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RV Campsite Arrival How To – Challenges, Setup Steps, & More!

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What does it look like when you arrive at a campsite and it’s time for RV setup? We’ll show you our typical steps for arrival & RV setup!

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We’ll take you through arrival and check-in, getting into your site, unhitching, and setting up both outside and inside the RV – all the steps in getting to a new destination!

Arrival & Check-In

Arrival can look a little bit different each time, depending on where we are going and planning to stay the night. Are you going to a campground where you need to check-in at the office or has the campground already assigned you a specific site and told you to proceed directly to your site without the need to check-in? Are you boondocking and just need to find a good place to fit or are you staying on a personal or business property where you need to check-in with a host and see where they would like you to park? Take all these into account when determining your first steps upon arrival.

Arrival Logistics

If we are arriving at an official campground, here is what we do:

  • Follow signs to front office or pull up to the entry gate booth
  • Park/pull over in the designated area or get in the appropriate lane for campground entry if there are multiple
  • You may have received instructions to proceed directly to your site, in which case you may be able to skip this part

When we’re moochdocking, or staying on other personal or business property:

  • If you know beforehand where they would like you to park, you might be able to head straight there
  • If not, park/pull over somewhere out of the way so you can determine where to go

When we’re arriving at a boondocking site:

  • We’re extra vigilant when arriving at a boondocking site to make sure we’re in the correct location, and that the road and area can actually accommodate our large RV size. We might stop and walk ahead to scope things out if needed
  • Take it slow and look around as you’re arriving. It’s particularly helpful in this situation to arrive before dark, though that is nice in any arrival situation as well

Checking In With the Location

If we need to check-in at an official campground, here is what we do:

  • Confirm you have a reservation or let them know you’d like a site for the night
  • Listen to any rules & regulations and information they provide to you and ask any questions you may have
  • Obtain any paperwork such as a campground map, vehicle tag, or receipt
  • If you’ve received instructions to proceed directly to your site you may be able to skip this part

When we’re moochdocking, or staying on other personal or business property:

  • Call or go into the location to talk with your host and determine where they would like you to park and any other particular details about setting up, or to at least say hi and say you have arrived
  • Your host may also see you pull up and come out to talk

If we’re at a boondocking site:

  • Typically no check-in is required unless it’s a site where you do have to pay, in which case locate where you can do this (typically a self-pay station and envelope)
  • Double check any signage if there is any to make sure it doesn’t conflict with anything you’ve previously researched

Getting Into Your Site

At an official campground, here is what we do:

  • Follow the map to your campsite. Typically they will circle your spot on the map and outline which route you should take to get there
  • Sometimes they will escort you to your site in which case you follow them there
  • If you’ve been told beforehand you can proceed directly to your site, make sure you have taken a look at a map and know which way to go to get to your spot
  • Plan your approach into the site, whether you can easily pull through or need to back in. Have someone spot for you and help direct you or avoid obstacles if you prefer the help, or not. Take your time and take as many attempts as you need to safely get into the spot!
  • Double check you have enough space on each side for your slides to come out, and that you are close enough to any hookups (water, sewer, electric for your hoses and cables to reach)

If we’re moochdocking, or staying on other personal or business property:

  • In locations like this they’ll often have you park down a driveway, along the side of a parking lot, in a certain spot in a field, next to a building, and so on
  • Typically it’s fairly straightforward, but not all of these places understand the space needed by RVs to maneuver or how long, wide, and especially tall some RVs can be, so make sure you double check any potential obstacles, and talk with your host about anything that doesn’t look like it will work for you and see if any other arrangements can be made

If we’re at a boondocking site:

  • Follow any signs that say where you may or may not park, such as parking in designated spots only, or no vehicles beyond this point, and so on
  • Be courteous of your neighbors, give them enough space, and try not to block their views
  • We look around to find “the best spot” with a nice amount of room and a great view if available, that can accommodate our rig
  • Make sure you can not only get into the spot you choose but also get back out of it

Unhitching the RV

The steps below and in the following sections assume you will be fully unhitching and setting up with full-hookups. This may not be the case in some instances where the place you are staying doesn’t have full-hookups. Also, if you are only staying one or a handful of nights, you might not even unhitch. So take the steps we’ve outlined throughout and do the ones that apply to you!

  • Double check where you’ve parked is level enough for starters, and whether you need to move at all or add any blocks under any of the wheels before starting to unhitch
  • Chock the wheels and place blocks under levelers
  • Lower your front legs and unhitch, disconnect emergency breakaway cable and the umbilical for lights and brakes to the RV, etc.
  • Park the truck/tow vehicle or toad
  • Level your RV as applicable and lower stabilizers
  • Alternately, level & unhitch your travel trailer or level your motorized RV and unhitch your toad if you have one
  • At some point any additional passengers in the vehicle can get out, such as kids and pets
  • Unpack the truck/tow vehicle

Outside RV Setup

Here are the setup steps that pertain to the outside of your RV:

RV Setup

  • Verify electrical connection with your EMS or multi-meter. Then plug in your electrical cable with the breaker off. Turn breaker on once connected
  • Connect water hose
  • Connect sewer hose and set it up on the sewer hose support if you have one
  • Put anything back on the roof that might have had to be taken down for travel, like our WeBoost antenna

Campsite Setup

  • Lay out the outdoor rug
  • Setup camping gear, including chairs, tables, the fire pit, etc.
  • Get out any toys for kids or things for pets

Inside RV Setup

Here are the setup steps that pertain to the inside of your RV:

  • Put out all slides
  • Turn on any breakers that were turned off for travel
  • Can turn on lights and climate control if needed
  • Sweep or vacuum any areas that may have gotten some debris on them during travel or while moving slides in and out. You may also just want to take the opportunity to do this while less things are out and about
  • The same may apply to wiping down counters or any other quick cleaning before setting up
  • Unroll carpet(s)
  • Unpack and setup the master bedroom and kids room/mid den/other rooms including taking things off of beds and other places they were stored for travel. We setup our office again as well in our bedroom
  • Setup the bathroom again including putting things back on countertops and getting things out of the shower that were stored there during travel. Unlatch shower door and sliding bathroom door if applicable
  • Add extra table leaf to re-extend the table
  • Unlock the fridge, making sure to open the doors carefully as things may have shifted and you don’t want them falling out
  • Unlock any cabinets, drawers, and doors that were latched, and in general just open any of these carefully the first time as well so nothing falls out
  • Put away anything else back onto counters and elsewhere in your main living area that was packed into tubs, on a couch, or into the sink for safe travel

Get The Free RV Arrival & Setup Checklist

That’s what the typical arrival and RV setup process looks like for us! We hope that any of your future RV setups go smoothly so you can get on with enjoying your destination quicker! If you’d like the free RV arrival & setup checklist with the steps we mentioned and more in a printable format so you can easily double check as you’re getting it done, grab it below! Have a great day!


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