Must-have items to pack for an RV camping trip with kids


So this post isn’t about all the necessary items that you need on a camping trip: The picnic table cloth, the foldable chairs, the first aid kit… you’re a responsible adult, you know what you need to pack. You don’t need to be reminded that the kids may need sand toys if you’re going to spend time at the beach or lots of snacks to munch on or a fun box filled with books and road games either. This post is about the stuff that you may not know that you need for a road trip with kids: the game-changers, the “I wish”es. Feel free to add your own in the comments, too, as this list was borne from our own unique experience!

1. DVDs

Both @scosays and I have been using streaming services for years and no longer have DVD slots in our laptops so when we first saw the DVD player in the RV we grinned and thought we could figure out a way to connect our phones to the TV if we looked hard enough. But we had totally overlooked the fact that going on a wilderness trip might mean little or no reception for most of the time – especially on the road, when the kids would be bored the most. Enter DVD movies a.k.a. lifesavers, and believe me we have learned it the hard way when I say that DVDs are timeless assets in an RV.

Lifesavers I tell you. And you don’t even have to buy them. Just rent them at your local library or borrow from a friend. Some campgrounds even sell them secondhand at very reasonable prices.

2. Handheld Vacuum

If you have one, you’ve gots to bring it on-board! Because those kids – well, God knows we love them all, but they’re expert messmakers. And with so many people in such a small area – it gets pretty dirty pretty damn fast, especially if the weather turns sour and you have to spend time inside the RV. A handheld vacuum a game changer when it comes to cleaning those small cracks and crevices, I’m telling you. That said, do not forget the good old mop, either, for everything else.

The kids’ll play. The kids’ll snack. The kids will spill. All inside the RV. You’ll thank me.

3. Tarp

All you need’s a small tarp that you can use as a large doormat. You’re there to spend time outdoors, there’s dirt – dirt needs to stay out. Need I say more?

Here’s a photo to show you that it’s not just my opinion – out at the campground, everybody’s got a tarp doormat.

4. Mattress Protectors

You know what – you need one for each bed: The kids’ll end up in your bed at some point and their beds may be convertible, may doubletask as a dinette… it’s just not worth the risk. If you do not have matress protectors, you can just buy the pet training mats they sell at the dollar store. Disposable mats are obviously more convenient when on the road, too.

This is how the inside of our RV looked before bedtime. All surfaces, at any given point are always occupied. Best to play it safe.

5. Kindling & Firestarter

As soon as you start researching for campgrounds, you’ll notice a little warning that asks you not to bring outside firewood. Basically, because foreign species travel on firewood and outside firewood is considered an environmental hazard to the local fauna, the campgrounds will ask you to obtain your firewood from the campground store. Some will sell firestarters or offer you one free with a bag of firewood. But between the firestarter and proper firewood – burning smaller sticks of wood called “kindling” will make your life a whole lot easier. That being said, it is a small, yet very real possibility that the firewood purchased from the campground store may turn out to be wet and this is when you’ll really apprecate the value of both the kindling and firestarter.

6. Cold Weather Gear

We live in the Toronto area, so even though our first camping trip was in August, we did bring mattresses and sweatshirts with us – just in case. The weather proved a tad colder than we anticipated and all the cold gear stuff we brought proved incredibly useful, including raingear. It’s always better to be overprepared than underprepared with kids, you know what I mean, right?

7. Step Stool

Preferably a folding one too, if you have it, so it doesn’t take up space. A step-stool isn’t only helpful for kids to reach the sink, either. It helps shorter adults such as myself reach the higher cabinets as there’s limited space in the RV and you may need to place some frequently used items (such as your cleaning gear) in the above-head cabinets. Game-changer I tell you!

There’s hidden storage all around an RV, not to mention the air vents. So if you’re a shortie like me, you better get that pack that stool, not just for your kids – but also for yourself.

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