RV Basics: RV Campsite Setup (With Printable RV Setup Checklist): You’re ready to hit the road in your new RV and you’ve found a campground in an area you’d like to explore – now what? Setting up your campsite for the first time can be a little intimidating, right? In our RV Basics series, we will show you have to set up your RV campsite as quickly and painlessly as possible so you can get out there and enjoy your vacation and family!
RV Basics: RV Campsite Setup
Here are the steps you need to take to properly set up your campsite, starting with site selection, arrival, setting up your rig, and finally all of your outdoor gear.
Select Your Site In Advance
“A smooth RV campsite setup actually begins at the proper site selection. Do your campground research in advance”
- The Internet can be a valuable tool… If possible, study the campground map that’s most likely available online. Use the campground’s web page to select a site that appears to accommodate your RV and tow vehicle comfortably.
- After initial research, it might be a good idea to confirm your choice with a call to the campground. Be prepared with your rig’s length!
When You Arrive
“Resist the urge to just pull in and dive into setup. A little study of the site first can ease the process. “
Find The Flattest Spot Possible
- Select the precise spot to park your rig that’s most level side to side and front to back. Remove any obstructions (think leftover firewood, rocks, sticks, etc) that might be in the way.
Make Sure Slides Will Not Hit Anything
- If your rig has slides, make sure that they will be able to slide out without any obstructions. Know how far your slides go out.
Make Sure Your Awning Can Extend Fully
- If you have an awning make sure your awning can fully extend without any obstructions.
Make Sure Your Cords and Hoses Can Reach The Connections
- Considering the cord and hose lengths to complete your service connection hookups, spot your rig in the most level orientation available.
Make Sure the Firepit Is Located Safely Far Enough Away From The Rig
- While complying with campground restrictions, verify and adjust the positions of the fire ring and picnic table for a safe and convenient configuration.
Make Sure There Is Enough Room For Outdoor Accessories
- If you plan to eat (and maybe cook) outside, try to locate the table in a spot close to your rig’s entrance, and potentially under the awning or near the outdoor kitchen/grill location should you have those.
RV Rig Setup
“Depending upon the rig you have there may be some variances to your set up process. Always consult your owner’s manual for further guidance. Always keep the owners manual with you on your trips.”
Exterior Rig Setup
Starting with the exterior of the rig, here are the steps you need take:
Level Your Rig
- Level your rig side to side FIRST
- Level rig front to back using your rig’s built-in leveling legs and tongue jack. Use your unit’s owner’s manual for the best way to level your rig.
Here is a helpful article from Camping World on how to level your RV: Level Your RV Right The First Time
Here is a video from All About RV’s, How To Level Your RV Fast And Accurate!
Hook Up Electricity
- If you have campground power available, now’s the time to hook up. Be sure to connect your surge protector to the power pedestal first if you use one, then connect your power cable. Note there may be a breaker switch on the post you will need to turn on.
Hook Up Water
- Connect your water line to the water spigot. If you’re using a filter (recommended), that should be attached at the rig city water entrance port. It’s also a good idea to use a pressure regulator. Direct your setup partner to open one faucet in the rig, then turn on the water at the site post. It’s a good idea to run a little fresh water through all the rig lines before use. This removes any air trapped in the water lines.
Hook Up Sewer Drain
- If you have a sewer drain available at your site, you may choose to connect your waste line to it. Normally it’s a better option to not do so; just dump your tank’s contents upon departure instead assuming you have the capacity.
Hook Up Cable
- If your campsite offers cable TV, connect the cable from the utility post to your rig. It’s a good idea to carry a 25′ or longer coax cable for this.
- If your rig has slides, extend them now. Be sure there’s sufficient clearance around the exterior to allow them to fully extend. Do the same for any awnings on your rig – again, watch for obstructions.
Interior Rig Setup
Now you can move on to the interior of the rig. Here’s what you need to do next:
Turn on HVAC
- Turn on the rig’s HVAC system and set it to a comfortable temperature.
Turn On Supply At Your Propane Tanks
- Before using any LP powered accessories, turn on the supply at your propane tanks. Many rigs have auto-switching valves built in, so you choose either to open one or both of the tank valves (assuming you have dual tanks).
Turn on Water Heater
- Once your water heater has filled, set the control to turn it on. Keep in mind that depending on how your heater is set up, you may need to flip a switch on the heater itself if you want to use the electric element to heat the water versus LP. Never turn on the heater without water in it!
Check LP Supply To Your Stovetop
- When using your stove after the LP has been turned off for travel, be aware it may take a minute or two for the gas supply to reach the appliance. Turn one burner on, then hit the starter repeatedly until it lights. If it will not light, turn the burner off and verify the LP tank supply is enabled (and not empty…), then repeat.
Add Septic Tank Conditioner If Needed
- Based on your rig’s manufacturer’s recommendations, add the appropriate amount of septic tank conditioner to your rig’s black water holding tank. This is only needed if you’ve elected not to hook directly to a waste line at your site.
Set Up Any Interior Furniture or Kitchen Items
- If you have furniture that had been tied down for transport (like dining chairs, recliners, etc.), the restraints can be removed and those items arranged as desired.
Check Cable and Extend Antenna
- Should your entertainment system have a retractable antenna, extend that to the proper height. Depending on your TV set’s placement, you may need to unlock the wall mount and adjust it for the best viewing. You may need to scan available channels to reprogram the set’s directory.
Useful tip: RV manufacturers often provide simple, non-adjustable TV mounts. Depending on the seating arrangement in your rig, these may not provide the best viewing angle. Investigate more flexible mounts that offer extension and side to side and vertical angle adjustment capabilities for comfortable viewing.
Outdoor Furniture and Gear
“To complete your site setup, unpack and arrange your outdoor furniture, grill, portable fire pit, lights, games, etc that you may have.”
Setup Outdoor Furniture and Great
- Start with your ground cover first – you probably want to lay that close to the main entrance and possibly under an awning. This will help keep sand intrusion into your rig at a minimum.
- If you have one, now is also a good opportunity to set up an outside grill. Many rigs have an auxiliary LP tap, allowing you to fuel your appliance straight from the on-board tanks versus using the disposable variety, offering both convenience and economy.
You’ve Completed Your RV Campsite Setup, Now What?
Great job! You’ve completed your RV campsite setup. The most important thing now is to enjoy the time with your family and the great outdoors! Oh – and maybe have a beer too? Happy Camping! 🙂
Be on the lookout for our future articles in our RV Basics series! Join our email list and never miss a thing.
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More From Our RV Basics Series:
Printable RV Setup Checklist
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RV Hacks: How To Set Up Your RV Campsite (With Checklist). How to set up your RV campsite – stress-free! Setting up your campsite can be a little painful at times, right? Our RV hacks show you how to set up your campsite quickly! FREE Printable RV Campsite Checklist too! #RVhacks #rvliving #campsite #RVhowto #rvcamping #RVbasics