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7 steps for setting up the perfect RV campsite

Well, you bought your first RV, made reservations, and arrived safe and sound at the campground for your first camping getaway. Now what?

There may be manuals for working your water heater and black tank flush, but we’ve never seen one for setting up your campsite. And that’s a crying shame, because a well-thought out campsite is the first step to finding your camp mojo.

So, we’ve got you covered. Here are the seven things we do every time we pull into a new campground.

1. Scope out the site before you park your rig 

Before you park your RV, get out of the vehicle and do a complete inspection of the campsite. This will save you so much time and aggravation down the line. Look for your sewer and electric hookups and plan to park so your hoses will reach them. Decide if you want to leave more room behind the camper or in front of it, depending on the views. Look up to see if any tree branches will make it difficult to back in or extend your awning. Above all, if you see any problems with backing into the site, don’t hesitate to ask the management for help.

2. Set up your camp kitchen and dining areas

Once we are parked in our site, the next thing we do is figure out where we will cook and eat our meals. We have an outdoor camp kitchen that gets set up under our awning so it’s protected from inclement weather. Our grill, griddle, and portable ice maker go on the countertop, and we stock cups and beverages on the shelves so no one has to go in and out of the camper for drinks. Then we move the picnic table to the most level area on the site and cover it with a cheery tablecloth.

3. Set up your campfire zone

Next on the agenda is setting up the campfire area so it’s a cozy and inviting place to unwind and relax. Be aware that most campgrounds will frown on moving a fire pit, so you’ll probably have to make do with where it’s already located. Set up your chairs in a circle around the fire ring, and stack your wood to the side where it won’t become a trip hazard in the dark. You might want to leave axes, lighters, and fire starters tucked away in an RV compartment until they are needed. This will keep them dry and ensure that little ones don’t get ahold of them.

4. Set up the recreational gear spot

RVers tend to like their toys and many travel with everything from bikes to kayaks to bats, balls, and gloves. We like to find a tucked away spot for all of these items, so they don’t end up laying all over the site. Kayaks and surf boards usually stay under the RV. Bikes get lined up in front of the RV hitch. All sports equipment is kept in one big bin that can slide under the RV and out of the way.

5. Get your lighting game on 

RVers tend to have a lot of fun with campsite lighting. There are so many adorable options for awning lights, and we usually can’t resist getting a new set every year. Rope lights are another popular option for creating a glowing boundary around your campsite at night. Plus, we never travel without our portable solar lanterns that we place on the picnic table.

6. Set up your clothesline

Many great camping trips go hand in hand with wet bathing suits and towels. The last thing you want is these items strewn around the campsite. But that’s what will happen if you don’t have some kind of clothesline. We love our drying rack that attaches to the RV ladder. Other folks travel with a folding rack you can buy at any home goods store. Of course, you can also just use good ole string, but be aware that you should not be putting nails into trees to hang it up.

7. Scope out a hammock spot

Is there anything more relaxing than chilling in a hammock at the campground? Not every campsite is going to have a place to hang a hammock. But we make sure to be prepared if the trees are cooperating. We always travel with a couple of stuff sack hammocks. They are lightweight and hardly take up any room. Plus, it’s heaven on earth when you get to nap in one.

How do you know that your campsite setup has been successful? We want our spot to be functional and relaxing. We look to keep the mess of five people and a dog to an absolute minimum, while maximizing the areas for folks to gather, chill out, eat, and play games. Because that’s the magic of camping mojo.

See you at the campground!