RV Life: Preparing for a Travel Day

Being on the road full-time means a lot of travel days. On average, we travel once or twice per week. You may think that moving the motorhome is as simple as pressing in the buttons to bring in the slides and driving off, but reality is far more complex.

Preparing for a travel day takes us between 1 and 2 hours. Longer if we have to tend to Calla a lot or have really “settled in” somewhere and have gotten a lot of our stuff out.

When we move, we have to bring in all 3 slides in the motorhome, greatly reducing the floor space. That means that we have to pick up pretty much anything and everything that is on the floor. Everything that is sitting loose on a surface (like a laptop, or a coffee maker) must be put away in a cabinet because things really bounce around when we drive. In addition, there are things we do outside the motorhome to prepare.

Here are the things we do, just to get on the road.

Inside Trudy

  • First we drink coffee. Nothing around here gets done without coffee first! If we’re boondocking, we use our aeropress.
  • Pack a lunch for all of us for the travel day (this happens about 50% of the time. The other 50% I grab stuff out of the fridge as we drive…but I do not recommend this. Things shift…pickle jar to the foot…)
  • Put away dishes that are on the drying rack, wash any dirty dishes and dry them with a towel and put them away. Collapse dish drying rack and store under sink. Put away dish soap and anything else left on the counter.
  • Clear off the desk – put away all laptops, mice, papers, books, Kindles, etc.
  • Pick up Calla’s toys (as much as possible) and put them in bins. Anyone who has had a toddler knows that nothing stays put away for long!
  • Lower the TV antenna (if it’s up, which is rare).
  • Put away everything from the bathroom vanity into the medicine cabinet. We do keep some stuff in a little bin that we put into the sink for travel.
Our bathroom sink prepared to move!
  • Clean off the bedroom floor (space heaters, dehumidifier, bin of children’s books) by putting most of it in Calla’s crib.
  • Put away baby monitor, camera, and white noise machine.
  • Vacuum the floors, paying particular attention to where the slides come in (we don’t want anything getting caught in the slide).
  • Attach Calla’s carseat to the bench seat in Trudy – for most of our stops, we end up putting it in the Escape – so it needs to be taken back out and installed again.
Carseat and tablet, ready for a travel day
  • Strap dining room chairs down with a ratchet strap.
  • Strap dining room table shut (it has drawers that will open/fall out as we move) with a ratchet strap.
  • Latch the spice pantry closed – we learned the hard way that this comes open down the road unless it’s latched shut.
  • Put the shower head on the shower floor.  A big bump during the drive can jar it loose otherwise.
  • Remove TV and computer monitor. Put both face down on bed or floor for transport.
  • Latch all doors in Trudy so they don’t move while we drive (bedroom door, shower door, bathroom door, living room door).
  • Put away hand soap – Needed until the very end for washing our hands.
  • Fill up water bottles + an extra 64 oz bottle for the road – must do this before the water is disconnected (when our fresh water tank isn’t in use).

Outside Trudy

  • Charge battery bank for supplemental braking system (Blue Ox) – this happens a day or so before driving since it takes awhile to charge.  This can be a challenge when we’re boondocking and don’t have easy access to 110v.
  • Put bikes back on the Escape’s bike rack and secure them.
  • Secure the gray water tote tank in its compartment.
  • Put stroller and tricycle in the Escape.
  • Put all towing equipment in the Escape so toad hookup is as efficient as possible.
  • Put away any outdoor items we’ve gotten out – Grill, camp chairs, hammock, outdoor toys.  This can be a fun game of tetris!
  • Check Trudy’s oil/fluid levels.


Final Sweep

These are things that have to wait until the end due to logistics.

  • Close Slides – We try to do this while still connected to power (if we have it), so it doesn’t drain the battery as much. We do a visual check that nothing is in the way of the slides before we close them. Once the slides are closed, we can no longer access anything in the bedroom – this mainly makes our clothes off limits
This is the button that closes the living room slide.
  • Empty tanks (if we have a sewer hookup).
  • Disconnect water and electricity. Put the cord and fresh water hose away,  and the sewer hose in its compartment. Depending on where we are going, sometimes we fill up our fresh water tank with water at this stage too.
  • Retract Leveling  Jacks – About 50% of the time we have trouble with our electronic leveling system. Tim figured out which wire to wiggle under the hood to get it to work.
The control panel for our electronic leveling system
  • Remove wheel chocks (we’ve forgotten this step many times and ran them over)
  • Put Calla in her carseat.
  • Turn Trudy’s engine on and drive off of wood blocks/leveling blocks if we used them to get level
  • Pick up the jack pads from under the jacks once they are up. Put them and the leveling blocks away in one of Trudy’s compartments.
  • Review tire pressure (for Trudy and the Escape) via our EEZTire TPMS.
    • Our TPMS alerted us once when our tire pressure was low due to cold temperatures – which added an additional step of topping off 6 huge RV tires via a 12v Harbor Freight high-flow air compressor.  This can be interesting since it attaches directly to the Escape’s battery for power, so we may have to move the Escape partway through and reattach everything.
Calla helping with the leveling blocks

Once all of these things are done, we are ready to move, but not to travel. One more step before we can go down the highway!

  • Tim drives the motorhome to a level space (usually within the campground we stayed in, but sometimes it’s on a road right outside of it) where we hook up our Ford Escape for towing. That’s a whole post in itself so I won’t get into it, but on average it takes us 10 minutes to hook up the Escape for towing, and it takes both of us.
Trudy on a travel day, towing the Escape. Photo taken in Houston, TX.

Well, was that more or less than you expected? There is a lot to think of when packing up to move – and a whole list to do once you get to the next place! This is why RVers tend to say that a travel day takes a whole day, even if you are only doing 3-4 hours of driving.

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