You’ve got the keys to your RV and ready to hit the open road on your first RV camping trip, right? Before you load up all your must-have necessities and other luxury items to keep the family busy, lay out a list first.
Having a list you use to properly prep for your camping trip can save you both time and money. If you’re not sure how to pack an RV or what to pack in your RV, that list will simplify your entire planning process.
How to Stock an RV – Check the Manual
Before you decide what gets packed in your recreational vehicle, consult the RV owner manual. The manual will give you the Gross Vehicle Weight Ratio of your rig. The GVWR is the max safe weight of your RV. This weight includes the weight of the vehicle itself, water, fuel, personal belongings and food.
It’s critical that you do not overload your RV. Accumulated weight affects the handling and performance of your vehicle which can lead to poor reactions depending on road and weather conditions.
Keep this GVWR in mind when you create your RV packing list.
Begin Planning for your RV Road Trip
Ideally we could take whatever we want when we had out on a camping trip. When you have electricity, the sky is the limit. You need to carefully pick and prioritize for what you think you will use the most. That means critical items only.
You don’t have to keep yourself busy at all times – when you’re traveling you’re going to explore new places and find a lot of other activities that can occupy time for your family.
For personal gear, focus on a few important electronic devices and toiletries. You’ll also want those critical first aid items.
Getting the Clothing Together for your RV Camping Trip
It’s tempting to over pack for your RV vacation as you look over your clothing. You never know what could happen, and extra clothes might be necessary. Ideally you should pack 5 to 6 day’s worth of casual clothing, with a mix and match of color schemes and climate appropriate clothes.
A good approach is to create two stacks of clothing: Must go clothing, and candidates. Gradually eliminate your candidates stack until you have no more than 5 days’ worth of clothing with some additional items (like swim clothing) appropriate to your destination.
Prep a Menu for your Camping Trip
Having an RV makes it so much easier to cook, but most RV’s have limited cold storage space – same goes for dry goods. Food also gets heavy when you pack in a lot of canned and boxed goods. To avoid adding hundreds of pounds of additional weight to your RV, plan a menu out for your trip.
For a short trip, like a week, put together a small menu and shop only what you need for the menu along with a few simple snacks. If you’re planning a longer trip, focus your shopping and food supply around your favorite menu items and meals. This can at least get you to your destination. Once you reach the appropriate stop you can restock your food for the next menu.
Be sure to choose easy, small-ingredient menu items. If you can find one-pot meals or crock pot meals then you will save a lot of space with food prep.
Always Pack Tools for your Camping Trip
A Swiss army knife used to be enough to get by when tent camping. An RV requires a little more mechanical savvy. It’s smart to pack a tool box for those smaller mechanical repairs. While you might not be able to fix a break down, you want to have pliers and screw drivers handy along with a level, hammer, open and closed wrenches of various sizes.
Managing Water to Weight Ratio
Regardless of the length of your trip, don’t fill your freshwater tank to full unless you absolutely have to. It’s best to keep it around 1/3 capacity. That’s typically enough water to get you where you’re going comfortable and safely.
Unless you’ll do extensive traveling where there are no facilities, this is typically enough water to get you to your next destination. Keep in mind that 100 lbs. of water in your RV can reduce your fuel economy by as much as 2% or more.
A gallon of water weighs around 8.3 lbs., Consider that many larger RV’s hold as many as 80 gallons or more in addition to the 10 gallon water heater and it’s easy to increase the weight of your RV by over 750 lbs.
Carefully Packing for the RV Camping Trip
A few final tips are important: keep the heavy items low in your RV when you pack. Not only does this reduce the risk of heavy items falling when you cross uneven terrain but it also lowers the center of gravity for your RV.
Whatever you do so, make sure you secure it properly. Tension rods designed for cabinets and shelving can help keep items in place such as canned goods, boxes and books. Once the rig is in motion, always open cabinets and doors carefully in case items shifted in transit. These items could fall and cause injury.