Before you hit the road, make sure you review your RV camping checklist. A few minutes could save you from a big headache.
Ah ... the open road. There's nothing like it, especially when you are 300 miles from home and realize you left the charger for your smartphone on the kitchen table. Of course, that's not the end of your trip, but an RV camping checklist will help you remember that charger, and everything else you need before you hit Route 66.
Before we begin, though, let's take a moment to realize that no checklist is ever complete, be it an RV camping checklist or the do-it-yourself checklist for opening a new business. So no matter what checklist you use, always give yourself some extra time to think about what is or is not on the list.
And just as important as what is on the list, is realizing that there is a lot you don't need for a great RV experience. As much as those pink flamingos make for great RV lawn decorations, is that really something you want to haul across four state lines?
RV camping checklist: The kitchen
One of the greatest things about camping is cooking. It doesn't take much to be a campfire gourmet, either. All you need is a versatile skillet, a good knife, and creativity. Of course, an RV gives you more space and capability, so there are a few more kitchen items to consider:
- Forks, spoons, and knives: Don't overdo it, though. One set of utensils for each camper should suffice.
- Plates: Just like the utensils, one plate per camper is enough in most cases. This cuts down on the amount of camping items you carry around, and it also gives you extra incentive to keep everything clean and tidy.
- Cutting board: One medium-sized cutting board should be enough for most of your cooking needs, but feel free to add a second small one if you plan to do a lot of cooking on the road.
- Chef's knife: Your home kitchen has a beautiful collection of knives, but you don't need all of them on the road. Camping is all about taking it easy and relaxing. Take time to enjoy cooking, and just bring your most versatile three knives. One paring knife, one chef's knife, and one bread knife should be all you need to create magnificent open fire meals.
- Aluminum foil: Aluminum foil is the duct tape of the cooking world. You can use it as a cooking surface if you need to. You can wrap a burrito in it and cook it right on the flame, and you can store your leftovers in it.
- Skillet: Iron skillets are indestructible and extremely versatile, but they're also heavy. Campers the world over rely on similar versatility with aluminum pans and skillets. Whichever you choose, the same rule applies here as with the knives: one skillet and one pot is really all you need. Of course, if you do plan to make a few extravagant meals, add a pan or two.
- Coffee maker: This should be on your RV camping checklist two or maybe three times. Let's be honest, you can always crawl bleary-eyed to a diner for breakfast, but to do that without a cup of coffee is an injustice.
RV camping checklist: Sleeping quarters
There is something truly special about sleeping under the stars, even if it is under the roof of your RV. Chirping crickets and the occasional flash of a firefly are enough to lull even the most restless into a happy sleep.
- Pillow: This is self-explanatory, but you don't want to be settling in for your first night away from home only to realize that orthopedic pillow is at home on your bed.
- Sheets and blankets: Just because you're camping is no reason you can't be comfortable. Pick your favorite sheets, but not the super-fancy ones that you don't want to ever come in contact with a bit of morning dew. Yes, you're camping in an RV, but you're still camping.
- Extra blankets: The smell of the fire and warm glow of the embers is much more enjoyable if you aren't cold. The campfire can only warm one side of you at a time. Bring a cozy blanket for those late nights chatting by the fire. Even in the middle of summer, the nights can be cool.
RV camping checklist: Toiletries
Camping is fun, yes. Camping and having your very own shower and bathroom is pure luxury. Don't ruin it by getting stuck with convenience store toilet paper.
- Toilet paper: No, talking about toilet paper isn't generally acceptable in polite company. That's okay; you're leaving the state for two months. Go to the store, pick up a dozen rolls of your favorite, and hit the road knowing that you'll be comfortable when those personal moments happen.
- Toothpaste: Nothing to look at here folks, just don't want you to forget the toothpaste.
- Toothbrush: Hey, you don't want to bring your favorite toothpaste and then be stuck using that "Welcome to Nashville" toothbrush you had to pick up at the welcome center. Do you?
- Soap: A bar of your favorite soap can make camping almost like a vacation at a Windsor hotel.
- Towels: You can hang a towel up to dry and use it a few times before it needs to be washed, but you also don't want to use the same towel for three weeks without a little scrub. Bring along enough to last you through your trip or until you can get to a laundry facility.
- Miscellaneous items: Nail clippers, feminine products, shampoo, conditioner, and deodorant are all good things to bring along.
RV camping checklist: Miscellaneous
There could be a never-ending list of miscellaneous items on any RV camping checklist. We're considering this a starting point, but you may need to add to this list or disregard parts of it, depending on your needs.
- Chargers: Be sure to bring chargers for your phone, laptop, camera, and any other electronics you bring with you.
- Batteries: It's a good idea to have an extra set of batteries for your flashlights.
- Flashlights: Speaking of flashlights, there are some really nice ones out there that double as lanterns. Have you seen them?
- Music: No RV camping checklist would be complete without travel music or podcasts. You'll be on the road for hours at a time, which is a perfect opportunity to enjoy your favorite guitar solos or that concerto your neighbor's lawnmower always drowns out.
- Lawn chairs: All that time around the campfire deserves a comfortable chair. Some people prefer low chairs and some like recliners. Whatever your preference, it's time to pull it out of storage, dust it off, and load it into the RV.
- Map: While smartphone GPS might be one of the best things to happen to modern explorers, an old-fashioned road map can still get you out of some sticky situations—especially when you aren't in cellular range.
RV camping checklist: Mechanical
Smart road trippers know anything could go wrong. Hopefully that won't be the case for you, but it's good to be prepared. The best part is, you don't have to be a mechanic or a handyman to take care of basic repairs.
- Duct tape: Yes, duct tape should be in your tool box. You can't drive forever on a leaking vacuum hose, but a bit of duct tape can, at least, serve as a bandage long enough to get you to a repair station.
- Oil: Whether you're driving a car or an RV, any road trip checklist should include a quart or two of oil. It doesn't take much space, only costs a few bucks, and can keep your engine from seizing.
- Tools: A small tool chest with a variety of basic tools should take care of most of your needs should mechanical issues arise. A flat and Phillips head screwdriver, a sharp knife, a pair of pliers, and a few wrenches will be all you need to do anything from changing a battery to replacing a hose. Oh, and it never hurts to have a hammer tucked away in there, either.
- Tire pressure gauge: Your comfort and your gas mileage, not to mention your safety, all depend on properly inflated tires.
We could add a lot more to this list (like the ingredients for s'mores), but then isn't it time you started packing? This should cover most of your basics, and isn't part of the adventure finding ways to have fun without bringing along your entire home?
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Where is your favorite RV camping location? We'd love to hear about your experiences in the comments.