Traditionally recognized as the start of summer, the upcoming Memorial Day weekend is the official start of the family road trip season.
A recent Travelcity survey of 1,025 Americans indicates that 39 percent are likely to travel over the three-day weekend and 77 percent of those would-be travelers plan to commute by car or RV.
No doubt the cheap gas prices are a big incentive, and state officials around the country are gearing up for crowded (read choked) highways. Last year, 37.2 million Americans traveled during this time, which was a 4.7 percent increase from the year before. The pattern shows these travel figures will only rise, especially with the lowest fuel prices in 12 years.
To make sure you have a safe journey to your destination, there are several things you should do before heading out on the road. The first is to make sure your RV is in working order.
This is the time to give your RV a bath. Washing the rig will allow you to get up-close and personal with areas that are often out of sight—and thus—out of mind.
Always start on the roof. Exercise care when walking on the roof, especially if wet. Pay close attention to the rubber membrane for any cracks or deterioration of the white surface coating.
Look carefully for any deterioration in the caulking around vents, seams, antennas, and roof-mounted satellite dish. Also inspect the plastic vent lids and skylights for sunlight
deterioration and cracks.
Washing the RV and rinsing thoroughly around the windows will help locate possible leaks. Carefully inspect window seals and caulking around compartments and accessories.
Routine tire inspection is a critical part of regular maintenance as well as an integral procedure during the spring checkup. Check the date of manufacture from the D.O.T. code that is located on the outside tire sidewall. Every tire contains the week and year of manufacture.
The general rule of thumb is that motorhome and trailer tires will age-out after seven years, regardless of tread condition. During inspection, check every tire for cuts, cracks, or bubbles — including the inside sidewall.
Inflate tires to the correct air pressure. To determine the proper pressure, either refer to the RV manufacturer’s weight label (assuming the RV is not overloaded) or weigh the wheels individually and consult the tire manufacturer’s load and inflation tables.
Check the LP-gas, smoke, and carbon-monoxide warning detectors. Start by replacing the battery in the smoke detector (which should be done once a year). Push the test button in each device to check for proper operation. Most of these detectors will not last the lifetime of your RV; check with the manufacturer, or look on the back of the detector to see if there’s an expiration date.
And don’t forget the fire extinguisher. It should be tested and replaced according to the manufacturer’s timeline as well.
Test the microwave oven. Using a glass of water, run the microwave for two minutes and be sure the water reaches a point of near boiling.
Using a flashlight look for signs of moisture inside your cupboards and closets. Also be on the lookout for mold and mildew. Check under the galley, and open all drawers and inspect behind them with the flashlight as well. Look for mice nests or dead critters.
If you don’t have one already, pack an emergency kit with non-perishable food, a flashlight, a first aid kit, and drinking water.
Once your RV is ready to go, make sure you have all the equipment you will need. The smaller battery operated vacuum cleaners take little storage space and are available for that quick cleanup when needed.
This is also the time to update and add some new features to your RV. There are many new accessories on the market to add to the experience.
Taking the time to give your RV a thorough spring checkup will make for much more enjoyable travels. And finding the little problems before they become big headaches also keeps more money in your pocket.
Getting out with your family, hitting the reset button, going camping, unwinding and relaxation, and spending quality time with your family—that is what it is all about.
And the golden rule: don’t pass up the opportunities along the way to explore and see something new.
The journey not the arrival matters.
—T. S. Eliot