Ready, Set, Go

Malcolm Street — 17 November 2021
Preparing for a holiday after an extended storage period, does require a little more preparation than just hitching up and driving away

I mention all of this because chances are, with the upcoming school holidays and the freeing up of travel around some parts of Australia, there are any number of RVs — and owners in some cases — coming out of extended storage. Consequently, there’s a few things to consider before and after hitching up. Some of those were covered previously in ‘Safe Caravanning’ last issue.


To some extent, what you do getting your RV out of storage depends on what was done prior to it being put in. Hopefully you gave your pride and joy a bit of a clean, removed any packaged and perishable food stuffs, and drained the water tanks, particularly the grey and black tanks. If an RV isn’t stored undercover, then being protected by a purpose-built cover or well tied down tarpaulin does save work and weather damage.

Batteries, which many RV’s come fitted with these days, need storage preparation. What’s not good for batteries is to leave them in a semi-charged state for an extended period of time because batteries will self-discharge if left alone. It’s best if the batteries can be trickle charged either via solar panels or some other means. If not, the other option is to remove the batteries entirely and connect them to a charger elsewhere.


If your caravan or motorhome has been in hibernation over a period of time, then before doing anything, it’s a good idea to have a walk around and check that everything is where it should be, particularly if your RV has been stored outside and somewhere away from your eyes — don’t forget to get down on your knees and have a look under your caravan. Items like brakes, bearings and the suspension are service items and whilst surface rust on the chassis is usually okay, anything more substantial, particularly on major structural items, should be checked out. Tyres always need to be in good condition and inflated to the correct pressure.

Plan your storage ahead of time

Motorhomes are a little different in the mechanical department to a caravan in having an engine and transmission but, just like a tow vehicle, they should be serviced at correct intervals. Even if a major service is not due, a check should always be done on all fluid levels — oil, transmission fluid, coolant and windscreen washer. In most contemporary vehicles, a yellow cap or handle signifies something to be examined.

Inside any RV, your eyes and nose are excellent inspection devices. Any long-term water leaks should be obvious, and it’s also possible there might be some uninvited guests. I don’t mean squatters (although that’s possible) but more likely ants, spiders, mice and maybe the odd reptile. Any of those should be dealt with appropriately.

It’s not a bad idea to give your RV a good clean, inside and out. That not only gives it something of a refresh before heading out anywhere but is also an excellent opportunity to inspect everything carefully and that should include any storage lockers and cupboards. Water leaks can be problematic but additionally, mould can be a problem in poorly ventilated areas. It’s a good idea to lift all seat cushions and mattresses to make sure everything is clean and dry. The bathroom is another area of potential problems, but apart from the cupboards, it should be obvious if there are any issues that need attention.


This might sound a bit like the bleedin’ obvious but before going anywhere, do a quick check to make sure your tow vehicle/caravan/motorhome registration is current and that all vehicles are fully insured. Many travellers also take the trouble to ensure they have some sort of emergency assist cover in the event of a breakdown in outback areas. Recovery can be expensive otherwise.


If in cleaning mode, it’s not a bad idea to consider clear out mode as well. Weight in any RV is always a serious factor and it’s a good philosophy to go through all cupboards and storage areas to see what is hidden away. A good question to asking is, “have I used this item any time in the last 12 months?” There are some items like special tools, fire extinguisher, torches and first aid kits that are just there in case of emergencies, hopefully never to be used. In the case of the first aid kit, if it has been used, it should be restocked.

While looking over everything, it’s not a bad idea to examine all the hoses and power leads. All can be accidentally damaged in some way, but a careful visual inspection normally reveals any problems like leaks or insulation damage. Plastic click fittings for hoses are easily damaged and carrying a spare connection won’t add too much weight.

Low height, heavy weight storage


Packing any caravan or motorhome does take a bit of consideration. There are the essentials of course, then the ‘nice to haves’ and finally the ‘do I really need that’ category. In all cases, a consideration is if the object is available in a lighter/smaller form. For example, a decent collection of CDs takes up space and contributes to weight but it’s possible now to get your entire CD collection loaded onto a device, something that can conveniently be used in a caravan, tow vehicle or motorhome driver’s cab.

We all carry around multiple devices that require the battery to be charged on a regular basis. Instead of having a separate charger for every device, it’s quite easy to just have a common charger (if your caravan or motorhome isn’t so fitted) — just sure it’s rated for the larger devices and carry the necessary leads.

Seasons vary, as does the clothing required. If planning a summer trip, it’s time to ditch the winter gear.

Many an RVer leaves home stocked to the rafters with food and drink but there’s something of an argument for starting with less and supporting local economies wherever you might be travelling. The Empty Esky campaign started after the 2020 bushfires and because travel has been very much restricted, is still valid proposition now. The idea is to buy from local shops or obtain local produce wherever you can get it. The exception to that is fresh water — always try and fill up your tanks where water is plentiful.

I have several toolboxes full of all kinds of tools. I’m a bit of a ‘toolophile’ but tools do add considerably to the weight factor and there are some that I really don’t use at all. On top of that, there are a number of special multi-tool devices available now that can replace several others. I always used to carry around a large (4 x AA) Maglite torch but now LED technology means my favourite torch fits into the palm of my hand. The important thing not to leave behind is any tool that’s unique to your RV! You might not have the knowledge as to how to use said tool, but chances are that someone nearby will.

Having a check list of your essential items is a very handy item, particularly those items that are removed at the end of a trip. Even experienced RVers use them and it’s simple and stress free.

Caravan loading in particular does require a bit of consideration. Any heavy items should be low down and as near as the axles as possible. Mid-weight items are better off in low down areas leaving the overhead lockers and upper cupboards for lighter items. Those same principles apply to motorhomes too, but axle loadings (something specified by the truck manufacturer) are a consideration.

Finally on this matter, before heading off into the wild blue yonder, find a public weighbridge and get your fully loaded RV weighed. Even if you have been travelling for years, you might get an unpleasant surprise!


I know I am not alone in this but often when booking accommodation, one of the first things many look for is the availability of Wi-Fi. Certainly, a sign of the times but since we all carry mobile phones, tablet and laptop computers around, then it’s pretty much essential. Having said that, it’s wise to be cautious about using free Wi-Fi, mostly for security reasons. If doing anything, say money related for example, use either a mobile phone hot spot or a portable Wi-Fi device, like Telstra’s Nighthawk. Long term travellers can also do something like fit an RV Wi-Fi system to their rig.


Older readers I’m sure, can remember the multiple ways of entertaining younger family members when travelling along — games like ‘I Spy’ for instance were very much de rigueur. With the advent of iPhones and iPads, those days are long gone of course but ensuring said devices are loaded up with the proper apps is essential. If you have any trouble with this, I’m sure your son/daughter/grandson/granddaughter will be able to assist. They can probably help with trip planning and sights to see along the way too!


In past times, booking ahead during peak times was well understood, but during the off seasons, travellers could generally wander around at will and book in to a caravan park at the end of the day. Sadly, that’s no longer the case, mostly because folk who previously travelled overseas are now staying in Australia and booking ahead is very much a necessity in many places. That’s also something to keep in mind if you are a free camper. Some of your favourite spots have probably become much more popular in the last year or so. A trip planner like WikiCamps can be a good friend here. Although very much an online app, it can be used offline as well, so no worries about a Wi-Fi connection or phone connection.


The environment is a hot (pun intended) issue these days. This is not an article about being more environmentally friendly but there are a few simple things to consider. Having a solar panel system fitted is a good way of reducing coal/petrol fired energy, and another easy thing to consider is to leave no trace, particularly when freedom camping. That means taking out everything you brought in, including, in environmentally sensitive areas, grey water. In addition to that, you could be more proactive by carrying a rubbish bag or two and gardening gloves to collect extra rubbish and then disposing of it in an appropriate manner.


I have absolutely no doubt that this is something that many of us are keen to do in the very near future. As with anything, don’t be so keen to go that a few basic preparations are forgotten. Don’t forget anything COVID-19 related for safe and healthy travel. Make a list and once all the items are ticked off, then it’s time to move. See you on the road!


Feature Holiday preparation Hitting the road Checklist


Malcolm Street