There are a lot of obvious things you should take with you when RV’ing (though we know nothing is totally obvious when first starting out!), such as leveling blocks, electric drill, folding chairs, gloves, etc. What we have compiled here is a list of things that, three weeks in, are less than obvious but that we are already glad that we brought with us on our extended trip across the country in a travel trailer. Some of these things we thought of on our own, others were gifts or suggestions from family members (have to give credit where credit is due :)).
1. Paper Atlas – Besides looking cool, we have found that when you are in unfamiliar territory with no set destinations, these things can actually come in very handy. Sure, we have Google at our fingertips most of the time, but those times when you want to save data on your phone (it adds up fast when your campground doesn’t have free wifi), or don’t have 4G in an area, it can be really helpful to pull out a large paper map to see which routes you could possibly take to places or what the terrain may look like.
2. A Good Mattress Pad – You spend a third of your time in bed and most camper mattresses are little more than some hard springs with a cloth over them. Do what we did and invest in a good mattress pad – ours we bought off of Amazon for just under $200 for the King size, and it was a combination memory foam gel pad with a down alternative mattress cover to go on top. We had to cut down the gel pad a little bit as camper beds are usually shorter than regular beds but this actually came in handy as padding to keep items in our cabinets from rattling around as we drive down the road. Overall, we feel that this was sooo worth the cost. It has made our camper’s bed even more comfortable than the one we had at home. And being in a small space, you really want your bed to be a comfortable escape.
3. Stamps, Envelopes, Pens, and Legal/Note Pads – Four different items, but all interrelated. Aside from needing them to send out our wedding thank you notes from the road, we were very glad to have brought stamps and envelopes with us so we could send postcards or even mail a check if we needed to. The pens go without saying in these circumstances and legal and small note pads also come in handy for writing down quick to do lists, phone numbers, or information about campgrounds (or blog ideas in our case). Sure, we all have smartphones and Google docs, etc., but in some circumstances it is just more convenient to pull out a pen and paper.
4. Quarters – As much as John would love to never wash his clothes, we have to do laundry on the road and do not have a huge fifth wheel or Class A with our own combination machine in it. Most campgrounds offer washers and dryers that only accept quarters to pay per load. And you never know when you’ll come across an old-fashioned parking meter or claw arcade game, in John’s case.
5. Laundry Detergent Pods – While on the topic of laundry, we have found that these are much more convenient to toss in our laundry baskets than a big old, sticky bottle of detergent as we lug everything from our campsite to the laundry room.
6. Ice packs – Whether you go out and buy ice packs or just make sure you always stick a few 16 oz. water bottles in your freezer, these are extremely handy in saving money. Not liking to drive with our propane open, we have been keeping some ice packs in the freezer and fridge on long driving days to make sure our food stays cold. We also have been using them in our small cooler bags to pack our lunches wherever we go.
7. Stainless Steel Water Bottles – I have been an advocate of these over plastic reusable water bottles for a long time. They just keep your drinks so much colder throughout the day! We have some good ones right now that are leak proof and fill them before we leave every morning with water from gallon jugs (as we have been advised not to really drink campground water, even with the filter on our water hose). It works great! Aside: We also have a scrub brush that fits into the water bottles to clean them – I have experienced the gunk buildup that happens when you can’t properly do so and it is not pretty!
8. Outdoor Wine Glasses – We are fairly frequent wine consumers and it’s just not the same drinking wine from a regular plastic cup. Thus, we were very glad to get these as gifts so that we could feel like proper wine drinkers and not have to worry about glass breaking as we travel or the wind knocking them over as we sit around the campfire!
9. Multiple Cell Phone Power Banks – We are very glad to have these on hand to charge our phones, Kindles or GoPros when we are staying in Walmart parking lots overnight or if we don’t have hookups at a site!
10. Dashcam – It can be a little bit of an investment, but we are very happy so far with having a camera mounted behind our rear view mirror to document what we have seen of the road so far. Not just because we have just started our YouTube channel, or because this could potentially be useful in case of an accident, but because we will be able to look back on all of the scenery we saw across our beautiful country years down the road.
11. Lots of Socks and Underwear – Since we haven’t known when or where our next load of laundry will come from, we made sure to pack (or buy on the road) lots of extras. I don’t think this needs any more explaining!
12. A Few Small, Personal Affects to Make Us Feel at Home – Planning to be on such a long trip, and in unfamiliar places, we wanted to make sure we brought a few things that are easy to secure during travel and would make us feel a little more at home in our new “home” of an RV. Some things we brought include framed photos of us, 2 semi-favorite coffee mugs (the real favorites we have secured with our parents for now so as to not chance breaking), decorative dish towels, the “Mr.” and “Mrs.” signs from our wedding that I used glue dots to secure to the alcove above our bed, and yes, even my plush Phillie Phanatic (now you are really getting to know me)..
Anyway, these were just some of our observations so far and we are sure to notice even more things down the road that we are either glad we brought or feel like we could have left home. Whether you are thinking of going on a long RV trip yourself or are just curious how we are doing what we’re doing, hope you found this helpful or interesting!
Please let us know in the comments if you have any other must-have packing suggestions when RV’ing!