Getting Ready for Camping Season
With a pandemic hanging on for a second summer, more people than ever are buying campers, booking sites and hitting the road for a physically-distanced vacation. Even in the busiest campgrounds, you are rarely within the dreaded two-metre vicinity of your neighbours, so camping is viewed as a relatively safe activity. You even purchase your supplies, food and gas before you leave home, so you aren’t putting anyone at risk as you enjoy some fresh air and relaxation.
There are a few things you can do before you head out that will make your camping experience even more enjoyable.
- Booking your spots: Book ahead! We can’t stress this enough. With the pandemic driving up reservations, you need to be sure you have a spot before you leave home. OntarioParks.com, the portal for the provincial park reservation system, is reporting double the activity this season when compared to previous seasons. Reservations open five months prior to the day and go quickly. You should have the site you want in your cart at 7 a.m. to try to reserve it. Alternatively, last minute bookings can be the way to go, as many people are cancelling due to changing plans or having held multiple bookings to secure their plans. Don’t forget the many private parks throughout the province. And perhaps this is the time to consider putting down roots and booking a seasonal site in your favourite area.
- Clean and inspect the exterior: Once you have your site booked, it’s time to pick up the camper, RV or motorhome from your storage place and air it out and give it a thorough wash. If you’re a tenter, pick a nice day and set your tent up and inspect the surface area for mildew or rips and make sure all the zippers, pulls and guy wires are intact. The trailer should be inspected for cracks and damage, especially the roof, corners and seams.
- Vehicle maintenance: The vehicle has been sitting in the same place on the tires for the winter and they might just be a little “tired”, so why not take the time now to rotate, clean and grease the bearings? Checking over every inch of the outside is the best place to start. Make sure there are no new problems. If your RV is a motorhome, it is a good time to do an oil change and have your mechanic give it a once-over before you hit the road.
- Flush the water system: If you have a travel trailer, fifth wheel, motorhome or even a truck camper, chances are you have a water system attached that you winterized. You probably used a non-toxic antifreeze designed for RVs. You will now need to flush the system out with fresh water until there is no more pink water flowing. Once this is done, some people like to add a quarter-cup of liquid bleach and run it through the tank and then flush it once again with fresh water. Once this is done, it is now time to turn the heater’s bypass valve into the operating (normal) position and check each and every tap and faucet for leaks; better to find it now rather than on a camping trip.
- Check your batteries: Always wear protective safety gear when checking batteries at any time. First, make sure you have disconnected the hook-up power (the 120V power cord) and then make sure that all power is in the off position. Check the battery connections to make sure they are clean and the terminals have not corroded over the fall and winter. Check all sides, including the bottom of the battery for cracks, as this sometimes happens during a severe winter freeze. Replace all cracked batteries. Check the battery fluid levels and only use “distilled water”. Once everything is in running order, it’s the ideal time to do a trial run in your yard. Make sure that all your appliances and lights are operating as they should. Better to work out the kinks while you’re home, than running into issues miles from a hardware store!
- Inspect propane tanks: Propane tanks are the next item up for inspection. Make sure the tanks are in the off position. This is where you want to check hoses, regulators and valves for premature aging and/or drying out. If you notice any of the above, replace and then proceed to testing the refrigerator, stove and furnace.
- Clean and pack: Give the interior a final clean, vacuum and sweep. Make sure you wipe out all the corners and inside each cupboard and drawer. Now it’s time to pack in your supplies for summer. Lists and more lists can keep you on track. It’s also a good idea to keep a list while you’re camping of all the things that you forgot and those things that you notice would come in handy next time.
- Enjoy the summer ahead!