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If you’re embarking on an RV vacation, we have the ‘must have’ RV camping accessories and top tips so that you can pack smartly and bring exactly what you need!
RV Camping Checklist
Written By: Laura Pulling
Table Of Contents
An RV trip is a fun way to see the country. You pack in your stuff and take your home-away-from-home with you. It’s like a camping trip and road trip combined, except you never have to deal with a tent!
When you’re learning how to RV, it’s important that you still pack savvy. You may feel like you have a ton of space, but being on the road needs to be practical, and those small cupboards soon fill up when you have kitchen and homeware essentials to think of too. Plus extra weight means extra gas needed to drive the RV too.
In this article, we’re going to assume you’re renting a standard-sized RV from a company that has a basic RV essentials list package included (check what your package offers, as it will vary from company to company.)
Don’t be an overpacker—let TFG take you step by step with our RV setup checklist so you can have a fun (not stressful) trip!
RV Kitchen Accessories
Part of the benefits of an RV trip is the ability to cook for yourself, instead of needing to eat out for every meal. You may be a culinary marvel at home, but on the road, simple is better. You want to avoid packing too many gadgets and needing many pans.
Enjoy a BBQ Al Fresco
When you’re on the road, you can make your evening meal part of your vacation. Everybody loves the joys of cooking over an open fire, and tasty treats like s’mores are a delicious delight that everyone enjoys.
Packing a small barbeque grill, gives you the choice to cook in the great outdoors. You can get disposable ones that work one time, but we like a small bucket style grill that won’t take up room and is perfect for throwing on some burgers. If you have a small RV camper without a full kitchen, you may prefer a gas travel grill, like this Weber Go Anywhere grill.
Bring a Small Supply of Tableware
When you’re out on the road, anything that reduces weight is a benefit, and this includes cups and plates. Trade in your ceramic dinner set for a lightweight plastic version. Not only will this be more lightweight and compact, but they won’t break if they are dropped or used outside.
This plastic dinner set is perfect for families on the go, and it’s also eco friendly as it’s made from recycled plastics!
Tote a Reusable Travel Mug
Once you’ve gone through the effort of making the morning coffee, the last thing you want is for it to go cold. Taking a travel mug is a luxury that is well justified. The Contigo autoseal mug is THE most popular option according to our readers.
You can use this throughout your RV trip as it will keep things warm (and cold) for the ENTIRE day. As a major bonus, it will NEVER leak! It comes in a range of bright colors and sizes, including a 16 oz, 20 oz, and even a 24 oz if you need a larger morning pick-me-up!
Use an Instant Pot for Easy Meals on the Go
If you’re like me, an Instant Pot is a savior at home, after a long day of work. But they can also be great on the road too. RV kitchens are notoriously small and most don’t have the same number of stove elements or oven potential as you do when you cook at home. An instant pot is a great way of cooking that actually isn’t too bulky and gives great variety.
You can make porridge for breakfast; and stews, casseroles, and chilis for dinners, and still enjoy your time on the road without feeling bound to the kitchen.
Bring a Small Portable Blender
One of the RV things that’s worth taking is a small blender to make healthy smoothies for on the road or even cut fruit (delicately, of course!). An editor-in-chief fave is the Hamilton Beach small blender. For about $20, it features a 14 oz jar and one touch blending, which is perfect for everything from smoothies to baby food. It also has five cute color choices, so you can find one to match your RV decor!
Store Leftovers and Perishables in Reusable Ziplock Bags
When working from an on-the-road RV kitchen, you never have all of the things you have easily accessible at home. Reusable Ziplock bags are so convenient for a ton of things, especially when you haven’t got your usual cupboard hacks and gadgets: from storing food, keeping leftovers fresh, wrapping food for a picnic, and even for storing dry socks of a hike, a wet bathing suit after a swim, or organising toiletries and jewelry. Stash a few for your next RV trip, and you’ll be glad you did.
Take Smaller Condiments
When planning a week’s worth of meals, you also need to think about the condiments that go with them, as they can make or break your dinner! But they also take up space, especially if you want salt and pepper, mustard, ketchup, and mayo. These Handy Housewares squeeze bottles can save valuable cupboard and fridge space, and not waste cash on sauces that won’t get used.
You can also get single-use condiments, like those found at fast-food restaurants, but these are not as good for the environment.
Buy KCti Kitchen Tongs: Amazon
Bring Multi-Use Utensils
Whereas some RV rental companies have their kitchen’s already stocked with a few pots and pans and kitchen essentials, others do not, so it’s best to check with your rental company before you pack.
If you do need to take your own RV cooking accessories, think savvy, what is essential, and what could double up with another use. Like these clever KCti kitchen tongs—they work in three ways—as a spatula and as barbeque tongs!
Also, remember a tin opener and a bottle opener too—this is another 2-in-1 gadget.
Extend Your Cold Food Storage
Often the refrigerator in an RVis small and won’t hold all of the groceries needed for a week’s trip. This is okay if you’re commuting to different places and can stop at stores en route, but if you’re holed up in the mountains or in a national park, you don’t want to leave something behind simply because you were lacking the cold space.
Bring a Coleman travel cooler along to add an extra cooler area for drinks (as this is less important if they warm slightly compared to unprepared food and meat). A squashable one is also great so once you’re finished with it, you can tuck it away without tripping over it.
Read this post to find out our suggested camping and supplies!
RV Bathroom Kit
Here at TFG, we discuss toiletries for travel frequently, and packing for an RV trip is no different than when you head for a week in a hotel. Imagine you are traveling by plane, carry-on only, and take the small TSA sized bottles as you would normally travel with. An RV sized bathroom is kind of the same, so you need to optimize the room the best way you can.
Buy BAGSMART Hanging Toiletry Bag: Amazon
Save Space With a Hanging Toiletry Organizer
Taking a hanging toiletry bag will keep all of your items together, and then allow you to conveniently unroll it as and when it’s needed (you don’t want to leave bottles on the bottom of the shower, or around the basin when you drive along!). This BAGSMART toiletry bag fits the bill and is highly popular with readers.
Buy Youphoria Microfiber Towel: Amazon
Pack a Travel Towel
Regular towels are bulky and take forever to dry. When you’re in an RV, take a travel towel for speedy drying, of both you and the towel! This Youphoria one folds up into a small and compact bundle and are a godsend on the road, (because, let’s face it, if a towel is used and damp on day one and you don’t allow it to dry properly, it’s gonna be pretty whiffy by the end of the trip!).
Take Compact a Hairdryer
As we keep saying, size is of the essence, so a standard-sized hairdryer simply will be too big for your RV trip, and unlike a hotel break, there won’t be one for you to borrow from the concierge. Bring something compact, like this Revlon folding hairdryer, which has enough strength to dry your hair quickly.
If you also have bangs that simply can’t be tamed, take along a travel-sized flat iron to straighten and reduce frizz without compromising on space.
Use the Right Toilet Paper
An RV uses a chemical toilet, and you empty it (at the appropriate place) as you need. You’re going to need all of the appropriate chemicals and liquids to keep it fresh, but you also should use something like Scott dissolving toilet paper that suits a chemical toilet. This specially designed paper breaks down in the liquid so it’s far easier to empty, without a fuss.
You COULD use regular paper, but this does leave globs of paper that can be difficult to remove and clean out (and cleaning out a toilet is not the most fun job in the world anyway, but even worse when you need to scoop sticky paper out).
Buy Swiss Safe Store First-Aid Kit: Amazon
Pack a First Aid Kit
When you’re RVing, you usually aren’t that close to pharmacies. So, it’s always handy to have some small medical essentials with you. This Swiss Safe first-aid kit is perfect in case of an emergency. You can also put together your own kit, read on how to do that here!
Hiking trails, star gazing, and swimming are on the list for this summer camping essentials checklist!
RV Bedroom Checklist
While you won’t be roughing it, bringing some bedding or a few extras can make your RV experience that much better!
Buy Brave Era Hypoallergenic Silk Travel Sheet: Amazon
Slumber Soundly in a Travel Sheet
For your RV nights, you’ll need a set of sheets. Your RV rental company may include these for you, but depending on how easy it is for you to pack them, having your own soft cotton sheets and pillows from home could make all of the difference to how well you’re able to catch some Zzz’s on the road. If you’re traveling light, this Brave Era travel sheet feels soft and can protect you from bugs that may get in.
A travel pillow that’s yours can also make a huge difference, to the often cheap ones you get in standard bedding packs.
Depending on how many beds you are using, you’ll need a set of sheets and pillows for every bed or bunk in the van. Take sheets and duvet similar to those you use at home. In summer, a thinner quilt or comforter would be fine.
Buy Coleman Sleeping bag: Amazon
Bring a Sleeping Bag in Lieu of a Duvet
While a light duvet can work, sometimes a sleeping bag is better because they’re easier to clean and air dry out. This Coleman sleeping bag is made to be used during the warmer seasons in temperatures of 40°F-60°F. It’s a traditional rectangular bag that allows more wiggle room and can feel less claustrophobic than the mummy-style sleeping bags. When paired with a sleeping bag liner, you’ll feel cozy nestled in your RV!
For extra luxury, you may also want to include an RV mattress topper, these can add a world of difference to a standard thin mattress pad, relieving pressure and allowing you the relaxing night’s sleep you deserve after a long day of hiking.
Buy MOON LENCE Tent: Amazon
Take a Packable Tent in Case
The idea with RVing is to certainly sleep inside, but there may be occasions you want a tent “parked” in front, either for extra guests or a fun place for your children to hang out. This Moon Lence tent is spacious and weighs only 5.2 lbs. It’s easy to carry and provides good three-season weather protection, with a second layer providing insulation and extra resistance.
Here’s a car camping checklist for my trip!
Ultimate RV storage
Some RV newbies think there is tons of storage in a “moving house”, but the truth is an RV is far more compact than a normal home and therefore space is limited. If you need to store some things, remember to place things in moveable or foldable storage. These ideas may help!
Utilize Fabric Storage Boxes
When I’m on vacation, RV, or in a hotel, I always find that there isn’t a ‘place’ for everything to live. And in a small RV space, this is way more noticeable (especially if you need to convert tables into beds at night).
A novel, but super handy tip is to take along some storage bins. These cute mDesign storage bins ones are actually drawer organizers and fold completely flat when not being used, but they are great to throw in odds and ends around the RV. Or maybe you can have one per kid, so their stuff stays together and not lost when moving around.
Use Folding Hangers for Clothes
If you’re in an RV, the chances are your space to hang clothes is limited. You can fit more in though if you have hangers that are slim. These Trubetter folding hangers are great as they open as wide as you need them (in case your closet is not full standard depth).
Buy Pack Gear Portable Luggage Organizer: Amazon
Organize Luggage Like a Pro
You might also consider using a folding organizer like this Pack Gear one. Just like using packing cubes, this lightweight organizer can be stuffed with your belongings as you pack to maximize space in your luggage, then when you arrive, simply hang over a doorway in your RV to give you extra storage room.
You may want to split it with a partner, and each has a pocket for small items, like underwear, bottom layers or accessories, like scarves or wooly hats.
With clothes, you may also find you hand wash a couple of items as you’re on the go. So a portable washing line can easily be thrown up outside the RV, or between nearby trees to dry clothes between wears.
Buy BIZOND Handheld Mini Steamer: Amazon
Remove Wrinkles in Clothes With a Travel Steamer
When clothes are stored in packing cubes and organizers, rather than hangers like in your closets at home, they may be creased by the time you come to wear them. Here is where travel steamers can help!
This BIZOND handheld steamer can help you to look sharp in your outfits and won’t take up a ton of valuable weight or space in your luggage.
Check out this cross country road trip essentials for your next adventure!
RV Camping Accessories
RV camping involves not just “daily living”, but also tons of activities for you and the whole family. That involves lots of time outdoors, so you may need the accessories to go with that fun!
Expand Your Outdoor Space
So your RV time is generally an outdoor vacation—so don’t forget to bring along some coverage to enjoy Mother Nature’s backyard. This Tentproinc awning attaches to your RV and can become “fun” headquarters, and offer protection from the sun’s rays and a shady corner.
For luxe travelers, an outdoor rug really defines your extra living space and can make your outside area into an extra.
Add Portable Seating
Speaking of your headquarters, these folding Coleman camping chairs can create a communal outdoor space.
You can also spruce up the place with some solar-powered fairy lights. These can feel homey and inviting if they are clipped around an RV awning as they don’t need a power source.
Play Music or Media on a Bluetooth Speaker
Music can add to the ambiance, and having musical memories of your trip is always a good thing. Listen to music outdoors by taking a small portable speaker. Having a Bluetooth enabled device means you can play music from your phone, and this Anker one is small but mighty and can work for up to 15 hours between charges.
Bring Some Games
Fun time can also include board games, many classic gems such as Monopoly and Connect 4, come in a travel-sized option. Plus there are the vintage cards and dominoes, a road trip is a great time to teach these traditional games to the kids and they don’t take up a ton of space!
Plan for A Rainy Day
For those rainy days, or for during the drive parts of your journey, have a Kindle e-reader loaded up with some favorite and newer reads. You might also take a portable DVD player (or maybe a laptop loaded with films) for a cozy movie night.
Buy Artlii Mana Portable DLP Projector: Amazon
But if you want an extra special night under the stars—one of our favorite RV camping ideas is movie night! Hang a white sheet from the side of the RV and this Artlii portable projector can create your own outdoor movie theatre (just remember to be considerate to other campers if doing this in a smaller campsite). This projector can even be charged with a power bank—so great for movie nights while on the road!
Buy LE LED Camping Lantern: Amazon
Shed Light With a Camping Lantern
In the wilderness, it gets dark, so don’t forget to pack some portable lighting. This LE camping lantern is waterproof, rechargeable, and lasts up to 12 hours (it’s even used in emergency situations!). Get a few to illuminate your campsite, as this is terrific for large areas.
If you want light and be mobile, this PETZL headlamp is a great idea, because you can walk around, still shine light in the dark, but also be hands-free. Also useful if you’re going hiking too.
Alternatively, you can also take a travel flashlight (maybe even one per person), they’re handy to keep around the RV. If you don’t want to consume a ton of batteries, a hand crank torch can be useful as it works using kinesthetic energy, just wind it up and viola (or can be charged using solar energy).
Don’t Forget to Power Up!
Often in an RV there aren’t many outlets to charge your gadgets and gizmos, so if you take your own, you’ll be able to plug in your gadgets. This UPWADE power strip can then increase the number of outlets available. This one also has USB sockets, so you can lose the bulky plug when packing and just bring cables when charging phones and e-readers.
RV Camping Supplies Comparison Chart
|BRAND | MODEL||FEATURES | REVIEWS||RATING | PRICE|
|RV Kitchen Accessories|
|Weber Go Anywhere Grill||Packing a small barbeque grill, gives you the choice to cook in the great outdoors.||Check Price|
|Preserve Reusable Tableware Set||This plastic dinner set is perfect for families on the go, and it’s also eco friendly as it’s made from recycled plastics!||Check Price|
|Contigo Portable Coffee Mug||The Contigo autoseal mug is THE most popular option according to our readers.||Check Price|
|Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus||You can make porridge for breakfast; and stews, casseroles, and chilis for dinners, and still enjoy your time on the road without feeling bound to the kitchen.||Check Price|
|Hamilton Beach Personal Blender||One of the RV things that’s worth taking is a small blender to make healthy smoothies for on the road or even cut fruit (delicately, of course!).||Check Price|
|Anpro Reusable Ziplocks||Reusable Ziplock bags are so convenient for a ton of things, especially when you haven’t got your usual cupboard hacks and gadgets.||Check Price|
|Handy Housewares Condiment Set||These Handy Housewares squeeze bottles can save valuable cupboard and fridge space, and not waste cash on sauces that won’t get used.||Check Price|
|KCti Kitchen Tongs||These clever KCti kitchen tongs—they work in three ways—as a spatula and as barbeque tongs!||Check Price|
|Coleman Travel Cooler||A squashable one is also great so once you’re finished with it, you can tuck it away without tripping over it.||Check Price|
|RV Bathroom Kit|
|BAGSMART Hanging Toiletry Bag||This BAGSMART toiletry bag fits the bill and is highly popular with readers.||Check Price|
|Youphoria Microfiber Towel||This Youphoria one folds up into a small and compact bundle and are a godsend on the road.||Check Price|
|Take Compact a Hair Dryer||If you also have bangs that simply can’t be tamed, take along a travel sized flat iron to straighten and reduce frizz without compromising on space.||Check Price|
|BH Dissolve Toilet Paper||This specially designed paper breaks down in the liquid so it's far easier to empty, without a fuss.||Check Price|
|Swiss Safe Store First-Aid Kit||This Swiss Safe first-aid kit is perfect in case of an emergency. You can also put together your own kit.||Check Price|
|RV Bedroom Checklist|
|Brave Era Hypoallergenic Silk Travel Sheet||If you’re traveling light, this Brave Era travel sheet feels soft and can protect you from bugs that may get in.||Check Price|
|Coleman Sleeping bag||This Coleman sleeping bag is made to be used during the warmer seasons in temperatures of 40°F-60°F.||Check Price|
|eLuxurySupply RV Mattress Topper||For extra luxury, you may also want to include an RV mattress topper.||Check Price|
|MOON LENCE Tent||t’s easy to carry and provides good three-season weather protection, with a second layer providing insulation and extra resistance.||Check Price|
|Ultimate RV storage|
|mDesign Fabric Organizers||These cute mDesign storage bins ones are actually drawer organizers and fold completely flat when not being used.||Check Price|
|Trubetter Folding Travel Hangers||These Trubetter folding hangers are great as they open as wide as you need them (in case your closet is not a full standard depth).||Check Price|
|Pack Gear Portable Luggage Organizer||You might also consider using a folding organizer like this Pack Gear one. Just like using packing cubes.||Check Price|
|BIZOND Handheld Mini Steamer||This BIZOND handheld steamer can help you to look sharp in your outfits and won’t take up a ton of valuable weight or space in your luggage.||Check Price|
|RV Camping Accessories|
|Tentproinc RV Awning Sun Shade||This Tentproinc awning attaches to your RV and can become “fun” headquarters, and offer protection from the sun’s rays and a shady corner.||Check Price|
|Coleman Portable Camping Chair||Speaking of your headquarters, these folding Coleman camping chairs can create a communal outdoor space.||Check Price|
|Anker Travel Speaker||Having a bluetooth enabled device means you can play music from your phone, and this Anker one is small but mighty and can work for up to 15 hours between charges.||Check Price|
|Hasbro Family Grab & Go Variety Pack||A road trip is a great time to teach these traditional games to the kids and they don’t take up a ton of space!||Check Price|
|Elite Outdoor Games Ring Toss Yard||Keep active by bringing some outdoor games, take football to throw, or a frisbee.||Check Price|
|Kindle E-Reader||For those rainy days, or for during the drive parts of your journey, have a Kindle e-reader loaded up with some favorite and newer reads.||Check Price|
|Artlii Mana Portable DLP Projector||This projector can even be charged with a power bank—so great for movie nights while on the road!||Check Price|
|Shed Light With a Camping Lantern||This LE camping lantern is waterproof, rechargeable, and lasts up to 12 hours (it’s even used in emergency situations!).||Check Price|
|PETZL Tikkina Headlamp||If you want light and be mobile, this PETZL headlamp is a great idea, because you can walk around, still shine light in the dark, but also be hands-free. Also useful if you’re going hiking too.||Check Price|
|UPWADE Outlet Travel Power Strip||This UPWADE power strip can then increase the number of outlets available.||Check Price|
What are your tips for RV must haves? Share and comment below!
For more tips on road trips, please read:
- Cross Country Road Trip Essentials
- Wondering What Things to Pack for a Road Trip? Here Are Our Top 8 Essentials
- Car Camping Checklist for a Week in the National Parks in Utah
- How to Pack for a USA Southwest Road Trip
Suggested travel resources:
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