We recently went from full-time RVers to part-time ones. This transition didn’t come easily, especially to me. I’m a nomad at heart, and being on the road makes me extremely happy. The transition was made all the harder because we didn’t move back home—we’re temporarily living in a different city, stationary at an apartment that isn’t our sticks-and-bricks home and isn’t our home on the road, either.
There have been advantages for sure. The building where we are living is very nice, and there’s a “study lounge” that’s a quiet space where I can come any time and work, so that’s a bonus. A dedicated space where I can work uninterrupted, that’s available to me 24/7, was never part of life on the road. There’s other cool things in the building too, but I’m getting off topic.
I wanted to write a post about part-time RVing, because when we moved out of the RV and into the apartment, we obviously emptied out the RV completely, since all our house stuff is still in a storage room in Kingston. Thing is, we’re still using the RV for weekend trips. And now that we don’t live in the RV anymore, we have to think about packing a house for a weekend, which we’ve never had to do—we’ve always “lived” full-time in the RV, other than a quick trip to Canada’s Wonderland, where we didn’t need to have household stuff with us, because we spent all day at the park.
So if you’re moving from full-time to part-time RVing, or even if you’re just starting out as a part-time RVer, here’s a list of things you should remember to pack. If you want a printable version of this as a checklist, be sure to sign up for the mailing list here to get one.
First, here’s how we pack the regular stuff in our RV for a short-term outing:
We put our clothes in the drawers and closets, but we also pack “daytime backpacks” for each kid that include an extra pair of clothes in case of any accidents, spills, etc. In the backpacks we also include a water bottle, and for our son who has asthma, his inhaler. The kids are responsible for carrying their own backpacks, except when we go to amusement parks—it’s just easier to manage if just the adults carry backpacks in that case.
What to remember to pack for part-time RVing
After we moved out of the RV and into our temporary apartment in London, ON, we thought we were being so good when we made a list of things to pack for our trip to Six Flags Darien Lake.
Well, we forgot a LOT of stuff… For instance, I remembered to pack the coffee filters, but didn’t bring the coffee. I remembered to pack the cereal, but didn’t bring the milk. Most of the stuff I forgot to bring had to do with food—because we purchased our groceries while we were on the road during our full-time RV trip, I’m not used to remembering to pack perishables for a trip.
I also took our first aid kit out of the RV so we had one in the apartment, and forgot to pack it back into the RV. I remembered almost all the sheets, but inexplicably didn’t bring the bottom sheet for our bed.
I didn’t even think of bringing hair ties. With three people with long hair in the family, hair ties are important. No matter, though—I’m making this list now so that both I and you can remember what to bring next time.
Packing List for RV Travel
Clothing & Shoes
1 pair of pants per person for every 3 days on the road, plus an extra pair in a day backpack
1 shirt per person for every day on the road (up to 6 days—do laundry on the 7th), plus an extra shirt in a day backpack
1 pair of underwear per person for every day on the road (up to 6 days), plus an extra pair or two in a day backpack
1 pair of socks per person for every day on the road (up to 6 days), plus an extra pair in a day backpack
You’ll probably be wearing them, but figured I’d put it on the list just in case: 1 pair of shoes for each person
If it’s warm weather:
1 swimsuit for each person
Flip flops or water shoes for each person (these are good to have even when it’s not warm, in case you use the showers at the campgrounds).
If it’s cold weather:
1 jacket per person
1 pair of gloves or mittens per person
1 touque/beany/winter hat per person
1 sweater per person
If it’s wet weather:
1 rainjacket/rainsuit per person
1 pair of rainboots per person
1 towel per person, plus we bring an extra 2 for putting on the seats when the kids eat (kids are messy eaters and fabric seats are impossible to clean). If it’s warm, bring 1-2 beach towels to sit on outside as well.
1 toothbrush per person
Feminine hygiene products
1 hairbrush per person
1 comb per person
Hair ties (at least 2 per person with long hair)
1 bath towel per person
2-3 hand towels
If you take daily medication, pack enough of it to last for the entirety of the trip, plus 3-4 days more, just in case your return gets delayed. I use a pill organizer and find it helps me for travelling.
Note: we keep all our toiletries and shower stuff in a basket, so that if we’re using the campgrounds washrooms, it’s just a matter of grabbing the basket, and we don’t forget anything.
Cookware, Eating Utensils and Other Kitchen Items
1 plate per person
1 bowl per person
1 fork per person
1 knife per person
1 large spoon per person
1 small spoon per person
1 mug/cup per person
1 cup per person
1 water bottle per person (fill up before you leave for the trip)
Ziptop bags and/or food containers (we prefer plastic as it’s less likely to break in the RV, but if you have solid glass ones, they should be OK if you secure them)
10-20 cloth napkins (we prefer using cloth to cut down on waste)
Food & Water
Large jug of water, plus 2, 1L emergency jugs
The food you’ll eat, including breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner for each day. Here’s some of what we pack (or wish we remembered to pack):
Veggies (for fruits, veggies, dairy, and meat, be sure to check regulations if crossing borders)
Meals that have been cooked ahead of time, so you can enjoy your time off.
movies for rainy days at campgrounds (but remember to visit the library, too!)
Coloring and activity books
Journal and stickers
First Aid & safety
Road ID on each person’s wrist
First Aid Kit
Vehicle Emergency kit, including, at a bare minimum, jumper cables and safety triangles
Ice pack in freezer
Bottom sheet for each bed
Top sheet for each bed
Blanket for each bed
1 pillow per person
1 mattress protector per bed (our kids always end up with us in bed, so we put a mattress protector on ours too, just in case)
Paper Towel or reusable cleaning towels
small broom if you have hardwood or laminate flooring
Vacuum if your rig doesn’t come with a central vacuum
Vacuum bags if your rig has a central vacuum
Toilet paper—don’t forget the toilet paper!
Baby wipes—we find these useful for kids of every age.
Facial Tissues—we actually keep a box beside every seat in the RV, so mama doesn’t have to constantly come to the rescue.
Documents—passports if you’re crossing borders, notary certified permission to travel with children if you’re travelling without their other guardian.
Doesn’t look like I’ll need half this list, though… I got tired of moving things back and forth up and down the stairs of the apartment building every time we needed to pack the RV… so I went out to the thrift store, dollar store, and Walmart, and bought everything we’ll need anytime we use the RV. Now we don’t have to worry about forgetting the dishes.