How We Minimize Travel Surprises with Good Checklists

Truck bed loaded for travel
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Minimizing Surprises

You spend months or years dreaming of a trip, then months planning out the details. Now it's finally time and you are on your way. But wait...what did you forget? It could be something important that you left behind or something dangerous you forgot to do. Either way, you want to avoid the anxiety of worrying about it while you travel. The solution for us is to use good checklists.

Our Packing Checklist

Most of our trips with our Casita are reasonably long, anywhere from two weeks to two months. We usually start getting ready a few weeks in advance. About a week before we head out, I print out our packing checklist and set it on the kitchen counter. It is divided into sections that I'm responsible for, and others that are up to Fay. It includes almost 100 items. Not all of them are needed for each trip, but it always gives us the peace of mind that we're not forgetting something we'll need. Fay and I check items off as we get them ready and loaded into the trailer or truck. Things that we decided against for the specific trip get an X instead of a checkmark. When we are ready to leave, a quick scan assures us that we haven't missed anything.

Our Travel Checklist

When it's time to hit the road, we use our Before and After Travel Checklist. It includes the steps we take to make sure everything is ready to go before we drive off. It also contains the steps to get the trailer set up when we arrive at our destination. We have different sections for when it's just an overnight stop along the way, versus arriving at a main destination. It also has sections on things to take care of at home before we leave, as well as a few things to do when we return.

Download my Free Beginner's Guide to Small Travel Trailers
It contains copies of our own checklists

We have tweaked our lists over the years to where our current ones really simplify things for us. They eliminate surprises and concern over what we may have forgotten. You should create your own lists that fit your needs and your trailer or RV, but you can download ours to use as a starting point. If you already have lists, you might still take a look at ours for any new ideas. They are in the appendix of my Beginner's Guide. The guide also includes a layout and more photos of how we load things into the bed of our truck. Just click the button below.

Be sure to drop me a note should you have any questions. - Denny
Denny Johnson

Denny Johnson

After 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 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.
However, since moving to Tennessee, I've gotten involved with new hobbies (you can check some out on my personal website at and we haven't camped very much. So, at the end of 2023, I made the tough decision to stop updating this website.
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8 thoughts on “How We Minimize Travel Surprises with Good Checklists

  1. Because we have a 13′ boler that we have added storage areas to, I also have a list of everything that ‘lives’ in the boler and exactly where it is. That way hubby has to stop asking me where stuff is, use the list and go find it! We also have packing lists and to do lists. Yours are comprehensive and great. I never thought of posting ours. Thank you.

    1. What a great idea about documenting where things are in the trailer Vivian! I’ve had a lot of people ask about a list of things to get started. This combined with the checklists would make a nice “getting started” package.

  2. What a great list! Wishing I had created a master list for our camper, but we’ve been in the process of trying to find out what works for us. Our first big trip is upcoming and I feel I’ll have a good handle on what is needed versus what is not needed by the end of this trip.

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. “I feel I’ll have a good handle on what is needed versus what is not needed by the end of this trip” Rest assured, you will be discovering things you don’t need and things you wished you had with you for a long time Paula!

  3. Hi Denny, thank you for a very good list. I have a small question about what you carry in the cab. It may be listed under tools but I’m not sure. I have not only my tire pressure gauge, but I also have a laser gun to determine if my hubs are getting overheated. I checked them every time I stop for gas. Do you have one also?

  4. Denny.
    Nice blog…One thing my wife and I use is Google “Keep” lists. It is free and electronic so it is available both on the phone & computer. You can create check boxes to mark items as completed. It is also shareable between us so either of us can add or check off items when one of us packed it or completed.

    The best thing is when we prepare for our next trip, you can reset all the check boxes and start over.
    Not only do we use this for planning, I also have one for set-up, tear-down, long-term storage, modifications, maintenance, etc.

    Helps “Keep” us old guys on our game by not forgetting things.
    Thanks again.

    1. Your suggestion sounds great Tom. It would be really nice to be able to update checklists whenever/whereever, when I think of something to be added. Thanks for sharing! – Denny

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