Having an RV means that eventually you will do something not so bright as you prepare to hit the road. It is not unusual for the average Joe or Jane to back out of a site without first retracting the awning or putting down the antenna. The sheer number of things that have to be done prior to departure makes it inevitable that something will get forgotten at some point. Those of us who are easily distracted find it even more challenging not to make a public spectacle of ourselves as we depart.
Sometimes, the forgotten pre-departure tasks are minor – like leaving the lock open on the little door that conceals the city water hookup. Driving down the interstate you notice it flapping in the wind. It’s an annoyance, but it’s really no big deal. Sometimes those things are less minor, like when you forget to properly tighten a waste hose connection and then dump your black tank. Fortunately, this is one thing most people don’t forget to do more than once.
So what if you want to RV, but you are the type of person who finds yourself attracted to all things bright and shiny? There is no magical spell to be cast upon you to keep you focused on your pre-departure tasks, but there are strategies that can help ensure you attend to all necessary chores.
Relax and give yourself time.
One of the best pre-departure tips for easily distracted RVers is to relax and allow yourself extra time to complete your tasks. For example, if you plan to be on the road by 9:00 AM and you expect that it will take about an hour to pack up, disconnect your hoses and power, and hook up your tow vehicle, start at 7:30 AM instead of 8:00 AM. This helps you to avoid that feeling of being rushed.
When you are rushed, your brain goes off in a thousand directions making it more likely that you will forget something. By giving yourself an extra half-hour, you can relax knowing that when (not if) you find that you have gotten off-track, you still have enough time to complete your tasks before leaving.
Make lists and schedules.
It goes without saying that making lists and schedules can be tremendously helpful if your mind tends to wander. A concrete, step-by-step procedure makes it more likely that you will remember to do everything. Likewise, having a regular RV maintenance schedule keeps you from getting side-tracked. If you’ve done your maintenance on time you are less likely to find yourself changing your generator oil on the fly despite the fact you needed to be on the road a half-hour ago.
Stick to your lists.
Folks who are easily distracted know that even when you have lists, it is difficult to follow them. If you have ever found yourself with a full grocery cart that contains none of the items on the shopping list in your hand, this suggestion probably applies to you.
• Try using digital checklists and reminders. Paper checklists are a royal pain because you tend to set things down and then forget where you left them. Having your checklists in digital form helps because they are on your phone which you are already conditioned to keeping in your hand or pocket. Another good thing about digital lists is that you can set reminders to keep you on-track.
• Create visual cues. You know that as an easily distracted person you will stop looking at your list at some point thinking, “I’ve got this.” So, make signs for yourself and place them in your RV to remind you of pre-departure tasks like putting up the step. Make a sign for the inside of your door near the latch and one for the dash.
Not only will these signs help remind you of that one item on your list, but they will remind you that you should re-check your whole list. Make it a habit when you see these cues to pull out your list and go through it again to find out where you left off.
Handle issues when they arise.
One of the easiest ways to become distracted when preparing to depart is when you see something that you meant to take care of earlier. As you are packing up your hose, you notice that the washer isn’t making a proper seal. You saw it when you hooked up two days ago, and you told yourself that you would come back to it, but you didn’t. Now that it is time to go, you take on this task and you are whisked down a rabbit hole as you go in search of your spare washers.
An hour later, after you’ve replaced the washer…and cleaned out the hot water heater (because you saw the clean out tool when you were looking for the washers, which reminded you that you meant to clean the hot water heater last week), you find that you are far behind schedule. You realize the next set of RVers for your site have arrived and you should have already been gone. You rush to get everything packed up and forget to crank up your scissor jacks before you back up.
Had you replaced the washer when you noticed it the first time and cleaned your hot water heater according to your regular maintenance schedule, you most likely wouldn’t be lying under your RV now trying to remove the bolts holding your mangled scissor jacks in place.
If you are new to RVing and concerned because you know you are an easily distracted person, don’t worry, you aren’t the only one. Use these tips along with whatever you do normally to keep yourself on task and you’ll be just fine. If you do goof up and forget something, remember it happens to everyone at some point. Before long you’ll find yourself amongst other RVers sharing similar stories and having a good laugh.