couple watching sunset on beach with RV in the background

10 Things Not to Pack for an RV Trip

We all know that one person who packs everything but the kitchen sink whenever they travel. The thought of traveling by RV could trigger an extreme packer to go ahead and throw in that sink. Even though there are lots of cubbies and spaces to tuck away essentials, RV campers still want to conserve space while traveling. An extreme packer may take some convincing. But, with the right approach, they may be able to leave behind certain essentials that are, actually, non-essentials when RV camping. With these 10 camping tips, learn how to pack for an RV trip and what to leave behind.

1. Gourmet Kitchen

An extreme packer may be a culinary expert, harboring dreams of serving up some Duck a la Orange in the wilderness. After all, an RV has all the basic cooking equipment. Although there may be space to stow a wok, or even a counter corner perfect for a bread machine, do campers really want specialty cookware taking up vital kitchen storage and prep space? So, forget about the heart-shaped waffle iron and cappuccino machine. Instead, pack a suitable assortment of high quality pots and pans and a few mixing bowls that can do double-duty as serving bowls.

2. Can The Cans

It may be tempting to plan for any worst-case-scenario while out on the open road. This often means filling pantry shelves with canned goods of every variety. RV rookies especially may be hiding secret fears of finding themselves in a remote area with nothing to eat, isolated and disconnected, with no means to cook. What starts out as an innocent trip to the grocery store to purchase the items on a trip’s menu list turns into a canned good shopping spree of apocalyptic proportions.

Put that case of beans back on the shelf. You will never eat them all within the one or two week trip you have planned. And all that extraneous canned stuff filling up the shopping cart, making it difficult to push around, is unnecessary weight in your vehicle, taking up unnecessary space in your pantry. Wouldn’t you rather be stocking the stuff you really want to eat rather than backup emergency rations?

3. Temper Tool-ish Tendencies

Hitting the open road in an RV may channel your inner pioneer spirit. A camper may be prepping by fishing through every toolbox they own. All sorts of “what if” questions may inspire packing every possible tool and gadget that has a purpose. But you simply must limit this tool obsession. All you really need is a basic toolkit with:

  • Duct tape
  • Set of socket wrenches
  • Assorted screwdrivers
  • Pliers
  • Small cordless drill with basic drill bit set
  • Clawhammer
  • Knife
  • Mini hacksaw

4. Water Waste

Water is incredibly heavy and takes up enormous amounts of space for storage. A single gallon of water weighs about 5 pounds. Every gallon you add to that RV has to be lugged around and is affecting your gas mileage. Fill up your fresh water tank and forget about finding a place to store a case of bottled water or a dozen or so gallon jugs of water. And while you’re being mindful of water waste, empty that waste water tank frequently.

5. Device Don’ts

It’s common to think that when you’re RVing one could never have enough storage space. Before too long an RV looks like something from outer space with a storage pod installed here, a stowage rack there and tagging along behind is an extra trailer filled with more stuff.

Resist the feeling that if there is a space it simply must be filled. Every addition affects your gas mileage as it adds weight. Installing storage pods on the outside of an RV disrupts the original aerodynamic design of the vehicle’s silhouette, making its original gas mileage potential null and void. To make the most of fuel economy, resist the urge to install innovative storage devices and keep your RVs original sleek lines.

RV in campground with grill and portable camping chairs

6. Tow Tittle-Tattle

Do you really need to tow another vehicle behind your RV? Is it worth the stress of driving an RV that will be more difficult to manage? Is that added weight going to overwork your RV’s engine, shortening its lifespan and increasing the probability that it will need to be attended to by a mechanic? Chances are you will be just fine with a couple of bicycles.

7. Forget The Firewood

Of course, a roaring campfire will simply have to be enjoyed every night you camp. But that doesn’t mean that campers need to find a spot to pack a cord of firewood on board. You may say to yourself that it will be less expensive to purchase ahead rather than on-the-go. Are you certain about that logic? Again, firewood is heavy. It’s affecting your fuel economy. In the end, it probably costs the same or, perhaps, even less, if you purchase firewood along the way on an as-needed basis.

8. Toss Technology

You’re going camping right? Then why are you packing all of that technology? Do you really need that laptop? What about the gaming console? Isn’t that the kind of stuff you are trying to get away from? Aren’t you leaving work behind? Aren’t you saying goodbye to modern life temporarily while you embrace nature?

Just about every modern RV has a quality television set on board as well as an awesome sound system. That’s really all you need at the end of an adventurous day. So leave behind all the extra technology and just pack your cell phones and a few of your favorite music CDs in the event that a good signal is not to be had.

9. Weight, Weight, Weight

Most of us are weight conscious when it comes to our physique. Campers should also be weight conscious when it comes to loading up the RV for a trip. Even some of the essentials a camping trip requires might be trimmed down. What kind of dishes are you packing? Why not opt for lightweight paper plates? It will also save you clean-up time so you have more time for pleasure seeking on your trip.

Look for light-weight substitutes for EVERYTHING. Any item that can be removed from a storage container and placed in a practically zero-weight plastic bag: DO IT. That also means you don’t need 2 or 3 outfits per day. A single swimsuit for each camper should suffice. Skip the socks if flip-flops will do, etc., etc., etc.

10. Time

There is one key item that absolutely, positively does not need to be packed for your RV trip: an alarm clock. No one wants a Grumpy Pants camper waking up at the crack of dawn. This is a trip for fun! Sleep as long as you like. Stay up as late as you like. Forego the stress of needing to be anywhere by a certain time. Leave that darn alarm clock at home!

A good attitude is the most important thing to take with you on any RV trip. Make a list of the necessities and stick with it as much as possible. Trim the fat and enjoy better fuel economy. Paying less at the pump helps contribute to a better attitude!

You’re Not In Siberia

While preparing for your trip and trying desperately to trim that packing fat, an extreme packer may be pulling their hair out screaming, “But I simply can’t do without this!” Hold on! You are not traveling to Siberia, are you?

There will be plenty of opportunities for shopping excursions to re-supply if necessary. Many campsites will have laundromats if you start running out of clean outfits. If you leave something behind and realize that you should have packed it, chances are you can pick one up along the way. But it’s more likely that you will be having so much fun getting away from it all that you will have forgotten all about that one thing you thought you couldn’t live without for a week or two.

Want to learn more about how to organize and pack better? Just ask an experienced RV professional. We’re glad to help!