Ready to hit the road?
While you may be totally ready as far as spirit and enthusiasm goes, you’re not going to have a good time if you don’t have the right road trip essentials along for the ride. And we’re not just talking about the parts and accessories you need for your RV to function properly. A well-made RV essentials list also covers necessary creature comforts like snacks, games, and road trip music.
Of course, if you’ve already been busily planning a trip, there’s a good chance that creating an RV essentials checklist is the last thing on your mind right now. You might rather dream about your destination or call ahead to your chosen campgrounds to ensure they have room. Totally understandable!
That’s why we put together this expansive road trip essentials list to ensure you don’t find yourself up you-know-what creek without a paddle… or cruising down the road without your favorite beverage and croonable road trip song to sing along to.
Things to Pack for a Road Trip
Executing an unforgettable road trip is no easy feat! Here are the road trip necessities and fun road trip essentials that will ensure you and your family are happy campers throughout the journey.
RVs are wonderful vehicles, marrying the freedom of the open road with the comfort and luxury of having your very own place to stay. But they do require a few key ingredients to work properly… and even if you’re not new to the RV life, it’s easy to forget these must-haves!
1. City water hose (and pressure regulator)
Want running water in your RV? We thought so — and to get it, you’re going to need to connect to city water (or fill up your freshwater holding tank). Either way, you’ll need a hose to get the water from the ground system into your rig, and you’ll want to use a pressure regulator to ensure the flow doesn’t harm your RV’s sensitive system. Fortunately, both of them together shouldn’t run you more than $20 or so.
When it comes to a hose, we highly recommend investing in a hose specifically designed for drinking water, which won’t impart any weird tastes or smells to your water supply. Even if you don’t plan on drinking from your RV’s tap, this can be a boon when it comes to toothbrushing or boiling pasta.
2. RV sewer hose
What goes in must come out… and just like you, when your RV’s gotta go, it’s gotta go.
To migrate the contents of your wastewater holding tanks from inside your rig to a sewer dump station, you need an RV sewer hose — and trust us when we say this is one piece of essential RV equipment that’s worth investing in. Even a high-quality setup is less than $40, and the consequences of a blowout from a cheap hose are, well, not something you probably want to think too hard about. 🙂
3. Leveling blocks, chocks, and stabilizers
Leveling your RV at the campsite doesn’t just make living inside of it more pleasant — it’s essential to ensuring many of your RV’s features, such as your refrigerator, work properly. (And, speaking from experience: if you’re towing a travel trailer and camping somewhere with even a little bit of incline, you DEFINITELY want to have chocks behind your wheels before you disconnect. Otherwise, your trailer will start rolling away from you, causing understandable panic.)
Even with built-in jacks, most RVs benefit from the addition of chocks, leveling blocks, and tire stabilizers, which will make your living situation feel a lot less bouncy when you’re inside. They’re all pretty cheap and good brands should be reliable for years to come — just toss ’em in your truck bed or under-coach storage!
4. Basic automotive and home tools
Maybe you need to do a quick tire change on the roadside, or maybe that pesky kitchen drawer gets stuck. Either way, having the right tools on hand for the job can mean the difference between a minor delay and a semi-major catastrophe, especially if the unexpected hits when you’re en route to your next stop. (Which, spoiler alert, it always does.)
Wondering what you need to stock in your toolset? Here’s our guide to tools no RVer should leave home without.
5. Emergency kit
You know what they say: better safe than sorry. That’s why we urge every RVer to bring along an emergency kit with basics like first aid, emergency traffic triangles, thermal blankets and water purifying tablets. It may seem like overkill, but you never know what can happen out there, and you’ll be glad to have it on hand if you do end up needing it!
Non-Negotiable Road Trip “Extras”
We’ve covered the bare bones basics you need to literally survive the camping experience… but that doesn’t mean you don’t need other stuff to maintain your happy camper status! Here are items not to skimp on for any reason.
6. Sun protection
Even if you’re headed to the Pacific northwest (or another notoriously cloudy area), the sun’s powerful rays can damage your skin and your eyeballs. Packing sunscreen and wearing UV-protective, preferably polarized sunglasses is absolutely critical, especially if you’re spending lots of time in the great outdoors.
7. Music and/or podcasts
Can you imagine flying down the road, enjoying the freedom of the wide-open highway, without singing along to your favorite tunes?
Having a good soundtrack is totally non-negotiable for fully enjoying the road trip experience, and in our opinion, those pre-downloaded playlists (or burned CDs, if you’re old school) definitely deserve a place on your list of must-have road trip supplies.
If you’ll be taking an especially long road trip or going solo, we also count podcasts amongst the essentials. These talk programs can help you feel less lonely and bored while also, in the best cases, helping you learn something. (Psst: here are some podcasts we recommend specifically for frequent travelers!)
Road Trip Snacks
If you don’t have the right snacks along for the ride, is it even a real road trip?
We don’t think so. Here’s what to bring.
9. Healthy, road-ready snacks
When it comes time to fuel up along the road, it’s all too easy to pop into the convenience store and find yourself subsisting on so-so foods like ultra-processed jerkies or plain white carbs. And while no foods should be off limits (and there’s something to be said for enjoying an occasional road trip indulgence), in the long run, gas station treats will leave you feeling lousy… which isn’t the best way to enjoy your vacation.
Stocking up on healthier options, like low-sodium nuts, fresh fruit, veggies and dip, or quality jerkies can help keep you satisfied and ready to tackle your destination once you get there. Here are some of our favorite healthy snacks to pack for long road trips.
9. Full-sized, pre-made meals
Along with being healthier, making meals at home and bringing them along can really help you minimize your overall travel budget. Even fast food meals can add up quick!
This can be as basic as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or as chic as a mason jar salad. And don’t forget: you likely have a functional kitchen with you. Might as well make good use of it!
Road Trip Games
There’s one more very important thing to stick into your kit of cross-country road trip essentials… for a whole wide array of reasons.
10. An active imagination!
Playing road trip games can help pass the time and keep everyone engaged (and, importantly in the case of the driver, awake) — and although you can find games marketed to road trippers available commercially, all it really takes is an active imagination. You could play board-free tic-tac-toe by numbering the spaces 1-9, or play memory-based games where you list items in alphabetical order. Twenty questions is another classic, and there are plenty more of these head games to consider — here are a few organized by player age.
Bringing your imagination along isn’t just good for passing the idle time, however. It can also help you find better destinations and more fully enjoy the explorations you take on once you get there. In fact, engaging your imagination and learning new things to fuel future ideas is one of the main reasons many RVers are so drawn to traveling — so get out there and exercise that brain of yours!
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