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An RV trip means you can take just about anything you might need along on the vacation. But should you? Packing for an RV trip is significantly different than packing for any other vacation. Packing too little or too much can be frustrating. Knowing exactly what to pack in your home on wheels is a must! Follow this easy-to-use list of dos and don’t to help guide you. And don’t forget to print out our handy RV packing list.
This post is sponsored by RVshare.com.
Travelers are trading in their tents for campers and their sleeping bags for real beds! The RV life has been growing in popularity over the past few years and the pandemic only increased both RV sales and rentals.
A new survey from the RV Industry Association reveals that 72 million Americans plan to take an RV trip in 2022. More travelers are finding the flexibility and convenience of RV travel as the right fit for them and their families.
Whether you’ve invested in this lifestyle full time or you are RVing for the first time, this comprehensive list will help make this adventure one that you’re adequately prepared for!
An RV Packing List from the Experts (+ PRINTABLE)
I’ve learned how to pack for an RV trip not only from a 1-week vacation we took from Texas to the Grand Canyon in a rented RV from RVshare.com, but my family and I now live full time in a 5th wheel. Yes, we tried the RV lifestyle and liked it enough that we are living full time in one while we wait for our home to be built.
I’ve learned all about the must-haves for this type of travel and even more importantly, I’ve learned what’s not needed and can be left behind. Organization and simplicity are the keys to packing for an RV camping trip. Don’t worry, I’ll share all the expert tips and tricks with you that I’ve learned along the way.
Don’t forget to download this great RV packing checklist printable for your next road trip adventure in an RV or motorhome.
RV Kitchen Items
Your RV kitchen is going to be smaller than your normal kitchen so you will have to make some adjustments to meal time prep. However, I love to cook and having lived in an RV for the last year I’ve learned a lot of tricks on how to make this small space work for you, not against you.
This is the No. 1 thing I recommend for your RV kitchen. I brought along my instant pot on our RV trip and it was one of the best decisions I made.
Being able to cook everything in one pot is great because of the limited space. One pot to cook in and one pot to clean!
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And I like that I can plug it in outside next to our RV when I want to open up some space in our kitchen. I purchased mine from Amazon and I’ve used it nonstop while living in our RV.
You may not have room to bring every herb and spice that you’re used to cooking with, but these spice dispensers have allowed me to carry more of my favorite spices without taking up too much valuable space in the kitchen.
The Right Dish Soap
Have you tried Dawn Powerwash Dish Spray yet? This is our go-to dish soap now and I love having it for our RV. This “magic” dish soap removes food from dishes like “magic” which cuts down on the amount of water we have to use, which is important when traveling in an RV.
Paper Towel Holder Stand
I love having a paper towel holder stand both for when we’re inside the RV and also for when we are outside. Mounted paper towel holders seem to get in the way when you already have limited space. I prefer have one that I can move around to use both indoors and outside.
I move it to a picnic table to tend to those hands that are sticky from eating s’mores around a campfire.
Drinking water is an important thing to pack. While most campgrounds have water hookups, we always carry bottled water in an outdoor storage compartment, just in case. Plus, there may be times when you want a free stop overnight and won’t have access to water hookups.
But I also think it’s very important to use refillable water bottles whenever we do have access to running water because they are better for the environment and take up much less room. These are my favorite reusable water bottles from Amazon.
I keep a small basket of cleaning supplies so that it travels well. Whenever possible, I choose all-purpose cleaners so I don’t have to have to store and transport a large collection of cleaners.
If you know someone who sells Young Living, I’m obsessed with the company’s Thieves household cleaner. I use it on glass, countertops, toilets and many other things. It smells amazing.
Running out of washcloths is easy when you don’t have a chance to wash clothes for a few days. For this reason, I highly recommend keeping a few sponges with you so that you can wash dishes.
I’m a huge coffee drinker! However, I needed to find a coffee maker that would not take up a lot of space on my countertop and could be easily secured in a cabinet or the sink when we were on the road.
I have tried many different Keurig coffee makers but the Keurig K-Supreme Single Serve K-Cup Pod Coffee Maker is my absolute favorite. It’s compact and makes a single cup of coffee very quickly. I bought mine from Target so I got 5% off with my RedCard.
I’m a huge fan of plastic dinnerware in the RV. When traveling in the RV we spend a great deal of our time eating outdoors so plastic dinnerware is perfect for dinners outside on the picnic table. I also avoid traveling with any glassware. We once had a glass salt shaker fall from a shelf during transit and shatter the glass top on our sink. It was an expensive mistake!
I purchased a set of plastic dinnerware from Target and they work great for both indoor and outdoor dining.
Less is best when the space is small. I have one spatula, one slotted spoon, one ladle and one whisk. You can buy a whole set from Amazon.
I also keep a set of grilling utensils in a case in the outdoor storage compartment on the RV.
These compact measuring cups are the way to go!
Silicone Pot Holder and Mats
RV Camping Gear
My days of sleeping on the ground in a tent are over. RV living has taught me so much about making camping a fun and luxurious experience.
Here are a few of the items that you will help you up your camping game, RV-style.
You will need a set of headlamps! RVing comes with its own set of unpredictable travel issues. There will be times during the night when you have to go outside and check things on the RV.
Plus, SheBuysTravel founder Kim Orlando swears by her headlamp for reading after the kids go to sleep. And, she says, it makes great birth control too!
We love our hammocks! I bought a couple of hammocks from Walmart and they have been great.
Space in the RV is limited, so creating a nice outdoor space at your campsite will allow everyone more space to spread out.
Reading a book outside on my hammock is one of my favorite things to do on vacation.
If you love to fish, bring along your fishing poles and a small tackle box. They can be stored on the outdoor storage compartments on the RV.
Surge Protector Power Strip
If your family is like mine and travels with a ton of devices from laptops to game consoles, you’ll want a surge protector power strip to keep everyone powered up and happy.
Heavy Duty Extension Cords
You never know when you’re going to need another extension cord. We have used ours on so many occasions that now it’s on my must-have list. We use it for hooking up an outdoor fan or lights.
It’s one of those items that’s better to have and never use than to need it and not have it.
An RV mat is so important! If you’re like me you will get tired of sweeping up the entry to the RV so I finally purchased a mat and I was so glad that I did.
When you start to travel to different RV campgrounds you will start to notice that most experienced RVers come with their own outdoor setup which includes and RV mat.
It’s all fun and games until someone gets covered in mosquito bites while outside around the campfire. Come prepared! This is my go-to bug spray because it’s safe for kids.
For a full list of the camping gear you likely will want to carry in your RV, check out our full camping packing list.
Tools You Need to Have in the RV
Small Tool Kit
It’s important to have a tool kit on hand when traveling in your RV. You can purchase one from Amazon that comes with a basic set of tools. My husband even purchased me my own set which I carry with my in my car and the RV when we travel.
These tools can come in handy when you need to fix something inside or outside the RV. It’s just a good rule of thumb to always travel with one.
Car Repair Gear
I can’t imagine going anywhere ever without a full supply of duct tape. We’ve used duct tape for numerous things from securing doors in the RV for travel to hanging up outdoor lights.
Trust us, you need a pair of heavy duty gloves for when it comes time to dump the black water (poop) tank! My husband will tell you that having heavy duty gloves for this event is a must. Dumping that black water tank will likely be the worst part of your RV adventure!
Toiletries and Personal Items
Did you know that they make toilet paper especially designed for RVs? You can buy a pack from Amazon. You really should use this type of toilet paper because it breaks down four times faster than normal toilet paper, keeping your black water tank free of any issues.
First Aid Kit
Hiking Clothes / Warm Layers
I always keep hiking clothes and warm layers in the RV for everyone in the family. Our favorite place to shop for these online is REI.com.
When we were RV camping in the Grand Canyon we woke up to an inch of unexpected snow! I had really only prepared for warm weather so after that trip I started traveling with layers and hiking clothes for those unexpected weather events and spontaneous hikes!
Regardless of the time of year you’re traveling, always pack a swimsuit. You never know when a campsite might have outdoor showers, hot tubs. hot springs or a heated pool. It’s important to come prepared so the kids aren’t begging you to buy them swimsuits so they can jump in.
RVing With Pets
One of the biggest benefits of RVing is the ability to bring along your furry family members. This RV packing list wouldn’t be complete without some tips on how to prepare for RV travel with a pet.
Pet Food Containers
Hauling bags of pet food around was not ideal for us in the RV. We love using these pet food containers. The containers keep the food secure during transit and take up a lot less space in the RV than their food bags.
Portable / Collapsible Bowls
I recommend these collapsible bowls to everyone who travels with their pet, in an RV or not.
But I especially love them for the RV because they collapse. That means they do not take up a lot of space. I use them for both food and water bowls.
After a couple of water bowl spills in the RV, I started laying down a water-proof and anti-slip mat before feeding our pets.
Travel Pet Bed
We always travel with a pet bed like this one for use both inside the RV and outside at the campsite. Our dog is an anxious traveler so her bed really keeps her feeling safe and comfortable.
Portable Run for Dogs
After long days traveling in the RV we want to give our pets some space to run and play. These portable runs are great for the campsite.
At times you may have to leave your dog alone in the RV when you’re out sightseeing. We found that our dog would go nuts climbing over furniture and tearing up window shades. For this reason we purchased a foldable dog crate to help with her anxiety while we were away.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Learn more about RVing with a pet here.
Fun Items You’ll Want to Bring
Take it from me, do not pack board games that come with a million pieces. Keep it simple and try to find games that have only a few pieces and parts.
Our family’s personal favorite card games are UNO FLIP and Exploding Kittens. These games are great for a variety of ages and keep us laughing for hours. We also love Pictionary and Sequence. If you’re RVing with teens, check out the strategy board game Catan.
This is THE perfect product for RVing with kids. Keep the kids from bringing a ton of toys with them and just stick to this one product!
My kids love these magnetic tiles, even my 13-year old will spend a ton of time building things. I tell everyone who is RVing to invest in a nice set of the MAGNA-TILES. The best part is, it’s great for kids of all ages and is easy to clean up when they’re done using it.
The more things you can have to entertain everyone outdoors the better! The RV will feel smaller the longer you’re inside, so try to break up the amount of time you spend indoors.
Outdoor Movie Setup
This may not be a necessity, but a projector and portable movie screen are so much fun! We have spent many nights under the stars watching movies together.
It’s not complicated to set up and you can purchase the whole set here.
Tips for Staying Organized in the RV
As a full time RVer, I can tell you that staying organized in the RV is going to save your sanity. It takes just a little mess in a small space to make you feel overwhelmed and a little claustrophobic.
Here are two ways I’ve found to avoid the mess:
- Give everyone their own basket! We purchased baskets from Target that would fit into the overhead storage cabinets in the RV so that everyone would have their own basket for clothes and personal items. Each kid has their own basket and their own mess to manage.
- Use food containers: I was already a fan of food containers, but they became necessary when traveling and living in the RV. They helped us save space and our food traveled well this way.
We hope this list helps you plan and prepare for an amazing RV trip! If you have more questions about RVing you can connect with us on our Facebook Group here. Don’t forget to download our RV packing list here.