Wednesday, May 22,2024 11:51 pm EDT

The Complete RV Set Up Checklist: Over 60 Items Essential to Consider

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Why You Need an RV Set Up Checklist

rv set up checklist - patio

You are preparing for your venture into the great outdoors in your travel trailer or motor home, but you’re trying to figure out what to bring. It’s important to bring essentials and creature comforts. But an RV has limited space, and you’ll find that you’ll be forced to make trade offs. That 60 inch big screen TV may be great at home, but you’ll be cursing when climbing over it to get to the bed in your RV.

We’ve put together some ideas on this RV camping checklist that are essential items you should consider including to get your RV setup before heading out. You want to make sure you have a great camping experience! The worst thing is when you forget that essential item. Take our suggestions as a baseline and you won’t have to worry about missing anything important. This will help you feel secure and prepared to take on any camping adventure.

an RV has limited space, and you’ll find that you’ll be forced to make trade offs.

Gearing Up: Introduction to RV Life

What is an RV?

An RV, or Recreational Vehicle, is a motor vehicle or trailer that includes living quarters designed for accommodation. Types of RVs include motorhomes, caravans, campervans, fifth-wheel trailers, popup campers, and truck campers. These vehicles provide the freedom and flexibility to travel wherever you want while bringing along the comforts of home.

But they all come with size limitations because they have to be by nature portable and also are width restricted by the size of road lanes and length and height restricted by traffic laws. This means your space is limited to about 8 feet wide by a maximum of 40-45 feet long by at most 8 feet high.

So at best you have about 2600 cubic feet to store everything to live, travel and have fun. Sounds like a lot, but deduct space for furniture, cabinetry and to just move around and it gets small fast. Also, care has to be taken to make sure that you don’t overload the trailer or motorhome’s weight carrying capacity.

You can add additional storage space that might be available in your tow vehicle or towed vehicle, but you will still have much less space than in the average house to work with. This is why it’s important to organize the items you are going to take with an RV set up checklist.

Why Hit the Road in an RV?

Traveling in an RV motorhome or travel trailer allows you to embark on adventures at your own pace. You can enjoy scenic routes, stop at interesting points along the way, and stay overnight in beautiful locations. Moreover, an RV offers the comforts of home, including sleeping areas, a kitchen, and a bathroom. This makes traveling more convenient and less stressful, especially for long trips.

But you have to have the right equipment and accessories for every situation and eventuality. So putting some thought into the individual items you will take is an important step to take to be sure you have absolutely everything you need……but nothing more. An RV set up checklist will help you do that.

RV Setup Checklist: Everything You Need.

Setting up your RV involves several steps, from choosing a site to hooking up utilities. Here’s a detailed RV camping checklist to help guide you through the process.

Inside Your RV

Essential Kitchen Supplies for Delicious Meals on the Go

An RV kitchen should have all the essentials needed to prepare meals. This includes pots and pans, utensils, plates, and glasses. Additionally, consider bringing a cooler or refrigerator to keep perishable foods fresh. And don’t forget about basic kitchen supplies like aluminum foil, plastic wrap, and storage containers.

An RV kitchen should have all the essentials needed to prepare meals.

Next, let’s consider some major RV appliances that may be of great use to you by making preparing meals more convenient. Your RV likely has one or more of these installed already. RV coffee makers can be a very convenient way to brew a delicious cup of coffee to start off your day. Consider a kettle to make French press coffee or other delicious beverages like a warm cup of tea.

Microwaves are also a helpful appliance for heating up food or drinks. You can also get convection microwaves that double as an oven and allow you to bake or roast food. If you are opting for a cold drink, which is often the case in summer months, having an RV ice maker can also be a great appliance to make ice conveniently without having to use messy and inefficient trays. It will pay for itself very quickly if you are used to paying for bagged ice on your RV camping trips.

Also, RV ranges and cooktops are great if you are trying to make more complicated, homemade meals. Full-sized RV refrigerators keep food, ingredients and condiments fresh!

A real luxury is to have something to clean the dishes with so you can relax by the campfire. That’s where RV dishwashers come in handy as they can conveniently and effectively clean your dishes for you so you don’t have to waste your time and can enjoy your camping experience instead! 

Other RV Appliances

Outside of the kitchen there are some general chores that you may do in your house without thinking twice, such as laundry or cleaning, but in order to get these done in an RV you need to have the proper machines to get the job done! Now oftentimes, RV owners may opt to hand wash or dry their clothes or use facilities provided by the campground they are staying at, this is a great option. However, if you want an even more efficient means of cleaning your clothes that doesn’t require you to go anywhere, consider getting a washer and dryer for your unit, space permitting. Some RVs come pre-configured with a spot and connections for a washer and dryer.

There are also RV vacuum cleaners designed specifically for your motorhome or travel trailer. They are small and install normally in the side of a cabinet or in a storage bay without taking up RV interior space.

Cozying Up: Bedding and Comfort Essentials

class c motorhome under the stars

A good night’s sleep is essential for a successful camping trip. Your RV should feel like a home away from home, so bring comfortable bedding, pillows, blankets, and toiletries. If your RV has limited sleeping space, consider investing in a comfortable air mattress or sleeping pads. Don’t forget to pack extra blankets and pillows for chilly nights.

A good night’s sleep is essential for a successful camping trip.

Inside your RV, essentials may include bunk ladders for easy access, RV rugs to trap dirt, and window shades to keep the sun and light out.

Scrub-a-Dub-Dub: RV Bathroom Necessities

Having a functional bathroom in your RV is a major convenience. Stock up on toilet paper, hand soap, and cleaning supplies. You may also want to bring towels, washcloths, and a shower curtain if your RV has a shower. Don’t forget toiletries like toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, and conditioner., as well as any medications or personal hygiene products you may need.

Outside Your RV

roasting marshmallows around the campfire

Part of the joy of RV camping is spending time outdoors. Next on the RV setup checklist are outdoor essentials like camping chairs, a portable table, and a canopy or awning for shade. Don’t forget to pack insect repellent, sunscreen, and a first aid kit for any outdoor adventures.

Bring a portable grill or campfire cooking equipment for outdoor cooking, one of the true joys of RV travel. Outdoor accessories like camping mats or rugs can help create a comfortable outdoor living space.

picnic outside travel trailer

You’ll also need a drinking water hose, and a sewer kit to ensure clean, safe water for cooking and drinking. A water pressure regulator protects your plumbing system from high pressure city water connections at some RV campgrounds

Don’t Forget the Entertainment: Fun Stuff to Keep You Busy

card game in the rv

When you’re not driving or exploring, you’ll need something to keep you entertained. Bring books, games, a portable DVD player, or a laptop/tablet with downloaded movies and shows. An electrical adapter will come in handy for charging your devices. If you have access to electricity, you may also want to bring a TV, a laptop, or a tablet for streaming movies or shows.

There are many options specifically designed for RV internet connectivity as well. Consider adding a router for one of these to maintain your internet access when on the road, sometimes in remote areas.

Don’t forget Fido or Kitty. Pet supplies like food and water bowls, toys, pet beds, and leashes need to be included on your list.

Safety First: Emergency and First Aid Supplies

In addition to a first-aid kit, make sure to pack a fire extinguisher, emergency flares, and a tire pressure gauge. If your RV doesn’t already have them, install a propane detector, carbon monoxide detector and a smoke detector. (Propane/carbon monoxide detectors can be purchased as a dual-purpose single unit.) Duct tape is a versatile tool useful for quick fixes, while a multipurpose utility knife can serve various needs.

It’s important to prioritize safety and security while camping in an RV.

It’s important to prioritize safety and security while camping in an RV. You may also want to bring a portable generator for backup power and a GPS device for navigation. Some RVers install CB radios in their units. If you are in a remote area without cell service, it may be the only way to communicate in an emergency. A radio with a weather band lets you know information about incoming storms or other weather events in the area where you are camping.

Remember, this RV and camper checklist is just a starting point. Customize it based on your personal preferences and the specific needs of your RV camping trip. With careful planning and preparation, you’ll be ready to hit the road and enjoy a memorable camping experience.

Additional Tips for a Smooth RV Adventure

man driving class c motorhome

Quick Fixes: Bringing along Basic Tools and Spare Parts

RVs require regular maintenance, so it’s important to have the necessary tools and supplies on hand. Consider bringing basic tools like screwdrivers, wrenches, and pliers. Pack some zip ties for quick repairs You’ll also need leveling blocks or ramps to ensure you are stable when you park your RV on uneven terrain. Don’t forget to have an inventory of spare fuses, light bulbs, and batteries.

It’s also crucial to keep your parked RV from unintentionally moving, RV-specific items like a sewer hose support are essential for setting up and maintaining your RV at campsites. Don’t forget to bring a drinking water hose and a water filter to ensure clean water for drinking and showering.

Include a flashlight and extra batteries for those nights when you’re parked under the stars. A surge protector is essential to protect all of the circuit boards in your motorhome or trailer from damage by power spikes, more common outside urban areas where the power fluctuates more. A generator or solar panel setup is also essential for keeping your RV powered, especially if you plan to use electronic devices when you’re off the grid.

Think about you tow vehicle as well (or towed vehicle if you are flat towing a car with your motorhome.) Spare fuses, filters and fluids like oil and windshield washer anti-freeze are a good start.

Stay Clean and Green: Waste Management in RVs

teens recycling from rv

Proper RV waste management is crucial when living in an RV. Make sure to connect your sewer hose correctly to avoid any unpleasant situations. Always use eco-friendly cleaning supplies and biodegradable toilet paper to minimize your environmental impact.

The Complete RV Camping Checklist

  • Air mattress or sleeping pads
  • Auto/Truck Parts (fuses, filters and fluids)
  • Basic kitchen supplies like aluminum foil, plastic wrap, and storage containers.
  • Basic toolkit (screwdriver, pliers, hammer, wrenches, and a tape measure)
  • Bedding, pillows, blankets
  • Books, games
  • Bunk Ladder
  • Camping chairs
  • Camping mats or patio rugs
  • Camping stove or grill for outdoor cooking
  • Canopy or awning for shade
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Coffee maker and other small appliances
  • Cooler or refrigerator
  • Downloaded movies and shows
  • Drinking water hose
  • Duct tape
  • Electrical charging adapters
  • Emergency flares
  • Extra blankets and pillows.
  • Fire extinguisher
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Glasses
  • GPS device for navigation.
  • Hand soap
  • Ice Maker
  • Insect repellent
  • Internet Router
  • Kitchen utensils
  • Laptop or tablet
  • Leveling blocks or ramps to ensure your RV is stable on uneven terrain.
  • Medications
  • Microwave
  • Multipurpose utility knife
  • Personal hygiene products
  • Pet Food/Water Bowls
  • Pet Toys, Beds, Leashes
  • Plates, bowls and cups
  • Portable DVD player or a laptop/tablet
  • Portable generator
  • Portable tables
  • Pots and pans
  • Propane, carbon monoxide and smoke detector
  • RV Dishwasher
  • RV Range or Cooktop
  • RV Rug
  • Sewer hose kit
  • Sewer hose support
  • Shampoo, and conditioner
  • Shower curtain
  • Solar panel setup
  • Spare parts (fuses, light bulbs, batteries, and extra hoses).
  • Sunscreen
  • Surge protector is essential
  • Tea Kettle
  • Tire pressure gauge
  • Toilet paper
  • Toiletries
  • Toothbrushes, toothpaste
  • Towels and washcloths
  • TV
  • Vacuum Cleaner
  • Washer Dryer
  • Water filter
  • Water pressure regulator
  • Weather Band Radio
  • Zip Ties

We’ve also made this list available as a free printable RV Setup checklist pdf. Click here to register and download. Note that this is not a printable RV campground setup checklist, it is only designed to help you outfit your camper before you start your fist trip, or as a guid to purge your RV of items that are not essential or that you no longer need.

Include everything you deem essential for your trip, from essential kitchen supplies to safety equipment, entertainment needs, and waste management. Remember to tick off each item on this RV set up checklist as you setup your RV, ensuring you have everything you need for a smooth, enjoyable journey. It is only after you have the essentials in your rig that you can consider non-essentials and luxury items.


What order do you set up an RV?

Add what you consider to be the essential items first, then add the luxury nice to haves as you have room. Stock the least used items first, so they are at the back of your cabinets and storage bays, with the regularly used items are readily accessible.

What do you really need in an RV?

Items that relate to safety, emergency management and survival should be the first priorities on your list. After that, include the luxury items that you believe will enhance your RV trip experience.

What do first time RV owners need to know?

Everything to to with RV’s is a trade-off. Because of the space and weight limitations inherent in every RV, if you want to include a feature or pack and item, be prepared to give up access to something else.

What camping essentials should I pack in my RV?

Since you want to enjoy the outdoors, the camping essentials you should consider are items like patio furniture and accessories, campfire necessities and the things you will need to enjoy your preferred outdoor activities.

Summary: RV Set Up Checklist

Hitting the open road in an RV is an experience like no other. It brings a sense of freedom, adventure, and closeness to nature that is hard to replicate. With careful planning and preparation, you can embark on an camping trip that you’ll remember for a lifetime. So, get ready to use your RV set up checklist, then hit the road, and start creating wonderful memories!

We’ve provided an RV Set Up checklist of essential items and equipment needed for a successful RV trip in the RV you have now or starting with your next RV. It explains the limitations and size restrictions of RVs, as well as the benefits of traveling in an RV. The RV set up checklist includes kitchen supplies, appliances, and other necessary items for setting up an RV.

It discusses the various appliances, essentials, and supplies needed for a comfortable and enjoyable camping experience. We cover areas such as kitchen appliances, outdoor essentials, bedding and comfort items, bathroom necessities, entertainment options, pet supplies, and emergency and first aid supplies.

The RV set up checklist also emphasizes the importance of safety and preparedness. It suggests installing propane, carbon monoxide, and smoke detectors, as well as carrying tools for quick fixes and spare parts. The text also recommends bringing a portable generator, GPS device, and CB radio for emergencies or remote areas.

Waste management and eco-friendly practices are highlighted. There is a comprehensive list of essential items for camping, such as kitchen supplies, camping chairs, and bedding.

We encourage customization based on personal preferences and specific needs. Using one of the available RV camping checklists will provide a roadmap of essential items to include for an camping trip, including items such as pillows, toilet paper, cleaning supplies, personal hygiene products, entertainment items, safety equipment, and various tools and accessories.

For a complete list of resources for RVers, check out RV Resources for a full list of businesses and services catering to the RV community.

Enjoy our RV set up checklist and comment below if you have any suggestions for things we can add.

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