How to Pack and Prepare for a Long-Term RV Trip

Jun 6, 2022 | Gear & Tech

How to Pack and Prepare for a Long-Term RV Trip

Hitting the road for a multi-week adventure? Here’s what needs to come along and what can stay behind.

By Amanda Adler

The summer travel season is upon us, marking a time when many weekend warriors choose to embark on longer getaways. If you’re planning to take your RV on a multi-week vacation, don’t get overwhelmed by packing and logistics. Instead, follow these tips to make sure you have everything you need.

Packing Essentials: Bring All the Necessities, But Don’t Overdo It

When traveling with a tiny home on wheels, you’ll have everything you need at your fingertips. If you forget something, you can usually just head to the store for replacements. But there are a few items you want to be sure you don’t leave home without, including:

  • IDs, credit, and debit cards
  • Necessary medical paperwork, including for pets
  • Prescription medicines and insurance cards
  • Comfort items for children, such as favorite stuffed animals and blankets

Related How to Pack Your RV for a Camping Trip

a stuffed pooh bear wearing pajamas lays on a bed and reads the book five silly monkeys
Prioritize packing hard-to-replace items, like favorite stuffed animals. | Photo: Amanda Adler

RV Gear and Safety 

Once you have those items in place, move on to packing your rig with gear and safety essentials, including:

  • Surge protector
  • Electrical adapters
  • Toilet chemicals
  • Sewer kit
  • Water pressure regulator
  • Drinking water hose
  • Leveling blocks
  • Tire pressure gauge
  • Extension cords
  • Wheel chocks
  • Flashlight and headlamp
  • Extra gas
  • Battery jumper cables
  • Emergency road kit
  • Fire extinguisher
  • New batteries for smoke detectors
  • First aid kit

These items should be easily accessible, stored in your truck bed or the exterior storage compartments of your RV. Your exterior storage can also be loaded with gear you’ll need for your campsite, such as folding chairs, hammocks, portable grills and fire pits, an outdoor rug or doormat, and lawn games. If you’re bringing bikes, scooters, or skateboards, be sure that these items are properly secured.

Related How to Set Up Your RV Campsite

Making Your Roving House a Home

When it comes time to load the inside of your rig, you’ll need clothing, food, bedding, and more. While individual needs vary, here are some key things to keep in mind as you pack.

Food

Be sure to bring any fresh food items from your home fridge and freezer to avoid having them spoil while you’re away. Then stock your RV fridge full of frozen goods, condiments, and drinks, and fill your pantry with boxed and canned goods, spices, and snacks. 

Related Your RV Pantry Checklist

Kitchen Essentials 

Pots, pans, cutting boards, utensils, cups, and more all need to come along, but don’t forget to also bring storage bags or other containers for leftovers, along with items such as aluminum foil and oven mitts, which can easily be overlooked.

Related Must-Have RV Kitchen Accessories

Clothing 

Weather forecasts will only provide accurate readings for the beginning portion of your trip, so plan for a variety of climates and weather conditions, including potential inclement weather. Sturdy shoes and hiking boots are a necessity, and always have a backup pair. Organize clothing in labeled packing cubes to maximize space and don’t forget to bring a hamper and laundry supplies.

Related Doing Laundry on the Road: Your Complete Guide to RV Washers and Dryers

Bedding and Linens

Pack two sets of appropriately-sized bedding for each bed in your rig, along with plenty of towels and other linens. Also consider what you need to be comfortable in bed for a longer period of travel. This may include investing in a plush mattress cover (or a better yet, an RV mattress).

Toiletries

When packing toiletries, don’t forget to ensure you have RV-friendly toilet paper, bug spray, sunscreen, dry shampoo, and bottled water that can be used for brushing teeth or cleaning up when dry camping. 

Related The Best Toiletries for Camping

a dog sits in front of an rv and two camp chairs
Don’t forget to bring food, paperwork, leashes, and other essentials for your four-legged travelers. | Photo: Amanda Adler

Kids and Pets

For the other members of your family, don’t forget toys, games, food, snacks, leashes, and other essentials they’ll need to make the journey more manageable.

Work and School

If you’ll be working or learning from the road, leave room for your electronics and ensure that you have all of the appropriate charging cords. A power strip will allow you to power multiple items at once. Additional tech items, such as a mobile hotspot and wireless extender may come in handy for staying in contact while on the road.

Consider any holidays or events that will be happening during your travels. Do you need to pack birthday presents for the kids? Patriotic apparel for Independence Day celebrations? Collegiate flags for tailgating? You’ll want to have seasonal items as well.

Preparing Your Sticks and Bricks Home for Extended Travel

If you’re leaving your residence uninhabited while you travel, you’ll need to consider a few additional housekeeping items to ensure everything goes smoothly while you’re away.

Focus on Security 

Make sure your doors and windows are sealed and locked tight. Don’t leave blinds open or leave hidden keys. Set any alarms you may have to help deter potential break-ins. Invest in motion-activated lights for the outside of your home and consider timers for a few interior lights as well.

Related How to Prepare Your Home Before a Road Trip

Avoid Potential Disasters

Take a moment to turn off the water supply to your house to avoid coming home to a burst pipe and a flooded home. Wherever possible, unplug appliances just in case there’s a power surge. You’ll also want to prepare for any storms that might roll through. Secure patio furniture and other loose items (store them in the garage if you have one) and be sure your roof and gutters are in good condition.

a USPS bin full of mail sits near a blue front door
Pause your mail delivery through the USPS. | Photo: Amanda Adler

Make a Plan for Mail and Bills

Set up autopay or online payment options for any bills that need regular payment. For all other mail, you can pause delivery through the USPS, or ask a neighbor to pick it up every few days. If you need access to your mail while traveling, consider a service like PostScanMail, which allows you to view your mail digitally. 

Related 6 Best Ways to Get Mail on the Road

Clean Out Your Fridge 

Cleaning your fridge, freezer, and pantry should be easy as you’re loading many of these items into your rig. But check that you’ve disposed of anything that might rot or smell while you’re away. Run your disposal and take trash bags to a dumpster. Then check other areas, such as the dishwasher, washer, and dryer, to be sure there’s nothing wet that will cause mildew.

If you’re leaving food behind in your fridge, make sure these items are still safe to consume when you return. Place a quarter on top of a frozen glass of water in your freezer. If the quarter remains on top of the ice, you know that everything stayed frozen while you were away. If the quarter sank, it means your fridge lost power and the items inside should be thrown away.

Adjust Your Thermostat

Set your air conditioning or heater to a temperature close to that of the weather outside to maximize efficiency. If possible, turn off your water heater or set it on “vacation mode” to save on energy costs. If you have a smart thermostat, you can control the temperature from the road.

Taking a few moments to properly secure your home helps you to feel confident when you hit the road, allowing you to focus only on the adventure ahead.

PackingRoad TripsRV Travel

Amanda Adler

Amanda Adler is a writer who splits her time between traveling the U.S. in her RV and soaking up the air conditioning in her home in Orlando, Florida. While on the road she seeks out national parks, theme parks, kid- and dog-friendly hiking trails, and local businesses that tout their wares as being “craft,” “artisanal” or “bespoke.”

Keep Up with the Pack

Sign up for emails from Togo RV