One of the worst feelings is getting halfway there and realizing you left something behind. RV camping requires a lot of supplies and planning before hitting the road, so you don’t want to forget anything. Depending on where you camp or plan to drive through, amenities may not be close and cell service may be hard to come by. For those cases, you’ll want to be prepared.
Before leaving home, run through a checklist to make sure you have everything. Don’t assume someone else is going to remember the things you forgot. The more prepared you are, the more enjoyable your camping experience will be.
In addition to having everything you need, here are some tips to help your RV camping go as smoothly as possible.
Organization is key in a small space, such as an RV. Keep things tucked away in drawers to reduce clutter and keep things from shifting around while on the road. Storage bins are great for keeping things like gear and equipment organized and stowed while driving. Keep things you need daily easily accessible, but pack away thing things you hope to never need (like spare tire/jack or extra motor oil). Having things organized will reduce the risk of leaving something behind and help you find things as you need them.
Don’t bring too much just because you have more space inside the RV. Chances are, when you’re camping you won’t be showering as often. There is no harm in wearing the same pair pants and a few different shirts for the duration of your trip. Less clothes equals less clutter. The RV may seem like it can hold more toys, but it’s important to be able to move around inside comfortably. This is significant before bed and in the morning when you’ll be spending the most time inside. Depending on where you’re camped you may not want to have to leave your belongings outside to make more room inside. Having less makes storing everything securely before driving easier.
Have an itinerary
Before you head out, you should have an idea of how many miles you hope to cover in a day and what sights you want to see along the way. If you plan to stay in in one place the entire time, great! If you plan to road trip, make sure you’re being realistic in terms of how long it will take you to get from point A to point B, and that you have enough time to enjoy the sights along the way. Plan out where you want to stay each night before hitting the road. Whenever possible, make reservations at campgrounds ahead of time to guarantee you have a place to sleep for the night. You don’t want your entire road trip to be spent driving and never have time to enjoy places along the way. On the contrary, be realistic to how many sights you can see in a day. Don’t try to cram too many activities into a day because chances are you won’t be able to get to all of them. Decide ahead of time what your main goals are, and if time allows have other options.
Know where to camp
Home is where you park it, but make sure you’re parked in places you’re allowed to RV camp. Campgrounds are always a good option since they include hookups and sometimes dumping stations. But for those who would rather not pay for a night sleep, Walmart parking lots are an easy, free alternative. Camping on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Forrest Service land are another good option for free camping. Just make sure you’re camped 100 feet from the road and follow any posted rules and regulations.
Get to know your RV
Before heading out, familiarize yourself with the vehicle or trailer. If you are not yet comfortable driving a large vehicle or towing, try and avoid busy roads initially. Keep in mind the total length of your vehicle plus trailer for campgrounds, as some have RV length specifications. For those renting an RV, see what will be provided for you and what you’ll need to supply on your own. Make sure you know where necessities like the spare tire and jack are and how to use them before taking off. Learn how to properly dump the holding tanks beforehand to make your life easier down the road.
Different gear is necessary depending where and what season you’re going. For RV camping during the winter, you need a lot more gear. Know if your vehicle needs to be plugged in or run on a generator to warm up prior to starting on cold mornings. Make sure you have adequate means to stay warm inside the RV at night. Dressing in layers gives you the ability to add or remove layers depending on time or day or what activities you’re planning on doing. Know the weather for where you are planning to camp. Some places may get hot during the day, but temperatures can get close to freezing still at night.
Activities and Toys
Depending on where you are going and what you plan to do, you may be bringing toys with you. Think bicycles, snowmobiles, ski gear, etc. If bringing bicycles of any sort, those are best carried on a rack outside the RV. Having bikes or other large items stored in the RV with you makes it difficult to maneuver around inside. Have bins to keep gear stored and organized, as this will make life easier before heading out for activities. Create your own lists for each activity you plan to do while camping to not forget anything. Be spontaneous and bring a camping tent for those warm nights to stay outside.
Remember it is important to be prepared, but beneficial to not over pack. Only bring the essentials. If you could go a week of two without needing it leave it behind, chances are you won’t be missing it while camping. Below is a list of items to bring RV camping with you.
Bed and Bath
- Single ply toilet paper (safe for RV)
- Insect repellant
- Toilet chemicals
Avoid cotton, quick drying fabrics are best
- Shorts (seasonal)
- Tops (long and short-sleeved)
- Base layer (wool or synthetic)
- Mid layer
- Rain gear
- Camp shoes/slippers
- Can opener
- Coffee maker of your choice
- Pots and pans
- Towels (both paper and cloth)
- Pot holder
- Aluminum foil
- Cutting board
- Trash bags
- Dish soap
- Food storage container
- S’more ingredients
- Peanut butter and jelly
- Salt and pepper
- Canned foods
- Folding chairs
- Blue tooth speaker
- Extension cord
- Pocket knife/Leatherman
- Jack appropriate for your vehicle
- Spare tire and tools to change it
- Extra oil and transmission fluid
- Jumper cables
- Sewing kit
- Duct tape
- Dumping station gloves
- Leveling blocks
- Wheel chocks
- Fire extinguisher
- Campground reservation confirmations
- Down/insulated jacket
- Hand warmers
- Scarf/neck gator
- Waterproof boots
- Ice scraper
- Extra extension cord
- Heavy comforter (preferably down)