RV Shakedown Trips Do’s and Don’ts

In preparation for hitting the road, RVers often embark on something called a “shakedown trip,” which essentially refers to a practice trip or a trial run in your RV. This can be beneficial for brand new RVers taking their first trip, or even for seasonal RVers who may feel a bit rusty. A shakedown trip allows for a distraction-free test run to work out any kinks, foresee any potential issues, and plan for longer and more extensive trips. Get ready as we explore what to do and what not to do for your shakedown trip. 

Be sure you:

  • Choose a reasonable destination
  • Make reservations
  • Read your manual
  • Don’t hit the road without practice
  • Ensure your memberships, insurances, and warranties are up-to-date
  • Don’t do anything you aren’t comfortable with
  • Bring your checklist
  • Don’t panic if something bad happens

Do choose a reasonable destination.

A proper shakedown trip should be as simple as possible. It’s best not to travel too far for in order to minimize risk. After all, if you’re working out the kinks of getting used to driving the RV again, or even ensuring everything on the RV is functioning properly, you want to be close to your local mechanic or shop in case you may need their help. Try searching for a nearby Harvest Hosts location. This will allow for you to test all of the dry camping functions such as the propane, the fridge, the lighting, and more. 

Do make reservations.

If you’re staying at a campground or Harvest Hosts location, it’s imperative to make reservations. Campgrounds and other RV destinations are busier than ever now that more RVers are on the road. However, this isn’t just unique to 2021. It’s always important to make a reservation to guarantee yourself a spot wherever your destination is. This will also allow you to practice the process of booking and reserving campsites and./or Harvest Hosts locations.

Photo credit: Do It Yourself RV

Do read your manual.

Before hitting the road again, brush up on the basics in your manual, and be sure to bring it with you. After a long gap in RVing, it’s easy to forget the specifics. Be sure to visit all the areas of your RV with your manual to ensure you’re familiar with all the buttons, switches, and locations of important features.

Reading over your manual is another great opportunity to ensure all regular maintenance is completed and up-to-date. It’s so important to keep a maintenance log to ensure your RV is running in tip-top shape. Did you know that most warranty companies require proof of regular maintenance? If you need a hand, check out our helpful blog post covering the regular yearly maintenance. Have you had your RV in storage since last winter? Check out our helpful post on de-winterizing your RV

Photo credit: Tripit

Don’t hit the road without practicing driving or towing your RV.

Head to a nearby empty parking lot or choose a time when fewer drivers are on the road. It’s imperative to be comfortable driving your RV empty before loading it down with heavy belongings and adding in distractions, such as your family and/or pets. Do a practice run with a partner, spouse, or friend to help with backing up, checking your mirrors, and everything else that goes along with driving or towing your rig. Whether it’s your first time towing a trailer or driving a motorhome, we have helpful posts to assist with learning the basics. 

Photo credit: Motor Biscuit

Do ensure that your insurance, warranty, Harvest Hosts membership, and other memberships are up-to-date

Some RVers take their RV off their insurance temporarily during the off-season, or forget about their warranty or other memberships. Before hitting the road, be sure that everything is up-to-date, including the registration! Some common yearly memberships include Harvest Hosts, Boondockers Welcome, America the Beautiful (for national parks), Thousand Trails, and Good Sam. Be sure to take a look at each of these and bring along all necessary paperwork with you as well.

Photo credit: Always on Liberty

Don’t do anything you aren’t comfortable with.

When in doubt, pull over or take a break. If the weather starts to get bad or something doesn’t feel right with the RV, pull over as quickly and safely as possible. As the title states, don’t do anything you aren’t comfortable with. 

Photo credit: Do It Yourself RV

Don’t forget your checklist!

If you have a regularly-used checklist, be sure to break it out well before the trip. If you don’t already have one, Harvest Hosts several handy lists made for you. We’ve covered a pre-trip inspection list, a packing essentials list, and even an emergency kit guide

Photo credit: Elevate Blogging

Don’t panic if something bad happens.

No matter how much preparation goes into a trip, sometimes bad things happen. Mechanical issues, fender benders, and getting lost are just some of the most common enemies of RV road trips. If something goes wrong, try to remain calm and stay as safe as possible. When life hands you lemons, make some lemonade in your RV! 

If you’re a newbie, shakedown trips can help to identify any issues going with your RV. For seasoned travelers, they allow for a distraction-free test drive that will work out the kinks and make sure nothing goes wrong on your next big adventure. Remember to take care of yourself as well as your rig by taking time off from work or school before hitting the road so you have plenty of energy reserves. We hope our tips have been helpful in getting ready for your next amazing trip!


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