Whether you’re a first-timer or a pro, packing your RV takes some forethought and planning. And even though it might seem like your RV has endless shelves, cabinets, and nooks and crannies, you’ll soon find that space is limited. To help make the most of your RV’s space, this RV packing checklist includes a few dos, don’ts, tips, and tricks to get you started.
Remember to space your heavy items throughout the RV to avoid weighing down one side of the rig. Do this both from front to back and side to side. Staying as light as possible is important to keep your rig under the necessary payload and towing capacity limits.
In this article:
- Documents and important info
- RV toolbox
- Hygiene and health
- Clothing and linens
- Camping gear
- Kitchen essentials
- Packing for kids
Documents and Important Information
When it comes to bringing along your important information, think about anything you might need to have documentation of while on the road. Your vehicle registration, campground reservations, and roadside assistance info, and all of your RV and camping packing lists should be kept in a folder for easy access.
You’ll also need IDs and driver’s licenses, your RV manual (or access to a digital copy), your RV’s maintenance history, and any relevant medical documents or other personal items.
Store your documents in a safe place, away from any moisture or excessive temperatures. A waterproof folder is ideal for keeping your documents dry and reduces exposure to humidity. Some RVers also use a clipboard or notebook when walking through their setup and breakdown checklists to mark their progress.
Make multiple copies of your important documents before you leave on your trip and keep the originals in a safe place.
Adapters and Chargers
To start, remember to pack your electrical adapters. This goes for your phones, tablets, and computers as well as the bigger things, like 20-, 30-, and 50-amp adapters and cords for shore power. Also, throw in some electrical tape, a digital voltmeter/multimeter to check your battery, and a digital line monitor to test faulty wiring and monitor your AC voltage and generator frequency. It’s a good idea to pack a surge protector and extra fuses as well. (Find information about fuses in your RV owner’s manual.)
It can get dark when the campfire starts to lose steam. Be sure to bring flashlights, lanterns, headlamps, and any extra lighting you can for inside and outside the RV at night. Adequate lighting is not just a convenience, it’s a basic safety measure and a necessity. That also goes for bringing extra batteries and a charger for rechargeables.
If you plan on using a generator or have one in your RV, make sure you check it prior to departure and bring along any necessary cords or replacement parts. If you’re getting energy from a solar panel system, bring all the necessary parts and replacements for that as well.
You’ll need both an emergency roadside safety kit and an RV toolbox for repairs on the go. This is where you will keep all of the essential tools you need to maintain your RV on the road. Many of these items are similar to what you need with a car or home, like a hammer, screwdriver, duct tape, jumper cables, and a tire pressure gauge. Other useful essentials include leveling blocks, wheel chocks, roof patches, and sealant.
RV Tool Storage Tips
Storing your mechanical equipment can be a little tricky considering the space constraints of an RV. Don’t place tools next to containers full of caustic fluids. Make sure to safely store all your vehicle fluids, like coolant and oil, in a waterproof, airtight container or bin to avoid nasty spills. If you have exterior storage on your RV for tools and equipment, use it. If not, try to keep all of your tools organized neatly in a large, sturdy toolbox or a few smaller toolboxes scattered around the RV for weight distribution. Make sure to keep them out of reach of any small children.
Unless you’re off to do some boondocking, it’s not advisable to travel with a full fresh water tank. That’s because an average 40-gallon tank will add an extra 334 pounds to the weight of your RV. So, pack water for the trip to make sure you have constant access to safe drinking water.
In addition to simply packing water, make sure to bring along any water filters you’ll need. A high-quality fresh water hose is a must to fill your fresh water tank when you get to your destination. A water pressure regulator is also highly recommended because the water from the RV campground might come out at very high pressure, which can cause damage to your RV. And be sure to check your water heater before you pack up and go.
If you’re traveling with cases of bottled water, keep them stored evenly across the RV and low to the ground.
Bring along some purifying powder for impure water. You never know when you might need it, and it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Remember to pack your black water tank chemicals, sewer hose and attachments, and sanitation gloves. Before you leave on a trip, pour the black water tank chemicals into the toilet along with some water and a toilet deodorant. Each time you empty the tank, you’ll need to refill the treatment chemicals.
Also, make sure you have your RV toilet paper and disposable cleaning wipes to clean your toilet quickly and painlessly.
Purchase a shower head that’s made specifically for RV showers. This will not only help with conservation, but it also provides a steady stream of good water pressure for your showers.
Hygiene and Health
First and foremost, you need a high-quality first aid kit that will assist you in the event of any injuries during travel. Your first-aid kit should include antibiotic ointment, burn ointment, insect/animal bite treatment, gauze, bandages, scissors, and as many other essentials as you can fit. If you don’t have the time to amass your own kit, buy a pre-made one created specifically for camping. These kits are usually certified and include manuals to help you with basic care.
Your first aid kit should be stored somewhere accessible where the entire family knows where to find it. It should always be put back in its designated place after use so no time is wasted trying to find it in an emergency.
Just as important is bringing along all necessary medicines. Include things like a pain reliever/fever reducer, a thermometer, anti-nausea/anti-diarrhea/heartburn medication, any prescription medications, allergy medications, cough syrup, eye drops, and vitamins.
Make sure to bring along ample sun protection and aloe vera gel to soothe any burns. Don’t forget insect repellent, and consider packing a mosquito net for nighttime, especially if you’re traveling with children.