18 RV Newbie & Packing Tips
Updated: Feb 8, 2019
Packing the camper for a weekend trip can be a daunting task. It’s enough to make anyone skip the camping trip and stay home for the weekend–where all of your stuff is already ready for you to use. But, it doesn’t have to be that way! The good news is, it’s possible to make packing the RV for a weekend road trip faster and easier!
Here are our 18 tips for RV newbies to help take your camping preparations from “Ugh!” to “Oh yeah!”
1. Check Your Rig || No matter how long your camper has been in storage, whether it’s a week or a day, you should head in and check to make sure everything is still secure before heading down the road. Leaving a cabinet, drawer, door, or object loose could lead to big problems!
Here’s what I check while I’m in the rig before we move:
Kitchen cabinet doors & drawers
Fridge doorsBedroom closet, cabinets, and drawers
Bathroom cabinet doors, drawers and shower door if you have one
Bathroom door, bedroom doors and any drawers
Access panels and vents
Check for loose objects that can fly
Anything else you have inside the camper that can open, close, or move
2. Find a Good Storage Spot || Having a secure, nice place to keep your camper can make a big difference. The location we use has secured access. We have a card to be able to access our camper any time we need to get to it, which is also important. You don’t want the hours of your storage unit to dictate your camping trip! Search around for reasonable rates when you’re looking as well. Camper storage can be expensive! However, if you’re willing to go a little ways out of town you will likely find better rates.
3. Do a Walk Around || Just like you should check the inside of the camper after it’s been in storage, you should do the same for the outside. There can be a lot to think about when you’re putting the camper up in storage, so you may have forgotten to lock a storage bay or maybe you left a chock down.
Here’s what we check before we move:
Check the locks and latches on all storage bays
Check for flat or low tires
Check chocks are up
Check stabilizers are up
Check windows are closed
Check for other loose or damaged items
4. Have 2 Drivers || There will likely be a natural driver in your family. That person who is designated to do the driving of the rig. However, it’s best to be prepared for emergency situations! Make sure more than one person in your party knows how to drive the rig and hook it up. You’ll be glad you have a back up driver the day it’s time to come home and your driver has come down with a tummy bug.
5. Have a Packing Checklist || I cannot express how important a checklist is! I have included our checklist for you to download. Maybe it’s perfect for your family or maybe you can use it to create one of your own. I will laminate this checklist and use it over and over again every time we go camping. This way, I know I’m not forgetting anything. It’s the single best thing I do to make sure I don’t go crazy while I’m trying to pack the camper.
Download Your Own Copy Here ——>FREE RV Packing Checklist
6. Make Grab & Go Boxes || This is another huge time-saver when you're packing for a camping trip. Create a box that houses essential toiletry items. This box is always packed and ready to go in a closet in your house…then all you have to do is grab it and take it to the camper when you’re packing! You can make one box for the grown ups and one box for the kids or you can have a box for each member of the family. Whatever works for you!
Here’s what we have in our Grab & Go Boxes:
Toothbrushes & Toothpaste
Combs & Brushes
Medicine: Pain Reliever, Allergy Medicine, Cold Medicine, Children’s Medicine
Bug Bite Relief
Swimmers Ear Drops
7. Find Containers That Fit Your Rig || The containers that work for one RV are not going to be the containers that fit your rig. Testing out some containers you have at home already can give you a better idea of what will work best. Personally, I love fridge storage containers because there are so many sizes and shapes. I also find a lot of solutions at the dollar store, which is great because if it doesn’t work, I only spent $1! Here are a few of my personal favorites:
8. Leave it on the Hanger || Don’t waste time folding shirts or jackets that are already on a hanger! Simply grab them out of the closest and take them to your rig! It makes it easy to pack AND to bring back into the house if it’s still clean at the end of the trip.
Pro Tip! || I love velvet hangers for in the RV. They keep clothes from slipping off the hanger while you're going down the road!
9. 1-2 Tubs of Clothes Per Person || Pack up your folded clothes in an easy to use container. Just grabbing what you need for the trip and sticking it in a tub is so simple! Once again, it’s easy to get the clothes to the camper and when the trip is over you have an easy way to get any clean clothes back where they belong. I use a collapsible container, such as the one below. Then, if we empty a tub I can fold it up and get it out of the way!
Pro Tip! || Collapsible Tubs like these are great for multiple reasons! You can fold them up to store them in your house so they don't take up space when you're not camping and if you empty a tub while you're out on a trip you can fold it up and get it out of the way!
10. Have a Swim/Snow Tub || Keeping one tub of special-use clothes, such as swimming suits or snow suits can make it easy to change when it’s time to make it to a fun activity. This way, you don’t have to pull out everyone’s individual tubs for one specific thing. I use the same collapsible tubs listed above!
11. Use a Laundry Basket for Shoes || Shoes are a necessity and often every member of the family needs more than one pair to make it through a weekend of camping. We often bring flip-flops, Keens, and tennis shoes for everyone every time we go. That’s 15 pairs of shoes! We just toss everyone’s shoes in a laundry basket and have it stored in a cabinet by the door. We picked our laundry basket up at the dollar store. And, everyone knows that we toss our shoes in the basket when they come off our feet to keep the camper from getting cluttered with shoes!
12. Get a Flexible or Collapsible Laundry Basket || Find a laundry basket that fits in some unused or hidden location. Under the dinette? Under a bed? In a pass-through to the garage (the storage at the front of your camper)? For us we put our laundry baskets on the unused bunk. It’s easy for us to toss it in there and it’s out of the way.
13. Have a Charger Box (or bag!) || There are so many chargers and cords to keep track of today! Each of our 3 kids has their own tablet for long car rides, Steve and I each have a tablet and computer and we have 2 cameras, a drone, and 2 cell phones. That’s a lot to keep track of! Having a Charger Box makes it easy…the day we leave for camp, as I unplug something in the morning, I just throw the charger in the charger box. Then, everything is in one place and ready to go!
14. Don’t Stuff the Fridge || Any fridge cannot function well if it’s over stuffed. RV fridges are small, so it’s easy to get carried away and over fill yours. Plan ahead if you’re RVing in a group and split the contents between two fridges. If you aren’t camping with others or they don’t have a fridge, store the less delicate items in a cooler so you don’t over work your fridge.
15. One Tub for Each Type of Food || It’s essential to keep your food organized when working with a small fridge. Keeping a tub for each type of food allows you to easily find what you’re looking for. And, it makes transporting food from your home fridge to the RV a breeze. An added bonus is that food doesn’t shift around during transport, which is a big concern!
16 . Don’t Buy New Food Every Trip || Something I was guilty of when we first started RVing, was I would buy EVERYTHING new EVERY time we went out on a trip. Even if we had a bottle of ketchup in the fridge, for some reason I would think I needed to buy a new bottle for the camping trip because it was on the grocery list. I quickly found out that a checklist of regularly used food items cut down on our grocery bill…and and over stuffed fridge at home.
17. Have an Easy Snack Tub || This one speaks directly to the moms out there. It never seems to fail that as soon as you get to camp, the kids are DYING of hunger. As in, they’re literally rolling around on the ground holding their stomachs. The problem is, you have work to do so your camp site can be set up and usable. Having a tub full of snacks to grab and plop down on the picnic table while you set up will help you keep your sanity.
18. Leave Groceries in the Bag || Even if I shop a couple of days before we leave, I still keep everything in the grocery bags and throw extra items I already had in the pantry into the bags. It makes it so much easier to only unload the groceries once rather than unloading them at home AND in the camper.
I promise, packing for camping is not as bad as it seems. Now that I have a good system, we’re willing to take off for a weekend of camping unplanned and in the drop of a hat. A little bit of planning in the beginning will make your camping experiences that much more enjoyable!