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How To Leave An RV Campsite


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Mona Hintz



Leaving an RV campsite can be both an exciting and nerve-wracking experience. Whether you’ve spent a weekend or several weeks at a picturesque campsite, the time has come to pack up and hit the road once again. Proper planning and organization are crucial to ensure a smooth departure and maintain the beauty of the campground for future visitors.


In this guide, we will walk you through the essential steps to leave an RV campsite efficiently and responsibly. From preparing the RV for departure to checking out procedures and ensuring a safe journey, we’ve got you covered with expert tips and tricks. So, let’s dive in and discover how to leave an RV campsite like a pro!


Before you begin the departure process, it’s essential to have a clear understanding of the campground’s rules and regulations. Be sure to familiarize yourself with any specific guidelines, such as quiet hours, garbage disposal, speed limits, and pet policies. Respecting these guidelines will not only help maintain a positive camping experience for all but also avoid any potential fines or penalties.


Now, let’s prepare for a stress-free departure and bid farewell to your current camping spot!


Preparation before Leaving

Proper preparation before leaving an RV campsite is key to ensuring a smooth and efficient departure. By following these steps, you can minimize stress and avoid any potential accidents or damage to your RV:


1. Plan your departure time: Determine the best time to leave the campground. Ideally, it’s best to leave during non-peak hours to avoid congestion and make the departure process easier.


2. Collect all personal belongings: Before you start packing up the RV, gather all personal items from both inside and outside the RV. Check all storage compartments, awnings, and outdoor equipment to make sure you don’t forget anything.


3. Secure loose items: Take a few moments to secure any loose items inside the RV. This includes closing and latching cabinets, securing loose objects on countertops, and double-checking that nothing will slide or fall during transit.


4. Check weather conditions: Be aware of the weather conditions for your departure day. If severe weather is expected, you may consider delaying your departure until it’s safe to travel.


5. Plan your route: Review your travel route and make note of any road closures, construction zones, or traffic advisories that may impact your journey. Use a reliable GPS device or mapping app to help navigate and avoid unexpected delays.


6. Empty waste tanks and fresh water: Prior to leaving the campground, empty your RV’s waste tanks and drain the fresh water system. Follow proper disposal procedures and use designated dump stations.


7. Fuel up the RV: Ensure that your RV has enough fuel for the journey ahead. Locate the nearest gas station and fill up the tank, especially if you will be traveling in remote areas with limited fueling options.


8. Inform the campground office: Make sure to notify the campground office of your departure and complete any necessary checkout procedures. This includes returning any rental equipment, settling outstanding fees, and updating your contact information, if required.


By taking these steps before leaving the campsite, you’ll be well-prepared for a hassle-free departure and set the stage for a fantastic journey ahead.


Check Out Procedures

When leaving an RV campsite, it’s important to complete the necessary check-out procedures to ensure a smooth departure and avoid any potential issues. Follow these steps to properly check out:


1. Return any borrowed items: If you have borrowed any equipment or amenities from the campground, such as bikes, kayaks, or picnic tables, make sure to return them to their designated locations. Check with the campground staff if you’re unsure where to place them.


2. Settle outstanding fees: Visit the campground office or designated check-out location to settle any outstanding fees. This may include campground fees, additional charges for amenities or services used during your stay, or any damages incurred during your visit.


3. Provide feedback: If the campground offers a feedback or survey form, take a moment to provide your experience and suggestions. This valuable input can help improve the campground’s services and facilities for future visitors.


4. Check for any forgotten items: Conduct a final sweep of your campsite and RV to ensure you haven’t left anything behind. Check under beds, in closets, and in all storage compartments for any overlooked items.


5. Follow campground rules: Before leaving, make sure you have followed all campground rules and regulations. This includes proper waste disposal, adhering to quiet hours, respecting designated pet areas, and leaving the campsite in a clean and tidy condition.


6. Return access cards or keys: If you were provided with campground access cards or keys, return them to the appropriate location as instructed by the campground staff. This will help ensure that future campers have access to the necessary facilities.


7. Thank the campground staff: Before driving away, take a moment to express your gratitude to the campground staff. A simple thank you goes a long way in showing appreciation for their hard work in maintaining the campground.


By following these check-out procedures, you’ll not only leave the campground in good standing but also contribute to a positive experience for future campers.


Sanitization and Cleaning

Sanitizing and cleaning your RV before leaving the campsite is essential for the health and safety of yourself and future occupants. Follow these steps to ensure a clean and sanitary RV:


1. Dispose of waste: Empty and flush out holding tanks to remove any waste materials. Use designated dump stations and follow proper disposal procedures. Rinse out the tanks thoroughly to eliminate odors and prevent any build-up.


2. Clean the interior: Remove all trash and debris from inside the RV. Sweep or vacuum the floors, wipe down surfaces, and clean windows and mirrors. Pay special attention to the kitchen and bathroom areas, ensuring they are free from food particles and any residue.


3. Sanitize surfaces: Use a disinfectant cleaner or wipes to sanitize commonly touched surfaces, such as countertops, tables, doorknobs, light switches, and handles. This helps eliminate bacteria and viruses, promoting a safe and healthy environment.


4. Launder linens and towels: Remove all used linens and towels and clean them before departure. If necessary, utilize the campground’s laundry facilities or wait until you reach the next available laundry location.


5. Check the refrigerator and pantry: Remove all perishable items from the refrigerator and discard any expired or spoiled food. Wipe down the interior of the fridge, ensuring it is clean and odor-free. Secure pantry items to prevent spills during transit.


6. Clean the exterior: Wash the exterior of the RV, paying attention to windows, wheels, and any visible dirt or grime. Use appropriate cleaning products and tools, such as RV-safe soaps and soft brushes, to avoid damaging the exterior finish.


7. Check the awning and awning rails: Inspect and clean the awning and awning rails to remove any debris or dirt. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper maintenance and care.


8. Dump and rinse sewage hoses: Empty and rinse the sewage hoses thoroughly before stowing them away. Use a designated dump station and a hose with clean water for rinsing purposes.


By following these sanitization and cleaning steps, you’ll leave the campsite with a clean and well-maintained RV, ready for your next adventure.


Disconnecting Utilities

Disconnecting utilities properly is an important task when leaving an RV campsite. Follow these steps to ensure a safe and efficient disconnection of utilities:


1. Turn off the electricity: Before disconnecting any electrical connections, turn off the RV’s main power source. This will prevent any potential electrical hazards while handling the connections.


2. Unplug electrical cords: Disconnect any electrical cords or extension cords from the RV’s power source. Coil them up and stow them away properly, ensuring they are not tangled or damaged.


3. Disconnect water supply: Shut off the water supply to the RV by closing the main valve or turning off the campground’s water source, if applicable. Release any pressure by opening a faucet inside the RV and let any remaining water drain out.


4. Drain the water hoses and stow them: Disconnect the water hoses from the RV and let any remaining water drain out. Coil them up and store them properly, ensuring they are clean and free from any kinks or damage.


5. Empty and stow the sewer hose: Carefully disconnect the sewer hose from the RV’s waste valve, ensuring that all waste has been properly emptied before detaching it. Rinse and clean the hose, and then store it in a designated compartment or container to avoid any contamination.


6. Disconnect cable or satellite connections: If you have connected your RV to cable or satellite services, disconnect the cables properly and stow them away neatly. Coil the cables up and avoid any kinks or tangles.


7. Check propane tank connections: Ensure that the propane tank valves are closed before disconnecting any propane appliances. If you detect any gas odor or suspect a leakage, consult a professional for assistance.


8. Secure utility compartments: After disconnecting all utilities, secure and lock utility compartments properly to ensure that nothing comes loose during transit.


By following these steps, you’ll safely and effectively disconnect all utilities, ensuring a smooth departure from the campsite.


Stowing and Securing Items

Properly stowing and securing items in your RV is crucial for a safe and comfortable journey. Follow these steps to ensure that everything inside the RV stays in place during transit:


1. Organize and declutter: Before stowing items, take the time to declutter and organize the interior of your RV. Remove any unnecessary items to reduce clutter and create more space for essential items.


2. Secure loose items: Use bungee cords, Velcro straps, or non-slip mats to secure loose items such as kitchen utensils, books, electronics, and toiletries. This will prevent them from shifting and falling during transit.


3. Close and latch cabinets and drawers: Ensure that all cabinets and drawers are securely closed and latched. This will prevent them from opening during travel and potentially causing damage or creating hazards.


4. Pack fragile items with care: If you have fragile items, such as glassware or electronics, wrap them in bubble wrap or use soft padding materials to protect them from any potential impact or vibration during transit.


5. Secure appliances: If you have appliances in your RV, such as a microwave or coffee maker, secure them properly to prevent them from moving or falling. Use straps or cushioning materials to hold them in place.


6. Store heavier items low and centered: When stowing larger and heavier items, place them low and centered in the RV. This will help maintain a lower center of gravity and improve stability during travel.


7. Utilize storage compartments: Take advantage of the available storage compartments in your RV. Use bins, organizers, or shelves to maximize space and keep items organized and secure.


8. Check outside storage compartments: Ensure that outside storage compartments are securely closed and latched. Double-check any items stored outside to ensure they are tightly secured and won’t shift or become a hazard while driving.


By properly stowing and securing items inside your RV, you’ll minimize the risk of damage, ensure a smoother journey, and make your travels more enjoyable.


Inspecting the RV

Before departing from the campsite, it’s crucial to thoroughly inspect your RV to ensure that everything is in proper working order and ready for the journey ahead. Follow these steps to conduct a comprehensive inspection:


1. Check exterior lights: Turn on all exterior lights, including headlights, taillights, and turn signals, to ensure they are functioning correctly. Replace any burnt-out bulbs before hitting the road.


2. Inspect tires: Check the tire pressure and visually inspect the tires for any signs of wear, damage, or low tread depth. Ensure that they are properly inflated according to the manufacturer’s specifications.


3. Test brakes: Test the brakes to ensure they are working effectively. Pay attention to any unusual noises, vibrations, or delayed braking response, as these could indicate a problem that needs to be addressed.


4. Check fluid levels: Inspect the fluid levels in your RV, including engine oil, transmission fluid, coolant, and windshield wiper fluid. Top up any low levels as necessary.


5. Verify the hitch or tow connection: If you’re towing a trailer or using a tow hitch, inspect the connection to ensure it is secure and properly aligned. Check that safety chains, breakaway cables, and electrical connections are in good condition.


6. Test all RV systems: Turn on and test all the essential RV systems, including the generator, air conditioning, heating, water pump, and any other appliances or amenities. Ensure that they are functioning correctly before you hit the road.


7. Check propane tank levels: Verify the levels of propane in your RV’s tanks. If they are running low, consider filling them before departure or identifying the nearest propane refill location along your journey.


8. Look for any signs of damage or leaks: Inspect both the interior and exterior of your RV for any signs of damage, leaks, or wear. Pay attention to the roof, windows, vents, and any seams or joints. Repair or address any issues before departure.


9. Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors: Check that smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are functioning properly. Replace batteries if needed and ensure that they are not expired.


By conducting a thorough inspection of your RV, you’ll identify any potential issues or maintenance needs, ensuring a safer and more enjoyable journey.


Hitching or Detaching the RV

If you are towing an RV or need to detach it from a tow vehicle, properly hitching or detaching is crucial for a safe and successful departure. Follow these steps based on your situation:


If you are hitching the RV:

  1. Position the tow vehicle: Align the tow vehicle with the RV hitch, ensuring they are on level ground. Engage the emergency brake and put the vehicle in park.
  2. Prepare the hitch: Ensure that the hitch on the tow vehicle is clean and free of debris. If necessary, apply lubrication to make the hitching process smoother.
  3. Extend or lower the tongue: Adjust the tongue jack to extend or lower the tongue of the RV to align with the hitch of the tow vehicle.
  4. Attach the hitch: Back up the tow vehicle slowly, aligning the hitch with the RV’s tongue. Lower the hitch onto the ball mount and lock it in place. Double-check that it is securely latched.
  5. Safety checks: Cross-check that the safety chains are properly connected, the breakaway cable is attached, and all electrical connections are secure. Raise the tongue jack and double-check that the hitch is secure.
  6. Test the connection: Test the connection by gently pulling forward to ensure that the RV and tow vehicle are properly attached. Test the brakes and turn signals to ensure they are functioning correctly.

If you are detaching the RV:

  1. Find a suitable location: Park the RV in a level and safe area, away from traffic and hazards. Engage the emergency brake and put the RV in park.
  2. Prepare the hitch: Remove any safety clips or locks on the hitch and prepare it for detachment.
  3. Lower the trailer: Use the tongue jack to lower the trailer slowly, allowing it to rest on the hitch ball securely.
  4. Detach the hitch: Release the coupler latch, ensuring that the hitch is free from the ball mount. Carefully raise the tongue jack to lift the trailer off the hitch ball.
  5. Secure the trailer: Place blocks or chocks behind the wheels to prevent the trailer from rolling. Disconnect the safety chains, breakaway cable, and electrical connections.
  6. Store hitching equipment: Safely store the hitching equipment, including the hitch lock, safety chains, and any other accessories, in an organized and secure location.

Remember, if you are unsure or unfamiliar with the hitching or detaching process, refer to your RV’s owner’s manual or consult a professional for guidance. A proper hitching or detaching process is essential for a safe and successful journey.


Departure Checklist

Before hitting the road, it’s essential to go through a departure checklist to ensure that you haven’t missed any crucial steps. Follow this checklist to make sure you’re ready to depart from the RV campsite:

  1. Check for personal belongings: Double-check that you have gathered all personal belongings from both inside and outside the RV, including camping gear, chairs, and outdoor equipment.
  2. Secure doors, windows, and roof vents: Confirm that all doors, windows, and roof vents are securely closed and latched to prevent any damage or leaks during transit.
  3. Double-check utilities: Verify that all utilities, such as water, electricity, and propane, are turned off and disconnected properly.
  4. Inspect the campsite: Walk around the campsite and ensure that you’ve left it clean and in the same condition as you found it. Dispose of any trash and leave the area tidy.
  5. Turn off lights and appliances: Turn off all lights, fans, and appliances inside the RV to conserve energy and prevent any potential hazards.
  6. Secure loose items inside: Check that all items inside the RV are secure and won’t shift or fall during transit. Double-check cabinets, drawers, and the refrigerator.
  7. Retract leveling jacks or stabilizers: If you used leveling jacks or stabilizers during your stay, retract them fully and ensure they are securely stowed.
  8. Check mirrors and adjust for proper visibility: Adjust the mirrors on your RV and tow vehicle to ensure maximum visibility while driving.
  9. Test brakes, turn signals, and lights: Test the brake lights, turn signals, and all other exterior lights to ensure they are functioning correctly.
  10. Verify GPS or navigation system: Confirm that your GPS or navigation system is updated and programmed with the correct destination and route.
  11. Buckle up and secure passengers: Ensure that all passengers are properly buckled up and seated safely before you begin your journey.
  12. Perform a final walk-around: Walk around the RV one last time to check for any signs of damage, leaks, or anything that may have been missed on the checklist.

By going through this departure checklist, you can enjoy a smooth and stress-free journey, knowing that you’ve taken care of all the necessary tasks before leaving the RV campsite.



Leaving an RV campsite requires careful planning and thorough execution to ensure a smooth and successful departure. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can leave the campsite with confidence, knowing that you’ve taken all the necessary precautions.


From the preparation before leaving to checking out procedures, sanitization and cleaning, disconnecting utilities, stowing and securing items, inspecting the RV, hitching or detaching the RV, and going through a departure checklist, each step plays a crucial role in ensuring a safe and enjoyable journey.


Remember to always respect the campground’s rules and regulations, properly dispose of waste, and leave the campsite in a clean and tidy condition. By doing so, you not only contribute to the overall camping experience but also maintain the beauty of the campground for future visitors.


Before hitting the road, take the time to inspect your RV, including the tires, brakes, lights, and fluid levels, as well as securing all loose items and properly hitching or detaching your RV if necessary. Following these steps will help minimize the risk of accidents or damages during transit.


Lastly, going through a departure checklist ensures that you haven’t missed any important tasks and gives you peace of mind before embarking on your next adventure.


So, as you prepare to leave the RV campsite, take a moment to appreciate the memories made, the beauty of nature, and the joy of immersing yourself in the great outdoors. And with proper planning, organization, and attention to detail, you’ll be well on your way to another unforgettable journey.