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What to Bring and What to Leave at Home – Your RV Guide to Packing

It is tempting sometimes to pack everything you can fit in an RV since you have so much space! However, smart and experienced RV’ers say the opposite is true; pack light and keep the feeling of space in your RV.


So, how do you determine what you should bring and what you should leave behind? There are many opinions out there so we thought we’d make it simple: a list of what you definitely should bring along. You can then decide what you personally need to bring with you. Of course, this is not a hard and fast rule you must follow, but the number one rule is: if you don’t think you will need it, by all means, leave it behind. 



Things You Should Bring on your RV Trip:

Although it’s easy to stress over what to pack for an RV trip, this is actually one of the easiest and most enjoyable parts of your entire outing. There are some things you want to be sure you have, however. For example, bring attire that is appropriate for the weather and the activities you plan to do. You’ll also want to be armed with some basic tools — as well as the knowledge to use them — in case you find yourself in a jam.



You don’t have to be a mechanic to be an RV enthusiast, but it helps to have a working knowledge of the different systems and components of your vehicle. While there are dedicated RV mechanics, dealerships and even fellow RV’ers who might offer a helping hand, a blown tire or overheated engine could leave you stranded miles from civilization. Adding some fundamental tools and know-how to your packing list for your motorhome could save you significant time and expense. And don’t forget the duct tape and bungee cords!



Summer vacations and locations with warmer climates call for lightweight and light-colored clothing, sunglasses, hats and appropriate footwear. Make sure to bring along items like sunscreen, umbrellas for blocking the sun or rain and a cooler to keep your food fresh. Almost all RVs include refrigerators, but day trips in the sun can be brutal without a personal or small cooler to bring along.


While the warmer months are the most popular time for RVing, diehard enthusiasts are known to enjoy the hobby all year-round. Some purposely seek out warmer areas as the seasons change, but modern RV amenities make it possible to camp comfortably in colder climates. There are some vital RV packing tips to consider when camping in the winter, but your overall packing list won’t change too much. Warm, thick clothing, cotton hats and gloves and water-resistant boots are a must. For snowy recreation, don’t forget to pack your skis, snowboards or snowshoes, too. If you happen to own a sport utility RV, you can even pack your snowmobile inside for a trip up north.


As far as RV camping food ideas and food packing tips go, there are plenty of options when traveling and camping with an RV. You might prefer full meals, which can easily be accomplished with the amenities available in modern motorhomes. Other road-friendly options include light and handheld snacks, such as trail mix, potato chips and sandwiches.



You probably want your RV to be clean, so there are also essential RV cleaning products you need to pack.

Standard window cleaners and surface cleaners will work well here, but there are some specialty items to consider. Compact vacuum cleaners are great for motorhomes that don’t feature built-in cleaning systems. For cleaning the bathroom, don’t forget the toilet bowl cleaner and shower spray, too.

A wet/dry mop combines both functions, so you’ll save space with just one tool that serves a dual purpose. A doormat will keep dirt from tracking too far into your home away from home. Microfiber cloths and cleaning wipes are quick-reach items in case of spills and germs.



Before finalizing your RV departure checklist, try to think of some of the items that are frequently overlooked, and bring things that can be used in multiple situations. For example, bandanas can be worn, used as cleaning rags or wrapped around a wound in an emergency. A flint and steel are more reliable than a lighter or matches when it comes to starting campfires, and pre-treated sticks are ideal for roasting marshmallows and hotdogs — just don’t forget the buns!

Things You Should Leave at Home:


If you are new to camping, you might want to take a moment to ensure you’re not over-packing. It’s a common problem among newbies, and it can result in spoiled food, unnecessary weight and wasted space. Typical items to drop from your packing list include video games, DVDs, extraneous clothing and foods that require a lot of campsite preparation.

Remember, traveling in an RV gives you the luxury of packing less. The features and amenities included in modern RVs are meant to provide comfort on the road without having to bring along lots of extra stuff.


Don’t bother to bring the following with you:

  1. Heavy tools 

  2. Abundant kitchen appliances 

  3. Firewood (most campsites require that no wood be carried in because of invasive species)

  4. Food in bulk (try meal-planning so you know exactly what you’ll need)

  5. Extra sporting goods – remember you can rent things at most of the locations you will visit, so if you don’t need to bring your own kayak, just plan to rent one at your destination!


More Tips That May Be Useful


When an RV is rolling down the road, items inside have a tendency to shift and occasionally jump around. Prevent accidents and potential breakage by securing everything firmly in place. Clear off counters and tables, latch cabinets, and make sure any loose items (shoes, books, the dog’s water bowl) are safely stowed before driving. Bring along extra bungee cords of various lengths to help secure cabinets or other loose items before driving.


As a reminder, when you are getting ready to hit the road to enjoy the RV life for a trip for the first time, check with your nearest El Monte RV dealer, who can help you with any questions you may have.

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