Packing Tips for a Family RV Trip

How to minimize what you bring with you.

Bryanna Royal  |  12.29.2017

It’s time to pack up for the family RV trip with the kids! What to bring? With kids, it always seems to turn into packing everything and the kitchen sink. But, that doesn’t have to be the case.

We travel full time with our four kids and dog in a 23-foot Winnebago View. Given the size and weight limitations in something that small, we have had to learn how to narrow down what we have in the RV to what we really need and use. Here is the list of the essentials when packing for your family RV trip.

Indoor Toys

Yes, we will start with toys. We are firm believers that you need room for toys for the kids. They want to have fun just as much as we do. And we know having a few toys along will make it better for everyone.

We like to include our kids in the process of selecting what toys to bring with. What we have found works is giving them each a backpack or bin and letting them bring anything that fits in it. Since they are making the choice about what to bring, they usually aren’t disappointed about what is left behind.

The staple toys that always come with are: Legos, Magna Tiles, Dolls, and figurine toys (like dinosaurs and hot wheel cars). Then the kids will add a few of their current favorites, given they fit. We also like to have a few card games and board games.

Outside Toys & Gear

We have an outside storage area that is dedicated to outside toys and items. In here you will find things like Nerf guns, ropes, adventure packs (satchels that they can fill with their ropes, leaves, binoculars, etc.), baseball and bat, frisbee, and balls. I sometimes feel like this stuff gets used way more than the indoor toys, so it’s definitely worth having a collection of outside toys.

This also includes sand toys and pool toys (goggles and swim rings) if we know we will be by water or a beach. Plus, we always bring our slackline and hammock! The kids love both of them and so do we.

Chairs

We only bring two adult-size chairs with. We have found over the years that the kids rarely sat in their cute little outdoor chairs. Instead having our two chairs allows us and the kids to rotate through and almost everywhere we go has a picnic table and that is usually where everyone ends up sitting.

We got these amazing chairs from Tiny Big Adventure that fit into a little bag, yet the chairs are still comfortable. Perfect for saving on space!

Kitchen Items

We have gone so basic on all of this that it feels great! We are literally down to one of everything for everyone and that is really all we need. Here is a list of what to have for your kitchen:

1. Pot for boiling water, cooking pasta, etc. We have one large cast iron pot that we use for everything.

2. A large skillet with sides. We have a cast iron skillet that we use for all other cooking.

3. Griddle (important for us). We make a lot of pancakes, cheese quesadillas, grilled cheese, etc.

4. Oven pan. If you are going to use the oven, we recommend a 9×13 pan or smaller depending on what will fit in your oven and one cookie sheet that will fit in your oven. We have found that a 12-inch pizza pan works better than a cookie sheet in our size convection oven.

5. One plate, one bowl and one cup for each person in our family and one set of silverware.

6. One large mixing bowl that can be used for mixing or for sharing chips or popcorn.

7. The basics: like a coffee pot, can openers, spatula, large spoon, a good cutting knife.

8. Berkey Water Filter. Our Berkey filter means we get good, fresh, clean water anywhere we go. For us, it is a must and we wouldn’t travel without it. Plus, the kids all have their own water bottle, so we can easily take water on the go.

Yes, only bringing a small amount of kitchen supplies means we have to stay on top of our dishes and no, we aren’t laying out a beautiful spread with cute plates and serving bowls. But honestly, when you have kids that is usually the least of your worries. It is more about getting the food out fast enough when everyone is hungry.

When we had a larger RV (39-foot diesel pusher), we put together this post on what we had in our kitchen. It really isn’t much different now, minus the donut maker and toaster.

Bedding & Towels

Everyone has one pillow and one blanket and then we have a few extra blankets we bring with in case it is cold. Same thing with towels. We have one towel for each person. Most campgrounds or RV parks have laundry facilities and if they don’t, you can usually find one in a nearby city.

Clothes

This is another one that can get out of hand really quickly. What is nice, and what you want to keep in mind, is that most RV parks have a laundromat! This means you can bring the least amount and know you can just wash things if you have to.

We all have 1 bathing suit, 1 sweatshirt, about 5 shirts and 5 shorts, and even less pants and long sleeves (we mostly travel where it is warm). We also all wear the same clothes a couple days in a row. Yup, I said it. And, yes, we really do it! Our kids just wear their clothes from during the day to bed at night and then get up in the morning and run out the door.

We do keep a couple nice outfits set aside so if we are going somewhere that we need to look presentable we will get those clothes out, wear them, then put them away. All their other clothes are there to get dirty. And yes, if they are covered in mud or dirt at the end of the day we will change them. But a lot of the times their clothes are fine and they can easily sleep in them and wear them the next day.

Just like everything else, if you keep your clothes to a minimum you have less to maintain while on your trip, less to pack, and less to clean up when you get home!

Tools

The other thing that is a necessity when on the road is a decent tool bag. Notice I said decent there. As with everything, there are a few essential items that you should have, including a screwdriver (we have one that has multiple bits and configurations, so it can be used for different applications), a hammer, a good knife, a foldable saw (can also be used to cut up firewood for kindling), duct tape, WD-40 Silicone spray, and zip ties.


The overall idea when packing for your family is to keep it very simple. This takes the focus away from taking care of all the things you have and instead puts the focus on enjoying the time with your family and kids! I can guarantee they would much rather be spending time with you throwing a ball around or playing with their toys than caring if they have a gourmet meal or a nice serving dish.

Next time you are packing for a family RV trip, we challenge you to think minimal and bring LESS than you think you need. You may be surprised how little you can get by with even with kids!

Do you have any must-bring items when you travel with kids? Would you agree that bringing less would be a good thing?


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