The RV Campsite selection process determines a lot of the outcome of your stay at that campground. We have tried to give you the reader the basics as well as wisdom from many of our RVing friends on site selection.
RV Campsite Selection
The first thing you need to determine is whether you need a pull-through or a back-in site. Many parks do not have pull-through sites, while some have them exclusively. Some parks that have both types will charge more for a pull-through than a back-in. For us, a pull-through site makes sense when we are traveling and only need a place to stop and sleep. When this is the case, we don’t put out the slide or deploy the leveling jacks. We won’t use any hook-ups except electric. We even leave the car hooked up. If we plan to stay in a place for several days or more, we will use a back-in site and set up our rig for comfort.
No matter you choose the RV campsite, do not pull in or back in until you have walked on the site. It should have adequate utilities such as thirty or fifty amp power. You should carry and use an AC outlet circuit tester that detects faulty wiring in 3-wire receptacles. These are small inexpensive devices that will detect reversed polarity and other conditions. With the appropriate adapters, it will test a thirty Amp campground outlet at the pedestal. Once you know the power is correct, make sure your power cable will reach the pedestal. If you need a sewer connection, it should be close enough so you can reach it with the hose you carry. Is the hose bib or fresh water connection high enough off the ground to allow you to connect your water pressure regulator? These are basics and should be checked first. If there are problems, ask for another site.
Next you need to check the RV campsite for vertical obstructions. Look up to verify that overhanging trees will not touch your rig and cause paint scratches or worse. Is the approach to the site and the front opening wide enough to accommodate your rig? Are there trees or other obstructions in your path?
Last but certainly not least is the question, “Is the RV campsite” level? Is the site relatively level front to back and side to side? Will you need to use your whole lumberyard of bits and scraps of wood to make your rig level? Remember, your RV refrigerator will not work properly when it is not level to within a degree or two. We use a four foot carpenter’s level to determine the final positioning so we can manually adjust our leveling jacks. If you have a trailer, purchase two inexpensive bubble levels so you can see how much to adjust.
Parking in the Campsite
“OK, I did everything you said, and I’m on my way into the site. What next?” I’m glad you asked. Parking an RV of any kind in a site requires precision maneuvering. This is where you and your partner need to get together on signals you both know and agree on. If you are outside the rig directing your partner, please do not have a dog in each arm and a cigarette in your mouth. I have seen this very thing; it was funny at first, but then it was just plain pitiful. Don’t have any distractions when you are directing the parking of your home into the RV campsite. Mistakes can be quite expensive.
Friendly people will come up to you while you are parking and try to help. You must figure out how to tactfully tell them that you would rather do it the way you have practiced. These same people will be there when you are unhooking your car from a motor home, or your truck from your trailer. If you let them, they will distract you to the point that you will forget a step and pay the price later. Tell them you will be happy to talk with them after you are parked and hooked up.
The key thing to remember is to place the rig close enough to the utilities, but far enough away so basement doors will open. Some RV sites are built with the electric and the water and sewer split apart. Try to get in a place where your power cables and sewer hose will reach. This is when prior practice pays off. You should get several rubber parking cones and practice backing up in a large vacant parking lot. Churches are great places to do this if you can get permission. So are closed Walmarts and such. Setup the campsite with the cones or chalk. Keep it up until you both can agree on hand signals. Some folks use cell phones or walkie-talkies to communicate. If that works for you, go for it. Just remember, the driver needs to know whether you are directing the front or the rear of the rig, especially when backing trailers. This is a good time to mention that no matter how good a driver you think you are, it’s better to have an outside observer to direct you. Otherwise, sudden, embarrassing, and expensive accidents can happen. We know from painful experience.
RV Campsite Setup
Congratulations, you made it into the campsite! There is just a little more work to do and you’re ready to enjoy yourselves. No matter whether you have leveling jacks or scissor jacks, you should have jack pads under them. This keeps them from digging into the ground and protects the bottom of the jacks. There are many products on the market to do this. I made mine from a fourteen foot piece of weather treated two by twelve inch board. I had the store saw the board into one foot lengths and took them home. Then I laid two of them together with the grain running at right angles to one another and screwed them together with three inch galvanized screws. I also purchased six screw-in eye bolts. I put an eye bolt in each assembly to make it easy to reach with an awning rod. We store these in milk crates and use them as both jack pads and drive on leveling pads. Sometimes you just can’t get a level site. We also have two sets of plastic leveling blocks. With all that, we can level almost anywhere.
Now we’ll hook up the umbilical connections for power, water, sewer, and cable TV if available. Use your AC circuit tester on the power pedestal to make sure there are no problems before you plug in your rig. Turn the breaker(s) off before plugging in. Then turn on the breaker. Be sure to hook up your water pressure regulator first and then the shortest length of water hose that will reach. Turn on the water and check for leaks. The RV park may require a rubber doughnut to seal the sewer connection on the campsite. They may also require the sewer hose be suspended off the ground. This is where you use the plastic “slinky” looking thing you were told you would need. These are probably dictated by local laws and ordinances. This is a good time to remind you to have disposable rubber gloves on hand, (literally). Unless you have a full black and/or grey tank, it is best to leave your sewer valves closed until you need to dump. If cable TV is available, hook this up as well. It’s a good idea to have two twenty five foot lengths of TV cable and a female to female adaptor to use both together.
Now it’s time to get the ladder down if you have sunscreens to hang on the windshield. It might be a good idea to clean the windshield first so you don’t have to do it when you’re getting ready to hit the road again.
From here on out, your personal tastes determine how you fix up the RV campsite. You will probably want a patio mat or other kind of ground covering in front of the entrance door. An awning tie-down kit will help on some windy days. Lights, lawn ornaments, flags, personal signs and who knows what else will finish up your site. A visit to Camping World will give you some great ideas on this.