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What’s Your RV Arrival Routine?

Originally Published in MotorHome Magazine

Most motorhome owners have a leveling and hookup routine they follow once their coach is in a campsite. And we all know the importance of having an uninterrupted disconnect routine when preparing to leave a campsite. But we seldom hear anyone talking about what they do from the time they pull into the campground to the point where they finish getting into their campsite.

Our arrival routine consists of two phases: getting to the campsite and getting into the campsite. 

Phase one begins as we approach the campground office. I try to park our motorhome and dinghy vehicle as straight and as level as possible. This makes it easier for me to disconnect the dinghy while Vicki goes inside to register. Our procedure is to disconnect the dinghy in front of the office if we plan to disconnect anyway or if we think there’s a possibility we will encounter narrow roads, sharp turns or a campsite that requires us to disconnect our dinghy in order to get into it. 

During the registration process, if we are being assigned a back-in site, Vicki will ask the host to route us into the campground so our campsite is on the left side as we approach it. This will allow me to back to my left going into the campsite. When backing to the left, I am primarily using the left mirror. The left mirror provides me with a closer and broader view than the mirror on the right side. I can also stick my head out the driver’s side window and see where the left rear corner of our motorhome is going.

Vicki drives the dinghy vehicle and follows me to the campsite, then she gets out and assists me with phase two – getting into the campsite. 

Vicki: Our routine is to walk a campsite before driving or backing our motorhome into it. We look for any potential hazards, check the campsite’s hookups and determine just where we want to park our motorhome’s left rear tire. 

Joe likes to tell people that I back up our motorhome; he just works the controls. 

When it comes time for Joe to back up the coach, I position myself to the rear of the motorhome on the driver’s side. That way, I can see what is happening behind the motorhome and direct the progress of the left rear tire. I also make sure I can see Joe’s face in his side-view mirror. If I can see him, he can see me. Anytime Joe can not see me in his mirror, he stops the motor­home. I use hand signals to help guide the coach into the campsite. I simply point in the direction the rear of the motor­home should move. Joe operates the controls.

Over the years, we have seen a wide variety of backing procedures where one person operates the controls and the other guides the motorhome. Some use hand signals, others use hand-held radios. We can always spot the beginners: they try yelling. It’s ineffective but frequently entertaining. 

I think what makes our arrival routine work so well for us is that we are both involved; especially when backing the motorhome.

Joe: We have heard the unmistakable sound of fiberglass running into solid objects on two occasions. Not long ago we watched while a man backed his motorhome into a campsite. Suddenly the campsite water hookup seemingly jumped out of nowhere and tore into the rear corner of his motorhome. Fortunately, his wife had remained safe in the passenger seat. Had she been outside, she might have been attacked too. 

On another occasion, as a man backed his motorhome into a campsite, we witnessed an attack tree pummel its roof with a heavy branch. This man’s wife, too, escaped serious injury only because she had already taken refuge in the dinghy vehicle he had disconnected and parked a short distance away.

Hello? Am I missing something?

Why were the co-pilots not outside and guiding those motorhomes into the campsites? I don’t care how skilled a driver is, a second pair of eyes is a great asset when backing a motorhome. Besides, having someone assist in backing the coach gives the driver someone to blame when things go wrong (and when you are an RVer, things do go wrong).

Visit the Kievas’ website at www.rvknowhow.com

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