5 Smart Packing Tips For Your Small RV

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James and I are in the process of packing up the RV for a big road trip!

The Fit RV Hits The Road

I love this phase: the bubbling anticipation, the prepping of the RV, the millions of trips out to the RV with armfuls of things from the house. I really should wear a pedometer on packing day.

We’ve come a long way with our packing efficiency, I’m happy to report. It has taken us years of trial and error (loads & loads of error), but we can now pack our little Class B up like clockwork. You should have seen some of our first trips:

 Example 1: Our first night on the trip, about to convert the dinette and couch into the bed…

Me: “Honey, which cupboard has the bedding?

James looked at me with dread: “I believe that would be the linen cabinet BACK AT THE HOUSE.”

 Example 2: Driving along a curvy road…

James: “What is all that stuff sliding around the floor back there?!”

Me: “I couldn’t get the hammock and the patio umbrella to fit anywhere!”

James: “Do you think we’ll need the patio umbrella? We have an awning.”

Me: “Of course we need the umbrella! What if it rains, and the picnic table is far from the awning, and it’s chained to the ground?! What do we do then, smart guy?

James: “We eat inside?”

Eventually, we got it right. We learned that all that extra stuff wasn’t only weighing the RV down, it was also weighing us down. After all, the whole point of RVing is freedom and exciting adventures, right? It only makes sense that part of that freedom should also be from dependence on all that unnecessary extra stuff that can bog us down. Once we figured that out, the RV pretty much packed itself. Well, okay, not really. But packing did get much, much simpler.


The Fit RV On The Road

If you are new to the joys of packing up a small RV for road trips, here are some of our lessons we learned. Hopefully we can save you some time from making our same mistakes:

Packing Tip #1: Pack light!

First off, you don’t want to overload your RV past its capacity, that’s a huge safety no-no. But beyond that, less stuff frees you up to focus on what matters, and that’s getting OUT, spending time in nature, recharging with friends and family, or whatever it was that compelled you out in the first place. Even the little things like plates, utensils, and cups, they add up and will suck your precious space. If there are only one or two of you, how many cereal bowls do you really need?

Packing Tip #2: Use a packing list!

This step has been a game changer for me and speeds up the packing time immensely.  I’ve shared my own lists HERE, otherwise it’s easy enough to make your own. You can refine and analyze your list after each trip you take, because inevitably you’ll have things you ended up not needing or using. Your list will get more and more perfected with each trip you take.

Packing Tip #3: Try to avoid breakables!

Remember, you’re a rolling earthquake. so everything you put in your rig takes abuse. We love our Nordicware dishes and cooking bowls. For cups, we use Silipints, and they also make some funky stemless wine glasses. Another bonus, these types of products are much less rattly than breakables when driving along.


Packing Tip #4: Plan your meals ahead.

I know it sounds like a ton of work, but it eliminates overpacking foods you won’t use, and it saves you tons of time DURING the trip. When the meals are planned ahead, you’re putting less brain-power into figuring out meals and you’ve got more time for adventures on the road!


Packing Tip #5: Don’t forget your re-usable tote bags.

Besides being good for the planet, reusable totes serve many functions on the road. Not only are they useful getting the RV packed up for the trip, they’ll also be your grocery bag, laundry bag, and even your shower bag during the trip, too.


And probably the biggest…let me really emphasize that…the BIGGEST lesson we have learned about packing is this:

The less stuff you bring, the less you’ll have to unpack at the trip’s end.

While packing for a trip can be a ton of fun, I don’t know anyone who loves unpacking the RV after the trip! So, do yourself a favor. Save yourself from the post-trip unpacking blues. You can start by leaving the patio umbrellas at home.

Any readers out there have some more packing tips we can add to the list?

After 15 years as an educator in both the public K-12 setting and the University level in Special Physical Education, Stef made the leap to her true passion… the fitness world. She’s currently a personal trainer and wellness coach specializing in seniors, medical conditions, and injuries. Stef loves running, cycling, and being “Mugga” to her two favorite mini-humans — Punky and Marshmallow. ❤️

    7 thoughts on “5 Smart Packing Tips For Your Small RV

    1. Rhonda Sikvery

      I seal a meal every soup and stew I made during the year in the approximate size for my husband and myself. Also put maranaite in ice cider trays and bring them for salmon and steaks. I also freeze part of cookie dough to make fresh cookies. We go for 45 days at a time and I don’t worry about a good meal. Take out, thaw, eat

    2. Heidi

      We are new to the RV world and bought a 39FT last Oct, It obviously had endless storage! We tok about 8 trips in the RV before we decided we needed to downsize to make quick weekend trips easier. With that said the new RV is 24 FT and I need to pack only what we need and things that pack up small. (folding tables) Can anyone point me in the direction to a list of ‘MUST HAVEs” and things that break down to store in a small space. I was SO spoiled with the larger RV and want to make sure I don’t over pack or underpack.


    3. Stephen Cyr-Paulson

      Outside of food, nearly everything we need for traveling stays on the RV. All kitchen items, recreational accessories, toiletries, basic clothing including socks/undies, etc. After a trip, we wash bedding, towels, and clothes and return them to the washed RV. I invited a friend on a spur-of-the-moment trip and we were ready to go after a quick trip to the grocery store. No worrying whether I had remembered my toothbrush, a jacket, or the phone charger. I also use a list app to record any any needs discovered on the road (repair the back screen, pick up aluminum foil…) so I can wrap those up quickly when we get home. Always keep ready to roll!

      1. Dan Scott

        We do the same, except clothes are not packed either. We even keep kid’s games and toys in there, so when we go camping, the toys are a special treat and feel new and exciting again.

        1. Stefany - Post author

          Nice idea keeping kid’s games/toys packed! We do keep SOME things in there permanently. Linens, all kitchenware, etc. Not clothes and toiletries, but my wheels are turning about trying that out…

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