How to Pack for Your First RV Trip

Last updated on January 15th, 2020 at 03:03 pm. Originally published on November 25th, 2018

Taking your first trip in an RV is beyond exciting. There’s the thrill of trying something new, the ease of camping with your own bathroom and kitchen, and the anticipation of adventure when you get to your destination. Even the chore of packing can be kind of fun! Of course, before you start loading up your rig, you’ll want to make an RV checklist.

In many ways, packing for an RV trip is similar to packing for any other road trip. But there are certain things that, as a beginner, you may not realize. (For example, did you know there’s a special kind of toilet paper made just for RVs?) Don’t worry — we’re here to help. Read on to learn more about what to pack for an RV trip.

RV travel

Unlike trips where you plan to stay in a hotel, an RV trip requires packing more than just clothing. Depending on the terms of your RV rental, you may need to pack bed linens, towels, pillows, pots and pans, cups, silverware, and anything else you need on a daily basis. If you prefer the ease of traveling without having to pack these items, be sure to find an all-inclusive RV rental where everything is included for your use.

Not sure if your RV rental includes linens and kitchen utensils? Call to confirm before you pick up your rig.

RV trip planner

To start making your RV checklist, we recommend thinking about your day from the moment you get up in the morning. Start in bed, for example. Do you have a favorite pillow? Do you like to bundle up with several blankets? Do you have a hard time sleeping without a box fan? Add those items to your list so you can be comfortable during your trip.

Next, you’ll probably want a cup of hot coffee and something to eat for breakfast, so you’ll want to make sure your RV has a coffee maker or French press. Don’t forget to think about plates and silverware! Some people prefer the ease of disposable utensils, while others are fine washing their own dishes to prevent waste. If you plan on washing dishes, be sure to bring a sponge, some dish soap, and some clean dish towels to get the job done.

By mentally going through your day step-by-step, it’s easy to see what RV supplies need to be packed. You can use this method to figure out whether you’ll want some folding chairs and string lights for sitting outside, or to remember to pack some plastic wine glasses to use at dinner. While you want to be prepared, be cautious not to overpack. Remember: Every item you bring with you is extra weight that you’ll be hauling down the highway, which in turn reduces your overall fuel efficiency.

RV checklist
(photo by Mitch Barrie via FlickrCC)

Camping checklist

Many people like traveling in an RV because it gives them the opportunity to cook meals at home. Before you head to the supermarket to stock up, make an RV grocery list of all the drinks, snacks, and kitchen essentials you think you’ll want on the road. This is where meal planning really comes in handy — if you’re so inclined, you can even think of creative ways to reuse your leftovers for another meal!

Again, cooking in an RV is a different experience than cooking in a regular kitchen, so be sure to prepare accordingly. For example, you may not have an oven or a full-sized refrigerator, which means you would need to think of recipes that can be cooked on a stovetop or without a lot of perishable items. And if you’re planning on grilling, don’t forget to pick up some charcoal (and a portable camp grill if there won’t be one at your campsite).

RV essentials

Now for the fun part — RV accessories! There are so many RV camping supplies on the market that sometimes it can be hard to determine what things are optional and what truly are the camping necessities. For the most part, using items you already own is more than OK. While the aforementioned RV toilet paper is nice to have, you should be fine with any thin, single-ply version that can be easily picked up at your regular grocery store.

As far as a camping supplies list, we recommend stocking up on:

  • bug spray
  • a fan to keep you cool and ward off bugs
  • camping chairs
  • sunscreen
  • a folding trash can
  • matches or a lighter to start a fire or grill
  • string lights for ambiance and more outdoor visibility
  • anything else that makes your trip more comfortable and convenient

In the end, you really don’t need the latest RV camping gear or gizmos to have a fun and memorable trip. If we could summarize our packing advice in a few thoughts, we’d say to make a list in advance, come prepared, and avoid overpacking. After that, don’t stress — your fellow RV-ers tend to be a friendly bunch and will more than likely be happy to let you borrow anything you forgot. Safe travels and happy camping!

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