I am a forgetful person. I seem to have a hard time holding many thoughts in my head at once and thus many just slips out the back door when I need them most. As a result, I’m a big believer in checklists. They are perfect for activities you do often, which have discrete steps, all of which need to be consistently adhered to for success.
I first started using checklists in my professional work as a software developer when doing product rollouts and releases. There is a lot to remember and very small mistakes or omissions can have catastrophic consequences. Back when I was trying to persuade my managers we needed to start using them Trail found a book for me; The Checklist Manifesto. It makes a good case for the power of checklists to greatly reduce errors made in surgery and outlines when checklists are most powerful and principles to follow when making one.
For anyone who travels in an RV, the events most benefiting from a checklist are: getting everything ready for departure and setting things up when you arrive. In both situations there are many small activities that need to be performed and many of them can be critical to a safe journey. Even folks who have been doing this for years can forget something important and you can bet if you are new it will happen often.
Knowing this Trail and I put together our own checklists for arrival and departure and have been refining them over the first few months of our journey. I can attest that when we use them, we remember everything, and when we don’t we almost invariably forget something, often something important. Just this week; we forgot to make sure the truck had a full tank of gas before we got everything hooked up. That meant we had to either un-hook everything, find a truck stop that sells regular gas, or use a gas can to top off the tank. We ended up doing the last of those since we’d been intending to buy a gas can eventually.
Making a checklist is pretty easy. Most word processors will have an option to make a bullet list where the bullets are checkboxes. I use Google Docs. From there you can print it out. Since you can end up in all kinds of weather, we put our lists in protective laminate sleeves. You can also use online apps like Google Keep which can display checklists on your cell phone. Personally, I like the laminate sheets as they are cheap and durable, unlike my cell phone.
I’ve put up our own lists on Google Docs to share. Keep in mind these are customized for our own trailer and circumstance including packing up the cats and instructions for our weight distributing hitch.
There are also many sites offering checklists of all kinds for RV folks: RV Checklist, RV Roadtrips, and Changing Gears are but a few examples. I think they make for a great starting place but ultimately the best check list is one you make and maintain yourself.