Updated on August 5, 2020 by Asher Fergusson
To help you prepare, we have put together an RV trip packing list that includes essential items you should not leave without. Additionally, there’s a section on what to wear on an RV trip, what NOT to bring, along with helpful answers to FAQs.
What to Pack for an RV Trip – 17 Essentials
1. Travel Towel
When on an RV trip, one of the key things to keep in mind is space. You will have limited space in the RV which is why having a small travel towel is perfect. This microfiber cloth is great for showering, swimming, backpacking, and more. Plus it’s ultra-compact, lightweight, super absorbent, and fast drying.
One of the best parts about RVing is that it is like road tripping in your house. One of the worst parts is motion sickness. If you’re prone to getting car sick, using a motion sickness patch will help you avoid any unwanted nausea and help you enjoy the ride. No one wants to spend their vacation pent up in the bathroom!
Having back-up power while RVing is extremely important. Whether you choose to go boondocking off the grid or you set up camp at an RV park with hookups, you never know when you may need that extra energy. Whether you’re looking to charge your phone or laptop, having this eco-friendly portable generator ensures that you will never get stuck without power.
4. Power Cords
Much like the portable generator, having power cords is helpful when you’re looking to charge your phone or laptop while out on the road. Having one similar to this not only gives you a surge protector and a power strip, but it also has a 10-foot cord so you won’t have to worry about getting an extra extension cord.
Let’s face it, it can get quite sticky when exploring the great outdoors and sweating is inevitable, even if you’ve already put on deodorant. And there’s nothing worse than being self-conscious about your smell while out with friends or family. Instead of stressing about it too much, throw these deodorant wipes into your daypack and clean up anytime you begin to feel uncomfortable. The best part is that they’re plant-based and aluminum-free.
RV bathrooms, while a heaven-send, are quite small. And keeping them clean is key to enjoying your vacation. Using toilet cleaning stamps like these will help you go longer in between scrubs and help avoid odor. All you have to do is place one against the toilet wall and let the flush-activated cleaning begin!
7. Wheel Blocks
Wheel blocks are necessary to keep your RV from rolling away when parked. While your rig obviously has brakes, they’re not reliable on their own. Having some wheel blocks will not only help you to stay in place but they will also prevent excess movement while you’re walking or moving throughout the cabin.
Levelers are a lot like wheel blocks but rather than keeping your RV from rolling away, they keep it level. This is important because a rig that is not level is not only uncomfortable (which could potentially lead to injury) but it also doesn’t work correctly. Many appliances, such as the refrigerator, will not work properly if not level. If you continue to run the fridge while not level, you could do some serious damage which will cost you a pretty penny.
Imagine being out on the road and all of a sudden your RV breaks down. Without jumper cables, you could be stranded for hours waiting for AAA to come fix it. Or, you can keep a pair of heavy duty cables like these to ensure that you’ll be back on the road in no time!
Unfortunately accidents happen all the time. Whether you’re driving a regular car or an RV, having an emergency roadside kit is key. This is especially true if you’re going to be using the RV for an extended period of time. A kit like this includes jumper cables, a reflective safety vest, a flashlight, a warning triangle, a whistle, a pocket knife, bandages, and more. With this, you won’t ever have to stress out if you run into a less than ideal situation.
11. Sewing Kit
A sewing kit is another wise thing to have for small emergencies. There’s a good chance you won’t need it but should you lose a button, rip your jeans, or get a hole in your hammock, you can use this kit to quickly repair the damage.
Depending on where you hookup your rig, you might find that the city or park’s water pressure is extremely high. This may not seem like a big deal but it will be when you leave your camper and come back to find that your water hook up blew apart your kitchen faucet and has been running for hours. Seriously, that can happen. With water pressure being unpredictable, save yourself the mess and money with this regulator by Camco.
RV’s carry a lot of weight on their wheels at all time. And while the tires are made to handle that weight, we’ve all had a flat tire once or twice in our lives. Having a tire pressure gauge will help you know if you need to replace the tires before your vacation is interrupted by a tire blow out on the side of the road. Using an electronic one like this one gives you easy-to-read digits and allows you to test in the evenings thanks to its backlit LCD screen.
While spending time outside is easily one of the best things for our souls, sometimes it can be messy. Especially when it comes to using the restroom. While there’s nothing wrong with hiding behind a tree to relieve yourself, squatting can be uncomfortable. Using a female urination device like this one will allow you to use the restroom standing up and will prevent splashing. It’s perfect for camping, boating, and hiking.
I’m a huge advocate of getting travel insurance for every trip that you take. While it may sound unnecessary while RVing, it can help save you from a headache should you get into an accident during your stay. Medical bills can add up extremely quickly, even with health insurance. It can also help with trip cancellation, rental fees, and emergency transportation.
Okay, I know what you’re probably thinking. You can’t technically pack a virtual private network. And why would you want one while camping? If you’re going to be using your computer or phone at all, you’re putting all of your data at risk. The last thing you want is to have all of your personal and financial information accessed by hackers (trust me, I learned the hard way).
17. Toilet Bags
If you’re going to be doing a lot of hiking or walking outside, there’s a good chance you’re going to need to go to the bathroom at some point. Having these portable toilet bags, you can relieve yourself and then bury the bags in the ground. They naturally decompose in the soil within 10 days. No more worrying about carrying out.
Other RV trip packing list items not to forget
Pots and pans
First aid kit
What to Wear on an RV Trip
Ideally, you’ll want things such as a light multi-use jacket, a rain coat, hiking boots, and layering pieces that you can mix and match. If taking a trip during the winter, bring along a thick winter coat and thermals. If visiting during the summer, forgo those and stick with shorts and t-shirts.
The bottom line is you’ll want clothes that you are comfortable in. RVing means spending a lot of time in the car and you don’t want to wear anything that’s going to irritate you during those long hours on the road.
When packing for an RV trip, the packing list for men and women are very similar. If possible, pack versatile pieces that can be worn multiple times in different ways while also keeping comfort in mind. This will help keep your suitcase light and help you save space in your rig. Because it’s the great outdoors and the weather can be unpredictable, bring a lightweight raincoat (depending on the destination of course). Everything else can be layering pieces such as tank tops, jeans, t-shirts, long-sleeved shirts, leggings, and shorts, depending on the season.
If visiting during the colder months, swap out the summer clothes for thermals, sweaters, and a warm winter coat that can withstand winter conditions (whether it be rain or snow). Beanies, gloves, and scarves are another great way to stay warm and accessorize.
If visiting during the colder months, focus on packing thermals, jeans, waterproof boots, a winter coat, a beanie, a scarf, and gloves. If you feel like going snowboarding or skiing, remember to pack layers, snow gear (like a bib and thick winter jacket), sunglasses, and plenty of sunscreen. While it may not seem like it, the sun reflecting off of the snow can give you a pretty ugly sunburn.
Spring (March, April, May)
Springtime usually means sunshine, scattered rain showers, and blooming flowers. When packing for springtime, it’s all about layers. While the sun may be out there could always be a chance of rain. Look at your destination ahead of time to gauge what’s best to wear. If visiting the southwest, the weather will likely be a lot drier than if you’re visiting the midwest.
Summer (June, July, August)
No matter where you’re planning on visiting during the summer months, you’re likely going to be met with a whole lot of sunshine. This means you can trade out the jeans and layering jackets for swimsuits, shorts, tank tops, dresses, and flip-flops.
The best part about packing for summer is that because the clothes are less bulky, you’ll have more room in your suitcase to pack a couple more outfit options. Whatever you do though, don’t forget sunglasses, sunscreen, aloe, and plenty of water.
Fall (September, October, November)
Fall is a lot like spring in that the weather can vary drastically depending on where you’re going. On the west coast, fall can be quite warm, especially in places like California and Arizona. If this is the case, you’ll likely want to keep the shorts, t-shirts, and sandals packed. If you’re concerned about chilly night temps, bring along a hoodie and jeans. If you’re going somewhere where the leaves change color and the temperatures drop, you’ll want to break out that lightweight jacket again along with some boots.
Winter (December, January, February)
Winter means bundling up! US temps can range anywhere from freezing to 70 degrees. Winter clothes do tend to be heavier and if you’re looking to save space in your rig, you’ll want to remember to pack items that can be mixed and matched so that you don’t overpack. Bring your heavy winter coat, sweaters, thermals, beanies, and boots.
Fishing There’s nothing like spending your afternoon out on the water and catching fish. Especially if you’re looking to prepare the catch of the day for dinner in the evening. When fishing, you’ll want to wear waterproof pants, waterproof boots, a lightweight long sleeve that will help protect you from the sun and sun gloves. If you know you’re going to be out there for an extended period of time, be sure to wear sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat.
The Beach Whether you’re going to be spending most of your time soaking up the sun on the beach or the lake, you’re going to want to be sure to protect yourself. Aside from a swimsuit, bring a sunhat that covers your face, sunglasses, and a high SPF that will prevent you from burning. If you have extra sensitive skin, a swimsuit cover up or a rash guard can offer additional protection.
Mountain biking If you’re looking for an adrenaline rush and you opt for mountain biking, you’ll want to make sure you are well equipped. Aside from the safety equipment such as a helmet and knee pads, wear shorts, long socks, a jersey shirt, and cycling shoes. If the weather is a bit moist, you might benefit from a waterproof jacket. And to ensure that you stay hydrated, bring along your camelbak backpack.
What NOT to Pack on an RV Trip
2) Firewood This one may seem obvious but you may be surprised at how many people bring it to be prepared for a bonfire. When RVing, you are out in nature with plenty of wood to collect. Amplify your experience by bringing an axe and chopping down the wood. You’ll know you’ve earned that evening fire and you won’t have to lug around heavy wood with you for a week.
3) Formal Attire This is another one that may seem like common sense but I know that it can be very tempting to bring formal attire with. Even if it’s just a dress. Unless you’re planning on making stops along the way to enjoy the finer things in life, you’ll most likely be spending time outside and those fancy clothes will only get ruined.
5) Uncomfortable Shoes Whether you plan on spending all of your time hanging by the RV or on exploring all that nature has to offer, bringing shoes that are going to leave you covered in band-aids, unable to walk isn’t the wisest choice. Instead opt for waterproof comfortable shoes that you have already broken in. If possible, bring a pair that you can wear for multiple different activities.
6) Expensive Jewelry Bringing expensive jewelry is exactly like bringing formal attire. While you may have expensive jewelry that is sentimental that you wear often, leave it at home for your RV vacation.
FAQS about taking an RV Trip
1. When is the best time to take an RV trip?
While the USA is a vast country with many different regions and climates, taking an RV trip is very similar to every other road trip. The fall, spring, and summer months means you’ll be met with ideal weather. However, as I mentioned before, it’s wise to check the weather at your ideal destination before you go to see what you can expect.
2. How do I find places to camp?
There are multiple different sites that you can use to find RV campsites and boondocking sites. A few of my favorites are Campendium, AllStays, Good Sam, KOA, Hip Camp, and Rover Pass.
3. What facilities can I expect at an RV park?
Most RV parks will have AC power connection, drinking water connection, sewage, Wi-Fi, and television connection. Depending on the park you might also find a barbecue area, bathrooms, laundry, showers, and a swimming pool.
4. What are the different types of RVs?
There are multiple different types of RVs. There is Class A (diesel motorhomes), Class A (gas motorhomes), Class C (provide additional living space), Class B (compact camper vans), toy haulers, travel trailers, lightweight trailers, and fifth wheels.
5. Do I need a special license to drive an RV?
Unless you’re driving a BIG rig, you will most likely not need a special license. Most states do not require a license under 26,000 pounds. Class A rigs which are the largest, most luxurious rides range anywhere from 13,000 to 30,000 pounds.
6. Do I need separate insurance?
Like insurance, there’s a good chance you will not need separate insurance. At least you will not be legally obligated. However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t purchase it anyways. It’s an extra layer of protection.
7. What is dry camping?
Dry camping aka “boondocking” is camping on the land on an unmarked spot. This is not something that you can do wherever you may please. There are locations where it is illegal so to be sure, use Campendium or iOverlander.
8. How much do RVs cost?
RVs can cost anywhere between $10,000 and $300,000. If you’re looking to save money, research previously owned rigs or consider renovating a trailer.
9. What kind of gas mileage does an RV get?
The average RV should get around 6-10 miles per gallon. If it’s a diesel RV, it should get the 8-14 mpg rage. These numbers are low so having extra fuel can help save you a serious headache. Especially if you’re new to RVing.