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The RV Checklist: Every Travel Essential You Need to Hit the Road

There's still time to get away — and an RV is the safest way to travel.


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There’s no denying that summer vacations look very different this year than in the past. Many travelers are feeling uneasy about flying and staying in hotels and Airbnbs due to the risk of contracting COVID-19 — not to mention several popular destinations are temporarily closed or restricting visitor capacity.

But not all hope is lost for summer travel this year. RVs rentals have skyrocketed. Thinking about renting an RV? Even if you’re taking your tenth RV trip or you’ve never rented an RV before, here are a few tips to get you started, plus everything you’ll need on your RV camping checklist before you hit the road. 

Why Renting an RV is the Ideal Way of Travel

There are many perks to renting an RV, campervan, or trailer for your summer vacation, especially during a global pandemic. Also called motorhomes, RVs offer a fun and flexible way to travel, allowing you to make changes to your itinerary on the fly. Not only can you go pretty much anywhere you want to, but you also have the means to travel with minimal interaction with the general public — greatly reducing your potential exposure to the Coronavirus. You also have sleeping accommodations, which means you don’t need to book hotel rooms, further reducing your risk of getting sick with COVID-19

As COVID-19- related travel guidelines and safety measures continue to update on a weekly and daily basis, it’s important to know cancellation policies and fees. And seek out RV rentals that follow responsible hygiene protocol, and then always wipe everything down again with disinfecting wipes and spray to be extra safe.

RV Renting Tips

rv checklist

Many travelers are planning their first-ever RV trip this summer, and there are a few general pointers to know to help you select the right one for your vacation.

Before you select which RV to rent, you should have a general idea of where you’re going on your road trip — but remember, half the fun of RVing is exploring new-to-you places along your route, so leave room for spontaneity. Also, you need to know the size of your group, keeping in mind that RVing means spending a lot of time in a small space, and this style of travel isn’t for everyone. So just make sure everyone who’s traveling with you is comfortable with the close quarters. You’ll also want to know your ballpark budget ahead of time. Make sure to include not only the RV rental cost, but other costs like gas, parking fees, campground fees, National Park passes, food, and activities along the way.

Once you know your general travel itinerary and who’s traveling with you, you need to pick the appropriate size motorhome to rent. This boils down to three main considerations: 

  1. Enough sleeping space for everyone (Tip: make sure to ask — or better yet, tour the motorhome before you rent it — what each sleeping space is like. Just because a rental says it sleeps six doesn’t mean each spot will be suitable for your travelers)  
  2. Space for each passenger to comfortably sit during long stretches of driving
  3. Enough storage to bring everything you need, like kitchen appliances, personal toiletries, outdoor essentials, and more

Where to Rent an RV

  • Outdoorsey – Pickup, setup & delivery from airport to destination; 100+ advisors available for 24/7 help; Peace of mind with insurance & 24/7 roadside assistance. Learn more >
  • RV Share – Largest RV rental marketplace with thousands of 5-star reviews; wide-range of inventory from affordable pop-ups to luxury motorhomes; 24/7 Emergency roadside assistance on every booking. Learn more >

Now that you’ve found the perfect RV rental for your summer trip, it’s time to pack. Since you’ll need to buy some essentials that are specially made to use in RVs, we’ve compiled an exhaustive RV camping checklist for you to reference.

Scroll down for our full RV Camping Checklist, covering all the essentials, from kitchen items to bathroom necessities and outdoor essentials.

The RV Checklist

rv checklist

RV Bathroom Essentials

Keep in mind that you’ll need to buy toilet paper that’s specially made to use in RVs. This toilet paper is generally labeled as ‘rapid-dissolving’ or ‘fast-dissolving,’ meaning it breaks down faster than regular bath tissue. You’ll also need toilet chemicals for the RV, which are chemicals that help eliminate the odors produced by waste in the RV waste tank.

RV Kitchen Essentials

Some RV rentals are available with kitchen items like dishes and a coffee pot, so you don’t need to pack them — but not all rentals come equipped with these items. It’s always best to double check before you pack kitchen essentials. If your rental doesn’t come with the basic kitchen necessities, here’s a list of common items you’ll want to pack for your RV vacation.

RV Outdoor Essentials

You’ll be spending a lot of time outdoors during your RV trip, so don’t forget these essential outdoor items, from lanterns to screen rooms and fishing poles.

Clothing, Attire & Other Personal Items

Your clothing packing list will vary depending on where and when you’re traveling, so make sure to plan accordingly. Here’s a list of clothing and attire to get you started.

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