After months of searching, and hours of negotiating, you have purchased your new RV. Now that you have a complete home on wheels, you can't await to get rid of all the gear you have been lugging around to campgrounds for a year. Before you throw away your old tent and sleeping bag, and make a trip to the camping store, there are a few things to consider.
Many new RV owners do not consider the fact that stocking an RV is significantly different than stocking a home, or than packing for a tent camping trip. Some items are a necessity, while others are just nice to have. Keep in mind that total vehicle weight is also a deciding factor as excessive weight in the RV or camper reduces fuel economy and can be hazardous in a towing situation.
Bedroom While your new RV has a real bed, you may not want to purchase 600 thread count sheets just yet. While they are referred to as "full" or "queen", RV mattresses do not come in standard sizes. This means that you will need to purchase sheets from Camping World, or another camping supply store. You should have a summer and winter set of bedding, and have two complete sets for each bed stored in the RV. Most RVs come with beds that lift up and provide under bed storage. Others have under bed storage.
Kitchen When stocking your kitchen it is imperative that you be realistic with your family's needs and the limitations of your RV. Most RV kitchens are notoriously small, offering minimal counter and cabinet space. For many families, the out door experience is desired over traditional meals, despite the fact that the RV has a complete kitchen.
To be on the safe side, you should stock your kitchen with the basics including: a frying pan, coffee maker, crock pot, can opener, cutting board, knives, Paper plates, a microwave able casserole dish, potholders, coffee cups, utensils, trash bags, dishwashing liquid and a complete BBQ set. Having the minimal items necessary to cook a meal is a lifesaver if you experience inclement weather while on the road. You can always add more items as you determine that you need them.
Bathroom Packing for your bathroom is perhaps the greatest challenge as the area is very small with little area for storage. Your new RV came complete with a shower, toilet, and a sink. RV showers traditionally do not have ample shelf space for shampoos and other toiletries. Prior to buying or packing anything for your bathroom, survey the storage space available. A suggestion is to hang a mesh bag to hold small items in the shower. Since RV toilets are essentially a mini septic system, you will need to purchase toilet paper specially designed for septic tanks or recreational vehicles.
Outdoors Do not make the mistake of thinking that since you have a home on wheels, that you will not need your outdoor items. You may love your new RV and want to enjoy the comforts it affords, but you will also want to enjoy your surroundings as well. As not all campgrounds come with picnic tables, you will want to bring a small folding table and chairs. You will also need a small BBQ, cooler, and bug candles. While you will not be sleeping in it, you may also want to bring a sleeping bag as well. Sleeping bags can be used to cover up while sitting around the campfire, or on the grass for a picnic.
Food and Supplies Determining your family's style of eating is the first step to determining what you should pack in your new kitchen. Do you typically cook full meals from scratch, use convenience foods, BBQ or eat out? Are you the type of cook who cooks from recipes, or do you fix meals based on what is in the refrigerator? The location you are visiting will also dictate the type of foods you will stock in your kitchen. For example, visiting a mountain campground in the winter may necessitate the need to stock up on foods that can be cooked indoors. If you travel with children, you may not be able to get them to sit down and eat a full meal and opt for sandwiches and hot dogs.
In conclusion, stocking your RV with the right items is not an exact science. Your needs will change based on the locations visited, season, activities, and budget. When packing, consider possible alternatives, downsizing or choosing items that are lighter weight or multi purpose items. I also strongly recommend that you visit a camping supply store as they carry functional items that cannot be substituted.
Personally, I have certain items, which I cannot live without, and some useless ones, which I packed on our first trip, and have not taken them out until this day. We have spent countless dollars on forgotten items purchased at a premium at the campground general store, and saved just as much by purchasing items at our local Wal-Mart.
The bottom line, planning is key to comfortable RV living. Enjoy!