In the United States, more than 11 million households own an RV or camper and for good reason: RVing lets you travel without leaving the comforts of home behind. Traveling in an RV lets you avoid the hassle of staying in hotels and helps you get closer to nature every time you head out.
If you’re new to RV ownership, you’ll quickly discover that packing for RV trips is slightly different than packing for standard vacations. You need to know what to bring, what to leave, and how to be ready for the unexpected.
Use this RV traveling checklist to help you stay on track every time you pack.
The Necessary Paperwork
Before you leave for your RV trip, take the time to gather all of your necessary paperwork. Gather current proof of insurance for your RV, your car, and any other vehicles you’re bringing with you. If you don’t have proof of insurance on hand, RV parks may not allow you to stay on-site and you could end up getting a costly fine if pulled over on the way.
If you have a warranty for your RV, bring the supporting paperwork and contact information in case anything happens on your trip. This way, you’ll be able to file a claim and take care of repairs even if you’re far away from home.
If you’re planning on bringing the pets on your family vacation, bring their vaccination records and most up-to-date health records with you. This will allow you to take them to vets along the way if needed.
Maps and Road Atlases
Though smartphones make navigation easy, they only work if you have cell signal. Instead of relying on your phone for navigation, bring maps and road atlases with you on your trip.
If anything happens to your phone or you lose signal at the same time that you take a wrong turn, you won’t end up driving in the wrong direction.
Just make sure to research your route before you leave home. Map out gas stations, be mindful of bridges with low clearance, and mark out interesting sites to stop and rest.
A Drinking Water Hose
One of the biggest benefits of camping in an RV is that you have access to running water. But to use that running water, you’ll want to invest in the right type of hose to keep your family safe and healthy.
That means leaving the standard garden hose behind and using a dedicated drinking water hose for the entire trip. These hoses won’t leach harmful chemicals or contaminants into your water supply so you can drink directly from the tap without worry.
If you don’t already one, you can pick up a drinking water hose at your local RV dealership or RV supply store. Keep in mind that different RV parks and campgrounds will place their spigots in different places. You may find it better to buy a longer hose so you can reach your water hookups with ease.
Sewer Hose and Equipment
When you’re looking at the best campers for sale, one thing you’ll learn is that plumbing works differently in RVs than it does in houses. You’ll be able to use your camper’s bathroom, but once the tank fills up, you’ll need to dump it. It won’t automatically drain into the sewer.
And that means you’ll need to have the right equipment on hand to handle the process. Before you leave on your trip, make sure your RV is packed with a sewer hose, gloves, and tank deodorizer.
It’s also a good idea to pack RV-safe toilet paper rather than using what you’re used to at home. Standard toilet paper can clog RV plumbing and leave you with an expensive problem on your hands. You’ll be able to find RV toilet paper at most hardware stores and big-box retailers with camping sections.
Unless you’re camping without hookups, you’ll want to make sure you have the necessary electrical equipment on board before you leave for your RV trip. If you have a removable power cord, make sure it’s in the RV before you leave.
Bring an RV surge protector to protect your electronics inside during inclement weather and consider packing an adaptor so you can plug in at any campsite, whether you have a 30-amp or a 50-amp RV.
You’ll also want to inspect those cords and adaptors for wear and tear. If you notice any fraying in the cord itself or see corrosion at the electrical head, replace the cord before your trip.
Games and Entertainment Items
Though it’s likely that you’ll spend most of your days outside exploring your surroundings, you’ll still have downtime in the evenings. Rather than killing time watching TV, pack games and other activities that everyone can enjoy together.
Decks of cards, board games, and outdoor games like horseshoes can be great bonding activities for the whole family. Bring books, movies, and video games for rainy days or to help everyone stay occupied on the drive or during bad weather.
One of the best things about traveling in an RV is that you get to take home with you. Even small campers are equipped with fully functional kitchens, so you won’t have to spend money eating out several times each day.
Use this to your advantage and make sure you pack the basics so you can cook on the trip. Bring kitchen utensils, cookware, drinking glasses, and dishes with you. You don’t have to pack the entire kitchen—just enough cookware and utensils to help you cook the meals you’ll enjoy most.
Use This Traveling Checklist for Each Trip
Planning an RV vacation doesn’t have to be stressful. And as long as you use this traveling checklist before each trip, it won’t be.
Take your time, make sure you have everything you need, and enjoy the journey.
Not sure what to do on your trip or how to plan an epic RV vacation for the entire family? Check out our latest posts for tips and tricks to help you make the most of your road trip.