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RV Organization & Packing Tips

RV Camping Checklist

Owning an RV can make camping much easier. We offer some easy solutions for managing your camping essentials while living in your vehicle.

Gone is the hassle of setting up a tent or inflating sleeping pads. Packing for a trip often takes less time, as many camping supplies can be stored in the RV.

Suddenly, setting up camp takes only 15 minutes and with much less stress.

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Packing can be made even easier with a list of essential camp supplies. No one wants to show-up for a camping trip only to discover that they forgot their favorite camp chairs or their phone charging cord.

Once you’re finally camping, the challenge becomes managing the supplies you brought. An RV’s small, multi-use spaces can quickly become crowded with shoes, clothing, and food.

Our Ultimate RV Packing List

We have updated our tried and true Definitive Packing List for Car Camping for families who camp in an RV, trailer, or camper van. The beautiful thing about having a vehicle dedicated to camping is that you have a place to store much of your gear when you aren’t camping.

An RV provides more storage and space for camping items, but the space is still limited. It can quickly become cluttered and chaotic. Our list is designed to help you know exactly what you need to bring for a fun camping weekend without the clutter.

RV Essentials Checklist

Ask any kid what the one thing not to forget to pack is and they’ll tell you the S’Mores supplies.

Some items should never be left behind. These essentials allow you to quickly fix any problems, stay safe and healthy, and enjoy the camping experience.

An extra tarp and rope can be turned into a rain shelter if it pours on your camping adventure. Other MVPs include safety items, such as sunscreen and a first aid kit, which protect your campers while they explore the outdoors.

Make sure you have these items before you leave home:

  • Duct tape
  • Extra tarp
  • Charging cable for phone/tablet
  • Spare batteries
  • Bug spray
  • Multi-tool
  • Toilet paper
  • Emergency poncho
  • Rope
  • Sunscreen
  • Bear spray (in grizzly country)
  • First aid kit
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Compass
  • Map
  • Hatchet
  • Doormat or large indoor/outdoor rug
  • Games
  • Mallet or tent stakes
  • Hose (for filling water tanks if needed)

I love my indoor/outdoor thermometer system that I use in my RV fridge. And when I’m driving I keep the monitor in the rig so I can see if my fridge is struggling.

TMM Team Member Valerie

Camper Bedding Options

Perhaps the most amazing thing about an RV is the ability to sleep in a real bed with real sheets. The lure of a full night’s sleep is one reason Becky’s family decided to invest in a campervan.

Ideally, you own a set of sheets and blankets for each of the RV’s beds and have cleaned them after each trip. Even if you store these in the camping vehicle, it’s wise to check them before traveling and to remember to grab a few additional sleeping essentials.

  • Fresh sheets and blankets
  • Pillows
  • Favorite stuffed animal
  • Books

RV Kitchen Essentials

Food just tastes better when you’re camping, don’t you agree?!

Most RV have a built-in stove for cooking, making on-the-road meals easy. But, if you have built your own like TMM Team Member Jami and don’t have a built in, make sure that you have a stove and fuel to prepare your meals.

Stock your kitchen with a few essential cooking equipment to use while traveling:

We do all our cooking outside of the trailer, so we have a 6-foot folding table that sits under our awning and small plastic drawers that sit on the table.

The drawers hold our paper plates, spices, cutting boards, measuring cups, etc. The table is plenty big enough to hold our stove, prep, and store some random things.

Here’s the table we use. It folds in half and lays flat which is easy for storage.

TMM Team Member Jami
Even if your camper has a kitchen, some meals are best cooked outside.

Dining Kit

  • Tableware
  • Plates, bowls, cups
  • Mugs
  • Serving spoons
  • Collapsible bowls
  • Picnic blanket/ table cloth

Food Prep and Storage

  • Ziploc baggies
  • Metal skewers
  • Firestarter
  • Aluminum foil
  • 2-3 tupperware containers
  • Instant coffee and teabags
  • Salt and pepper
  • Spice
  • Tabasco or Sriracha
  • Olive oil
  • Cooking spray
  • Trash bags
  • Paper towels
  • Cutting boards

Washing Kit

  • Dish soap
  • Sponge
  • Wet wipes for cleaning kids
  • 2 collapsible dishwashing bins
  • Lingerie/Mesh bag for drying wet sponge
  • Clothesline
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Antibacterial cleaner
  • Toilet cleaner or Campa-Clean holding tank deodorant
  • Small broom or handheld vacuum
  • All purpose cleaning spray
  • 2 Microfiber clothes
  • 2 pairs of kitchen gloves for handling waste tanks/ cassette toilet

Lighting supplies

RV Organization

The number one rule for organizing a tiny space, like an RV or a camper van is NEVER LEAVE ANYTHING ON THE FLOOR!

My kids each have a medium size basket that lives at the end of their bed in the camper. Before we leave for a trip they pack all the books, toys and coloring supplies that will fit inside.

The open, accessible basket makes cleaning up easy. It also keeps them occupied when they wake up before everyone else in the morning.

TMM Team Member Sarah
A toy bin that lives at the end of kids’ beds gives all their “stuff” a home (not on the floor).

The floor space is a scarce resource and should be reserved for walking — not wading through discarded clothing and miscellaneous supplies. The smaller your camper, the more important this rule becomes.

To keep items off the floor, store things vertically by using magnets, hooks, and shoe organizers.

Organize Vertically Wherever Possible

Storing items vertically is key to keeping the RV organized. This could mean over the door organizers or stacking bins.

I like to make permanent homes for things so there is less stuff on the counters and floors.

Add a key rack by the door, paper towel holder mounted on the wall, toothbrush holders mounted on the wall, etc. That way everything has a permanent home and can just stay in the trailer.

Bike storage is key too. Sarah’s family uses the Let’s Go Aero rack system.

Hooks and Shoe Organizers Maximize Vertical Space

A shoe organizer hung on the inside of the bathroom door is a great spot to store toothbrushes and toothpaste, bandaids, sunscreen, wet wipes, hair ties, rolled up wash clothes and soap.

A large bin with a lid can also hold all of these things but rummaging through it is annoying and then you have to find a place to stash the bin.

Team member Jami’s organizer in action! Everything is visible and easy to access.

Use Magnets Wherever Possible

Not only will using magnets keep things from shifting while you’re driving/pulling the camper, but it’s also a great space saver hack. Here are some suggestions of things that you can store with a magnet:

  • Knives on a magnetic rack (affixed to the wall with adhesive tape)
  • Metal utensils, bottle opener or can opener stored on a magnetic rack
  • Cutting boards with magnets stored on inside of cupboard door
  • Magnetic spice rack

Use Foldable and Stackable Items in your RV

Nesting Kitchen Items for your Camper

The kitchen in our RV is tiny with very limited storage space. I actually use our backpacking nesting pots and pans because they can be stored inside one another.

I try not to do too much measuring when camp cooking, but nesting measuring cups and spoons are a great space saver hack as well. The measuring cups can be used for things like dips and finger foods, too.

We tend to eat a lot of pasta when we camp because it’s so easy and the kids love it. But a colander takes up some valuable real estate, so I purchased a collapsible one. They’re inexpensive and mine has held up well over two summers of use. Here’s the collapsible colander I have.

Clean and Dirty Laundry Storage in RV

Sarah’s family uses a collapsible bag for dirty laundry storage – it fits perfectly behind the dinette.

If you have a cabinet big enough, stacking bins are a great way to store clothes. Not only does it keep them off the floor but it keeps everyone’s stuff separated.

We used to stash our dirty laundry behind the seat at our table, but inadvertantly, after a few days, dirty socks and shirts would be overflowing onto the main floor area. Just what you want to be looking at when you’re eating at the table, right?!

A simple pop-up laundry basket is a great solution to the dirty laundry issue. We keep ours in the shower area since we hardly ever use the shower. And when we do, it’s easy enough to move the laundry basket out.

Keep your RV Organized!

Sure, it’s easy enough to just throw in all the stuff and hit the road.

But when you need to find a bandaid for a scraped knee, or when a kid has a middle-of-the-night accident and you’re scrambling to find the spare pajamas, you’ll be glad that everything is in it’s right spot.

Be sure to download our RV packing list here.

TMM Team Member Jami’s rig on the open road.

When packing up for a trip, don’t forget to ask yourself, do I really need this?

I’m totally guilty of packing three different pairs of shoes for everyone in my family. And then I’m always so annoyed that they’re all over the floor (and only one pair gets worn).

Small diggers and trucks make the best campsite toys and they hardly take up any space.

The same thing goes for food. Make a meal plan (or better yet, save time and use one of ours!) and stick to it.

Extra snacks are always a good idea, but an extra gallon of milk or loaf of bread? Probably not necessary if you’ve meal planned.

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