Have you ever had that “Home Alone” experience where you wake up too late and rush out the door? Forgetting a bunch of stuff and then not really remembering what you left behind?
It happens to so many people, we often get a little stressed the day of the trip. You want to get out the door and hit the road before rush hour.
Making a list of all the things you will need is essential.
Everything from plates to socks, you never know what you might forget. There may also be a few items you didn’t think were necessary until you actually needed them.
Whether this is your first or your hundredth trip, you will find this list helpful. I have put together the ultimate travel trailer packing list, so you can have a problem-free trip. Let’s get to the packing.
Technical Trailer Essentials
First, let’s go through the essentials you need for the trailer. These are things to help you during emergencies, breakdowns, or simply dumping your tanks.
1. Lug Wrench
You never know what might happen as you’re driving down a road. You might hit a fallen branch, drive into a hole, or hit a sharp rock.
And unfortunately, this could end up in a flat tire. Keeping a four-in-one lug nut wrench in your trailer will come in handy.
If you do experience a flat tire, you can quickly change it using the wrench.
Otherwise, you will have to unhook your trailer and call for help.
2. Generator Fuel
However, a generator does require quite a lot of fuel.
In fact, if you plan on using your air conditioner, you may only get about four hours of power before you need to refuel.
Keeping extra gas for the generator is crucial. The holding tanks may be a bit big and bulky, but you have to make room for them.
Also, don’t forget to store it in the center of the trailer as you’re driving.
3. Map And Compass
Even though you probably have GPS in your car or on your phone, being able to read a map is important. You might be driving through a dense forest and find yourself without a connection.
In this time, get out the map and compass. Before leaving on your trip, maybe use a colored pen to mark your route. Use different colors for different routes in case there’s heavy traffic.
The map and compass will also come in handy if you’re going out hiking or exploring the surroundings.
You may not be needing the map, but, it’s still good to have in case everything goes south (pun intended). If you have kids, this could be a good time to teach them how to navigate using a paper map.
Although, they’ll probably laugh at you for even suggesting it, like mine did on our last family trip.
4. Camper Registration Papers
It’s crucial that you bring the right papers with you. On the off chance that you might be pulled over by a police officer, you may be asked to prove ownership.
Keep the papers in the glove box, close at hand. Remember to check these papers before your trip, to make sure everything is up to date.
You will eventually need to dump your black and gray tanks.
Even though there might be hoses available at the dumpsite, it’s still handy to have your own.
I recommend getting a nice, long 15-foot hose with a clear connector.
The clear connector allows you to see when the last waste has been flushed out. Guessing when you’re finished can end in a mess if you remove the hose while there’s still gunk in it.
You can store the waste hose at the back of the trailer, there should be a large storage compartment.
I also recommend bringing your own fresh water hose. Again, there probably are hoses available, but, you never know where they have been.
Let’s have a look at the things you’ll need in your trailer kitchen:
1. Plates, Bowls, Utensils, And Cups
You will need to eat and drink, and you can’t do it without these essentials.
Some campers prefer the convenience of disposable paper and plastic. Others like to bring a few plates and cups from home, doing their bit for the environment.
I personally prefer having specific cups and plates for the trailer. You won’t have much trash, and you won’t need to pack and unpack all the time.
Go for something durable to avoid breakages, like melamine. You could also get some plate cradles to keep everything safe, and a set of utensils and an organizer for storage.
Matches are essential items that are often forgotten. You never know when the stove top won’t work, or you need to light up a few candles. They also won’t take up much space. Get a few boxes and store them in the cabinet.
3. Dish Soap
Unless you have the luxury of a dishwasher in your trailer, you will inevitably have to clean the dishes by hand. Get your hands on a mild dish soap that’s safe for the environment.
The thing is—dish soap has so many other uses. If you have limited space, you can use it to wash your hands. Need to clean the shower quickly?
You can use dish soap. If the toilet is looking a little stinky, get out the dish soap. You can even use it to wash your clothes if necessary.
4. Pots And Pans
If you plan on doing some cooking, pots and pans are a must. Again, some people prefer to just grab a few from home. However, it’s easy to go out and get a few just for the camper.
You won’t have to get a whole set, maybe get a small pot and pan, and two large ones. Camping sets often stack inside one another, a great space saver. Another thing I like to have in the trailer is a deep baking dish.
5. Hand Sanitizers
You might be cooking outside on the grill, keeping a bottle of hand sanitizer in your pocket is essential.
People who do a lot of off-grid camping know the importance of saving fresh water.
Therefore, you can’t be washing your hands every two minutes.
Keep a few bottles of sanitizer close at hand in the kitchen. Maybe get a packet of anti-bacterial wet wipes for the bathroom as well.
When you’re camping, you may not be cooking as you do at home. Let’s take a look at some essential food items:
1. Non-Perishable Foods
What you like to cook while camping depends on your camping style. Some campers like to cook as they normally would at home. Others like to become one with nature and cook over a campfire or grill.
But, one thing we all should have in our trailer is non-perishable foods. Some of my favorites are canned beans, tuna, corn, and peanut butter.
You can actually make some delicious, easy meals using canned food. Just remember to take a can opener.
2. Fresh Milk
It can be difficult to get your hands on fresh milk while camping. I like to buy a few cartons before the trip and keep them in the fridge.
Keep in mind that the sell-by date and expiration date are different. The sell-by date refers to the last day it can be sold. The expiration date marks when it will start to go bad.
Remember, milk can sometimes still be good after the expiration date, especially if you have a reliable fridge.
Look out for any clumps, bad smells, or weird colors—these are indicators that the milk is spoiled.
3. S’Mores Kit
Is it even allowed to camp without making s’mores? Maybe not, but there’s still no doubt that this delicious dessert is important. To make s’mores, you’ll need marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate.
Don’t forget long sticks so you can roast the marshmallows. You don’t have to make a fire, you can easily do this over a grill or even the stove. Microwaving s’mores is also possible.
Eggs are so easy to prepare and very versatile. I always make sure to keep some in my fridge. Whether you’re cooking them sunny-side up for breakfast or making a dinner omelet—eggs are delicious.
The best thing about eggs is that they can stay good in the fridge for up to five weeks. So don’t be afraid to stack up. If you’re unsure of your eggs’ freshness, you can easily check using one of two methods:
- Crack the eggs on a plate: Watch for a circle around the yolk, this means it’s still good.
- Check in a deep bowl or pot: Fill it with cold water and gently put the eggs in whole. If they float to the surface, it’s best not to eat them.
Bananas are packed full of nutrients, such as potassium, folate, and magnesium. Not to mention, they are a great quick snack. Whenever you’re feeling a little peckish between meals, eating a banana will fill you up just enough.
Bananas, among other fruits, can stay good outside the fridge for some time. Unless the weather is extra hot, they could last you a good five days. Don’t be afraid to stock up on a little fruit before a trip.
I often forget my toothbrush, anybody else? Let’s see the bathroom list:
1. Toothbrush And Toothpaste
A toothbrush is essential, there’s really no substitute. I recommend taking a couple of spares, too. If your trip is longer, maybe even a few more, in case of accidents.
Don’t forget about the toothpaste either, you can’t brush your teeth in dish soap, right? Get a good sized tube so the whole family can share.
2. Toilet Paper
Toilet paper is the center of many RV-related discussions. Some campers only buy toilet paper marked RV safe. Other people may be taking it a little too far—they don’t flush the paper, ever.
Truth is—you can easily use normal toilet paper in your trailer, although stay away from the thick, quilted types. One-ply is best, but you can even go for a two-ply as long as it is fast dissolving.
If you want to be on the safe side, choose a toilet paper that’s safe for septic systems.
If you’re a whole family camping, you may be needing a few of these. Bring along large and small towels so you have enough for showers and other uses.
You may be camping near a lake or beach, therefore, swimming will definitely be on the schedule. You’ll need enough towels for everyone, plus extra for when the ones in use get wet or dirty.
4. First Aid Kit
A first aid kit is crucial to have in your trailer, you may be out camping far away when an accident occurs.
Whether it’s a small scratch or a large cut, the first aid kit can help.
You should go for a kit that can treat common accidents like splinters and cuts. It’s also important to have medical products that can relieve fevers and allergies.
5. Shampoo And Soaps
Even though you may not be showering every day, you still need to do it right when you actually get the chance. Get your hands on a large bottle of shampoo. Even better— two-in-one shampoo and conditioner.
You should also remember to bring hand soap for the bathroom.
Another thing you might find useful is a good moisturizer. This will definitely come in handy if you’re out in the sun or wind more than usual, which will dry the skin.
If you’re traveling with the whole family, you’re going to need a large suitcase or two. Always pack for all weathers—especially if you are traveling across the country, you never know when it’s likely to get cold.
If you’re planning to do a lot of hiking, you will need socks. Socks protect your feet while keeping them warm. Don’t forget to bring extra pairs in case they get wet, or too stinky.
If you’re planning on doing a lot of exploring, hiking boots are a necessity. Whether you’re going to explore a forest or walking through muddy terrain, boots will keep your feet safe.
Which boots you should choose is up to you. I recommend finding a pair of waterproof, heavy-duty boots. These will be more comfortable to walk in compared to rubber boots.
Jackets are always a must-have. When camping, we often spend the evenings outside, and even in the summer it can become too cool for a T-shirt after dark.
Which type of jacket you should bring depends on the season and the activities you’re planning on doing.
During the summer, I recommend bringing a lightweight, wind-resistant jacket.
For winter camping, a heavy quilted, waterproof jacket will be a better option.
It’s crucial to protect your eyes from the burning sun and its dangerous UV rays. Always keep a pair in the car, close at hand for when you’re driving.
Even though there probably is a visor in the car, it won’t be much use if the sun sets over the horizon in front of you.
If you already wear glasses, you might often skip on the sunglasses because of loss of sight or inconvenience. But this could be a huge mistake.
Before your trip, invest in a pair of prescription sunglasses. Or there’s the option of regular glasses that darken when exposed to bright light. You can also opt for sunglasses made to fit on top of your regular glasses.
5. Hats And Sunscreen
Just as sunglasses are a must to protect your eyes, hats are also crucial to keep you safe. Being outside in the middle of the day, when the sun is at its hottest, you can quickly suffer a heat stroke.
Sunscreen is another must-have, especially if you have children. I like to go for at least a 30 SPF, if not higher. Put the sunscreen on first thing in the morning, or at least 30 minutes before going outside.
Our list is coming to an end, but first, I want to just share a few extra vital pieces of equipment for your trip:
- Mosquito repellents.
- Collapsible chairs for outdoors.
- Flashlight and extra batteries.
- Leveling blocks.
- Spare keys for the trailer.
- Charging cords for electronics.
- Pillows and warm blankets.
- Coffee pot.
- Board games, balls, outdoor games.
Forgetting important things when going camping can be such a headache. If it happens, remember to update your list as soon as possible.
Don’t be afraid to do the opposite too — if you realise you packed too many pillows, or you really didn’t need those extra towels, make a note for next time.
A quick tip to easily remember everything: Pack ahead of time. Park your trailer out in the driveway days before a trip. Every day, go back and forth, adding items and checking them off the list.
You can also dedicate a corner in the house for your camping gear. Every time you remember something, grab it and place it there.
Hopefully you’ve found this list helpful for your next trip. Is there anything you would add?
Maybe something you wouldn’t bring? Write a comment below, I love hearing from you guys.