There are only two reasons you’re reading this: 1) The last time you had to pack for your RV road trip, it was so inefficient you had enough underwear to last several vacations–but you didn’t bring a sweater for chilly nights. 2) You loaded your dresser for every weather scenario you could imagine–cold, rain, heat, formal wear (um, why?), plus adventure duds–you could barely shut the closet and dresser drawers.
While everyone has a slightly different philosophy regarding how to pack for your RV road trip, we checked with some seasoned RVers to find out their wardrobe-packing tips and secrets. Here, we’ve rounded up some of their most useful advice for a basic two-week RV vacation.
Be Prudent When you Pack for your RV Road Trip
When it comes to your wardrobe needs, not all trips are the same. How long will you be on the road? Are you expecting mostly warm weather or cool weather? Will you be crisscrossing the country, potentially hitting every weather pattern created by Mother Nature?
One good rule of thumb is to be prudent! You can always find a roadside Laundromat or laundry facilities at a campsite or truck stop. And if you realize you need something that you left behind, there’s the option of stopping at a store for a pair of shorts, clean socks, or replacement sneakers.
Laundromat v. Hand Wash: Pros and Cons
No one RVer feels the exact same when it comes to choosing between a roadside Laundromat versus hand washing. But one mistake lots of newbies admit making is bringing too many hand-washables. Either way, both can eat up a lot of time. If you prefer hand-washing, be sure to start as early as possible after arriving at your destination. It takes several days to do an ordinary load or two (including washing and waiting for your items to dry). While you’re at a campsite, at least you can go fishing, hiking, or do anything other than watching and waiting for your laundry to get clean and dry. On the other hand, while you’re pretty much stuck waiting for your clothes at the Laundromat, you can do a lot more laundry at once, and also run errands–like pick up groceries and pick up new supplies.
We picked up some packing tips from seasoned RVers.
His and Her Wardrobe
Here is a basic RV checklist of items you will definitely need for your trip. And by sticking to a simple color palette, you can get away with bringing fewer items without feeling like you’re wearing the same outfit every day. Accessories like scarves, belts, and bandanas can further dress up ordinarily plain pieces.
- Underwear and socks: Enough for one week. Be sure they’re weather appropriate, such as long or wool socks for cooler weather; short socks for warmer weather. Ladies, be sure to bring a variety of bras (sports and underwire), plus a few camis and tanks for all weather patterns.
- T-shirts: At least 2 to 3 if you plan on using a Laundromat every few days. 5 to 10 tees if you don’t want to worry about making so many stops. If you’re out in cool weather, pack some long-sleeve tees, too.
- Hoodies/sweaters: For a cool climate, 2 to 3 hoodies or comfy sweaters. For a warm-climate, no more than 2 warm tops.
- Sneakers: Not counting your go-to shoes, never bring more than one pair of spare footwear. You can always find a store to replace sneakers. Since flip-flops are so compact, you can pack two or three pairs, which will give your hiking and climbing shoes time to air and dry out.
- Hats: One that can take a beating, a second hat to wear for variety or when your main hat is in time out.
- Jeans: 2 pairs if you will be hitting cooler climates. 1 pair if you are expecting mostly warm weather.
- Shorts: Several pairs for warm-weather trips. It can’t hurt to bring 1 pair of shorts if you’re traveling in a cooler climate.
- Sleepwear: Either 2 pairs of pajamas or 2 sleeping tees/boxers.
- Swim trunks: 2 or 3 when you’re traveling in warm weather. A single pair of trunks is compact enough to sneak on you rig when you’re traveling in cold weather. Especially if there’s a plan to hit an indoor waterpark.
Optional Items for Men and Women
These items are pretty similar for men and women. The key is if it’s something you don’t wear at home, you won’t wear it on the road.
- Robe: These can take up a lot of space. Don’t bring one if a towel wrap is sufficient.
- Slippers: If you don’t mind wearing flip-flops around the rig and in the shower, leave slippers for the sticks and bricks.
- Workout clothes: You probably don’t need these if you’re already bringing a selection of shorts and tees. Of course, if you have specialized workout gear, that should definitely come with you.
- Belt: Only bring a belt if you wear a belt. Men: if you’re bringing dress wear, chances are you will need a matching belt.
- Rain boots: Consider the climate you’re traveling in. The Pacific Northwest? You may want some Wellies. There are geographic areas that get a lot of rain in certain seasons, but the downpours don’t last very long, like in Texas or Florida. You’re better off staying indoors during bouts of rain rather than packing boots that will take up loads of space.
What Not to Pack for your RV Road Trip
No matter what you pack, there is going to be something you have too much of and other things you wish you had brought. Here is a list of some wardrobe pieces that you will want to put a little extra thought into.
- Sweatshirts, hoodies, and sweaters: You know your body temperature. If you tend to get chilly, bring a variety: 2 hoodies or sweatshirts and 2 sweaters. If you’re traveling in a warm climate, but know you will want the option to layer, pack just 3 of these things: 1 sweater, 1 hoodie, 1 sweatshirt; or 2 hoodies and 1 sweater. These items are bulky and will take up a lot of space.
- Lingerie: Even if the purpose of this trip is romantic, if you don’t break out the lingerie at home, you won’t break it out now. Or maybe you will … once. So just bring a single favorite nightie.
- Footwear: While we certainly cannot guess everyone’s shoe-wearing habits, we do suggest being as prudent as possible. Try this on for size:
• 1 pair of sneakers, 2 if you’re especially athletic
• 1 pair of flip-flops or sandals, 2 if these are your footwear of choice
• Anything else: Be smart. Shoes take up a lot of space.
- Hats: Bring a baseball cap or wide brimmed hat to keep the sun off your face. To keep your hair off your face and neck, you can pack buffs, bandanas, and as many hair bands as you can fit in a small makeup bag.
Before you finish packing, take a minute to consider the purpose of the trip. Are you stopping at a wedding on the way? By all means, pack that gown, tux, and shoes. But if this is strictly a sportsman or hike-and-bike holiday, those dressy tops and pants will eat up so much space, you may be tempted to toss them onto the highway halfway through. If you’re a serious adventurer, remember that while you’re climbing that rock face or rowing through the rapids, you won’t need those extra tees and shorts that you’d ordinarily wear.
Want to check out your own camping checklist?
What staples do pack for your RV road trips? Tell us in the comments below.
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