Sunday, October 29, 2017

Road Ready: The Pre-Flight Checklist Is ESSENTIAL

Our "pre-flight checklist" has 41 items on it.

We added strong travel latches
to our residential refrigerator to replace
bungee cords and other cumbersome
items to keep the doors shut
during travel. One-second and it's secure.
What is a "pre-flight checklist"?  It is our infallible, trusted and comprehensive list of things that must be attended to before we roll our 42 foot, 18,000 lb fifth wheel down the road in the hopes that we will avert mishaps and disasters.  While there are no guarantees, we have a lot of confidence in our checklist.  It resides on my mobile phone in "check list" format, so that when an item is checked off, it reschedules itself for the next day, ready to remind me again of something that must be done or checked on before we hit the road. I think everyone should have one, and I will go a step further and say that most mishaps to do with traveling in an RV could have been avoided with a little more attention to this simple and reliable tool.  Ours is years in the making, and we trust it completely.

The bigger your RV, probably the longer your list will be.  Our checklist for our truck camper has about 6 items on it!  Because we are fulltimers, we have a lot of stuff in and around our fifth wheel RV and that stuff needs to be attended to. There are things to lock, things to secure, things to stow, and things to put away.  When we hit the road, we do not have that sinking feeling that we forgot something, because we have the reassurance of our list that we know for sure the important things got taken care of.

Todd installed drawer
latches in our pantry.
Our checklist is exceedingly detailed, and makes us appear a little obsessive, but we really aren't.  It's the simple, mundane things that often get forgotten (how many times have you seen RVers heading out with their steps out or their TV antenna in the air?), so they are ALL on the list.  You might think that a list this long takes a lot of time to complete. Wrong. It takes us about 15 minutes to prepare of departure.  We both complete items on the list, and most of the items are completed quickly by just walking through the trailer and getting things done.  We refer to the list to confirm that things were done.  MANY times we have thought we were done, and low and behold there will be a couple of items on the list reminding us to do them.

The blanket and pillow
could fall behind the slide
when in the closed position
creating disaster upon reopening.
Most of the items on the checklist take literally one or two seconds to do.  But they MUST be done.

Every person's checklist will have different items on it.  Those with pets will undoubtedly have some very important items on the list as well.  What do you have on your list?

So, I know you are dying to know: WHAT is on my checklist? Well, as of now it looks like this (with an explanation on some in case they seem unclear):

  • Wardrobe contents secure
  • Awnings stowed (May seem obvious, but unfortunately people have pulled out of a site with their awning extended to have it torn off)
  • Basement contents secure (especially items that can spill or break if moved)
  • Bathroom counter clear (soap dispensers and the like)
  • Bathroom pocket door locked (definitely damage will occur slamming open and closed)
  • Bedroom door OPEN (or it will be crushed by the slide!)
  • Pillows off of sofa (or they risk falling behind the closed slide room and jamming it upon re-opening)
  • Closet doors locked
  • Dishwasher locked
  • Flag stowed
  • check all running and signal lights
  • Flip truck mirrors
  • Refrigerator doors latched
  • Lid on freshwater jug in refrigerator (prevent spills)
  • Freshwater filled (If appropriate, depending on our plans)
  • Lock armoire doors in bedroom
  • Maxx fans ON (if warm weather for ventilation)
  • Living Room Ottoman turned (so as not to hit slide coming in)
  • Outside chairs and tables stowed
  • oven vent closed
  • pantry door secured
  • Pantry shelves locked
  • Under Range drawers locked
  • Refrigerator contents secured (I use 2 spring rods to prevent "arrival avalanche syndrome")
  • Shoreline stowed
  • Water hose stowed
  • shower door locked
  • shower head secure (so it doesn't bounce out of it's holder and turn on the water or crack the shower!)
  • Bedroom throw rug stowed (in the slide path)
  • stow weather station
  • Kitchen table locked
  • Table tops clear
  • Tanks dumped and flushed
  • TPMS on (Tire Pressure Monitoring System)
  • Travel lunch made (can't access most of kitchen with slides in)
  • Truck fueled (much easier to fuel without the trailer)
  • TV Antenna down
  • Under coach clear
  • Vibration alarm deactivated on bikes (our electric bikes have a sensitive, piercingly loud alarm that sounds if they move at all... which is not ideal while driving, ask me how I know)
  • Walkie Talkies in truck (we use these upon arrival and backing, to prevent me hollering like a fish wife while getting set up)
  • Washing Soda in tanks (we do this occasionally, traveling is a good time to swish your tank with washing soda to soften and remove any cling-ons, our tank sensors always work!)
  • Water pump OFF! (often something falls in the sink or shower, turning on the faucet, leading to an undesirable outcome.)
That's it for now. Our list used to be a LOT longer, but we worked to refining our system and things go pretty quickly now.  We do not have an "Arrival Checklist" because necessity pretty much takes care of it.  I have a magnet on my oven door that I put in place when the oven vent gets closed for departure. This reminds me to open it again upon arrival. That's about the extent of our "arrival checklist".

I hope you will consider the benefits and piece of mind that a pre-flight checklist offers. It's wonderful to hop in the truck and pull out with confidence knowing everything got taken care of.

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