Valuable Driver Tips for RV owners before hitting the road.

Stupid is as Stupid Does

I had just watched the classic Forrest Gump movie and the line "Stupid is as Stupid does" stuck in my head. Of course, this soon made me think of the many stupid things I have done in the past when I was traveling the country's highways.

As you know, my wife and I have been campers for most of our lives. And along the way, we have had numerous opportunities to make mistakes while traveling and while camping.

Looking back, most of our mistakes make us look Stupid, when in actuality, they were just simple mistakes made by people who didn't understand what could go wrong.

Many of these things, I had forgotten until we were sitting with a few fellow campers recently, and started talking about mistakes we had all made and also mistakes that we had seen our fellow campers make.

So, this morning, while everything was fresh in my mind, I decided to put together an article that listed some of these little things that can go bad for RVers if they don't keep their mind on what they are doing.

A typical pull over spot on a highway in Texas

A scenic spot to pull over along a Texas highway with my RV and Toad.
A scenic spot to pull over along a Texas highway with my RV and Toad. | Source

Check your Hook Ups!

It is amazing how absent-minded we can get when we are pulling out. It doesn't matter whether you are pulling out from your home, from your storage area, a rest area or a campsite, you really do have to clear your head and do a walk-around of your RV.

It's the Stupid things we do, or forget to do, that causes so much damage to most RVs. We just need to do a walk-around and inspect for those obvious things that must be remedied for a safe pull out.

Here are some things that you can check that can save you a lot of misery;

Hook-Ups

If you have been camping, and are preparing to leave your campsite, double and triple check that you have properly disconnected your electrical water, sewage and campground video cables as well as hoses. And, make that you put these away in the containers you store them in.

From past conversations with my fellow campers, many of us can remember seeing a fellow camper, somewhere, trying to repair damage to their camper caused by hookups that were still connected as they tried to pull out.

Check your Outside Gear

One of the things that makes our camping experience so enjoyable is our personal collection of campsite accessories that we use while in a campground. And, one of the nuisance things we always have to do, is put away everything that we have pulled out of our storage compartments.

I'm not sure if it has ever happened to you, but one sure sign that the previous camper may not have taken the time to put his camping gear away is when you pull into your "empty" campsite and find gear still sitting there from the previous campers.

I, and our friends, have found such things as; outdoor Light strings, perfectly good chairs, folding tables, picnic table coverings, lanterns, landscape lighting, portable table-top grills, campsite rugs, and more.

It only takes an extra minute to walk around your campsite and pick thes items up and store them away, but so many of us are in a hurry to leave that we just hop into our motorhome or towing vehicle and pull away.

Check your Jacks and Chocks

For some unknown reason, a lot of campers just forget that their camper i sitting on Jacks. They put the jacks down and leveled their camper but often they will try to just pull away while these jacks are still down.

Most motorhomes have alarms that go off and some will even have control systems that will not allow the vehicle to move if the jacks are down.

But those of us that pull fifth wheel and tag-along trailers do not have the same protections and if we are not careful we can really mess up some expensive jacks by just moving a foot or less, with these jacks down.

And those Chocks we put at our tires so that our camper will not roll in the campsite? I have actually watched as a camper, in his truck was revving the engine to thousands of RPMs with a confused look on his face.

He just couldn't understand why his truck and camper wouldn't move. The smart ones will back off and get out of their truck and walk back and se the chocks still in place. The others? Well, it is an ugly thing to watch as a camper is pulled over the chocks.

Check your Storage Door Locks

Oh, I know, it sounds silly, but you need to walk around your camper and make sure that your storage compartments are not only closed, but that they are securely locked.

Sure, the locks give you a sense of security when your camper is sitting somewhere and you are not around, but I can tell you from experience that these doors can pop open at times.

A number of years ago, we had a long drive planned to get to our next campground. I don't like to drive at dark, so we were up promptly ad dawn and packing things away for our trip. We got everything into the storage compartments and then we hit the road.

Well, we had been on the road for about 45 minutes, and I was driving along and sipping on my coffee when a trucker pulled up beside me and using sign language, he let me know that something was wrong at the rear of our motorhome.

I waved to thank him and then I slowed down and took the next ramp off of the interstate. I finally found a place to stop and jumped out of our motorhome to check what the trucker was trying to tell me about.

And, there it was. I had two aluminum fold-up chairs sticking half out of the storage compartment. Both were touching the road, and the metal tubing had been worn through from rubbing on the road. Cursing, I pushed them back into the compartment, locking it firmly this time and we continued our trip.

Needless to say, the chairs were ruined and I had been lucky in that they had not flow out of the compartment and damaged someone else's vehicle.

So, lock those storage compartments.


Check that towed vehicle hitch.

Whenever you pull out of a campsite, and before you get out and onto the road, you should stop and check your hitch connections.

OK, so you know how to hitch up your towed vehicle to your motorhome or your fifth wheel or trailer to your towing vehicle.

But, you would be surprised how many cables come loose and hitch connections, slide loose on campers.

The electrical connector can easily be bound up with other parts of the hitch and get pulled loose as soon as you make your first turn.

Trailer hitches can pop off of the ball even though they seemed to be firmly latched down. And fifth wheel hitches are notorious for only being partially latched.

So, if you want to be safe, drive a few hundred feet, make a turn if possible and then re-check your hitch to assure that it is latched properly and the cables are connected and hanging free.

Oh yeah, and double check that safety cable. You know, the one that if pulled free of its connector will lock the towed vehicles brakes? Make sure it is connected properly at the same time.

Also, the tow arms for your towed vehicle should be double checked. The arm latches should be engaged so that the vehicle is being towed straight. The pins should be in the tow arms and the pin locks should be firmly snapped onto the pins.

The Door and the Steps

After all of this, you are probably ready to get back into your vehicle and start your trip.

But two little things should be checked as you enter your motorhome;

Did you hear your power steps engage and retract? They don't stick out far, but they can collect some ugly stuff if they stay out for a couple hundred miles.

Did you latch the door? Always close your entrance door firmly, and just to make sure, lock it. Unlike your truck or car, most motorhomes do not have an alarm that tells you one of your doors is partially open.

And, I can tell you from experience, my wife will not go near a partially open door with the wind whistling wind blowing into the motorhome while we are moving. And it is really a pain to immediately find another exit to pull off of the highway so you can close a door that you were to lazy to close properly in the first place.

In Summary, it only takes a minute extra to be safe

If you look at the things I have listed here, you can see that if the driver is not diligent, there can be some serious and even costly repercussions.

But if he takes the time to walk around the RV and double check your handiwork you can make a safe pull out every time.

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© 2014 Don Bobbitt

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Comments 9 comments

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 2 years ago from Central Oklahoma

Don, I had no idea there was so much involved in preparing to pull out of a campground. Myself, I'd have to have a check-off list on a clipboard because without one, I'd for sure forget *something* that would make me the object of an RVers "Stoopid is as stoopid does" fireside chat!

P.S. Trying to drive off with the chocks still in place was my favorite "stoopid thing". Thanks for the laugh! ;D


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 2 years ago from Oakley, CA

I can relate to some of this--in reverse. I've forgotten to pack things I would need at camp! Did you ever try to dry off after a shower using dishtowels because you forgot your beach towel?

( But I'm a tent camper, so I don't have to worry about hook ups, door and compartment latches or tow cables.)

One time, (though it was at a hotel, and not camping), I forgot to do a thorough room check, and look BEHIND the bathroom door--forgot my shower shoes, and it was my favorite pair! Have never in all the years since been able to find a comparable pair.


Don Bobbitt profile image

Don Bobbitt 2 years ago from Ruskin Florida Author

Jamagenee- These are just the things that can be done wrong on the outside of your camper, when you are in a hurry to hit the road. I have another list of "Stoopid" things that people do in motorhomes while traveling that will get finished in the next week or so.

Thanks for the read.

DON


Kaili Bisson profile image

Kaili Bisson 2 years ago from Canada

Yikes! Trying to drive away with jacks on like when I forget the emerg brake in my car...oops :-)


tirelesstraveler profile image

tirelesstraveler 2 years ago from California

LOL, Traveling with several kids is enough to help you leave things behind. Have never left one of the kids yet. Hope that record holds with the grands.


Don Bobbitt profile image

Don Bobbitt 2 years ago from Ruskin Florida Author

DzyMsLizzy- I love the Dishtowel thing!

The more people I talk to about this, the more interesting situations pop up.

People are always more entertaining than other animals, I think.

DON


Don Bobbitt profile image

Don Bobbitt 2 years ago from Ruskin Florida Author

frozen tundra-

First of all, your DVD player making strange sounds at this time is an indicator of a 12VDC to 110VAC Inverter not having enough DC.

Second, your fridge, or the vast majority of them will run on 110-VAC or Propane when in automatic mode. BUT, the control circuitry is 12-VDC, which with it not working, indicates a 12-VDC problem again.

So, I assume your interior lights and other 12-VDC accessories did not work either.

As you know your Inverter/Charge keeps your batteries charged whenever you are hooked to an exterior 110-VAC power source. When not hooked up to exterior power, your batteries drive all of your 12-VDC needs until they are discharged.

And, when your batteries are discharged, you can run your generator to re-charge your batteries.

So, my suspicion is that you should check the fuses/breakers on the Inverter/Charger unit itself. If they are good, check your 12-Volt fuse panel for a blown DC Main fuse/breaker which is usually a 30-Amp fuse. If this doesn't fix it, use a voltmeter to check the voltage across your coach batteries to assure that they are getting voltage from the Inverter/Charger.

let me know what you find.

Good Luck, DON


Suzanne Day profile image

Suzanne Day 2 years ago from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Sounds like people would get a lovely sinking feeling when viewing the damage caused by driving off with hook ups still connected....voted a very useful hub!


Don Bobbitt profile image

Don Bobbitt 2 years ago from Ruskin Florida Author

Suzanne Day- Thanks for the read and the comment.

Actually, I have to admit that I had one close call myself.

When I leave a site after a week or more, I go through a routine of shutting down that works for me. But, I always leave the Power hooked up until last. We do this because, we often sit in our Rig for one last cup of coffee before we hit the road. After this, my wife puts these last loose things away and I go outside and do a "walk-around" checking that my Rig is "road ready". Part of this last check, is disconnecting power and putting the cord away.

Well, one hectic early morning, I was distracted by a fellow camper and walked inside ready to go with the power still hooked up.

The only thing that warned me was the fact that the TV was still ON.

I was Lucky!

Thanks gain, DON

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