This is Part 6 of a 7 part series on traveling with an RV or travel trailer. It's all about what has worked well for Fay and me over the last several years of traveling through the U.S. and Canada.
The 7 articles in the series are (click to view):
- Planning Your Route
- Finding Places to Stay
- Preparing For a Trip
- On the Road
- At the Campground
- Leaving the Campground
- After You Get Back Home
(Click here to read the complete disclaimer)
Time to hit the road again!
Leaving the campground is easier and faster than arriving...well, at least it seems like it should be! For us, it depends upon how long we were there. If it was a quick overnight stay we are out of there before you know it. If we've been there a while though, it often takes longer to pack up then it did to set up.
The longer we are there, the more stuff we've pulled out to use that needs to get cleaned up and put away. If we've cooked meals, it may take even longer. When we can, we'd rather take time to clean up and put things away when we are leaving the campground rather than have to deal with them later.
So all the tasks break down into two basic steps: Getting Packed Up and Getting Back on the Road.
Getting Packed Up
Not all of these steps will apply in every case, but here are the basics.
Put away everything you have outdoors. Be a good camper - cleanup your campsiteLeave things as good or better than you found them when you arrived. Put things away and secure them inside the trailerIf you've cooked and dirtied dishes, you'll be happy later if you wash them and put them away now! Turn off everything using electricity inside Drain your gray and black water tanks if you have sewer connection at your site * Disconnect your electric and water hookups
Draining your holding tanks
Yep, the most dreaded task...dealing with your holding tanks! But it doesn't have to be as bad as it was for Robin Williams.
Follow these basic steps
- Make sure toilet is close to full. Add water if needed. This will help drain all the solid waste.
- Connect your sewer drain hose, trying to give it a downward slope towards the drain.
- Open the valve to drain the black water.
- After black water stops draining, open the valve to drain the gray water.
- Use a tank wand in the toilet to flush out the black tank. If you do not have a tank wand, refill and drain the toilet with fresh water several times until clean. Just know that you may still have some sediment stuck on the bottom. Adding a clear sewer tank and hose rinser between your trailer hookup and the hose makes it easy to monitor your progress and see when the water is clearing up (see below).
The video below was produced for larger rigs, but are pretty good on demonstrating the basics.
I can't imagine not having a wand to rinse our black tank through the toilet. It really helps control the water flow, direct it within the tank and keep your hands at a distance. Upon checking Amazon, I found an improved tank wand. It has a rotary nozzle that looks like it might actually clean the tank even better than the one we have. The Amazon product page (previous link) also has a short video showing how the spray nozzle works.
The other thing I really like to help make this job a little easier is using a clear sewer tank and hose rinser. I've been using one of these since shortly after we started traveling with our trailer and would never give it up. The clear elbow let's you see the tank draining and know when you've gotten most of the crud out. The the built in rinser and gate valve let you refill and empty the tank from the outside. I generally repeat this process a few times to get most everything out of the tank. If we're on the road, I may decide that's good enough. But at the end of the trip, or during a long one, I always use the wand to get the inside of the black water tank cleaned up the best I can. (Well okay, actually Fay does the inside work with the wand.)
Getting Back on the Road
Now that you have everything packed up, before leaving the campground you need to get things ready for towing again. The steps are essentially the same as when you are getting ready to begin your trip so I won't repeat them here. (Please reference my previous article in this series, Preparing for a Trip.)
Being a good camper, it's important to be respectful of one another. As mentioned above, please be sure to look over your campsite before leaving, and clean up anything that's needed - leave the campsite in a condition that is at least as good as it was when you arrived.
We're coming to the endHard to believe I have only one more article to go in this series. I've amazed myself and done much better than usual this time keeping focused on getting one out each week. It really shouldn't be that difficult, but doing things consistently has never been one of my strengths. Actually, I think it's all of the great notes I've received throughout this series that has kept me going. Thanks so much! As always, drop me a note if you have any questions. - Denny
Are you a newbie?
If you are new to the world of Small Travel Trailers, here are the three most popular things for most newbies, here on my website. Please check them out and see if they aren't helpful to you:
- RV Surge Suppressors – What you need to know.
It's really important that you understand the risks and know how to protect yourself against bad electrical problems. Not only can these they cause a lot of damage to your trailer and electronic components, they can also be dangerous.
- A list of products we use and like.
All the camping and RV accessories can be overwhelming when you're first getting started. After trying lots of things, these are the items that have really worked well for us. The list may save you a few bucks on buying something you don't like or stuff you'll never use (I don't publish my long list of things we've purchased and wish we hadn't!).
- My free Beginner's Guide to Small Travel Trailers
Over 100 pages, this guide is all about what we've learned since we got started owning and traveling with a small travel trailer.
Denny JohnsonAfter having spent most of our adult life in Orlando, my wife Fay and I moved to Knoxville, TN in 2020. We are loving the change of seasons and being near the mountains. Plus, this part of the country is loaded with great places to camp.
We camped years ago with a pop-up camper, but got serious about it when we purchased our Casita in 2014. There was a lot to learn as we started traveling with it, and a lot of conflicting opinions on line. That's when I decided that creating a website would be a good retirement project. I started tinyTowable.com to share things we've learned along the way that have worked well for us in hopes that the information would be of help to others.
We put chairs etc away before going to bed. Saves dealing with wet thing in the am if it rains overnight.
Good idea Janni! We’ve definitely had to deal with that before. 🙁
How do you bring the wand into the camper? Through the door? The window?
Fay actually handles the wand on the inside, while I do things outside. To answer your question, I hand her the wand with the hose attached through the window. Even though the wand has a on-off switch for the water, I leave it turned off outside until she gets it inserted into the toilet, and turn it off again when she gets done, before she hands it back out to me…just in case!!! We’ve got the process down where it’s all pretty simple at this point.
Loving your articles. Thank you.
Being a good camper (when leaving) should also include being mindful of your neighbors if you are leaving at O’dark thirty. Nothing worse (well maybe) then being woke up to clanging, banging, yelling and a diesel engine at 4:30am. In my experience it’s usually the big rvs. The bigger the rv the more stuff. The more noise.
I have found it helpful to me to pack, or partially pack (even just folding up chairs and rug), as much as possible the night before.
Couldn’t agree more Debbie!