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What NOT to Bring on Your RV Trip (A PRO Anti Packing List)

| Updated Apr 4, 2024

REAL RVers answer what NOT to bring on your RV trip in response to an RV Lifestyle Facebook post…

RVing is a great way to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and explore the open road. But, when it comes to packing for your trip, it's easy to get carried away and over-pack. 

Over-packing not only takes up valuable space in your RV, but it also adds extra weight, eating away at your gas mileage. 

In this article, we will explore what experienced RVers say are the items that they should not have brought on their trips, and how to avoid these common mistakes.

10 Things NOT to Bring on Your RV Camping Trip

washing dishes while camping What NOT to Bring on Your RV Trip (An Anti Packing List)

We get many great questions in our RV Lifestyle Facebook group and RV Lifestyle Community that receive lots of helpful answers from our 190k-member community. This question comes up quite a bit, including from a recent posting.

Wendy posted: “I am a first-time RV-er and want to pack light.  Those of you who are more experienced than me, what did you find out that you did not need???”

Below, we’ve summarized over 200 comments on the most common OVERPACKING mistakes.

NOTE: We also have a FREE RV Packing list and the 3 best RV checklist apps to help!

1. Too Many Dishes

At home, you’re used to having extra dishes to use while others are in the dishwasher and also for guests. But bringing too many dishes takes up valuable storage space and adds unnecessary weight to your RV.

Many people advise that you only take as many dishes as you have travel members and wash them after each time. It helps keep things tidy and minimizes cabinet space usage.

So, for instance, if you travel only with your spouse, bring 2 plates, 2 bowls, 2 cups, and 2 sets of utensils. Or, maybe don’t take it to that extreme but take 2 of every item for each person.

To find the perfect set, check out the Best Dishes for RV Camping & Living.

2. Fancy Kitchen Appliances

10 Best Campfire Accessories to Keep in Your RV

While it's great to have all the conveniences of home while RVing, it's not necessary to bring all your fancy kitchen appliances. Most RVs have basic kitchen appliances like a refrigerator, stove, and microwave, and you'll likely find that you use them less than you think. 

Most RVers agree you shouldn’t leave your RV coffee maker or camping crockpot behind. But you can probably do without a toaster oven, air fryer, pressure cooker, electric can opener, etc.

RVers find they use the campground grill quite a bit or even enjoy cooking over the fire. These campfire cooking accessories help! You can also opt for other simple and lightweight camping equipment, such as a portable grill or camp stove.

PLUS, if you plan your camping menu in advance, you'll know exactly what gear and food products you need to take.

3. Too Many Pots & Pans

Just like dishes, it's easy to over-pack on pots and pans. However, most RVers find that just one or two pots and pans are sufficient for basic meal preparation. 

So, forego the whole set of pots and pans and take only the basics. Two sizes of frying pans and two sizes of pots are usually more than enough.

4. Too Many Clothes

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In the comments, there was a resounding “too many clothes!” That's not surprising since it's a mistake we've had to overcome ourselves. Above is a video we did to help others avoid that same mistake.

Opt for versatile clothing that can be dressed up or down, and bring only what you'll need for the length of your trip. So, think layers! A pair of jeans, shorts, a few t-shirts, a sweater, and a jacket works in most cases.

Better yet, only take up to 5 days' worth of clothing and utilize campground laundry facilities. Just remember these Campground Laundry Etiquette and Tips.

5. Too Many Shoes

It's easy to over-pack on shoes, but it's important to remember that you'll likely be doing a lot of walking while RVing. Bring a comfortable pair of walking shoes, a pair of sandals or flip-flops, and a pair of dress shoes if necessary. 

If you’re going on hikes that require more than sneakers, then a good pair of hiking boots or hiking sandals are worth bringing, too. Leave the rest at home to save space and reduce weight.

Here are some helpful resources when it comes to shoes:

6. Too Many Canned Goods

Canned goods are heavy and take up a lot of space, so it's important to pack wisely. Yes, it’s a good idea to have a little extra in case of an emergency, but don’t go overboard.

Some canned goods we do recommend are the ones to make this Super Easy Campfire Chili!

After every road trip (or at least every season), go through the pantry and remove the canned goods that have been crammed in the back from neglect. 

Here are some helpful resources when it comes to stocking your RV pantry:

7. Too Many Tools

What NOT to Bring on Your RV Trip (A PRO Anti Packing List) 1

While it's good to be prepared for any situation, it's not necessary to bring your entire toolbox on your RV trip. Consider bringing a basic tool kit with essentials like a screwdriver, pliers, a wrench, and a few RV-specific tools you may need. Then leave the rest at home. 

Here are some helpful resources:

In conclusion, when planning your next RV trip, it's important to think carefully about what you bring. By avoiding the items listed above, you'll save valuable space and reduce the weight of your RV, making your trip more enjoyable and stress-free. 

So, pack wisely and hit the open road!

8. Too Many Board Games and Puzzles

It's important to take some good evening entertainment along with you, but it's easy to get carried away. Instead of stocking your RV with a bunch of games and puzzles, select a few from your collection and leave the rest at home. You can then rotate the games with every trip.

This suggestion not only saves you space but it keeps the fun fresh! You won't end up playing the same games over and over.

In addition to board games, you should always take a deck of cards. They hardly take up any space and the card game options are endless.

If you're looking for new game and puzzle ideas, check out these lists:

9. Too Many Books

woman reading book outdoors

On that same note, it's easy to overpack books, crafts, and other hobby activities. Audiobooks and an e-reader can give you access to countless books and save you space in your RV.

But we understand that many people don't want to give up the feel and smell of books. So, another option is to be really thoughtful of how much time you'll have to read and only bring as many books accordingly.

Another excellent option is to make use of the many little free libraries across the country. These are free book-sharing boxes that you can find at campgrounds, residences, and many other locations. You can almost always find a little free library near wherever you camp.

Many campground offices have their own version of book sharing, too. It's really a great way to save space and be introduced to books you may have never considered otherwise.

If you're looking for great reads while camping, check these out:

10. Too Much Outdoor Gear & Toys

This is another one of those things where you overpack because you're trying to avoid boredom at all costs. But like board games, we recommend cycling through your toys, sports gear and outdoor games on different trips.

By rotating outdoor activity gear each camping trip, you'll never get bored with resorting to the same activities. Sure, you can always bring along your favorite activity, but don't bring ALL of your stuff to choose between once you get there. Make those decisions in advance!

If you're looking for some fun ideas to rotate through:

RV Checklists, Shopping Lists, & More!

Not long ago, we made a compilation article on all of the best checklists and lists we have. We call it the “RV List Round-UP,” and it’s definitely worth checking out.

It connects you to the following lists:

  • FREE RV Packing List (PLUS 3 Best RV Checklist Apps)
  • RV Setup Checklist: 15 Tips on How to Setup Your RV
  • RV Breakdown Checklist: How to Tear Down Your RV Setup
  • RV Departure Checklist: 3 Safety Items You Can’t Forget
  • Must-Haves for Your First RV Trip
  • Must-Have Camping Gadgets
  • Must-Haves for Every RV Owner (According to REAL RVers)
  • The Ultimate ‘Bug Off!’ Shopping List for Your RV
  • 10 Best Pet Accessories for Camping with Your Dog
  • 10 Purrfect Cat Travel Accessories for your RV Lifestyle
  • Stargazing for Campers Kit (10 Must-Have Items)
  • 10 Best Campfire Accessories to Keep in Your RV

Click here to go to the RV List Round-Up (It's a free resource… no downloads or subscriptions required).

Mike Wendland

Published on 2024-04-04

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

19 Responses to “What NOT to Bring on Your RV Trip (A PRO Anti Packing List)”

April 08, 2024at6:02 pm, Peg Crownover said:

As a retired RN I have a pretty complete first aid box for minor emergencies including Narcan in case it might save a life. Bug spray is crucial no matter where we may travel.

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November 29, 2023at4:19 pm, Robert Nelson said:

My favorite meal to make and it feeds 3-4 for a couple days, is a Vegitable Soup. To do that I cook everything in my Pressure Cooker. Most of the veggies are fresh, so not a lot of cans in the cubbard. I get a 1lbs pack of Stew Meat and all the veggies the day before at the local market so they don’t take up a lot of room. I get the veggies (not pre-cut) and cut them to my likeness. For the Potatoes, I use the small Red ones. I did however, find out the hard way not to cut them up until just before I make the soup. I use a variety seasonings that are easy to store and take up little room.

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November 29, 2023at6:12 pm, Team RV Lifestyle said:

That sounds wonderful! Thanks for sharing, Robert – Team RV Lifestyle

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November 28, 2023at2:20 pm, Mike Mason said:

I’ve traveled a lot and agree with all of these but one. Take every tool you can think of. Stuff is going to break.

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November 29, 2023at4:25 pm, Robert Nelson said:

I agree Mike. I was an Aircraft Mechanic in the Navy for 28 years. Not having a very simple tool when needed can be very frustrating. I usually carry all my tools along with Spot Ties, tape, glue, sealant, etc. in my Tow Vehicle. I also carry a couple quick release clamps for holding things.

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November 28, 2023at10:05 am, Heather Mcgarty said:

I use a Kindle and carry as many books as I want without the added weight.

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November 29, 2023at6:05 pm, Team RV Lifestyle said:

Great suggestion, Heather! Team RV Lifestyle

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April 05, 2024at9:11 am, Anne Washington said:

Great idea

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March 30, 2023at5:43 pm, Lupinacci Lupinacci said:

I agree with this list except the tool bit. I’ve been camping in an RV for 24 years and have used tools you’d never dream to bring. The list was mainly derived from not having the tools when I needed them but I keep a toolbox in the RV and one in the truck in addition to a 2nd spare tire in the bed of the truck. I’ve had to melt low point water valves that were taken out by a blown tire with a soldering iron. Had to nail siding back on that peeled away with electrical staples and had to tape a rubber roof down just to name a few. RVs are not built to last so be prepared to repair them if you use them.

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March 31, 2023at10:13 am, Team RV Lifestyle said:

Appreciate you adding this information — And wow, sounds like you have definitely put those tools to good use! Team RV Lifestyle

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November 28, 2023at8:35 am, Scott Bohlen said:

I would bring a welder if I had room! Lol

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April 05, 2024at9:15 am, Anne Washington said:

Same here and we even had to invest in purchasing crimping tools because pressure at campground blew out our lines

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February 16, 2023at12:42 pm, Bev Parkison said:

Last year I had the challenging task of packing for a four month Pacific Northwest tour. There was very limited space in my Northern Lite truck camper. I had to be prepared for every possible weather situation, hot weather and beach day, cool coastal conditions, hiking at national parks, rain, and cold weather at Glacier NP. Sticking with two color schemes worked well. I took about ten days worth of clothing. Five would not work for this trip! After this trip we removed kitchen items that didn’t work out and added stuff we wished we had. The next trip will be very efficient!

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February 16, 2023at11:04 am, Nancy Blackwell said:

If you’re only bringing 5 days of clothes, you really need to check to see if there are laundry facilities in the vicinity. We stay in very rural campgrounds in 2 week increments for 3 months at a time, and the majority of the campgrounds have no laundry. You’re at the mercy of whatever skeavy laundromat is within driving distance.

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February 17, 2023at3:46 pm, Team RV Lifestyle said:

These are excellent points, Nancy. Knowing what type of camping you’re going to do is important. Team RV Lifestyle

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April 05, 2024at8:00 am, Dr. Mike said:

Of, I thought that having a washer and dryer in the coach would help limit what my wife would bring. Nope! She brings everything and then wash at home.
If it keeps her happy, that’s fine.

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February 16, 2023at7:43 am, Deborah Beck said:

Sorry, Mike. I’m not leaving home without my Instant Pot. I can whip up tasty meals in a heartbeat.

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February 17, 2023at3:45 pm, Team RV Lifestyle said:

And that is OK! Glad you shared this – and bet you are not alone – Team RV Lifestyle

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July 07, 2023at3:57 pm, Danita Ortowski said:

I count my Instant Pot as my camping crock pot since it can do both. I don’t leave home without ours either.

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