You’re burning to hit the road on your first RV trip. Here’s what you need to pack before you get going.
Jennifer and I took our first RV trip a long time ago, but I still remember feeling a bit intimidated about what we needed for our inaugural trip.
I can relate to the temptation to overpack. But you will quickly realize you don’t have room for it all. So here are the most important items to bring and what to do before that first RV trip.
First thing on the list, make a list!
Like a visit to the supermarket, it helps to write down what you need before you go. And like the store, if you don’t take this extra step, you’ll likely forget something that will get you kicking yourself later.
What are the 7 Must-Haves for Your First RV Trip?
The most stressful part of preparing for your first RV trip is figuring out what you need to buy beforehand. Unlike everyday household items, you need to order these items in advance and plan ahead.
No need to go overboard and buy everything a veteran RV traveler uses. However, there are a few essential items you need to buy to get started for that first RV trip.
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1 – Emergency Road Kit
You don’t drive a car off a lot without insurance. So you don’t want to drive your large RV on a trip without the means to protect it in the event something goes wrong.
Flat tires can happen, among other things, that could render your RV undriveable. When you’re pulled over on the side of the road or stranded while camping, you need an emergency road kit.
This kit is often sold bundled together for easy purchasing. Or you can opt to buy the items separately to save a little bit of money. Or check out the items listed in this article on survival tools and gadgets.
The kit has safety equipment such as a first aid kit, jumper cables, a flashlight, and reflective emergency triangles so other cars see your RV up ahead as they approach.
Other items you should include in the kit are a tire pressure gauge and duct tape. If you’re aiming to brave any kind of off-road terrain or not, it’s still important to have a spare tire.
And if a bundled kit doesn’t include a fire extinguisher, you should bring one of your own.
Everyone wants to have a safe and enjoyable trip when they venture out in their RV. But we all know — or should know — that accidents happen.
2 – The Hoses
There are two hoses you need to buy for your first RV trip. One is for your drinking water (which you’ll want to sanitize), and the other is for the sewer.
Don’t worry, you won’t confuse the two. The drinking water hose looks like a regular garden hose.
The sewer kit is a wider expanding hose, and wider for a reason, for filling and flushing the tanks. Both are affordable items. Your RV probably came with the sewer hose. It's worth buying an extension for it.
3 – Toilet paper
Toilet paper might have been the first thing on your mind given the rush to buy at the beginning of the pandemic. It does seem obvious for your first RV trip but there is actually special toilet paper made specifically for RVs.
The difference is that RV toilet paper is biodegradable, to dissolve quickly in your septic tank. If you don’t use this special toilet paper, you will have a harder time draining it through the sewer kit hose I mentioned earlier.
4 – Collapsible Water Container
When on your first RV trip, the last thing you want to worry about is running out of fresh water. An item that would help is a refillable water bottle to keep in your RV.
It stores five gallons of water to add to your freshwater tank when out boondocking and running low on water. A spigot makes it easy to tap for drinking.
It also saves space by being collapsible. You’ll learn after your first trip that any space saved is a commodity!
5 – Surge protector and adapters
For your first RV trip, it can be frustrating if issues arise with using electricity. To ensure this goes smoothly you will need an RV surge protector and adapters.
These will give you the freedom to plug in if a campground, for example, has a different connection than you.
Our RV has a surge protector built-in. If yours doesn't, I recommend you get one to go between the power cord and the pedestal. In older campgrounds, there are a lot of pedestals with bad connections that can damage your RV's electrical system and your appliances.
We can recommend the Southwire Surge Guard, model 34930.
When you plug in the other end of the cord to the shore connector on the RV, lock it in place. With ours, it's a turn to the right. We also have a locking wheel on the plug to make it even more secure. See this video for an example.
6 – Only the Essential Household Items
There are many everyday household items to bring. The nice thing is that we already own them. But not all checklists are alike. A lot of what we bring depends on our individual preferences.
I advise that before your trip, go through a normal day and make your own specific list. Pay attention to all the things you use and take for granted on a daily basis. You’ll soon put together a full list of items you’ll end up using regularly on your first RV trip.
An obvious example is when you brush your teeth, you’ll make a note to pack a toothbrush and toothpaste. Also for bathing, the towels, soap, and shampoo you use.
Less obvious, though, is when cooking a meal, there are certain utensils you use more than others.
Also, remember to bring garbage bags. You use plates and silverware when you eat, but it’s up to you whether you want to use disposables when traveling (which saves space). Every year we get better and better at packing.
7 – The Right Linens and Clothes
You don’t want to remember your first RV trip as an uncomfortable one.
Be sure to include what you need to sleep comfortably. Sheets and pillows are a given. The most important part of an RV just may be the bed. That's why we have come up with the three best RV bedding solutions that we think will give you a great night's sleep!
But what will be the temperature at night where you’re going? This answer will determine what kind of blankets and how many you will need to bring.
The clothes you pack also depend on what kind of weather you’ll be experiencing. What kind of activities are you planning on doing? Or more importantly, what kind of activities might you do?
The beauty of RV travel is the opportunity for spontaneity. You wouldn’t want to find yourself on your first RV trip without a bathing suit or hiking clothes when you wanted to participate.
And speaking of comfort, never underestimate that comfy camping chair for each person on the trip. You can check out our 3 Favorite Camping Chairs.
By popular demand, we announce the publication of the latest in our library of RV travel guides – a 7-Day Adventure Guide to Coastal Maine.
With its dramatic rocky coastline, enchanting fishing towns, and windswept sandy beaches, Coastal Maine is a destination that should be on every RVers’ bucket list.
We call these guides “7 days,” but they really are seven stops. They’re meant to be experienced at your own pace, a couple of days at one stop, a week at another, however long you want.
We have carefully curated this 66-page digital guide (not a printed book) so you can take in all Coastal Maine has to offer. We give you the routes to drive, the spot to stop, the places to eat, and the museums, excursions, hikes and adventures we think you will enjoy the most.
For an RVer, Coastal Maine has it all: stunning landscapes, short drives between stops, spacious campsites, that perfect small city and nature mixed with a seemingly endless variety of things to see and explore.