Sierra Nevada Airstreams - Owner's GuidePreparing

Enjoyment of the whispering winds, the zephyrs, the airstreams of the Sierra Nevada and Great Basin areas of the United States in a recreational vehicle.

Preparing - Driving - Living - Touring - Maintaining - Understanding -


How can you tell how prepared you are? Take a test! The test is a checklist of items that you can use to evaluate your preparedness. Checklists are important to many RV enthusiasts and you can find a plethora of checklists on the web and in books, newsletters, and manuals for nearly any taste or circumstance. The problem is that these can become so detailed that you spend more time running through checklists that you get sidetracked and forget what is important and what is not. Whatever checklist system you use, make sure that it doesn't take away from what you enjoy yet helps you avoid missing what is important.

Managing checklists

If you made a list of everything you need to take and everything you need to do to get ready to go, it would be a very very long list. A long detailed list like this is not likely to be thoroughly checked for every trip as it soon becomes boring and tedious. This means there is a need to manage the list to make it less tedious, less boring, more useful, and more likely to be used to generate the comfort that all has been done that needs to be done. This list management can be done by categorizing and classifying list items by importance, scope, and type and by creating kits.


A kit of components is a group of things serving a common purpose that can be treated as a single entity on a comprehensive checklist. Durable kits, such as collections of tools or hookup necessities, can be built and then only need to be re-visited when parts break or are removed. Many of these collections can also be broken into smaller more focused collections. Here are some examples.

  1. The trailer tool kit - tools and spare parts needed for minor trailer repair and maintenance

  2. Connections kit of kits - Waste dump connectors, adapters, and hoses; Electrical cords and connectors; Water supply connectors, regulators, adapters, and hoses; Hitch levers, clips, grease, and cables

  3. The tow vehicle tool kit - first aid kit; accident preparedness kit; spare tire kit with jack and wrench; toolkit with parts (oil, fanbelts) and tools for minor automotive repairs; navigator's kit with maps and documentation;

  4. The kitchen kit - cooking gear, food storage gear, food service gear, cleansers

  5. Emergency Preparedness Kit of Kits - First Aid, basic supplies, batteries, flashlights

  6. Personal supplies kit - toiletries, underwear, clothing, hobby and leisure materials

  7. Bedding kit - sheets, blankets, pillows,

  8. Bathroom kit - soap, toilet paper, cleansers, linens

  9. Kids kit - items to enterain kids while traveling an on-site. Games, activity books, information brochures and phamplets of places you plan to visit, maps, and a log book for them to make notes about the trip.

  10. Pets kit - water and food dishes, leash, kennel box, current shot records. (see traveling with pets for more information.)

  11. Non perishable supplies - food, water, dry goods, some can goods

  12. Caravan and Rallies kit - special items needed for camping or traveling with a group

Types of Checklists


The first checklists to consider are those that come with your equipment. The tow vehicle manual has a complete list of maintenance requirements with guidelines about when service is needed. Your trailer will also have a maintenance checklist in its owner's manual. Each appliance and accessory will also have recommended maintenance schedules. These schedules will often have both time and use factors. For instance, trailer bearings should be maintained every 10,000 miles or at least once a year.

Besides equipment maintenance schedules, also consider the maintenance schedules for people and pets. These include annual checkups, teeth cleaning at the dentist, or whatever else you need to do to maintain health and fitness,

Schedule maintenance for convenience but make sure to get it done! Most regularly scheduled maintenance can suffer occasional schedule slips but not neglect. Your first insurance payment for a safe and enjoyable trip is your investment in proper maintenance.


It is almost axiomatic that something will be forgotten or that something will not work as planned or than some unknown factor will pop up. Good planning includes checklists to accommodate these events. Examples include first aid kits, emergency tools, spare parts, documentation, road hazard insurance, security, and many other considerations. All of this planning requires risk assessment and a cost versus potential benefit analysis. What is worth the trouble considering how likely something might happen and how much some preparedness will ameliorate the problem is a choice to make.


Cargo checklists will vary depending upon your style, personal needs, length of planned outing, and many other factors. If you are heading out for the boonies, you will need to be much more careful about what you take than if you are heading for an RV park near a large department store. But there are always some things you will need to make sure you don't forget.


There also needs to be a checklist to make sure you didn't overlook anything in preparing your home for an absence. Mail, newspapers, and other deliveries need to be considered. Do you have someone to keep an eye on things in case something goes awry such as a broken pipe, a fire, or a break-in?


Your Takeoff checklist should include all of the things you need to do as a final check before you get on the road. Are the tires properly inflated? Hitch, safety chains, breakaway switch, and electrical lines properly connected? Windows latched? Vents closed? Equipment stowed? Brake and clearance lights working?

En route

When you get on the road, there are many things you need to be doing and there are checklists for these things as well. When driving, you need to pay attention to your rig, the road, and other conditions that influence your ability to get where you are going. When you stop for rest, fuel, or other reasons, you should do a walk around to see if all of the Takeoff Checklist items are still valid. En route checklists are a means to define how to develop a successful relationship with your rig on the road for safety and comfort.


Your campsite checklists will include setup and teardown items to make sure you have a comfortable stay and do not leave any surprises behind.

End of Trip

The final checklists will be those about what to do when you get back home. What needs to happen to get back to the home routine as soon as possible? What needs to be done to get the rig to the level of preparedness you need for future plans?

SNU member, Wheels Wheeler has a great set of checklists

Sample Checklists



Caravan Leader

Stuff needed to help manage and coordinate a group on a caravan

Caravan Parking

If you need to park a group on an open field or place without individual hook-ups or defined spaces


Basic camp setup inventory

Personal Needs

First aid and health related items you don't want to forget


What needs to be done when you get ready to leave camp.


A compilation with links - -

Camping Canada checklists - -

Lists geared towards tent campers - -

Coleman - -

South Texas Trader - - for Outfitting Your RV, Packing Up, Initial Inventory, Pre-Trip Checklist, RV Maintenance and Service, Winterizing and Storing Your RV

Steph and Dud's personal site on AOL has some interesting information about their experiences and two checklists - pre-trip and quick - -

Western Michigan University - - heavy stuff about creating evaluation checklists especially for educators and administrators.

RV Books - - a book of checklists can be had for ~$13 as a PDF download.

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