. Attach safety chains
  20. Check tire pressure
  21. Check and ensure trailer lights are functional
  22. Ensure all outside doors and compartments are locked
  23. Check the perimeter for obstructions
  24. Look above and below the trailer and RV for any obstructions
  25. Pick up trash around the campsite
  26. Check signals on your RV
  27. Double-check everyone’s work

Plan Your Next Camping Trip at KOA

Now that you know how to pack up your RV and campsite successfully, it’s time to book your next holiday. KOA Campgrounds provide affordable and relaxing sites for RV living. Each KOA location is designed to make your stay convenient with varying-sized campsites and easy access and exit routes.

Some of our KOA locations include RV hookups like water, electricity and other amenities and activities to make your stay more comfortable. Our helpful staff makes your checkout seamless and efficient when packing up. With over 500 locations across North America, you can find your ideal camping location near the beach, city or national park.

Find a campground near your next travel destination and book your visit today.

About the Author: Kampgrounds of America

Kampgrounds of America is the largest system of open-to-the-public campgrounds in the world, with over 500 locations across the United States and Canada. Founded in Billings, MT in 1962, KOA’s family of campground brands – KOA Journey, KOA Holiday and KOA Resort – today serve more than a million camping families each year. KOA is dedicated to “connecting people to the outdoors and each other” by providing people with a variety of camping experiences and the information they need to make the most of their camping trip. Read more of their camping and travel resources by visiting KOA.com/blog.

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