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How To Pack Like A Pro In Your RV Or Trailer

Are you a beginner when it comes to RV packing? When getting ready for your first RV trip, it’s important that your vehicle is properly packed with all of the essentials before starting off for your destination.

Packing for a camping trip isn’t always easy. There are so many different things to think about that you may end up forgetting something important. And a fully equipped RV is the key to a stress-free vacation.

As you’re packing up your RV for a long trip, it can seem like there are endless things to take care of. But if you start by thinking about the basics and follow these tips, you’ll be on the road in no time!

This article will help you learn the basics and get your first trip underway! Check out these RV packing tips for beginners before you go.

1. Make a List of Your Daily Essentials

packing your RV essentials

This is one of the oldest tricks in the book, but it’s still effective to this day. You can never go wrong with listing down the things you need for your RV trip. It makes organization easier and it’s guaranteed to reduce the chances of leaving something behind.

Start off with the obvious things first, like your clothes and your personal items. From there, you can work your way towards everything else you’re going to be needing on the trip. This includes food, kitchenware, household items, and more. 

If you can, list down the quantity for these items as well. This way, you’ll be able to think about how much you need for the RV trip ahead of time and make the packing process faster. 

Despite it being a fairly simple task, there are still some people who accidentally leave things behind even if they make a list of their necessities. This can easily be avoided by only checking things off your list once you’ve added them to the RV or putting them inside your bag. That way, you can rest assured that the things ticked off your list are actually there.

2. Pack Lightly and Evenly — Less Is More

Packing light for an RV trip is better than over packing

This is one of the most well-known RV packing tips. While packing too little can lead to trouble during your trip, overpacking is just as bad. You need to find the perfect balance between the two.

RVs are built more durably and have a higher weight limit than normal vehicles since they are built specifically for rest and recreation. Despite this, RVs can’t carry more than what their weight limit permits. Sure, loading your RV with a lot of stuff saves you the trouble of making constant stops for supplies, but the excess weight makes the RV harder to steer.

Limit your items and take only what you need. If you really can’t leave anything behind, it’s best to arrange the items evenly instead. Put all of the heavy stuff at the bottom and take advantage of the extra storage on the roof.

By organizing all of your items evenly, you eliminate any possible risks due to overloading. It also gives you more space to walk around and move freely inside the living area. After all, you won’t be able to enjoy your RV trip if you’re cramped between your bags.

Read more: Creative RV Clothes Storage Ideas That Won’t Take Up Valuable Space

3. Use Space-Saving Bags and Containers

Storage containers can make RV packing far more organized

While we’re on the topic of packing evenly, space-saving bags and containers can be your best friend during your stay in the RV; they allow you to maximize your storage space. 

Some examples of these space-saving containers are bags that you can hang up to save floor space, dish cradles for your cupboards, or hanging shelves for bathroom supplies. You can also take advantage of some spaces inside your RV by using them to store smaller items. For example, you can use the space under your bed to store small bags or shoes.

While putting this much effort into your storage may seem like a lot of extra work, it’s definitely worth it in the long run. It saves you from overloading your RV while ensuring that you have enough space to store everything you need.

Read more: 33 Clever RV Storage Ideas That Will Help You Organize Your Camper Like A Pro

4. Find Secure Stowage For Everything

Secure stowage in an RV will help keep things in pace while you're driving

While everything may seem to be in pristine condition once you start up the RV, you should expect things to get rocky once you hit the highway. Sudden turns, bumpy roads, abrupt stops: all of these things could easily cause the items in your RV to fly around as you drive. Having things tossed around in your RV could cause a wide range of setbacks, from small messes to safety hazards. 

Save yourself the trouble and secure your safety by preparing proper stowage for everything beforehand. Secure all items inside your RV using items like magnets, anti-slip mats, Velcro strips, and more. Anything that can shatter or break during the drive should be stored and wrapped safely. Make sure that your drawers won’t open by themselves while you’re driving. 

Out of sight shouldn’t mean out of mind, so secure your cupboards as well by using non-slip mats or moving items into smaller, safer containers. Secure the contents of your fridge with a retainer bar to prevent everything from falling once you open the door.

For good measure, test things out by driving your RV around before you leave for your first trip. If you hear anything clatter or fall, then it’s a sign to double-check everything and start again.

5. Make Sure Your Essentials Are Accessible

RV packing tips for beginners

Keep your essentials within reach. If you know that you’re going to be using something frequently or you might need it while you’re driving, then it’s best to keep it somewhere accessible, especially since the space in your RV will be compressed while you’re on the road. While you’ll have extra storage space in slide rooms, you can’t access those unless you stop and open them up completely. 

To avoid any delays or inconveniences, make sure all of your essentials are close to you. This includes food, hygiene items, electronics like your laptop, and anything similar.

After you find a place for your essentials, everything else will follow. If you’re not going to be using something right away, then you can store it in more secure places, like cupboards or behind locked doors.

6. Plan Your Meals In Advance and Bring Food With You

Make Ahead Meals For RV Camping Trips

This is something everyone will tell you when you’re asking for RV packing tips for first-timers.

One of the most effective ways to save money while you’re on an RV trip is to eat home-cooked meals instead of eating out. Fast food may seem like it’s more convenient, but since your RV is equipped with a fully functional kitchen, you may as well use it to your advantage.

Start planning your RV meals at least a week ahead of your trip. List down the exact dishes that you’re planning to cook. This is much faster and more efficient compared to buying ingredients and thinking about what to cook on the spot.

Prepare all of your ingredients ahead of time. Chop up your ingredients and store them in airtight containers that will keep them from spoiling. This is also where space-saving containers come in handy, since your RV’s fridge and cupboards can only offer so much storage.

Read more: Make Ahead Meals For RV Camping

If you can, try to scope out your RV’s kitchen before you leave. If you’re renting an RV, you may not have the chance to do this. However, if you’re using your own RV for the first time, it’s best to check the kitchen to see what you’re working with.

Figure out where all of your appliances are and test them out if you can. Start mapping out where you can store your utensils and how you can maximize the space.

How to Pack An RV Refrigerator

how to pack an RV refrigerator

These RV packing tips help a lot, but packing your RV fridge is a different story.

A well-packed fridge is essential for your trip. After all, it contains all the meals you’ll be having until you reach your destination. You don’t want to make any packing mistakes and end up with spoiled food.

Before anything else, the amount of food you prepare should directly correlate to how long it takes to reach your destination. Get some fresh ingredients before you leave, but make sure not to buy too much. If you overdo it, you may not have enough space in your fridge. Instead, pack enough food for the drive and buy more once you reach your destination. This way, you’ll still be eating fresh meals without running out of space.

Overpacking your fridge blocks the air circulation inside, which is what causes food to go bad. You can avoid this by providing ample space between each item.

Put heavier items like bottles and vegetables in the bottom compartment of your fridge. The top shelf might give in because of the weight, so save that for lighter items.

If you really don’t have enough space, consider bringing a cooler or some cooling fans with you to accommodate the extra items.

Read more: 5 Best RV Refrigerator Options For Campers, Travel Trailers & Motorhomes

7. Be Prepared for Emergencies


Anything can happen while you’re on the road. You have no way of predicting when it will happen, so the best thing to do is prepare for all scenarios.

Aside from your essentials, emergency items should be one of the first things you pack inside your RV. There may be times when you have to drive through remote areas with no signal or supplies available, so you need to prepare everything you could possibly need and take it with you into your RV.

Your first aid kit should include the usual items, like medicine and bandages. If you have any allergies or special conditions, make sure you double-check if you’ve brought your medication.

If the situation ends up getting more severe, you need to have items like fire extinguishers and flares on hand to help you out. Try to pack some survival tools in your emergency bag as well. This may include flashlights, batteries, a compass knife, and more.

Have any important documents or IDs ready as well, such as your insurance card. For good measure, make sure to pack ready-to-eat food and plenty of water as well. Put it directly into your emergency bag for easy access.

8. Bring a Basic RV Toolkit & Know How to Use It

rv toolkit essential rv tools allen wrenches

Your recreational vehicle could run into some trouble while you’re on the road. The best course of action would be to do a total check-up to see if everything is working properly before you leave. Still, some situations are inevitable, so you need to pack a basic RV tool kit.

You don’t need to bring all of the tools you have at home, but make sure to have everything that you need in case your RV needs some minor fixes during the drive. Cut down on the heavy equipment unless you feel like you’ll really need it.

The best things to bring would be spare tires, tire gauges, pliers, screwdrivers, etc. Bring the basics that can be found in every vehicle toolbox. Duct tape is also a versatile tool that is ideal for quick fixes, so make sure to bring at least a roll or two.

Figure out how everything works before you leave. If you really have no ideas about how to use the tools, look up and save some videos that can guide you through the process in case you run into trouble.

There’s a limit to what you can do as a temporary fix. Just try to secure everything as much as you can with the basic RV tools you have on hand until you can find a professional to help.

Read More: 50+ Must-Have Tools for your RV Toolkit

9. Don’t Forget Your Outdoor Gear

Packing your RV outdoor equipment

Make sure you bring your outdoor gear. Your RV may be comfortable and have everything you need, but it wouldn’t be fun to spend your entire trip cooped up in there.

Here are some more RV packing tips for first-timers: you need to pack for what you’ll use inside and outside of the RV. This includes items that you’ll need once you reach your destination.

If you’re going on a camping trip, then the outdoor gear is obviously a must. Pack your tent, a foldable table, and a portable grill so you can have a nice barbecue party once you set everything up. If you’ve got some extra space, you can also pack some foldable lounge chairs.

You can’t go wrong with sleeping bags either if you’re planning to camp outside of your RV. It depends on where you’re going, so pack outdoor gear that will suit your destination.

10. Consider How You’ll Do Your Laundry

laundry drying on a clothes in the sunshine

There’s no shame in reusing clothes on a trip. With long getaways, you’re bound to end up using the same outfit a couple of times, but maybe you’ve had a little slip-up and just don’t want to leave a permanent stain on your clothes.

Regardless, you need to prepare for how you’ll do your laundry. You could make a stop in the nearest laundromat, but that may cause some delays in your trip. There will most likely be a laundry facility if you’re staying at a campground, so just make sure to sort your dirty clothes apart from the clean ones. Bringing a hamper or a bag is a good way to separate them.

If you need to do your laundry on the way there, then you can check if your RV has an onboard washer and dryer. If this is the case, then don’t forget to bring the usual supplies like laundry detergent.

Some RV parks also allow you to line-dry your clothes as long as you abide by their guidelines, so bring some hangers and clips just in case.

Read more: How To Wash Your Clothes Living in A Camper 

11. Download the Best RV Apps

Boondockers welcome

Most of these RV packing tips for beginners focus on the traditional way of packing, but technology is one of the most convenient tools for trips today. Try to take advantage of it. Downloading some RV apps on your phone could make your drive way more fun and convenient. 

Take iExit as an example. This app gives you a heads up on the nearest exits. This is great if you’re on the highway and need to make a sudden stop for supplies or if you just want to see what the nearby areas have to offer. 

If you’re in need of a spontaneous hike, then AllTrails is the answer. It sends you the location of all nearby hiking trails in the area, which is a great way to unwind after a long drive. 

Similar apps like Roadtrippers also show what attractions and facilities you can find in nearby cities if you need to make a stop.

Spending extensive amounts of time in a cramped RV can be exhausting and boring, so use these apps for a fun twist to your trip.

Read More: 7 Best RV Camping Apps For Boondocking, Uniques Stays & Road Trips

12. Learn How to Level up Before You Leave

Pack chocks, levelers and stabilizers to level your RV

If it’s your first time using an RV, then you might be unfamiliar with the term “leveling up”. The level of your RV basically determines how your items will manage inside the RV.

If your RV isn’t leveled properly, then you can expect a lot of items inside to start rolling around and falling off because of how crooked it is. You can secure your items to keep this from happening, but it’s much better to level your RV for good measure.

Some RVs have features that allow you to adjust the level just by pressing a few buttons. If your RV doesn’t have that, then you should try to learn how to do it manually.

You’ll need items like wheel chocks, levelers, and stabilizers to help you out. Try to figure out how to use this before your trip by looking up some articles or watching different videos.

Read more: How to level a travel trailer on a permanent site

13. Plan Your Packing with an RV Packing Checklist

Lastly, list down everything you need in an RV packing checklist. This basically combines all of these RV packing tips for beginners and sums it up in one step.

Take a look back at everything that was mentioned in this guide and start listing down what you need. Start with your essentials like food, clothes, and personal items. Then you can begin checking the other stuff like your toolbox and your emergency kit.

This article only serves as a guide, so feel free to add more items as you please. Your destination and the time of the year can affect the list of things you need to pack, so make sure you’re considering factors like the weather and the nature of your destination.

Just make sure you aren’t packing past your RV’s weight limit. Remember, less is more, but it’s also better to be safe than sorry while packing.

Read More: Get A Complete Set Of RV Camping Checklists (with FREE printables)

Wrapping it Up

There you have it. Now that you know what to pack and what to expect when using your RV, you can rest assured that the vacation of your dreams will now go as seamlessly as possible.

Still, double-checking is a must before and after you leave. If you ever feel like you’re forgetting something, feel free to check back on this guide for a refresher.