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Q&A: How to hook up your RV

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Hooking up your RV

My partner would always set up our RV when we got to the campsite. Now that I'm RVing by myself, what do I need to remember to do?

Dear RVer,

It can be daunting taking that first solo trip, but don't fret. Hooking up your RV at your campsite can be as easy as A-B-C: Awareness, Back In, Connect Up. Most campgrounds will have friendly RVers who are more than happy to lend a helping hand. For the uninitiated, rest assured, we have Joel Kiester from the Colorado Chapter of Loners on Wheels, who provides us with some simple tips:


  1. Select a satisfactory site for your rig. When making the booking or checking in at the office, let the campground staff know the size of your RV, and that you are relatively new at this. Make sure you ask them for a spot that is easy to maneuver, like a pull thru site. Most campgrounds have a selection of pull thrus that allow you to just drive your rig into place. These are the easiest to get into.
  2. Survey your site. When you get to your site, before attempting to park up, make sure you get out of your RV and take a look at the site. This will help you determine where you want your RV to be positioned:
    • Take note of any parts you need to avoid like parking on a severe incline, bumpy spot or soggy patch.
    • Determine which side the picnic tables are on and which side your rig's door is on. This may determine if you should pull in or back in.
    • Look for the site hook ups - electricity, water and sewer. And where your rig's hook ups are. When the sewer connection is used, it is best to keep the hook up distance as short as possible, avoiding mess.
    • If you are going to use an awning, or have slide outs, they will need extra room and a larger site.
  3. Look up and around. Be sure you can get into and out of the site without brushing or hitting any trees or other obstacles like ground level fire rings. Even experienced RVers forget every now and then!

Back, or Drive In

  1. Move into your site. Be comfortable and take your time here. If you have a pull thru site, line up your RV and drive straight into the position you had scoped out. If you are backing into a site, this can be a little more tricky as it is hard to see behind your rig. This is still easily achievable for the first timer. Just keep in mind the following:
    • Ensure your side mirrors are well positioned to give you the maximum breadth of vision.
    • Be sure to ask for help if you need it. RVers tend to like to help others out (we've all been there before!).
    • A pair of "handi-talkies" are extremely helpful if you have a kind stranger helping out. Yelling instructions back and forth and be difficult over the engine noise and short range walkie talkies are the easiest way to go.
    • Put your RV into the parking gear and get out to look behind your rig as many times as needed. It is better to inch backwards, than cause damage.
  2. Level out. Try to get the rig level. Use leveling blocks or lower any stabilizers you need to even out and compensate for any tilts. This helps the operation of the refrigerator and keeps doors from swinging unnecessarily.

Connect Up

  1. Hook up the sewer. Try to minimize the low spots along the length of the sewer connection. Dump only as needed and be sure the hose is empty when finished. Leaving the dump open may allow for accumulation of stuff and may clog.
  2. Hook up the water. Water hoses are easy to connect even if stretch out long. Stretch out the hose, and screw it to the tap. Some places may require a regulator to reduce the pressure from the mains as it enters your line. A little tip is to add a little bleach (chlorine) for the first or second hook up of the season. I often just pour a ¼ cup or so into the hose before hooking it to the rig.
  3. Hook up the electric. Stretch out the cord and plug it in. Most boxes have a switch which needs to be flicked on. Be sure any electrical extension cord is heavy enough to carry your load. Generally it should be at least a 14 gage, or 12 gage for big rigs. Use caution when using the standard 16 gage extension cord. Again try to keep this hook up as short as possible, and flatten it to the ground to avoid any trip ups!
  4. Set up the rest of your stuff. Make it feel like home, put out your plants, chairs, BBQ and all the objects of your RVing heart's desire. Just be sure to have them well positioned, out of windy spots so they don't become projectile objects. Another quick tip is to get a clear view of the southern sky. This helps with the Satellite dish!

Just follow your A-B-Cs and you can't go wrong. The key is to ask for help when you need it, not only will it keep you out of trouble, you may make a lifelong friend in the process!

Special thanks to Joel Kiester for sharing his experience and these wonderful tips.

Got a RV or camping question? Ask away and we'll answer it 'Round the Campfire. Submit a question.

Copyright ©2010 Camping Road Trip, LLC

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1 comment(s) so far...

Two things about your suggestion on adding bleach to the hose -
1) When adding bleach to your fresh water system, make sure it sits for a few minutes so the bleach can sanitize the lines, your water heater and your fresh water tank. Then, flush everything out with fresh water. The last thing you want is bleach flavored water when you are bushing your teeth!

2) The author suggested adding bleach directly to the hose. By doing so, you risk splashing straight bleach on your skin, the side of your RV, etc. What I do is add 1/2 cup of bleach to one of my water jugs that I keep in the camper, fill it with fresh water, and then, using the spout that comes with the jug, I pour the bleach solution it into the fresh water tank of the camper. B

By The Sod Father on 6/20/2011 10:03:14 AM
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