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The Ultimate RV Packing List: Van Life Essentials + Tips

Posted by Bea Manzano on
Vintage RV on a road trip

One of the most important things that you’ll need in getting ready for an outdoor adventure in your camper is an RV packing list. It will help keep you organized while also making sure you don’t leave anything important behind. 

Whether you’ve been RVing for a quite a while now or you’ve just started to join in on the fun, this checklist will take you to your destination fully locked, loaded and ready to go.

Pre-Packing Tips

We know you’re excited to pack for your trip; we are, too! But before we get to the RV camping list and get down to business, let’s settle some important things first.

1. Check the RV and declutter.

If you went on a trip recently, best make sure to get rid of anything that you left or forgotten inside the RV before packing in new things.

If it's your first time going on a trip, it's still a good idea to go inside and take a look so you can have a mental picture of where things will go.

2. Hunt for extra storage space in nooks and crannies.

There is storage space in unusual spaces inside an RV. You just have to look for them in places you don't automatically think of. For example, under the beds, couches or side cabinets.

Lilac Packing Cubes in a small RV cabinet

**Thanks Livi for this photo!

Pro Tip: Sometimes the extra space you need is just right under your nose. Use hooks to hang things around like your headlamp, hats, jackets, etc.

3. Only bring the minimum.

Remember that the RV is much smaller in size compared to your house. Don’t cramp your living space inside the van by bringing the whole house. 

RV Camping Checklist

Packed essentials for an RV trip

**Thanks Ashley from Taylor-made Mama for this photo!

Here are the essentials that you’ll need for this trip. We will break them down for you into a complete RV camping checklist.

☑️ Travel Documents

Prepare the necessary personal and RV documents that you will need if you plan on traveling within the country or if you want to take it up a notch, crossing the border to explore the neighboring countries. 

☐ Warranty Information

☐ Insurance Information (including proof of insurance)

☐ Owner’s Manuals

☐ Emergency Contact Information 

☐ Credit Cards and ATM Cards

☐ Proof of Citizenship

☐ Valid Driver’s License

Pro Tip: Store your important travel documents in one place where they’re safe and accessible so you won’t have to scramble through to find them. The RV’s glove compartment would be a great storage space for that.

☑️ Electronics

Allow your kids to have a few minutes of internet access to watch educational videos, play scholastic games and also to catch up with their friends back home.

☐ Camera

☐ Smartphones / Tablets

☐ Laptop/s

☐ Portable Bluetooth Speaker

☐ Chargers 

Solar Powered Charger

Wifi Booster - This WiFi extender is great for boosting the range of your existing WiFi router in hard-to-reach areas of your camping site.

Cell Signal Booster - Camping in a remote area? No worries! This Cell Signal Booster reaches cell towers even in distant places so you can get a cell signal in any emergency situation. 

Walkie Talkies


Pro Tip: Keep chargers in separate, personal, color-coded clear packing cubes for you, your kids, and partner. This will avoid entangling the wires and keep things organized.

☑️ Family Toiletries Kit

It’s important to pack enough for the entire trip. If it’s a short camping trip, use travel size bottles and containers. If you’re on the road for weeks, then you can bring the full sized ones.

Toiletry for an RV trip

☐ Shower Essentials - Use the same brands that you have at home.

✔️ Shampoo 

✔️ Conditioner

✔️ Body Wash / Soap

✔️ Body Wipes - No shower? No problem! Nurture’s Bathing Wipes have a no-rinse formula that allows you to have a full bathing experience without needing water.

✔️ Dry Shampoo - Our top pick when it comes to leaving your hair clean and fresh even without taking a shower is Batiste’s Dry Shampoo. It has a waterless formula that absorbs dirt and grease in your hair and revitalizes it back to life.

✔️ Leave in Conditioner - One spray of The Honest Co.’s Leave-in Hair Conditioner can take all your hair worries away. It keeps your hair soft and tangle-free while you enjoy your camping activities. 

☐ Face Products - Keep your beauty routine to a minimum when you’re on the go.

✔️ Facial Wash


✔️Makeup Removing Wipes

✔️Sunscreen / Sunblock

☐ Makeup

✔️ Tinted Moisturizer

✔️ Lip Balm

✔️ SPF 50 BB Cream

✔️ Waterproof Mascara

✔️ Compact Mirror

Makeup essentials in a medium packing cube

Pro Tip: Sort kids and adults’ toiletries in small packing cubes, your makeup in a clear makeup bag, and your accessories in this cute half moon pouch.

☐ Dental Hygiene - Always encourage the kids to practice proper hygiene even outdoors. Brushing teeth together is more fun too!

✔️ Toothpaste & Toothbrush 

✔️ Floss

✔️ Mouthwash

✔️ Breath Mints

☐ Skin and Hair Essentials

✔️ Lotion

✔️ Deodorant

✔️ Shaving Cream and Razor

✔️ Hair Accessories (hair ties, bobby pins, headbands, hair clips, etc)

✔️ Hairbrush

✔️ Hair Dryer / Flat Iron (Or leave at home, go natural)

Skin and hair essentials for an RV trip
First Aid Kit

Consider the medical and health condition of your family members and don’t forget to pack prescribed medicines from your doctor.

☐ Prescription Medicines

☐ Band aids 

☐ Insect Bite Cream 

☐ Dramamine

☐ Allergy Meds 

☐ Advil

☐ Neosporin 

☐ Aloe Vera Gel 

☐ Tylenol / Paracetamol

☐ Imodium 

☐ Bandages

☐ Ice Pack

☐ Bug Spray

☐ Cough and Cold Medicine

First Aid Kit in an extra small packing cube

Pro Tip: Use an Extra Small Cube to keep your first aid kit essentials organized. 


Instead of stacking clothes directly into a pile in your cabinets or overhead bins, we recommend you use clear packing cubes so when you open the bins, they won't fall directly on your head. You can store and organize items more effectively this way (and avoid your clothes taking on the musty smell of the cabinets!).

Young woman packing for an RV trip

**Thanks Xo Livi for this awesome photo!

☐ Tees & Tops

✔️ Tank Tops

✔️ Short Sleeve Tees

✔️ Cotton Long Sleeves

✔️ Hoodie

✔️ Flannel Shirt

✔️ Blouse

✔️ Sundress

☐ Pants & Shorts

✔️ Cycling Shorts

✔️ Loose Hiking Shorts

✔️ Leggings

✔️ Jogger Pants

✔️ Jeans

✔️ Shorts

☐ Overclothes

✔️ Hooded Down Puffer Jacket

✔️ Synthetic Jacket

✔️ Rain Jacket

✔️ Windbreaker

✔️ Sweater

✔️ Beanie

☐ Swimwear

✔️ Sunhat

✔️ Swimsuit / Cover-ups

✔️ Rashguard

☐ Undergarments

✔️ Sports Bras

✔️ Normal Bras

✔️ Underwear

✔️ Socks

☐ Sleepwear

✔️ Pajamas

✔️ Eye Mask

Pro Tip: Use a different packing cube for your everyday outfits, swimsuits, and sweaters. Color code your cubes to make them more personal and systematic. Check out this Starter Set for your family. Assign 1 color set for each family member so they can organize their trip essentials in a fun (and easy) way!

Packing cubes in different colors

☐ Shoes 

✔️ Hiking shoes

✔️ High Ankle Hiking Boots

✔️ Water Sandal / Shoes

✔️ Casual Sandal / Boots

Pro Tip: Use shoe bags to keep your footwear organized and away from your clean items.

For Laundry

Use this travel laundry bag and store it under the bed, on a door handle or any other extra space.  Keep dirty separate from clean clothes, and your life will be that much better when packing up to leave. 

☑️ Bed / Sleeping Essentials

How do you make sure the entire family gets enough rest and sleep while on the road? Pack these essentials and you’re good to go:

☐ Waterproof Mattress Pad

☐ Bed Sheets

☐ Pillows / Pillowcases

☐ Blankets 

☐ Sleeping Bags

☐ Electric Blanket

☐ Air Mattress

☐ Window Coverings

☐ Space Heater (safe and electric)

Sleeping essentials packed in gray Starter Set packing cubes


Organizing your kitchen and having a detailed meal plan helps you prepare meals more efficiently. Be sure to bring all the things you need to serve warm and delicious food on the table.

☐ Groceries (per meal plan shopping list)

☐ Seasoning & Spices (salt, pepper, steak sauce)

☐ Condiments (ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise)

Dinnerware Camping Set 

☐ Can Opener

☐ Pots, Pans, Skillets

☐ Oven Mitts and Hot Pads

☐ Airtight Containers (to keep animals away)

☐ Ice Chest (with ice)

☐ Camping Stove & Burner

☐ Grill & Fuel (propane, charcoal)

☐ Lighter Fluid for Charcoal

☐ Lighter & Waterproof Matches

☐ Ziploc Bags

☐ Aluminum Foil / Baking Paper 

☐ Dish-washing Items (soap, sponge, drying rag)

☐ Trash Bags

☑️ Food 

Create a meal plan for the trip to avoid leftover food you’ll have to throw out. Make a list and head to the grocery store!  To give you an idea, here are some food staples:

☐ Batter Mixes

☐ Vegetables and Fruits

☐ Butter / Margarine

☐ Cereal / Oatmeal

☐ Grill Meats (hot dogs, burgers, etc.)

☐ Drink Mix Packets

☐ Eggs

☐ S’mores Ingredients

☐ Bread

☐ Baking Items 

☐ Canned Foods

☐ Peanut Butter and Jelly 

☐ Snacks (crackers, chips, pretzels, dried fruit, etc.)

Kids’ snacks organized in a gray medium packing cube

Pro Tip: You can store kids’ snacks in a Medium Packing Cube and have them do simple chores around the RV as a way to refill their snack bags.

☐ Cooking Spray / Oil

☐ Ready to Cook Soups

Pro Tip: Have a separate container for every type of food in the fridge (vegetables, fruits, dairy, condiments, meat, snacks). Store your pantry items, especially condiments, and other food products with strong smells in air-tight bins to keep the scent out of the RV, and to avoid attracting ants and other bugs.

☑️ RV Cleaning 

Being on the road means being exposed to a lot of dirt, grime, mud and dust! These items will help in keeping your campervan squeaky clean:

☐ Multi-Purpose Cleaner

☐ Cleaning Cloth / Sponge

☐ Paper Towels

☐ Rubber Gloves

☐ Toilet Brush

☐ Toilet Bowl Drop-ins

Broom & Dustpan

Collapsible Bucket

☑️ RV Safety Tools and Necessity

For unprecedented trouble with your RV on the road, it’s always good to have the right repair tools and be ready when there’s no mechanic around to help. Don’t forget to bring the camper van’s manual for when you have to take matters into your own hands.

☐ Drinking Water Hose & Outlets

☐ Air Compressor

☐ Wrench

☐ Flashlight

☐ Bungee Cord

☐ EMS - Electronic Management System

☐ Water Pressure Regulator

☐ Sewer Hose & Fittings

☐ Electrical & Duct Tape

☐ Tire Pressure Gauge

☐ Basic Tool Kit with Screwdrivers, Hammer, Wrenches

☐ Leveling Blocks

☐ Fire Extinguisher

☐ Hydraulic or Scissor Jack

☐ Shovel

☐ Battery Jumper Cables

☐ Generator

☐ Fuel (for the Generator) 

☐ Surge Protectors

☐ Extra Motor Oil and Transmission Fluid

Pro Tip: Store your tools in a safe yet easy to access place. It could be next to the door or right behind your driver seat.

☑️ Other Valuables

Here are other important things that you might need.

Tent (for when you want the full experience of a camping trip)

Red tent and essentials in clear black circle pouch for an RV trip

☐ Outdoor Grill

☐ Curtains 

☐ Shade Tent 

☐ Bug Screen Tent

☐ Portable Table 

☐ Headlamps

☐ Water Purifier

☐ Backpacks

☐ Camp Chairs

☐ Doormat 

Pro Tip: Make a list of what you need to do before, during, and after the trip. Cleaning the RV, unpacking, etc.

Here are some bonus checklists that you may wish to include:

☑️ Kids’ Entertainment / Activity Kit

☐ Coloring Books

☐ Crayons

☐ Playdough

☐ Slime

☐ Sand Buckets

☐ Sand Toys

☐ Beach Ball

☐ Playball

☐ Water Toys

☐ Squirt Guns

☐ Glow Sticks

☐ Board Games

☐ Playing Cards for Kids

Activity Kit for kids organized in packing cubes for an RV camping trip
**Thanks @organizewithtracy for this awesome photo and cool idea!


Pro Tip: Pack an Activity Kit for each kid using a Medium Cube (assign 1 cube color for each kid). Pack some small books, coloring pages, crayons, pens, paper, etc. - anything that will keep the kids busy while on the road and at the campsite.

☑️ Baby’s Essentials

☐ Diapers or Pull-ups

☐ Wipes

☐ Diaper Cream

☐ Bottles and Cleaning Supplies

☐ Nursing Supplies (if you’re breastfeeding)

☐ Sippy Cups

☐ Bibs

☐ Burp Cloth

☐ Sun Hat

☐ Fleece Sleep Sack

☐ Warm Hat for Sleeping

☐ Baby Sleeping Bag

☐ Portable Bassinet or Sleep Tent

☐ Small Booster Seat (at the dinette)

☐ Baby Monitor

☐ Portable High Chair

☐ Wagon

☐ Stroller

☐ Vitamins

Baby’s essentials for RV trip organized in packing cubes

Pro Tip: Organize your baby’s essentials in one Medium Packing Cube for safe keeping.

☑️ Camp Activities

☐ Scooter

☐ Bike

☐ Helmet

☐ Glow sticks

☐ Butterfly Net

☐ Sports Balls – Soccer, football

☐ Binoculars

☐ Puzzles 

☐ Playing Cards

☐ Swimsuits

☐ Microfiber Towels

☐ Goggles

☐ Bag for Wet Suits

☐ Life Jackets

☐ Sand Toys

☑️ Pet’s Essentials 

☐ Food 

☐ Treats 

☐ Food Bowls

☐ Collar and Tags

☐ Leashes

☐ Tie-out

☐ Dog Towels (rags)

☐ Waste Bags

☐ Blankets or Pet Bed

☐ Medications

☐ Toys

Organization / Space Savers

☐ Velcro (for velcroing things so they don’t move around while on the road)

☐ Hangers

Hanging Basket

☐ Suction Cup Hook / Hideaway Hooks

Broom Holders (can be used to store flashlights)

Backseat Car Organizer

☐ Shelf Brackets (cleaning supplies)

☐ Pegboard (cooking utensils)

Fruits & Vegetables Hammock

EzPacking’s Starter Set - Organization is really the key when it comes to tiny spaces like a camper van! Our clear packing cubes are a practical and stylish organizing solution. Here are the different ways you can use each size cube for RV organization:

Essentials for RV trip organized in EzPacking Start Set

• Extra Small Cube  - The perfect size cube for organizing your meds and first aid kit.

• Small Cube  - The ideal size cube for organizing toiletries or the kid’s snacks on the road.

• Medium Cube  - Best for packing clothes either by category or by individual! Also the perfect size cube for packing activities (like games, crayons, etc.) for the kids.

• Large Cube  - Great for packing bulkier clothes like jackets or pants. 

• Storage Cube - Not included in the Starter Set but a good addition to your organization arsenal. Great for  keeping extra bed sheets, towels, pillows and pillowcases clean and organized.

Remember, these tips are just to help get you started. Remember to personalize these packing lists to your own family / camping crew! This is just to give you an idea of the essentials in case you forgot about them. 

Hope you have a great trip, RV style! 

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