Ahhh… you found and purchased the perfect pop-up tent trailer or camping RV for your vacations! Now that you’ve checked out every inch of it, it’s time to get serious and stock it with what you need when you go camping in your new, super-zoomy, fancy-schmancy tent trailer or RV. I’ve traveled cross-country three times with my whole family on-board. Yes, that’s right. We were stuffed in an RV for 9 months with my son, his Dad, and my parents. You heard me right, I invited my parents to come.
THIS is fact: Take your wish list vacation. Finance it if you must. Invite your parents or a beloved friend that otherwise would not be able to go.
The memories you make will be priceless and tomorrow may never come if you put your vacation off until then. I invited my parents to join us on several cross country adventures. I did that because we all get along great plus, my Dad would not have been brave enough to make the journey with just the two of them. My Dad recently passed away and when he was failing, he broght up memories of those trips often. Several times he even said those memories were some of the best of his life! Nuff’ said! The List Goes On and On Lists, why do we need them? The same reason you make one when you go food shopping – it’s SO inconvenient when you forget something. The difference here is that when you forget something when you’re camping, it’s usually not as easy as popping into the grocery store and grabbing that forgotten item. I clearly remember the time we forgot extra batteries. Unfortunately, we were about 45 minutes from the nearest store and we were remote camping and needed headlamps to get to the outhouse. Again, nuff’ said. Make sure you make your list by the compartments in your trailer or if there are no compartments, by the carry containers you’ll use to pack them into. Opinions, Bills, Tent Trailers, & RV’s – What Do They Have in Common? Opinions are like bills (bet you thought I was going to say something else!), everyone has one. I have done so much camping in my life that packing is second nature to me. Unfortunately, until you’ve done it for quite a while, you are constantly making lists of thing to bring “next time” and running to town to pick up a few things. You may not need to and most likely shouldn’t pack everything on my list but I hope my list prevents you from making the same mistakes as me.

Outside Necessities

  • Water pressure regulator
  • Cordless drill with ¾” attachement to lower jacks
  • 15, 30, or 50 amp power cord adapter
  • Generator with at least 3,000 watts and preferably a remote. The joys of modern technology.
  • Gasoline – generators use about 1.5 gallons every 4 hours
  • Window washer fluid, oil
  • Tire air pressure gauge
  • Battery charger if your trailer doesn’t have an inverter
  • RV dump host, rubber gloves, hose for rinsing after dumping your gray and black water.
  • Mat for outside the door
  • Broom
  • Long tip lighters
  • Batteries (for flashlights, smoke detector, accessories, etc.)
  • Small ax
  • Rags or papert towels
  • Leveling boards (pressure treated work best), chocks
  • Potable water hose (they are usually white)
  • Water filter if you’re feeling fancy
  • Jumper cables
  • Black water digester and odor controlRV Toilet Paper
  • Extra Fuses
  • Marshmallow sticks

This and That

  • Headlamps or flashlights
  • Maps
  • Bug spray and sunscreen
  • Medical or first aid kit
  • Campera, batteries, SD card
  • Chairs
  • Tape, elastics, scissors, pens, pencils, paper
  • Electronics chargers
  • Reading glasses
  • Folding table
  • Cooler
  • Vehicle registration and insurance card
  • Electric cord with several outlets
  • Campground directory
  • Triangle reflectors and flares
  • Tarp
  • Spare bulbs and fuses
  • Fire extinguisher

Kitchen Supplies

  • Plates, cups, glasses, bowls
  • Spatula, can opener, big spoons, tongs
  • Utensils
  • Mixing/salad bowl
  • Cutting board
  • Pots and pans
  • Coffee pot
  • Tea kettle
  • Measuring cup/spoons
  • Propane or charcoal grill
  • Toaster
  • Colander
  • Napkins
  • Plastic wrap/tin foil/storage for left-overs
  • Dish soap
  • Sponge
  • Oven mitt
  • Trash bags
  • Baking soda for refrigerator
  • Glass cleaner, scouring powder
  • Bed Bath and Vacationing Beyond
  • Linens, blankets and pillows
  • Towels and beach towels
  • Hand and body soap, shampoo, crème rinse
  • Face cloth
  • Tooth brushes, floss, tooth paste
  • Flip flops to wear in the shower
  • Single ply toilet paper
  • Tissues
  • Comb, brush, blow dryer, flat iron, hair ornaments
  • Body lotion, baby powder,
  • Razor, nail clippers, deodorant, chap stick, tweezers
  • Pain reliever, prescriptions, antacids, allergy meds
  • Detergent, bleach, dryer sheets, quarters, large fabric laundry bag
  • Feminine supplies

Clothing

  • Short and long sleeve shirts
  • Pants
  • Socks and underwear
  • Rain gear
  • Boots
  • Gloves
  • Sunglasses
  • Underwear
  • Sturdy closed toe shoes
  • Jacket
  • Jeans
  • Sweat shorts
  • Sweaters
  • Bathing suits

Trailer Tools

  • WD-40 and silicone spray
  • Hammer
  • Multi-tool pocket knife
  • Pliers – channel lock, needle nose, standard
  • Electrical tape
  • Screwdrivers – flat head and phillips
  • Socket set
  • Crowbar
  • Electrical tape, Teflon tape
  • Vice grips
  • Wrenches – combinations, crescent, and metric
  • Spark plug wrench
  • Wheel lug wrench
  • Jacks for trailer and vehicle
  • Tin snips
  • Measuring tape
  • Allen wrench
  • Volt meter
  • Assorted hose clamps
  • Grease
  • Assorted nuts, bolts, nails, screws, and washers

Details, Details, Details

  1. GVWR - Keep in mind that there is a thing called GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating). According to Wikipedia, “The gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR), or gross vehicle mass (GVM) is the maximum operating weight/mass of a vehicle as specified by the manufacturer including the vehicle’s chassis, body, engine, engine fluids, fuel, accessories, driver, passengers and cargo but excluding that of any trailers. To me, the whole paragraph above means that if you are asked to drive your vehicle and trailer onto a scale by a weigh station worker, you better weigh less than the GVWR of your vehicle. Prepare to be fined and towed if you don’t.
  2. Holding Tanks – Most trailers have 3 holding tanks; black water, gray water, and fresh water. I don’t say potable water because I never drink water from my tank. Most campgrounds have a spot where you can refill your drinking water containers.
  3. Ball size – Most travel trailers have a 5/8” ball. Utility trailers and boats have different size balls so be sure to check that you have the correct size.
  4. Tight turns – You’ve seen the signs on exit ramps, country roads, and rotaries. Until now, you didn’t have to pay much attention to them. I’ve seen a few bad accidents with trailers on their sides because of excess speed.
  5. Backing a trailer – Remember that your trailer will move in the opposite direction than the steering wheel and to turn the wheel slightly. As you back up the trailer will take a second to begin to turn in the direction you’d like. Most new owners turn the wheel way too much.
  6. Never run your air conditioner when you’re plugged into a 3-prong extension cord from your house. You must plug into the correct amp power source.
  7. Refrigerators must be on level ground and they cooler much quicker when you run them on propane.
  8. Even though you think you have plenty of water, if you’re dry camping, conserve water by not showering every day. According to the USGS, Americans use an average of 100 gallons of water a day and you probably only have about a 50 gallon fresh water holding tank!
  9. Always dump your black water first so the gray water will clean out the dumping hose
  10. Awnings usually have a lock to keep it open and a lock to stow it away. Make sure you read the directions.
  11. Batteries must be recharged often. You can do that by starting your vehicle engine, using a generator, or plugging into A/C. Make sure you know which you’ll need to do before venturing out on your first excursion.
  12. Wear a watch. Really. You will be surprised how often it comes in handy.
  13. Put the largest towing mirrors on your vehicle you think you might need.
  14. Give a spare key to your house and trailer to a trusted neighbor.
  15. Carry a few spare keys for all the locks on your trailer. Hide one on the trailer or vehicle and every adult should have one.
  16. Take this list with you.
  17. If you have someone with a food sensitivity, make a meal plan. It’ll help at the grocery store too.

Let’s Go

Now that you’ve packed more than you’ll ever use, remember to balance the load. You don’t want your trailer listing to one side or the other.

I know you’re excited but make sure you pay attention to the speed limits, stop signs and construction signs. It is exponentially harder to stop a 16,000 load than a 3,000 pound compact car. They make runaway ramps at the bottom of hills for a reason. Don’t be the reason!

Also, remember that your trailer turns at a different angle than your sedan. If you’re turning right, squeeze as far left as possible when turning. If you’re turning left, don’t cut the corner sharp. Drift toward the breakdown lane so you won’t clip the front end of the car that stopped to let you go!

Happy camping and make some memories!