Camping In Your Motorhome: A First Time Checklist

The moment has arrived: your first camping trip is looming, and it's time to get your rig ready. If you're new to RVing, this checklist will help you have a great time without extra stress.

PLEASE NOTE: It's important to stay overnight in your RV at least two nights before taking it on a camping trip. I suggest going to an RV park with full hookups and testing out every function. You don't want to learn that the fridge, air conditioner, toilet, or stabilizing jacks don’t work while you are on vacation. The time to discover problems is before you go on your trip.

Don't assume that your rig was properly inspected and is fully functional. A new or used motorhome can have many hidden issues that don't show up until after you drive it off the lot. I always recommend inspections from an outside professional.

Now, onto the checklist:

Your should think of your RV as a traveling home. Don't over-pack, but try to be ready for every possibility.

Let’s start our preparation with linens.

  • Bedding for each person, including sleeping bags or sheets and blankets, and pillows and pillowcases.
  • Bath and hand towels
  • Throw blankets
  • Dishcloths and a dish mat

Having a variety of blankets and pillows can solve a variety of travel problems. For example, extra linens can be used to wrap things, pillows work as cushions, and towels are great to stop rattling kitchen items.

Speaking of the kitchen, let’s consider what you’ll want to pack there.

You will need to stock the kitchen area of your rig for your camping trip. Make sure you have dishes (paper or plastic is always easiest) and silverware. You will need drinkware or containers that are easy to take on hikes. If you plan to cook inside or outside, you will need appropriate pots and pans. And it never hurts to bring extra food just in case of an extended stay or delay. There is nothing worse than going hungry on vacation!

Other items you should stock in your RV Kitchen include:

  • Garbage bags
  • Dish soap and scrubbers
  • Dish gloves
  • Environmentally friendly cleaning solution
  • Hand wipes and sanitizer
  • Biodegradable and septic-safe toilet paper
  • Broom and dustpan
  • Laundry soap
  • BBQ or Gas Grill and fuel
  • Cooking utensils
  • Pots & pans
  • Cooking spray
  • Coffee and teapots
  • Butaine lighter
  • Cutting boards
  • Can opener
  • Foil, plastic wrap, and ziplock bags
  • Paper towels and napkins

If you plan to do any baking, bring baking stuff. If you want to make foil meals, come prepared. Know what you plan to make each day and bring the supplies you need. You will find this one act simple, but liberating! Now, here are some pantry staples that you may want to take on your trip.

  • Salt, pepper, sugar, & spices
  • Condiments like Mayo, mustard, and ketchup.
  • Butter/margarine
  • Flour, sugar, & pancake mix
  • Baking soda, baking powder, & cornstarch *Peanut butter, jam, & syrup
  • Coffee, tea, & cocoa
  • Oatmeal & cold cereals
  • Snack bars, cookies, & granola
  • Fruit cups & applesauce
  • Potatoes

Lifestyle Toys:
Here are just a few items that many people enjoy to pass the time. Choose something that fits your family or your lifestyle.

  • Life jackets, swimsuits, goggles & beach towels
  • Canoe/kayak & paddles
  • Float toys like tubes, noodles & boogie boards
  • Bicycles / wagon
  • Dominoes, cards, dice & board games,
  • Outside games like Bocce & horseshoes
  • Baseball/glove/bat, basketball & football
  • Kite, remote control toys & metal detectors
  • Fishing gear, license & bait
  • Golf clubs & tennis racquets
  • Books, magazines, or a kindle
  • Musical instruments

Outdoor Prep:
Whether you intend to go hiking, biking or just sit outside your rig, you will want a variety of items that make outdoor living easy. Here are a few to consider.

  • Large outdoor rug
  • Lantern, heater & fuel
  • Flashlight
  • Insect repellant
  • Fan *Folding table & chairs
  • Batteries
  • Water bottles
  • Camera, GPS, & cell phone
  • Swiss army knife and/or a multi-tool
  • Warm clothing, shoes, and socks
  • Rain gear & umbrella
  • Duct tape, gorilla glue & WD40
  • Small sewing kit & safety pins
  • Fire extinguisher
  • First Aid kit

Remember, if you choose to buy a pre-assembled kit, check what it has inside. Don't assume it will have everything you need.

Be sure to program emergency and poison control numbers on your cell phone. A first aid booklet is also a great find. If you find yourself without the internet, you will need a reference guide to help you.

Also, make sure you have:

  • Nonlatex gloves
  • Bandaids & liquid bandages
  • Burn & pressure dressings
  • Burn Gel
  • Gauze pads
  • Eye wash, patch, and drops
  • Barrier devises for breathing
  • Scissors & tweezers
  • Instant hot and cold packs
  • Sterile wipes
  • Butterfly bandages
  • Mask
  • Pain reliever
  • Epi Pen and/or extra inhalers
  • Earplugs
  • Cotton Balls/swabs
  • Benadryl
  • Anti-Itch Cream
  • Antacid
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray
  • Neosporin
  • Cold Medication

The longer you plan to travel, the more bathroom supplies you should have on hand. You will want to remember items like soap, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant and your toothbrush.

No matter where you travel, you will always need to do a bit of a laundry. If the campground or RV Park has a laundromat, you will need liquid soap and dryer sheets.

Finally, whether you're camping in the summer or winter, most things get a bit gritty and sticky. I recommend having Lysol wipes on hand for counters, boots, floors and anything else that might need a quick wipe. I also suggest Swiffer style dusting clothes. These are perfect for picking up dirt before it gets ground into your rig.

While no list is complete, this article should get you started on creating a master RV list of your own. Remember, with practice comes knowledge, so don’t get overwhelmed. In no time at all, packing your RV will be as easy as 1,2,3.

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