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How to Pack for Your First RV Trip 5444

Everyone’s guilty of over-packing. Unless you’re a practicing minimalist, there’s almost always something in your bag that you don’t really need. When it comes to packing for your first RV trip, those unneeded and unnecessary things can get in the way—and add lots of weight.

That’s not to say that most modern RVs aren’t perfectly roomy—in fact, there’s a ton of storage areas that make traveling much easier. But there are a certain few things you’ll want with you. And you may have to make sacrifices as you do your packing.

We find it easiest to break things up into specific areas: Kitchen, Bed/Bath, and general RV needs. You’ll also find a few things we recommend leaving at home—both to save space and to make sure you have a great time on your first trip.

Kitchen Needs

One of the best parts of traveling in an RV is the ability to cook meals like you would at home instead of hitting a restaurant every night. We recommend some of the following:

  • Cooking utensils
  • Stackable mixing bowls
  • Pots and pans
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Knives and a cutting board
  • Food and canned goods (unless you want to stock up once you’re there)
  • Aluminum foil and food storage containers
  • Dish soap
  • Sponges/Scrubbers, towels, and pot holders
  • Trash bags

There’s an opportunity to bring one or two appliances along, though be considerate of your space. Do you really need your bread maker? Or that particularly bulky blender? The more trips you go on, of course, the more you’ll realize what you need and what you don’t.

Bed and Bath Needs

If you’re traveling as a couple, you’ll only need one set of bedding, but remember additional bedding for every pull-out or bunk your RV may have.

  • Sheets and blankets
  • Pillows
  • Towels and washcloths or shower puffs
  • Toiletries
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Toilet paper and tissues
  • Shower house bag and flip flops
  • Laundry detergent

RV and Camping Needs

If you’ve been camping before, you’ve got a good base idea of what to bring along for this. Remember, you’re going out to relax—to get away from things. You may still need to work, but think of the various ways you’ll get to play as well.

  • Flashlights and headlamps
  • Refillable water bottles
  • Clothes (be sensible)
  • Sunscreen and insect repellant
  • Camping chairs
  • Deck of cards
  • Outdoor rug
  • Smart phone or tablet
  • Fishing gear, hiking boots, bikes, or other outdoor gear

The No-Go List

Before any trip, it’s important to remember a couple of things. First, unless you’re becoming a full-time traveler, you don’t need to pack up your entire life. A few nice decorations for the RV; sure. Otherwise, be practical and realize you’re going to be camping. Second, storage space is certainly important on your RV, but so is weight. These are a few things we recommend leaving at home.

  • Heavy tools (other than those necessary to operating or working on the RV)
  • Abundant kitchen appliances (as mentioned above)
  • Firewood (most campsites require that no wood be carried in because of invasive species)
  • Food in bulk (try meal-planning to know exactly what you’ll need)

With a few trips under your belt a few more miles on the RV, you’ll soon have a good grasp of what you need, what you want, and what you simply don’t on any trip. For the must-haves, visit Camping World, and we’ll outfit you with all of the necessities.

18 Comments

  1. for the most part this is a very good list. there was only one thing that is a must have that I did not see on your list. BLACK TANK CHIMICALS. and then you bulked some stuff like “tools” don’t forget an axe, tire changing tools, jumper cables ….. and of course you must have the WHITE water hose, water filter, 4″ dia drain hose with couplings, chock blocks and a block kit for leveling, levels (to check your level), depending on where you are going you might want to fill your fresh water tank at least to half if not full. ensure your grey and black holding tanks are empty with about 5 gallons of fresh water in each along with some downy to help clean the tanks while driving. The more you go out the more tricks you will pick up on. happy travels

      1. Yes, fabric freshener / softener, non foaming. It helps clean the inside of the holding tanks and coats the inside so that it is harder for stuff to stick to the sides and sensors. Can be used in both gray and black tank. Little plus, it puts a nice pleasant smell in there also. When you get to the campsite dump your tanks and refill with the appropriate chemicals. And repeat the process every time you dump.

    1. Here is little trick. The reason you should always carry at least 5 gls of fresh water in your holding tank is for road side emergencies. It saved us before when I overheated on the way up a grade and there was no other source of water available. Use it for drinking and / or for the vehicle engine when stuck in a situation. I always carry 1 glasses af antifreeze but this time it just wasn’t enough.

    2. God Bless you Cy and Greg! We are renting a bumper trailer for the first time in June and we really needed to see these things to know and ask the lessor about them. Thanks so much.

    1. We use a 1:1 combination of Calgon and Gain. It works wonders! So much cheaper than the stinky chemicals.

    2. Well, it doesn’t really clean the tank, but it does help to keep “stuff” from sticking to the sensors and inside surfaces of the tank so it will all drain out when you dump. We use a combination of Calgon water softener and Gain laundry detergent mixed with water and flushed into the black tank

  2. i also recommend making sure you have the appropriate wrenches and sockets for all major hardware sections. This is for items such as the awning and slide outs in the event their motor goes out. First time i saw this open i made sure i knew how and had the proper equipment to get them back in.

    1. To the beach or desert I have never heard of any issues, the problem is bringing your own wood into the forest. Due to it possible having bark beetles. Those guys could and have killed forests before and are very hard to control on e they have infected a tree.

  3. Great info!
    We did it! Just bought a new Class C…from Camping World in Hamburg, NY. Leaving to travel after Christmas.
    Enjoying this info. Thank you all from two excited ‘newbies ‘. Heather and Phil

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