Packing Essentials for Your Next RV Trip

With summer in full swing, we have now officially entered the most popular RVing season of the year. This summer 2019 will see upwards of 155,000 RVs on the road, headed all over the US and Canada. These RVers encompass a wide variety of people, from older retired couples to solo travelers with pets, to young families with children and so many more. These people will be headed towards all sorts of destinations, such as campgrounds, national parks, Harvest Hosts, and more. And while RV camping is a great way for so many people to spend their summer vacations, it involves quite a bit of planning and preparation. 

One of the best things about RV camping  is that it allows travelers to bring along with them all the comforts of home. When packing for a traditional vacation, most people just pack their clothing and toiletries. However, RVs serve as a vacation home on wheels, which means that packing an RV can look a lot like packing a small house. Clothing and toiletries are still essential, but so are cooking supplies, food, outdoor gear, and all the additional items that go along with RV usage and maintenance. 

While preparing for a trip is often exciting, it can also be a bit overwhelming. Here, we’ve compiled a list of the most basic RV essentials to help when planning your next camping vacation.

Kitchen Items

Since most RVs come equipped with a full kitchen, many RVers plan to cook most of their own meals. This means that you will need to pack all the items that are required for cooking. Here is a basic list of the most common items needed to cook and eat most meals.

  • cups and mugs
  • plates
  • bowls
  • utensils (forks/knives/spoons)
  • napkins
  • paper towels
  • cooking utensils (tongs, big spoons, ladles, etc.)
  • can opener
  • frying pan
  • large pot
  • sheet pan
  • potholders
  • dish towels
  • sponge
  • dish soap
  • plastic wrap
  • aluminum foil
  • ziploc bags (quart & gallon)
  • cleaning wipes
  • tupperware containers
  • matches and/or lighter

Food

Cooking most of your own meals also means bringing along the ingredients needed. You will also want to bring along plenty of snacks and easy things to eat while driving. This list will differ depending on what you have on the menu for your trip, but this is a great place to start.

  • cereal
  • milk
  • salt, pepper, spices
  • condiments (mustard, mayo, ketchup, relish, BBQ sauce, salad dressing)
  • cooking oils
  • meats (chicken, hot dogs, brats, burgers, etc.)
  • fruits & vegetables
  • pancake mix
  • peanut butter & jelly
  • lunchmeat & cheese
  • bread
  • canned foods
  • s’mores ingredients
  • eggs 
  • oatmeal 
  • coffee & tea
  • baking essentials (flour, sugar, baking soda, etc.)
  • snacks (chips, cookies, trail mix, granola bars, beef jerky, popcorn, etc.)

Toiletries

Packing a small bag of toiletries for a flight still looks much different than stocking a small bathroom for an RV trip. Keep in mind that you will want to bring along first aid essentials, medicines, and supplies for showers for the whole family. Here is a short list to get you started.

  • first-aid kit
  • peroxide, rubbing alcohol
  • pain relief medications (advil, tylenol, excedrin, aleve, etc.)
  • dramamine for motion sickness
  • any other medications you may need
  • hand soap
  • face wash
  • body wash
  • loofah and/or washcloths
  • shampoo
  • conditioner
  • razors
  • shaving cream
  • hairbrush / comb
  • hairdryer
  • hair gel /styling products
  • moisturizer
  • lotion
  • toothpaste
  • tooth brushes
  • floss
  • mouthwash
  • nail clippers
  • tweezers
  • hair ties / clips
  • makeup
  • cotton balls / q-tips
  • sunscreen
  • bug spray

Clothing

This is another list that will vary from person to person. Some people may plan to go out more, while others plan to relax by the pool or go hiking. Regardless, this list is a great place to start when packing clothing for your next RV trip.

  • long sleeve shirts
  • short sleeve shirts
  • jackets / sweatshirts
  • pants
  • shorts
  • bathing suit
  • socks & underwear
  • shoes (sneakers, sandals, hiking boots, etc.)
  • rain gear
  • hats

Outdoor Gear

When RV camping, one of the biggest things many look forward to is getting outside. Whether going for a hike, a picnic, a scenic drive, or a swim, heading outdoors is fun for the whole family. Bringing along the gear to support these activities is a must! This list will look different for everyone, depending on what you plan to do on your vacation.

  • wood for fires
  • hammock
  • camp chairs / table
  • binoculars
  • backpack
  • fishing rod(s) & tackle
  • sports equipment (football, baseball & bat, etc.)
  • water bottle
  • bikes
  • canoe or kayaks, paddles, life jackets
  • inner tubes
  • hiking poles

Misc.

This list is for all the random items without any other specific category. Some of these items would be great for a rainy day indoors, while others are just basic essentials.

  • pillows & pillow cases
  • sheets
  • bedding
  • towels
  • alarm clock
  • extra blankets
  • pet supplies (food, bowls, toys, treats, leash & collar, bed, vaccination records)
  • sewing kit
  • phone chargers
  • laptop & laptop charger
  • DVDs
  • watch
  • cleaning supplies (all-purpose cleaner, bathroom/tub cleaner, wipes, windex)
  • laundry detergent & dryer sheets
  • broom/dustpan, vacuum, mop
  • cash
  • reservation confirmations
  • playing cards
  • board games
  • books
  • puzzles
  • speaker / radio

RV Essentials

Finally, this list is the most important of all. Many RVers (professionals and newbies alike) struggle to remember what items they need for their RV. These items include anything needed for general upkeep, tank maintenance, or emergency. If you’re not sure where to begin when packing items needed for your RV, this is a great place to start.

  • sewer hose
  • black tank chemicals
  • drinking water hose
  • water pressure regulator
  • electrical cord and adapters
  • surge protector
  • extension cords
  • wheel chocks
  • leveling blocks
  • tire pressure gauge
  • shovel
  • motor oil & transmission fluid
  • fire extinguisher
  • emergency road kit
  • jumper cables

Although this list may seem a bit overwhelming, these are the most basic essentials for any RV vacation. Many of these items can be purchased and left in your RV so that they do not need to be packed up before every trip. Whether you are going out for a weekend or a month-long vacation, check out this list before you pack to know what to bring.

What do you typically pack for an RV camping trip? Feel free to share in the comments below!

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Comments

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  1. Marianne Butak
    2nd March, 2020

    This is a great list! I do have one caveat, which was mentioned below: DO NOT BRING WOOD! Many states try and make this clear, Maine, for example, is very concerned and careful to notify campers. It is so often available on the road in the area one is camping and it is just too easy to carry little invasive pests to new non-infested areas.
    Heading out in two weeks – WooHoo! It will be my first experience with Harvest Hosts, looking forward to it! Good-bye snow…

    1. Sam Binger
      6th March, 2020

      Hi Marianne! Thanks for the reminder. I usually buy some wood in town nearby my campground, but it should never be carried across state of provincial lines. 🙂

  2. Joseph Young
    13th February, 2020

    I bring a list of contacts one in the truck and one in the Trailer, list of medications , again one in the truck, one in the trailer and one on my person. A copy of your eye glass prescription. A whistle which I hang by the entrance door, and I will tell you that if need help, start blowing this and someone will come. There are a few more items but I donot have my list with me at this time.

    1. Sam Binger
      6th March, 2020

      Hey Joseph! Great suggestions for things to remember. It’s always best to be prepared. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Michele Poisson
    12th February, 2020

    Hello,
    great list, however, a tip if you are travelling in Canada: it is prohibited to carry campfire wood from one place to another. This is to avoid spreading disease.
    Looking forward to using my membership for the first time as I will travel into the U.S. shortly.
    Safe travels everyone.

    1. Sam Binger
      6th March, 2020

      Hi Michele! Great tip, it’s best to always purchase firewood at the location you are visiting to avoid the spread of diseases and invasive species. So excited to hear that you will be using your membership coming up. Remember that we have many locations in Canada, as well. Happy trails!

  4. Terri
    11th January, 2020

    Your lists are great and very comprehensive. However, I would add to The RV Essentials list to bring your owners manual’s in case of questions about how things work in the RV. It may not be necessary for a seasoned RVer, but a new RV owner, or a seasoned RVer with a new RV should have the manual on hand. I know this was very helpful to me whenever I purchased an RV. Even thought I’ve had four, they are all slightly different.

    1. Sam Binger
      11th February, 2020

      Hey Terri! Great suggestion, I’ll add it to the list! 🙂

    2. Leslie Rolsheim
      13th February, 2020

      I totally agree about the RV manual. I have divided up the sections and keep them in labeled folders for easy access.

      I also have folders of the maintenance articles in Motorhome Magazine for my hubby and the places you don’t want to miss on your travels.
      The folders are labeled by state. I keep the flyers of our favorite campgrounds.

      The Allstays app is very helpful. And a weather radio!

      We are preparing to be full timers within the next 6 months. Have been “practicing “ for 9 years since our retirement doing 6 month cross country trips on interstate 10, 20, 40 and the 25.

      See you all at a Harvest Host winery!

      1. Sam Binger
        6th March, 2020

        Great tips, Leslie! Especially dividing up places to visit and sections of the RV manual. Thanks for sharing!

    3. Maggie
      14th February, 2020

      I carry bear spray by my door as you never know when you might need it. I read Michelle’s post on firewood in Canada. I didn’t know I could not take it from campsite to campsite however I bring mini prestologs. I hope those are permissable.

      1. Sam Binger
        6th March, 2020

        Hi Maggie! I think wrapped logs purchased inside stores is probably fine. I think it’s mostly fresh, chopped firewood that is not allowed to cross state or provincial lines in some places. Great tip on the bear spray!

  5. glori beltran
    30th July, 2019

    Question:
    My husband and I are members-however, we have not been able to use our stays anywhere yet. Due to: not knowing if we can use a generator while staying at the host site? Can we use a quiet generator? If yes, what kind should we use?

    1. Sandy
      15th February, 2020

      I have been a member for a year and overnighted at about 12 HH sites . 6 have offered me power and none have objected to short use of a generator to make coffee or toast. Ask when you call to request space the day before. If you are in an motor coach vs a trailer your batteries should be enough to get you thru the night unless you need AC. You are only there one night.

      1. Sam Binger
        6th March, 2020

        Great tips, Sandy! My batteries usually last the night, but most Hosts do not mind short use o your generator if you request permission ahead of time.