RV travel is a great way to enjoy the beach, visit a national park or just take a break and head out into the woods for some R&R. RVing is one of the easiest ways to travel with kids, but it can be overwhelming trying to decide what to pack. This expert RV packing list takes the guesswork out of RV travel.
Disclosure: RVshare, the company that connects RV owners with people who want to RV, paid a sponsorship fee for this post. All opinions and enthusiasm for the joys of RVing are the writer’s own.
Family RV Packing List
We are last minute people. We leave everything until the very last days and hours. I am always in search of RV tips to make the prep go smoother. In fact, last summer, we planned an epic 4 month RV adventure to Alaska. It’s interesting that a 4-month road trip necessitates the same RV packing list as a weeklong vacation, Nothing more, nothing less.
RV’s really truly have a lot of space for storage in them. But, for a family that will be traveling with 12 of their 14 family members, space is not as readily available to us. Hence, we are very careful with what we bring on a family RV trip. Here are some our top RV packing hacks.
Pack the Basics
The last thing anyone wants is to be cluttered in an RV. When we first started fulltime RVing we felt we needed to bring everything from our satellite dish to toilet paper and paper towels, and everything in between.
I remember packing toiletries and sunscreen alongside our first aid kit and shoving everything under the bathroom sink. Forgetting that we weren’t going off into the great divide. Forgetting that there would be stores where we could buy dish soap and toothpaste.
I wish I had this printable RV packing list 7 years ago when we headed out on our first RV trip. It would have reduced my anxiety. Every RV checklist should include essentials like a toothbrush, water bottles and cell phone chargers. But where do you draw the line with measuring cups and mixing bowls? How many pot holders do you really need?
This amazing RV packing checklist will answer all these questions and more. Read on for more tips for packing everything from duct tape to peanut butter.
As a beginner RVer, I made the mistake of overpacking the kitchen. After 7 years of nearly fulltime RV living, I’ve embraced the “less is more” mentality. While there is a lot of storage in most RVs, this space is better used for toys and gear, rather than a plethora of kitchenware. Plus, most RV kitchens are very, very small, and call for minimalistic cookware.
However, my one absolute go-to, “don’t leave home without it” is my trusty Instapot. It is Numero Uno on my RV packing list. We use the Instapot almost daily. It is fast, convenient and compact. It is great for planned meals as well as meals in a pinch. If you can only bring one item in which to cook, this is it.
Of course, we also bring a big cast iron dutch oven (that we’ve used a handful of times) for cooking over a fire. I acquiesce on this because the kids love to cook over an open fire, so we humor them on occasion with potatoes or pork and beans.
Marshmallows, Chocolate and Graham Crackers
There is no use camping if you can’t have a blazing fire to cook on. And there is no use in having a blazing fire if you don’t have s’mores for dessert. We store camping sticks in the understorage of our RV and always have a stash of the good stuff for apres dinner. Every RV packing list must include the makings for s’mores–chocolate, graham crackers and marshmallows.
Be aware of the locale in which you are vacationing; many places don’t allow you to forage for your own firewood. Instead, you are required to buy it from the campground or from a local vendor.
Pack Lightweight Items
OK, this may sound like overkill, but we keep everything as lightweight as possible, including ourselves!! Seriously though, if there is a lightweight equivalent of something, bring it instead.
For example, plastic (reusable) plates over heavy dinnerware, paperback books, or a tablet over hardcover. RedBox or the Amazon Firestick over your DVD collection. A select few tools for repairs over your toolbox.
One exception — we do bring our Bowflex SelectTech weights. We can’t live without them, so there are a few exceptions, but if your RV packing list errs on the side of caution, you can splurge where you need to.
Say Yes to Electronics
Our RV packing list is rife with all kinds of electronic entertainment. Road trips are when you say YES to electronics of all types. Tablets, phones, whatever it takes to keep the kids occupied when barreling down the road are absolute necessities.
The key to maximizing the lasting effects of electronics on your children is to limit their use to drive time only. Time and a place, parents, time and a place!
Obviously we leave behind the desktop computers, the multiple monitors, the scanners, copiers and all that office jazz, but Dan works on the road, I blog on the road and the kids do school and write blogs for their sponsors on the road. Hence, we need laptop computers.
But, even if we were simply traveling for vacation, laptops are a constant source of educational information, opportunities to journal, ways to keep in touch with family and friends, photo storage and with some WiFi, a chance to research the locale in which you are traveling. No RV Packing List is complete without a laptop or two.
We are mostly dry campers, meaning we don’t camp in campgrounds. Instead, we find amazing spots along the river, beside a cliff face, in our National Forests. It’s quiet, peaceful and we have complete privacy. The downside means we very rarely have hookups to electricity.
Living off the grid is fun and challenging, but my husband has to work, the kids have to do school. Off grid living isn’t a fulltime option for us. We bring along our trusty Goal Zero Yeti to keep our phones, lights, laptops and cameras powered on all day and night! Every RV packing list needs a solar power bank, or two.
Internet connection is of utmost importance these days, especially for those traveling via RV. There is little more frustrating than not being able to connect to WiFi. “No Service” areas are becoming less and less frequent, but for the frequent traveler off the beaten path, this is of no consolation. Mobile internet has become something the majority of us take for granted. After finding ourselves inside Starbucks, or Tim Horton’s, struggling to connect, we almost threw our hands up. Now our RV packing list includes a WiFi extender.
If you are an overpacker and need to take everything, or a super minimalist who travels with fewer than 12 people, you might want a different RV. Check out RVshare, the company that pairs RV owners with people who want to RV. The company offers RVs in every shape and size, from small pop-up trailers to huge Winnebagos, big enough for my family.