In 2007 Rene Agredano embarked on full-time RVing with her husband and three-legged dog, and never looked back. Through her work as a small business owner, writer, metalsmith, and animal advocate, she loves sharing RV knowledge with other nomads here at Let’s RV, and on her website at LiveWorkDream.
Taking an RV trip is supposed to be a fun event. But a stress free RV travel day takes practice. The first few RV moving days that you take that big house on wheels out on the road is exciting and stressful. From what to pack for RV camping, to your RV trip planning, there’s so much to remember before departure day.
Your Stress Free RV Travel Day Starts with Check Lists
Follow a good RV travel day check list to take some driving day stress away. Whether you have a travel trailer camper or a motorhome, camper van or truck camper, RV travel lists help you stay organized and prevent distraction (the #1 cause of beginner RV owner mistakes). They can help you start packing weeks ahead of your trip, and stay organized the day you leave town.
On departure day, my RV trip planning list can give you ideas to create your own.
Checklist for the Night Before Departure Day
- Empty holding tanks if full
- Fill freshwater tank if going boondocking
- Put tension bars in refrigerator and cabinets
- Stow loose objects on counters and walls
- Store campsite chairs, RV patio mat, etc.
- Pack food and turn on refrigerator if parked
- Stash personal items, clothing, and pet gear
- Charge electronic devices
- Check RV tire PSI
Checklist for RV Departure Day
- Disconnect utilities
- Turn off refrigerator and water heater
- Bring in slide and awning
- Lock windows
- Secure cabinets
- Make coffee and morning snack
- Put electronics and dog in truck
- Retract landing jacks and stabilizers
- Start fifth wheel hitch up process
Minimize RV Travel Day Stress for Kids and Dogs, Too
My dog always knows when we get ready to go camping. Kids probably do too. I don’t have any, so I can’t comment on nervous RVing kids. But when it comes to our dog, he senses our excitement, and our stress. Our nervous energy that happens when getting ready to leave is reflected right back to us with his own nervous pacing and whining. The behavior adds stress to our day, and his too.
The good news is that after so many years traveling together, we’ve found some tricks to minimize RV travel day stress for dogs like him.
Stress Free RV Travel Tips for Nervous Dogs
- Create a safe space for your pet in your tow vehicle, or somewhere near you in a motorhome. Ideally your RVing dog will be crated during travel.
- Start the departure day process the night before. Do as many tasks as possible to minimize your dog’s anxiety.
- Remain calm and relaxed on departure day. Act as if leaving is no big deal and eventually your dog will behave that way too.
After a few trips, your pets will probably start to understand that RVing is fun. If your cat or dog is still nervous, talk to your vet about pet calming tools to help them feel more comfortable. We found the Calming Cap for dogs helped our dog. It looks goofy, but the device did wonders for our Shepherd’s mental health (and ours!).
Make Your RV Driving Day Easy
One of the best lessons we learned as RV newbies is to make driving day easy. Remember that whether you are navigator or driver, RV travel days are harder on the mind and body than a typical passenger car road trip. Give yourself plenty of time and space to have a safe adventure.
- Leave early to allow plenty of time between destinations.
- Keep your RV driving time to 4 hours or less.
- Don’t try to see everything between Point A and Point B.
- Take rest breaks to stretch, rest, and refuel.
- And never, ever arrive late to a campground after dark.
We always see photos of people happily rolling along in their RVs. Rarely do we ever hear the dirty truth about RVing. But if you’re brand new to RV camping, you should know that stress free RV travel takes a lot of practice. The bad news is that you’ll probably make dumb RVer mistakes along the way. The good news is that the more you go RV camping with your rig, the better you get at creating a lifetime of happy camping memories with your RV.