Setting Up Your New Camper

Setting Up Your New Camper for the New Traveller

It’s so exciting when you finally take possession of your new (if only new-to-you) motorhome and get ready to take it out on it’s first shake-down trip.

The objective of a shake-down trip is to find out all the parts of how your motorhome functions, how you like to travel and live on the road, and figure out all the things that you forgot and therefore need to add to your packing list.

When going on your shakedown trip, you’ll still be wanting to set up your camper as though you’re heading off on a proper trip, but it would be best if you don’t go too far from home… so that you can be near familiar services and you can even duck home quickly for any of the must-have items you may have forgotten!

If you’re brand new to travelling by motorhome, here are a few tips for setting up your new camper/motorhome before you go out on any trips:

Familiarise yourself with how to drive your motorhome

Driving your new motorhome out of the dealers lot is probably the first of many nerve-wracking driving experiences you’ll find yourself in!

Once you’ve had some practice driving forward, find yourself an empty (!) parking lot and practice backing your motorhome into a designated spot.

Take some traffic cones / camp chairs / other easily movable objects to use as practice obstructions (trees, raised gardens or other caravans!) and practice reversing into a spot while avoiding those obstructions.

You’ll need to take your travelling buddy with you, so that you can figure out hand-signals or verbal instructions. And if you’re using walkie talkies, it’s handy to figure out how they work before you’re all stressed out in a campground with an audience looking on.

Connect and disconnect everything… a couple of times

When you’re travelling in a motorhome, setting up at your camp for the night is a little bit easier since you don’t have to unhitch a caravan from your vehicle first (except if you’re towing a trailer, you may want to unhitch that), but you will need to know how the power, gas, water and waste are connected and disconnected.

Familiarise yourself with these and make sure that each of them is working. Within moments you’ll already know if A) you’ve got the right hoses and connections you need B) whether they fit, and C) whether they are in good condition or not.

And don’t forget to practice pulling out the cassette toilet, emptying it, cleaning it and putting it back in. It’s daunting the first time you do it, so make it easier on yourself by ensuring the first time you do it, it is NOT when it’s jammed up with poo!

Safety Precautions

Of course we don’t want bad things to happen… but sometimes they do, and when they do, you want to be as prepared as possible.

Consider these safety tips:

Where is the fire extinguisher located? Does everyone in the family know where it is, and how to use it?

Do you have an emergency exit window? Discuss with the family how to operate it.

Put together a list of emergency numbers (each others mobile numbers, family, doctors, insurance etc) and ensure that everyone knows where this is kept.

Do you know where the spare wheel is and how to get it out of it’s spot?

Making it personal and comfortable

The fun part of setting up your motorhome involves making it your own; adding your personal touches that make you feel comfortable and ‘at home’. This may be as simple as adding a bumper sticker of your favourite team, hanging some pictures of your loved ones, or throwing a colourful doona cover on the bed that you can’t wait to snuggle under.

Setting up your new camper is not difficult, even if you are a new traveller; but it certainly helps to do a couple of practice runs to ensure that you have everything you need, know where it is, and understand how it works.

Before you know it, you’ll be setting up your camper in record time, leaving you free to relax and enjoy everything about travelling in a motorhome.