If you’ve never experienced RV life before, it can seem a bit scary to imagine. How can you survive out on the road with just a small living space?! Granted, most people with an RV won’t live in it 24/7 – you can, and you might choose to in the future, but take baby steps first! You’ll typically start by taking your RV out for a family trip. This could be a road trip across the country, or it might just be a camping trip nearby. In either case, your biggest worry is what to pack for the trip. 


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It’s a strange one, seeing as you have your motorhome to think about as well as everyone in it. Fear not, for we have compiled a list of some essentials you shouldn’t forget to pack:

Kitchen essentials

This is something you never usually think about when planning a family trip. However, when staying in an RV, you must have all the necessary kitchen gear. This includes a range of cooking supplies to make life easier, along with other things like plates, cups, glasses, etc. That’s actually an easy place to start: don’t forget all the cutlery and crockery!  And don’t forget the family cookbook!


As for the other supplies, think about things like washing up liquid, soap, a chopping board, paper towels, wipes to clean up after cooking, and so on. It also makes sense to pack a few plastic containers to store any leftover food, as well as some ziplock bags to keep opened things fresh. Presumably, your RV has a working cooker, but you might want to bring a mini camping stove if you ever want to cook outside. 

Toilet/bathroom essentials

Again, most families are used to going on vacation and having all the amenities they need in a hotel. It’s rare you’ll have a long list of toiletries to bring, but it’s essential for your RV trip. Naturally, you need all the common items that will be used every day: toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, shower gel, razor blades, deodorant, etc. Your toiletries list might differ from someone else’s – it depends on what you use! The best idea is to go to your bathroom and just take everything that you use every day. 


As well as this, you have to bring some other key items specifically for the toilet. Firstly, you need to have your septic tank attached to your RV. For those that don’t, know, this is the tank where all the waste gets deposited from the toilet. Without it, you can’t really use your toilet and will have to hope there are some secluded bushes nearby! Check that yours is attached, then bring some toilet paper that is suitable for your RV. Regularly toilet paper might be too thick to put down your toilet, so keep that in mind. Alternatively, you should have a bin in the toilet to throw away any used tissues or toilet paper. It sounds gross, but some countries have to do this because of how bad their sewer systems are!

Food essentials

The beauty of an RV is that you can provide for yourself throughout the entire trip. This is particularly helpful if you’re going on a road trip and have no idea when you’ll get a chance to stop for food. As such, you have to pack all the main food essentials to keep your family nourished on the trip. 


Here, you should pack some very specific things. Primarily, you want food that doesn’t perish quickly and is easy to store. Any type of canned food ticks this box perfectly. To make things even better, you can get an array of canned food: beans, vegetables, soups, fruit, etc. Condiments are always good to bring, as are things like chips, pretzels, nuts, and any other snacks like this. 


Hopefully, your RV will have some sort of functioning refrigerator. If it does, and you can keep it running most of the time, this lets you bring other foods along. Things like eggs, meat, and dairy products will keep if your fridge is powered up. 

Personal essentials

Now, your personal essentials could be wildly different from another person’s. Much like the toiletries, it all depends on who you are and what’s important to you. Anyway, this category is reserved for things that you bring along because you need them. They aren’t necessarily essential for the RV, but they are critical in helping you survive during the trip. 


This includes things like makeup, your watch, or possibly even a child’s favorite cuddly toy. Also, consider some obvious things like glasses or contact lenses. If you need glasses, you’ll have to pack them to be able to see when you’re driving the RV. If you follow this link, you can see there are sites that sell lots of different glasses, so it might help to get a spare pair for the trip.  Or, if you wear contact lenses, make sure you have replacements and plenty of contact lens solution. 


Basically, think about all the key items you use every day, and that you will need on your RV trip. You might find that a lot of your ‘personal’ items are covered in some of the other categories. For example, you find a toothbrush as a personal essential, but that’s packed when you’re dealing with all the toiletries! Oh, one thing we almost forgot to add here: clothes. Yes, spare pairs of clothes for all weather conditions will be essential while traveling in your RV.

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Sleeping essentials

Next, think about everything you need to help the family get to sleep each night. You’ll be in close living quarters, so think about packing things like earplugs to help you sleep. They will block out some annoying sounds – like people snoring! To be honest, some sort of earplugs are 100% vital on a family RV trip. 


Also, don’t forget the obvious things like bedsheets and blankets. Your RV may come with some, but people prefer taking theirs from home. Your children might sleep better when they have their usual duvet and bedsheets to snuggle up in. Don’t forget to bring pillows either! You’ll be amazed at how many families forget to bring pillows on their RV vacation, meaning the whole family ends up with a stiff neck. 


Aside from all of that, a couple of their things you may find handy are a sleeping mask and alarm clock. The sleeping mask will help cut out any light from outside, making it easier to sleep. The alarm clock is there to stop everyone from sleeping in and wasting half the trip! 

Emergency/safety essentials

This is arguably the most important list of things to bring. Effectively, we’re thinking about anything you should bring for safety purposes, or to use in case of an emergency. An obvious one that springs to mind is a fire extinguisher. What happens if you start a fire in your RV kitchen by mistake? The extinguisher is needed to protect your family – and save your RV. 


Other than that, you will need a few other RV accessories. Consider packing any extra automotive essentials just in case. This includes extra oil for the RV and possibly some fuel. Spare tires are always welcome – along with a tire changing and pressure checking kit. To be honest, you should get a proper emergency kit for any roadside repairs or incidents. The above things should be included in it already, but you also get things like hi-viz jackets and maybe even a flare. 


Another RV-related thing to pack is a set of leveling blocks. If you’re never heard of these, they’re basically a set of blocks to slide under your RV and level it off. It’s really useful if you’re on uneven ground and you can feel the RV wobbling when people are walking around. This also adds more safety by preventing the RV from tipping over. 


Furthermore, it makes sense to maybe bring a small generator with you. This can provide electricity and act as a spare source if your initial one runs out. Also, you should bring a first aid kit, full of medication, and anything else to treat injuries or sickness on your trip. 

Family fun essentials

Your final list of things involves everything your family needs to have fun! Consider packing lots of family games you can play while you’re inside the RV at night. Bring swimwear if you’re going somewhere with a beach or lakes, and pack anything you think your family will love. Try to avoid packing electronics – like laptops or game consoles. The whole point of an RV is to get out and see more of the great outdoors. You don’t want your kids to spend all of their time sat inside staring at a screen!


And on that note, you have come to the end of this extensive guide to RV-packing essentials. It’s much easier to pack everything when you split it up into sections like this. There’s also less chance you’ll forget the important things as they can fall under multiple headings. Now, you’re all set to head on on your first RV adventure!