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Arrival & Departure with a Travel Trailer


C. Lundquist © 1996 and 2001 - reproduction for personal use is permitted.


The following is a check list I have used to arrive and depart from a campsite with a conventional travel trailer. I have developed the list because I have a poor memory for critical details, like raising the trailer jack prior to departing. The arrival list is much shorter and more obvious and omits things like get out TV, since if you want to watch TV you will certainly think to get it out. The departures list is much longer and more valuable, since it is of more consequence to remember to put the TV antenna down, than to remember to raise it.

The list is based on my rig - a 23 foot conventional trailer, with A/C, gas water heater, and automatic gas-to-AC refrigerator. It uses a load equalizing hitch with Reese Dual Cam sway control. You may want to modify the list to suit your rig.

Notes which may explain some references:

I use two sets of gloves: a set of leather gloves for messing around with the hitching, and a set of long heavy duty vinyl gloves of the type used by chemical workers, for messing around with the sewer system of the unit. The latter are washed after use with water and stowed with the sewer gear in a compartment on the service side of the trailer and away. The potable water hose is stowed separately in a compartment on the opposite side and is never used for sewerage purposes. I have an old garden hose stowed with the sewer gear for that purpose.

I camp with the black water tank closed on a full hookup. I dump when the tank gets to 2/3's full. This permits the tank to act as a septic tank and digest the wastes, including paper. The 2/3's dump thoroughly flushes the tank and minimizes the chance of paper plugging the outlet. The grey water is let open all the time. The day before dumping the blackwater, I close it off and let the tank fill. After dumping the blackwater, I close the blackwater tank, and then dump the graywater to clean out my sewer fittings and hoses. Makes the disconnect and clean so much more dainty. Oh by the way, never, ever, dump the blackwater tank with the graywater valve open -- bad, bad result. For those bad days when nothing seems to go right, I carry a gallon of chlorine bleach in the compartment with the sewer gear. Mixed 5:1 with water, it can go a lot ways towards sanitizing the results of one's mistakes.

I always use a pressure regulator on camp waterlines. I attach it at the hose bib. The regulator is stowed with the eating utensils as a matter of sanitation. I may also use an in line water filter which is stowed between uses with the potable water house. Its inlet and outlet are capped to prevent contamination. The water house ends are screwed into each other, also to prevent contamination. As you may have gathered, I am a nut on sanitation. Nothing messes up a vacation like a dose of diarrhea.

To check on shore power before I connect, I use a $5 AC circuit tester, an item available at any hardware store. It has three little neon bulbs to check for proper hot, neutral, and ground circuit condition. Plugged into a 15/30 amp adapter, it is plugged into the 30amp shorepower connector. If the proper lamps light, I connect the trailer. If the circuit tester shows a fault, I go and have a talk with the camp management. Do this immediately, before you have a lot invested in setting up. To monitor voltage while hooked up, I have a small volt meter plugged into an AC outlet in the trailer. It is backed up by an accurate digital multimeter that I drag along from home. They permit me to monitor the voltage drops for A/C and microwave operation on marginal campground power... and there is a lot of marginal campground power out there folks.


  • Level trailer laterally using blocks or boards under the wheels of one side, if needed.
  • Chock trailer wheels.
  • Disconnect trailer/tow vehicle electric plug.
  • Use electric circuit check to check safety of shore power. If does not show safe circuit (usually two green lights) then get a new site assigned by the campground or resign yourself to no shore power.


  • Attach jack pad plate.
  • Lower jack, raising trailer hitch until strain on spring bars is relieved and remove spring bars.
  • Lower trailer hitch to level, release hitch coupler, raise trailer hitch until free from ball, drive tow vehicle away.
  • Level trailer longitudinally with trailer jack.
  • Lock spring bars to safety chains and lock trailer hitch.


  • If you are overnighting, you usually don't need to unhitch if the site is approximately level Just lower the tongue jack to take the trailer off the tow vehicle's suspension.

... AND THEN ...

  • Set stabilizing jacks.
  • Attach power cord only if shore power condition has been checked as OK with the circuit tester you used in step 4 above.
  • If you are using full hook ups connect the sewer hose. Use gloves and fittings stowed in the dirty stuff compartment. Open small, grey-water valve only. Leave large black-water valve closed. Wash off and replace vinyl gloves in compartment. Wash your hands before going on.
  • Connect water pressure regulator, filter, and hose.
  • Open kitchen exhaust damper from outside.
  • Check electrical capacity for A/C and/or microwave with the voltmeter.



  • Lower and rig awning for travel.
  • Stow TV and move CD player to truck.
  • Stow all loose gear in trailer.. Close all cabinets. Secure closet and bathroom doors.
  • Lower TV antenna.
  • Close all windows.
  • Lower ceiling vents.
  • Turn off water heater and close stove vent flap.
  • Disconnect shore power connection.
  • Check water tank, fill to 1/3 full for travel.
  • Disconnect water supply, fill stow white water hose and filter in starboard, entryside compartment and pressure regulator in galley drawer.
  • Dump black water tank if 2/3 full. Fill to that point, if a dump is wanted otherwise. Use the non-potable water hose from service-side compartment.
  • Dump grey water tank.
  • Disconnect sewer hose and store hose in bumper. Wash and stow fittings and vinyl gloves in service side compartment. Attach trailer's waste pipe cover. You look like an idiot with the thing dangling from the fitting as you travel, and could get a ticket. Wash and stow fittings and vinyl gloves in service side compartment.
  • Wash down any spills (chlorinate black water spills) and stow non-potable water hose in service side compartment.
  • Raise/remove all stabilizing jacks.
  • Raise hitch for coupling, hitch trailer to truck, and lock down coupler.
  • Connect safety chains, breakaway lanyard, and power connector.
  • Raise hitch with jack to take strain off ball and attach spring bars, raise chains by the proper link, lock chain lifts.
  • Lower hitch and raise jack to top for travel. Stow jack plate/stand in truck.
  • Make last check of trailer interior especially doors and ceiling vents.
  • Turn off water pump
  • Check the refrigerator to make sure that the CHECK light is not lit. If the check light is lit, it means that the fridge is not cycling over to gas operation. If it is lit, cycle the off/on switch to see if you can get it to stay off, that usually corrects the situation. Check the propane supply if it does not, by trying to light the stove.
  • Close and lock doors and raise steps.
  • Remove wheel chocks stow in truck.
  • Remove trailer leveling blocks and stow in truck.
  • Lock all external compartments and make last exterior check of trailer, be sure that water heater is off, TV antenna down, jacks are up, and windows are closed.
  • Check trailer and tow vehicle tire air pressure.
  • Check operation of trailer brakes. Check again. (When on the road check operation at 20 mph.)
  • Check trailer lights, turn signals, and tail lights.
  • Walk around trailer checking for closed vents, closed windows, and lowered TV antenna.