How to Set Up a Campsite: A Beginner’s Guide

It’s almost camping season, and if this is your first year camping in a travel trailer or motor home, congratulations! You’re going to have a great summer. However, before you set off on your adventures, it’s important to know that setting up a campground for a motor home or travel trailer is a little bit different than setting up a campground for something smaller like a pop up.

How to set a campsite for a motor home or travel trailer:

  1. If you are towing a vehicle behind your motor home, disconnect the vehicle in the campground registration parking lot before you try to find your site. If necessary, have someone drive the car in front of you while you are looking for the site.

  3. When you get to the site, do a brief site survey. Some things to look for are:


    • Where the hookups are (sewer, electric, cable, etc)

    • Where the slideouts will go

    • Whether there will be enough room for the awning

    • Whether there are low hanging tree branches or obstacles that will interfere with the RV

  4. Determine if you will need to back into the site or if you can just pull straight in. When you position your RV, make sure you have enough clearance on all sites and that you have full access to your hook ups. If you have a motor home, don’t forget to set your parking brake!

  6. Put wheel chucks under your wheels and Level the RV as necessary.

  8. If you have a travel trailer, disconnect if from the towing vehicle.

  10. If you have stabilizer jacks, set them up.

  12. If your motor home has a battery disconnect switch for the chassis battery, turn it off. This will prevent draining the starting battery. If you have an auxiliary battery disconnect switch for the coach battery, make sure it is turned on.

  14. Put out the entry steps. If your steps are controlled by a switch, turn the switch off so the steps don’t retract every time the door is closed.

  16. Remove the slideout travel locks and put out the slideouts (as long as they don’t interfere with making basic hookups). Make sure the driver’s seat isn’t in the way of any slideouts.

  18. *Note: while you’re pulling out the slideouts, it’s best to have a spotter on the outside checking your clearance and watching out for obstacles in your path.

  20. Before plugging the electric hookup to your RV, use a voltmeter to test the hookup’s voltage and polarity. Find a hookup that matches the amperage requirements of your RV, using electrical adapters as needed. Be extremely careful when plugging into the electricity, and try if at all possible to avoid using extension cords, which could overload very quickly.

  22. Test the electricity in your RV to see if it is working. Remember, you may have to turn on the circuit breaker at the campground before electricity will go into your RV. If you have a voltmeter, plug it into a wall outlet so you can monitor your voltage throughout your stay. Make sure the voltage doesn’t drop below 105V or get above 135V – these levels could be dangerous for your appliances and electronic equipment.

  24. Turn on the fridge in electric mode and hook your water pressure regulator to the campground water supply.

  26. If you have an exterior water filter, hook it into the city water inlet on your RV. If you don’t use a filter, attach a 90 degree elbow pipe to the city water inlet. This will prevent the hose from kinking up during your stay.

  28. Attach one end of your potable drinking hose to the water pressure regulator, (already attached to the campground water supply in step 11) and another to the city water inlet on the RV. Turn on the water and check for any leaks.

  30. Put on a pair of safety gloves and remove the cap from your sewer hose valve so you can attach it to the sewer drain outlet. Make sure the locking tabs securely lock into place and set up the sewer hose donut or seal in the campground sewer connection. Attach the other end of the sewer hose in the donut, making sure you have a good seal and connection. If you have a sewer hose support, set it up now so that is slopes down from the RV to the sewer connection to assist in dumping the tanks.

  32. If you know you’re going to be at the campground for at least a few days, crack open the gray water tank knife valve to allow sink and shower water to allow them to drain directly into the sewer. If you’re only staying at the site for one night, leave the valve closed. NEVER leave the black tank valve open – only open it when the tank is about three quarters of the way full (dumping it when it is almost completely full can cause big problems).

  34. Turn on the man LP gas supply valve at the tank or bottles.

  36. If you want hot water, make sure the hot water tank is full before you light it. Make sure your water heater bypass kit is not in bypass mode. Before you light the water heater, open the faucet and wait until you get a steady flow of water with no sputtering or air in the pipes. Every water heater has its own instructions – be sure to follow the ones on yours.

  38. If the campground has a cable TV hookup, connect your TV coaxial cable from the RV to the cable connection. If the campground doesn’t offer cable hookups, raise up the TV antenna on your unit. Turn on the TV and the power booster and pull down the antenna base plate, rotating the antenna until you get the best reception.

  40. If you plan to use the range exhaust fan, make sure you open the locking tab on the outside range hood vent door.

  42. To finish setting up your campsite, plop down your outdoor carpet mat, set up the lawn chairs and fire up the grill – you’re done!

Share Button