At first glance, camping seems like the ultimate vacation steal. Surely, if you really want to Walden it, you only need a few things for your week in the woods, right?
Not so fast. What started as an affordable way to connect with nature and your loved ones has really begun to add up. There are some things you just need to stay safe, stay well, and truly enjoy your time outdoors, especially if you’re packing up the RV for an adventure.
If you’re having trouble narrowing down your RV packing list or are just trying to build the most cost-effective checklist you can before your trip, you’ve come to the right place.
Keep reading for suggestions on affordable items to add to your RV packing list!
Clothes and Bedding
There’s no denying sleep is a crucial factor in keeping healthy and having enough energy to really make the most of your camping trip.
But you may find it tough to sleep in a different place than usual on low-quality bedding.
And you especially can’t enjoy your camping venture in clothes not suited for the weather. You never know where you might find yourself when a spontaneous rainstorm appears.
If you encounter a soggier hike than you had expected, you’ll want to ensure you have the right accouterment.
So, here are just a few suggestions for affordable clothes and bedding to consider for your next trip!
1. Travel Sheets
To save space, your wallet, and your sleep schedule, seek out some comfy, wallet-friendly travel sheets!
They’re temperature controlled, breathable, and packed into a small, flat pack, perfect for tucking away when not in use.
And even better – they don’t break the bank.
2. Travel Towels
In the same spirit, travel towels can be a real lifesaver. They’re multi-purpose, quick-drying, light, and easy to travel with.
Investing your money in a good quality product can save you a boatload in the end, and here’s a great example.
Rather than blowing through rolls and rolls of paper towels, or buying cheap bath or beach towels that you end up ditching midway through and having to replace, try out a travel towel instead!
3. All-Weather Gear
Nothing puts a damper on a great trip, quite like some unexpected weather. The last thing you want is to be caught out without gear to keep you warm and dry.
Adding some all-weather, waterproof items to your RV packing list is a smart way to get more wear out of your current wardrobe.
They’re easier to travel and move with than an umbrella, and last longer too!
The inner pockets and water-wicking material will ensure that any tech items you might have on you stay safe and dry, too.
Water can really damage shoes that aren’t meant to get or stay wet. Plus, what’s worse than wet socks?
They can be sleek, comfortable, and lightweight, not taking up too much space. This way, you can ensure your other pairs of socks and shoes don’t have to be replaced after a muddy hike or rainy day.
If you want a shortcut or don’t expect too much precipitation, you can always have some waterproofing spray on hand instead of packing extra clothes.
The waterproofing spray is a hydrophobic, fabric-protectant sealant that can provide some protection against wet weather or ground.
If you aren’t careful, personal items and toiletry costs can add up. They’re easy to lose or damage, but you can’t really live without them. This can result in having to replace your items often, and it’s not exactly a cost you can cut.
This is why it’s important to invest in multipurpose, good-quality items that will last! When noting down your RV packing list, make sure to add these products.
4. First Aid Kit
Instead of buying your first aid items separately, a first aid kit intended for camping and adventure will have everything you need in a compact, watertight case.
The compact convenience will help you cut down on excess packing or losing smaller items tucked away somewhere. Plus, the airtight case keeps the items fresh and dry, no matter the humidity or weather.
5. Bug Spray
More often than not, the best way to prevent an expensive disaster is to prepare!
In this case, the best way to avoid using up bandages, calamine lotion, or having to take a trip to the ER is to come equipped with a good bug spray. It’s simply a can’t-miss item on your affordable RV packing list.
6. Waterproof Toiletry Bag
A waterproof toiletry bag helps keep all your toiletries together so they don’t get lost and keep them nice and dry. Soggy toiletries are toiletries that need replacing. A waterproof toiletry bag is an inexpensive investment with a big payoff.
7. Antimicrobial Cloth
Not every campsite you visit will have clean, well-stocked bathrooms, or even bathrooms at all. Whether or not you have a bathroom in your RV, it’s likely you’ll need some toilet paper or paper towel products.
Instead of keeping bulky rolls of paper products around that need to be restocked often, try out an antimicrobial cloth!
Sometimes, reusable items get some hate for not being as sanitary as disposable items. But not in this case! The ion-infused antimicrobial material neutralizes color and odor, while the high absorbency leaves no trace.
Enjoy your time outdoors without having to fret about your hygiene or toilet paper stock.
RV camping often involves some level of vehicle maintenance. Letting problems build up can lead to expensive repairs or, worse, having to cut your trip short.
Instead, make sure you pack some affordable maintenance tools to nip these problems in the bud!
For on-the-go repairs, a multi-tool is one of the best items you can have on hand. They typically include different size screwdrivers, pliers, knives, and even a bottle opener (just in case).
This small, handheld tool can replace a big bulky toolbox in your camper storage and can help save you a fortune on expensive repairs and replacements in and around your RV!
9. Roadside Kit
We never want to plan for mishaps, of course, but being unprepared can ruin what would be a great trip. This is why a travel road kit comes in handy!
A travel road kit is an affordable RV packing list must-have to keep you safe and ward off expensive future problems, featuring jumper cables, a tow strap, an emergency blanket, a fire starter, and emergency road signs.
If you’re doing any maintenance, you’ll need a light source. A headlamp is a great, hands-free, inexpensive way to ensure you can actually see what you’re doing.
Even if it’s light out, you might need some extra light to see the small details of your vehicle or any other project that might need some attention.
Even on RV trips, we can’t always rely on mother nature to provide endless amusement.
The weather might not be ideal, you might find yourself on a long drive with some restless kids, or maybe you just might want a night in to relax.
But, excess board games can take up a lot of space, and packing expensive technology is always a risk. Instead, try these more affordable entertainment options for size!
11. Deck of Cards
Did you know you can play as many as 1,000 games with a single deck of cards?
It’s hard to run out of ways to entertain with that many choices on hand! To make sure your cards don’t need frequent replacing, find a pack with a case and a waterproofing seal.
For the artist in you, a paint-by-number is a great project to tackle on long RV trips.
There are so many different pictures and scenes you can paint! Most paint-by-number kits come with everything you need and can easily store away when you’re all finished.
Depending on the difficulty, paint-by-numbers can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days to finish, making them an awesome, creative way to bide your time while traveling. Just watch out for potholes!
For most RV travelers, the appeal of going by van is the unmitigated access to the outdoors whenever you fancy! When camping, a love for the outdoors is a necessary tool to have on your proverbial checklist. But what about actual outdoor gear?
Check out these recommendations for some affordable outdoor items to add to your RV packing checklist!
13. Step Rug
When enjoying mother nature, a bit of dirt, sand, or mud on your clothes and shoes is inevitable. However, that doesn’t mean you have to trek it inside your RV with you!
In order to make the most of the great outdoors while keeping your indoor space nice and tidy, a step rug to wipe off your feet before you climb aboard is a great, affordable solution to add to your packing list.
14. Blow-up Paddleboards
Though hiking is a great way to experience the terrain around you while camping, you’ll likely want to branch out into some other kinds of sports and activities on a long trip.
But acquiring and maintaining outdoor gear can be expensive!
If you’re trying a new sport out, you’re probably not wanting to invest a boatload just yet. This is why stepping stones like blow-up paddleboards are a wonderful option to test outdoor sports waters (literally).
They’re considerably more affordable and much easier to store, too.
Even for casual adventurers, daypacks are a necessity. No matter how far you travel or hike, you need to have your water, bug spray, snacks, and sunglasses within reach.
However, daypacks don’t need to be big and expensive! There are plenty of affordable options out there that get the job done without breaking the bank.
No matter the length of the trip, a camper has to eat! But food costs can easily add up if you aren’t careful and can take up a lot of space.
Your kitchen accouterment are certainly necessary items, but don’t forget you have options to make your packing easier and more affordable!
16. Multi-use Utensils
Multi-use utensils are awesome to have on hand. They cut down on the number of cutlery items you need, are sturdy and reusable, and are pretty cheap!
A few of these will more than satisfy your need for utensils in your kitchenette.
17. Buying Wholesale
Dry goods and non-perishables can take up a lot of space and produce much waste.
Buying some of your camping groceries wholesale can save you a ton of overhead costs for your trip and conserve materials and space in your RV.
Some mason jars or stacking containers are perfect for storing your wholesale dry goods.
18. Reusable Items
It’s shocking how many items are single-use without even realizing it! Plastic bags are obvious, and thankfully there are many options for reusable bags and containers.
But have you thought about the other items in your kitchen that you can replace with reusable products?
Making the switch cuts way down on waste and ultimately saves you space and money!
Final Thoughts on the Ultimate RV Packing List
Convenience and comfort don’t always have to cost you. The best way to save money while still writing a comprehensive RV packing list is to invest in quality, multi-use products that will last.
The fewer products you have to cycle through and replace, the more money you will keep in your pocket for the next adventure!
For more camping item ideas, check out our list of cool camping gear.
- About the Author
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Leah is a writer, editor, and content manager with a master’s degree in English. Naturally, she is passionate about all things writing and learning.
She is proud to call North Carolina (specifically, the Outer Banks) home and loves exploring the state’s stunning coastline, sprawling Blue Ridge, and everything in between.
Leah can be reached at email@example.com