Leaving the Campground – Part 6 of 7 in a series about Traveling With an RV or Travel Trailer

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

Much of the information on this site is only my opinion. Use it at your own risk. -Denny
(Click here to read the complete disclaimer)
Please Note: I participate in affiliate marketing programs and may receive a commission if you use one of my links and make a purchase. - Denny

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 campsite Leave things as good or better than you found them when you arrived.
  • Put things away and secure them inside the trailer If 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
  1. Make sure toilet is close to full. Add water if needed. This will help drain all the solid waste.
  2. Connect your sewer drain hose, trying to give it a downward slope towards the drain.
  3. Open the valve to drain the black water.
  4. After black water stops draining, open the valve to drain the gray water.
  5. 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 elbow 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 videos below were produced for larger rigs, but are the best I've found on demonstrating the basics.

Drain the Tanks
Flush the Black Water Tank

We personally use one of the wands shown in the video 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 version with a rotary nozzle that looks like it might actually clean the tank even better. (I was impressed enough, that I just ordered a new one for us.) The Amazon product page 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 drain elbow with gate valve and built-in rinser. I've been using one of these for the last 6 years 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.)

Clear drain elbow with gate valve and built-in rinser

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 end

Hard 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

Denny Johnson

Denny Johnson

Denny loves traveling with his wife Fay in their Small Travel Trailer. In addition to all his blog articles, he's developed an entire website about Small Travel Trailers, including a free Beginner's Guide to help those just getting started. Please Subscribe to my Emails so you don't miss any future articles.

6 thoughts on “Leaving the Campground – Part 6 of 7 in a series about Traveling With an RV or Travel Trailer

    1. 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.

  1. 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.

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