One of the biggest differences between traveling to a hotel or even camping, is the amount of gear needed to travel by RV. Of course, you can make it as complicated or basic as you’d like, but here are some thing to consider.
This is my research prepping for an RV adventure- I still haven’t done it, so I want to hear all about your essential RV and camping items! These will depend greatly on where you decide to go.
Does your rental have…
Before you embark, make sure to ask a few questions about what is included in your rental. Some items might be available for an extra charge, others you might need to bring with you.
- Coffee maker – if you need caffeine in the your life, don’t count on every campsite having a coffee bar. If your camper doesn’t have a coffee maker, you might need to think about bringing one or using instant coffee.
- Blender – Maybe not a must-have for everyone, but if you are thinking your beach trip need a strawberry daiquiri, then you’ll need one!
- Microwave – Not all campers will have a microwave. Make sure you at least have a small oven and/or cooktop.
- Pots and Pans– Not all will have cookware.
- Utensils/Cutting Board– From spoons to knifes, many don’t have basic kitchen gear.
- Size of fridge/freezer – Most mid-size campers will have food storage, but the size is generally small. When planning meals, aim for as many shelf stable ingredients as possible to save space for essentials like milk and eggs. Same for frozen items, like pizza. Some mini-fridges won’t even have freezer space large enough for a frozen pie.
- Bed Linens – Not all rentals will come with bed sheets and blankets. You’ll have to rent them for an extra cost or bring your own. Many will suggest an extra set just in case.
- Towels– for bathing and swimming.
- Grill– My understanding is that this amenity is about 50/50.
- Vacuum cleaner – You don’t want to think about cleaning while on vacation, but many of the activities and the campsites are dusty and dirty. Chances are you’ll need to tidy up at least once while you are gone.
- RV electrical extension cord – sometimes your campsite isn’t right next to the power source and you’ll need an extra long cord.
- Sewer hose– to empty the wastewater tanks on the RV.
- Generator – to provide powder at locations with no electricity.
- Leveling blocks– You’d be surprised how many sites aren’t even!
- Fire extinguisher- many states require this, but some don’t.
This is a list from experts and full time RVers. They guarantee you’ll need these items whether you realize it or not!
- Toilet paper– approved for RV use. Do not use regular toilet paper- it will clog the grey water system.
- Paper towels– for small messes and big messes. Bring more than you think you’ll need.
- Cleaning supplies– an all purpose cleaner and some sort of antibacterial sprays are a must-have. Disinfecting wipes and toilet cleaner are also pretty important. Something all-purpose will be fine.
- Soap – Bring your own hand soap!
- Flashlight – Bring at least one flashlight. Especially if your camper doesn’t have bathroom services and you need to navigate your way to the potty room in the middle of the night. Also for emergencies and sites with no power.
- Tool set- basic tools like a hammer, screwdriver and wrench. Chances are you won’t need it, but you know if you don’t bring it, you’ll regret it.
- First Aid Kit– rubbing alcohol, pain medication, gauze, tape, tweezers, scissors, aloe vera and cortisone cream and anything else you need.
- Band-Aids– I put this one separate because I highly suggest having more than the 3 that come in a typical first aid kit. Spring for the whole box. You might want to throw some mole skin in there too!
- Fire starting tools– lighter, matches and lighter fluid are all items you should have on board even if you don’t plan on having a campfire or grilling. What do the boy scouts say? Always be prepared!
- Bathing/Showering Essentials– I wouldn’t expect any rental to come with these, but hey, still worth mentioning.
- Bug Spray– Chances are the places you are going are also hosting bugs. Bring spray.
- Sunscreen– Also nearly 100% that you will need sunscreen.
- Windshield Wiper Fluid– You are going to hit a lot of bugs!
- Drinking Water– Anything you are going to drink, including coffee or anything else that needs water and is going into your system (including boiling pasta or baking) should be bottled water.
- ID/Passport/Documents– especially if you plan to travel outside of the US or cross borders.
- Cash- Don’t assume that everyplace will take a credit card.
- Trash Bags– You’ll generate a good amount of trash and need to keep your site clean. If you are going from site to site, you might need 1 bag per site so you aren’t traveling with trash. Have a few extra for emergencies or clothes that need to be stored until you return home.
- Plastic bags- Airtight and grocery bags. You never know what you’ll need these for. Leftover food and wet bathing suits, they are a must have.
- Dishwashing Items– Even if you don’t plan to cook, you’ll need a way to wash utensils, cups and coffee mugs. A sponge and dish soap should do the trick.
- Surge protector– outlets will be limited, so extension cords and surge protector to plug in phones, tablets and more.
- Basic Spices & Seasonings– bring your own salt, pepper and anything else you might need to season food.
You can get along without these items, but they are nice to have. Depending on how long you are gone and where your destinations are, you might not need any of these items. Just food for thought…
- Doormat– not just for a welcoming, fun surprise, but campsites have a surprising amount of dirt. Every single expert said this is a must-have, but I’m still going say optional because I’m not sure I’d pack it with this long list of stuff!
- Board Games and Playing Cards- some will have a small library of books and board games. Even if you think you’ll be too busy, have something to do in case it rains and while driving.
- DVD/Movies- Your kids might not know how to operate a DVD players, but sites that don’t have Wifi also won’t stream movies or video, so be prepared with downloads or DVDs.
- Download Music– Same goes for music. If you plan to listen to tunes, download them. Streaming services are going to be iffy on service in the middle of nowhere.
- Wireless Speaker– You can use your phone, but a speaker is nice to have.
- Folding camping table– You won’t spend the entire time inside and will want something to set games, food or just drinks on outdoors.
- Foldable outdoor chairs– some campers will have a few, others won’t.
- Extra batteries– So many items use batteries, including the flashlight- have extra!
- Firewood or DuraFlame Logs– make sure they are rated for food if you intend to do smores, hot dogs or other camping foods.
- Magic Flames – makes your fire fun colors. (for the kids… or adults who like cool stuff)
- S’mores items– I’m being real when I say one of the only things I enjoy about nature and camping is making s’mores. I might move this item to the “essential” list.
- Popup tent for shade – at your campsite, you might want an umbrella or popup for shade while eating or hanging out.
- Fishing gear – do you plan to fish? A fishing pole and a few lures will be in order. Many sites with ponds or rivers will have a place to buy bait.
- Swimming items– If there is a pool at the campsite, bring towels, goggles and any other pool toys like floaties or noodles.
- Lawn games/outdoor activities– bean bag toss (corn hole), horseshoes, lawn darts (are these still legal?) bocce ball.
- Bikes– Not just for long bike rides, but to get around. The camper won’t be able to park in a lot of places, so having alternate transportation like bikes, scooter or renting a golf cart, is smart.
- Coolers – fridge space is sparse, so being able to store beverages in a cooler is important.
- Air freshener… for the bathroom in tight spaces… enough said…
- Clothes! Enough clothes for the length of time you will be gone or plans for washing clothes
- Solar charger with Battery Bank – for anything that can plug in- you won’t always be hooked up to electricity and many won’t have a generator.
- Cameras & Memory Cards– Yes, you can use your phone, but you might want something a little more sophisticated.