How To Pack for Your First RV Trip


Cy Wood

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Everyone’s guilty of overpacking. Unless you’re a minimalist, there’s almost always something in your bag you don’t really need. When packing for your first RV trip, extra things can get in the way – and add lots of weight.

As you consider what to bring on your first trip, try to avoid filling the RV to the brim. Here are a few camping supplies and staples you’ll want with you on your first trip, and many more.

A First RV Camping Trip Checklist

Think of your packing list from different areas of the RV: kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, RV setup, and camping needs.

We’ve suggested a few things we recommend leaving at home to save you space and ensure you have a great time on your first trip.

Kitchen Needs

One of the best parts of traveling in an RV is the ability to cook great meals. Avoid going out to eat for every meal by having a well-equipped RV kitchen. You can bring kitchen items from home, but you’ll be packing and unpacking those items every time you go on a trip. Instead, consider outfitting your RV kitchen with space-saving items like collapsible, stackable, and nesting kitchen tools. We recommend some of the following:

Think about what small appliances you’ll really use, like a pressure cooker, slow cooker, or toaster. Be considerate of your space. Do you really need your bread maker? Or that particularly bulky blender? The more trips you go on, of course, the more you’ll realize what you use and don’t use.

Explore Camping World’s full collection of RV kitchen and dining essentials.

Bedroom Needs

Photo by Camping World

Remember to bring a bedding set for every bed in your RV that will see use. Don’t forget about bunks and dinette beds. Have an extra set of linens on hand in case you need to wash or swap out a set mid-trip. If you’re camping in the cold, extra blankets are always welcome and can double as padding for breakable items when in transit.

Shop all RV bedroom essentials.

Bathroom Needs

Photo by Camping World

Toiletries are a must, but here’s a full list of everything you might want in your RV’s washroom.

Discover more essentials to add to your RV’s bathroom.

RV Setup Needs

So you’ve made it to your first campsite – now what? If you’re new to RVing, here’s the equipment you’ll need to set your RV up when you arrive.

Of course, your exact needs will vary depending on your RV’s make and model. If it’s your first trip pulling a towable RV, learn about everything you need to hitch and tow. Don’t forget any smaller hand tools you might need to maintain your RV.

Shop Camping World’s lineup of essentials for using and maintaining your RV. 

Camping Needs

If you’ve been camping before, you have a good base idea of what to bring along for this. Remember, you’re going out to relax. You may still need to work but think of the various ways you’ll also get to play. 

Below is a list of popular camping supplies you might want to bring for additional comfort.

The truth is, your camping list can be as long or short as you desire. It also depends on your RV’s available storage space. On longer trips, keep your RV light on gear to maximize your RV’s fuel economy. Remember, most destinations offer opportunities to rent gear from nearby outfitters.

Discover Camping World’s full selection of outdoor camping supplies.

What NOT to Bring on Your First RV Trip

Before any trip, it’s important to remember a couple of things. First, unless you’re becoming a full-time RVer, you don’t need to pack up your entire life. A few nice decorations for the RV go a long way. 

Otherwise, be practical and remember that camping is often about doing more with less. Storage space is important on any RV (like the Happier Camper, for example), but so is weight. These are a few things we recommend leaving at home.

  • Heavy tools (other than must-have tools for operating or working on your RV)
  • Kitchen appliances you won’t use more than once (as mentioned above)
  • Firewood (most campsites sell wood on site, and many prohibit wood from being carried in due to the risk of invasive species)
  • Food in bulk (try meal planning to know exactly what you’ll need)
  • Your entire wardrobe (bring the essentials for the weather you’ll encounter)

With a few trips under your belt and a few more miles on the RV, you’ll soon grasp what you need for a fulfilling trip. For the must-haves, visit Camping World – we’ll outfit you with all the necessities.

What questions do you have about preparing for your first RV trip? Let us know in the comments below.

  • Comment (50)
  • Laura Falls says:

    Matches or a lighter.
    Pet supplies if you are taking the dogs.

  • Mary Daun-Lindberg says:

    I have a saying that applies to your home or your RV, “Everyone needs a butterfly net”, (or two). They are extremely useful for catching insects, birds, bats, or other small critters that get in where they do not belong. I have given many as gifts to new homeowners, friends, and family and love hearing the stories of how they have been used.

  • Rosemarie says:

    We bought a 2009 26’ Keystone travel trailer and looking forward to any hints to gain more storage space. I love all the suggestions on what to bring along. We will be camping for a week in NC in October and would love any suggestions on what to bring for clothing this time of year. Looking forward to our first trip by ourselves

  • Noel Grant says:

    Dont forget a old guitar for when you are sitting around a fire and feel like singing

  • Richard says:

    I’m definitely a newbe. First time for and grumpy are going this weekend so just got a 33 foot something. 3 slides And king size bed I’m ready I think lol

  • Paulette says:

    Thanks for all the tips!

  • Laura says:

    Could someone tell me how much fabric softner to put in the tank? 🙂 Thanks!

  • Jane says:

    This is great info for newbies!! How much fabric softener????

  • Debby says:

    Just bought a 25ft Trailer. This site is great. Thanks for my travel list.

  • Tanya Thomas says:

    Just purchased a toy hauler from camping World, any advice on shelving and hanging clothes?

  • Jena Oakley-Kopriva says:

    Daily medicines and sun burn gel! Emergency contact info, flashlights, batteries, board games are a must for my husband and I – we rid ourselves of the electronics while camping (as much as possible) 🙂 Lawn chairs. I always take a table cover for the outside tables at campsites, sometimes they are a bit yucky. Clothesline rope and clothes pins if near a beach or swimming area. Liquid fabric softener in the black tank is a must in the summer months! Flyswatter. Happy Camping folks! Did anybody say fishing poles?

  • Theresa L Senft says:

    Thanks to everyone you posted on here. We bought our first class C in October and all the information you proved helps a lot. So excited for next spring….

  • Neta Westbrooks says:

    Thanks all will be living in new rv while my house is rebuilt after Michael came through lots of good stuff

  • Abel Gomez says:

    Jewel and I just bought a 2004 Damon Daybreak 3270. We are BRAND NEW to this so thank you all for this great info. We leave in CHINLE, AZ. on the Navajo Reservation. My wife is the supervisor for Labor and Delivery Unit at the Indian Hospital. As for me, I’m retired and just along for the ride and making sure I stay caught up with my “Honey Do List”.

  • Charles says:

    hello camping world
    I too just bought my first class a rv and these tips is just what I needed I have yet to stock or purchase any items as of yet. I’m setting in the yard going over the unit its a lot to take in!

  • James & Sharon says:

    Thank you all so much for the information. We do a lot of camping and just bought our first camper. So as far as camping goes the camper issue is all new such as dealing with the black and grey tanks. Will be checking back in. I

  • Tawana says:

    We just purchased our first Class A. All this info is very helpful. I proud that I did get about 90% of the list correct. I would have never thought of the fabric softeners in the black tank. GREAT ADVICE! I will be checking back in.

  • Karen says:

    Great info! Benedryl or any meds you take are important,and will make or break a fun camping trip. Insect repellant and sunscreen,and a weather radio in case you get out of cell phone areas. My family has had some fun times just listening to AM Radio and the things they broadcast…are YOU a brother to the wild goose? Thanks again for the info,have fun out there!

  • Kim says:

    I recommend first aid kit and benedryl also. I have a child allergic to bees, plus you never know when you’re gonna get bumps, scrapes and bruises.

  • Howard Mason says:

    It’s first time but full time have way more but will thin out

    List is very good

  • Heather says:

    Great info!
    We did it! Just bought a new Class C…from Camping World in Hamburg, NY. Leaving to travel after Christmas.
    Enjoying this info. Thank you all from two excited ‘newbies ‘. Heather and Phil

  • Anonymous says:

    Thanks everyone ! Very helpful for beginners

  • Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the tip on fabric softener in the loo. Works well and leave a nice smell

  • Anonymous says:

    Because storage is limited you need to look for cookware that stacks and one handle fits all.

  • Anonymous says:

    For a short trip I haul firewood. It’s unloaded right away and never re-loaded.

  • Anonymous says:

    Toilet paper

  • Keith says:

    i also recommend making sure you have the appropriate wrenches and sockets for all major hardware sections. This is for items such as the awning and slide outs in the event their motor goes out. First time i saw this open i made sure i knew how and had the proper equipment to get them back in.

  • Anonymous says:

    What do you mean downy to clean tank

  • Gregg says:

    for the most part this is a very good list. there was only one thing that is a must have that I did not see on your list. BLACK TANK CHIMICALS. and then you bulked some stuff like “tools” don’t forget an axe, tire changing tools, jumper cables ….. and of course you must have the WHITE water hose, water filter, 4″ dia drain hose with couplings, chock blocks and a block kit for leveling, levels (to check your level), depending on where you are going you might want to fill your fresh water tank at least to half if not full. ensure your grey and black holding tanks are empty with about 5 gallons of fresh water in each along with some downy to help clean the tanks while driving. The more you go out the more tricks you will pick up on. happy travels

  • nancy christensen says:

    How much

  • Robin says:

    We use UNIQUE for gray and black water. It’s great for both.

  • Lee says:

    If you can’t dump soon enough can you add the appropriate chemical with the downy? No reactions?

  • nancy christensen says:

    How much do you use for first time

  • Rosemarie says:

    No one answered how much Downy to add to the tank..

  • Wade Thiel says:

    Great addition Noel!

  • Janet and Quinnen says:

    1:1 Gain to Calgon hard water. It would depend on the size of your black and grey tanks. I’m excited to try it when we take out ours next week!

  • Rod says:

    We always pack a case of bottled water. When boondocking you never know when you will fill the tanks again and how good the water will be. To drink!

  • Gregg says:

    To the beach or desert I have never heard of any issues, the problem is bringing your own wood into the forest. Due to it possible having bark beetles. Those guys could and have killed forests before and are very hard to control on e they have infected a tree.

  • Mike says:

    Hello Gregg,

    Can I ask how much Downy you add to your tank (tank size)?

    Thank you!

  • Min says:

    God Bless you Cy and Greg! We are renting a bumper trailer for the first time in June and we really needed to see these things to know and ask the lessor about them. Thanks so much.

  • Gregg says:

    Here is little trick. The reason you should always carry at least 5 gls of fresh water in your holding tank is for road side emergencies. It saved us before when I overheated on the way up a grade and there was no other source of water available. Use it for drinking and / or for the vehicle engine when stuck in a situation. I always carry 1 glasses af antifreeze but this time it just wasn’t enough.

  • Bill says:


  • Tom says:

    I agree except: twice this summer I bought campground fire wood that was so wet that it wouldn’t light. If they want me to not bring my own firewood, sell wood that is usable.

  • Deb says:

    We live in Clarence center and also looking for a class C

  • Ann says:

    Well, it doesn’t really clean the tank, but it does help to keep “stuff” from sticking to the sensors and inside surfaces of the tank so it will all drain out when you dump. We use a combination of Calgon water softener and Gain laundry detergent mixed with water and flushed into the black tank

  • Lisa Manor says:

    We use a 1:1 combination of Calgon and Gain. It works wonders! So much cheaper than the stinky chemicals.

  • Gregg says:

    Yes, fabric freshener / softener, non foaming. It helps clean the inside of the holding tanks and coats the inside so that it is harder for stuff to stick to the sides and sensors. Can be used in both gray and black tank. Little plus, it puts a nice pleasant smell in there also. When you get to the campsite dump your tanks and refill with the appropriate chemicals. And repeat the process every time you dump.

  • LQ says:

    Liquid fabric softener helps keep the contents of the tank from sticking to the tank, making it easier to clean out.

  • Anonymous says:


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