How-To: Set up Camp with your RV, Camper, or Trailer

You’ve anticipated this moment for weeks. You’ve packed up half of your home into totes and boxes and filled your RV to the brim. It’s camping season, baby, and you’ve never been so ready for it. But let’s talk about the part that comes soon after you arrive at your destination… the time to set up camp. Chopping wood, unfolding those chairs, picking the right angles, and quite possibly the most treacherous part—backing up the trailer. We’ll go through some of the things you need to do before you go and after you arrive at your destination. Here’s our How-To: Set up Camp with your RV, Camper, or Trailer.


  1. Practice makes perfect.
    No need to entertain the whole campground with your “How Not to Tow” show. Take the time to hook up your camper to your towing vehicle at home so you get the hang of things. Next, practice driving around with wide turns and going slow before you hit the highway at high speed. Some other recommendations we have are to find an empty, open parking lot and practice parking your trailer within two lines. 

    Practicing towing a camper

  2. Owner’s manual.
    Read through the owner’s manual before you go for how to hook up your camper to water, power, unload grey and black water, or for a septic tank. Many camping-goers wait until they arrive to do it, but familiarizing yourself with your trailer’s systems will make the process more efficient and quick once you get there, so you can get back to relaxing.
  3. Packing, packing, and more packing.
    While we can’t tell you which swimsuit matches your surfboard the best, we can help you with those things that everyone always forgets to pack that will make a difference in emergency scenarios. Scissors, first aid kit, fire extinguisher, and more, you can read all about it in our article, Cabin Safety Essentials: Preparing for Emergencies in Remote Locations. Oh! And don’t forget the bottle opener. Door frames, keys, and mighty calves don’t work all that well.
  4. Leaving the house.
    Don’t forget to unplug the toaster, don’t forget to arm the security system, and don’t forget to lock the front door. When you have a mental note of all the “don’t forgets,” you almost always forget that one thing. To help this, we’ve made a list of all the things you should do before leaving your home for a while here.

Let’s start with the hardest part first, parking the camper. There are so many variations of campers these days, so it’s always best to consult your specific make and model owner’s manual before you begin. Let’s use a step-by-step to help you on your trailer positioning journey.

  1. Find flat, even ground.
    In most campgrounds, the spot to park your trailer will either be a cement pad or a gravel area. Try to avoid parking in grassy areas as it’s more difficult to tell if there are mud patches, holes in the ground (those silly little gophers), and wild habitat homes.
  2. Get a wingman.
    Forget about those fancy backup cameras and parking gurus that cars have. Trailers are old-school like that. Having someone stand at the edge of the parking spot to be your eyes and ears to help you out is the best, and ultimately, easiest thing you can do. Otherwise, you can install a backup camera for your trailer or camper.
  3. Place your hands on the bottom of the steering wheel. Yes, the 6 o’clock position.
    Why should you hold your steering wheel this way? Well, 10 and 2 won’t cut it here! If your hands are placed at the bottom of the steering wheel and you turn your hands left, your trailer will go left. If you go right, then your trailer will go right.

    Towing a trailer and driving with hands on the bottom of the steering wheel

  4. Proceed with caution.
    This means reversing and turning slowly, taking wide turns, and more. Don’t make hasty, sudden jerks of the wheel to avoid damage to your equipment. If you need to straighten things out, remember to always go forward and not back.
  5. Use your mirrors and shoulder-check.
    Rear-view, driver, and passenger mirrors are your best friends. In combination with your mirrors and shoulder-checking, these will help you spot obstacles, check your angles, and maybe admire yourself in the process.
  6. Remain calm.
    Devise a strategy if you find yourself in a pickle, and most importantly—don’t panic. Remember, panicking is like pressing the self-destruct button. When you rush or get in a state of panic, this is when damage can be inflicted upon your own personal or others’ property.

Now that your camper is parked in place, there are a few things you should do to secure it. Your trailer will most likely need to be levelled and the tires locked and secured with blocks. You can find the location of the blocks and the levelling instructions in your owner’s manual, but they are usually in one of the external storage lockers. If your RV does not come equipped with its own set of blocks, find big wooden logs that have a flat side that can be used to be positioned on each side of the tire. Nowadays, newer models of trailers will even have their own automatic self-levelers, which makes your job easy! Once your camper has been secured, unhitched from your vehicle, and hooked up to everything you need, we’ve made a checklist to help you complete your ideal campsite:


  • Turn on your water heater, fridge, heating element, or air conditioning, if required
  • Open your camper’s slide-outs
  • Set up a sealed trash bin and recycling area
  • Unload groceries, cookware, and all indoor supplies
  • Place bedding
  • And last but not least, raise the TV antenna. Just don’t forget to put it back down when your camping adventure comes to an end.
Decorating and setting up your camper trailer


  • Apply your sunscreen and bug repellent before anything else… trust us
  • Collect and chop firewood from your campground’s recommended lots 
  • Pull out the awning for shade
  • Set up your gear: camping chairs, outdoor rugs, strings of lights, and more
  • Unfold the picnic table and its cover
  • Explore the area beyond your campsite to familiarize yourself with amenities and other surroundings
  • Unleash the outdoor games and let the fun begin!
Setting up the campsite

When all is said and done, it's not just about roasting hot dogs and singing by the campfire. Nope, sometimes it's about unexpected downpours, runaway tents, and squirrels with a penchant for mischief. Accidents happen; some are more preventable than others, but they happen. Sandbox’s Auto insurance is the way forward in protecting your RV, trailer, or camper against some of these things. And when we say RV, we mean motorhomes and campervans, too! Sandbox provides coverage for RVs in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Alberta and the following types of camping trailers in Saskatchewan and Manitoba:

  • House trailers
  • Camper trailers
  • Fifth-wheels
  • Tent trailers
  • Truck campers

So there you have it, fellow campers! You've packed, you've practiced, you've parked, and now it's time to kick back and enjoy the great outdoors. Here's to the mishaps, the memories, and the s'mores that may end up a little extra toasty.