One of the best parts of owning an RV is being able to travel in a tiny version of your home. The kitchen, bedrooms, and bathroom are all there to keep you comfortable even when you are miles away from your sticks and bricks abode.
However, packing too much or too little can certainly get in the way of enjoying your RV vacation. Plus, tiny spaces get messy and cluttered quickly. Having a game plan for packing and a system for organization are key to fully maximizing the joy of RV travel.
Here’s some of our best advice for packing and organizing your RV before you hit the road on your next big adventure.
Be prepared for all types of weather
The number one mistake people make when packing is not thinking about all the weather conditions they may encounter on the trip. Longer RV vacations often mean traveling to a different region of the country with different elevation, temperatures, and precipitation. Summer may mean 90 degrees and sunny in Arizona, but in Maine you need to be prepared for 50 degree temps at night around the campfire.
We never leave home without our rain gear, since visiting many beautiful locations like the Pacific Northwest may mean some wet days. You don’t need to be stuck inside your RV on account of some sprinkles. Put on your raincoat and some waterproof hikers, and hit the trail.
Here is some other gear that we always bring no matter where our RV is heading: sunglasses, hats, jackets, sweaters, and boots. Did you know it sometimes snows in June in Yellowstone National Park? Be prepared!
Use packing cubes for clothing
There are some great, big wardrobes in many RVs that easily fit all the clothing you wish to bring. However, that deep, dark closet will be a jumbled mess by day three if you don’t have a system for staying organized.
One of our all-time favorite pieces of RV gear is packing cubes, zippered pouches that keep clothes neat and tidy. Every member of the family has a different colored set of cubes, and that means even on day 10 of the RV vacation, you know exactly where to find some clean socks.
Use food pantry space for dry goods
Before you go, stock up on all the dry food goods that your family enjoys on a regular basis at home. These food items will keep through your entire vacation, freeing you from having to track down a grocery store in an unfamiliar destination.
Although you can pick up fresh produce and meats at farm stands along the road, having peanut butter, jelly, and bread for a quick lunch at a rest stop is priceless. We also stock up on the snacks we know our kids enjoy, so it is easy for us to prep a picnic lunch for a hike or day at the lake.
We also pack all the pantry staples we will need to make basic meals, like salt, pepper, spices, oils, vinegar, and sugar.
Place everything in a container
The toiletries may look neat and tidy when you first stock the bathroom cabinets, but just wait until you drive the RV a few hundred miles up and down steep hills and around tight corners. All of the loose supplies will be in a disorganized heap once you arrive at the campground.
The best fix is to put everything in a container, no matter how big or small. We use inexpensive tupperware to sort toothbrushes, toothpaste, creams, cotton balls, and swabs. Everything stays in its own little cubby…just the way we like it.
The same should be done for kitchen cabinets and drawers, keeping your stack of plates from falling into your bowls every single time you travel.
Color code everything
Space is tighter in an RV than in many traditional homes, so even though we love the close-knit family time, it can be hard to keep everyone’s items from landing in one big heap. We color code everything possible in the RV from toothbrushes to towels to pillow cases to packing cubes.
We even have a set of multi-colored cups, so we don’t wind up with 5 half full drinks on the table and no one knowing which one is theirs.
Create a basic RV medicine cabinet
Coughs and scrapes can happen on the road just as they do at home. It is important to be prepared with basic remedies that you would keep in the medicine cabinet at home, so you don’t get stuck trying to find a 24-hour drugstore at midnight.
In addition to a well-equipped first aid kit, we also bring fever reducers, cough medicine, antihistamine, burn ointment, and toothache relief. Of course, don’t forget to bring any prescription medication and a copy of the prescription in case of emergency.
Think about what ‘toys’ you really need to bring on this adventure
We love the fact that RV travel allows us to bring our bikes, kayaks, canoe, fishing poles, and tubes along with us on family adventures. However, you don’t want to manage a lot of gear that should be left at home. So think carefully about the trip and decide what toys will really be used. We always pack the bikes, but if we aren’t going to be near a river or lake, the kayaks will have to stay at home.
On the flip side, some people always assume it is better to rent gear that won’t be used all the time. If you are camping right on a creek, it is so much nicer to have your own tubes than to find an outfitter and rent them for a short period of time.
Pack a rainy day activity bag, a craft kit, and a sports bag
Before our trip, we tuck away some activity bags that only come out when we want to enjoy some downtime at the campground, or in the case of inclement weather. Our activity bag is full of puzzles, card games, and word searches and the craft bag has simple, no-mess options like bead stringing, stickers, popsicle sticks, scissors, and glue dots.
We also always travel with sports bag filled with a soccer ball, basketball, wiffle ball and bat, Frisbees, paddleball, beanbag toss, and more. There is absolutely no reason for our kids to ever be bored at the campground.
RV vacations are best enjoyed with a well-stocked and organized rig. Following these tips will ensure that your time at the campground is full of relaxation and family fun.
Enjoy the adventure!