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RV Camping Checklists for Your First Year RVing

The Ultimate RV Camping Checklist for Your First Year RVing

There's probably a dozen things you want to buy for your camper, a dozen things you need, and at least a dozen more you never thought about. And then there's actually packing for your first outing—what do you bring? What do you leave behind? We've tried to make it as easy as possible by consolidating everything you may need on your camping trip in one place. Of course, by no means do you need everything on this list—for instance, a cell signal booster will be crucial for some and unnecessary for others. You may decided to forgo certain items at first and then decide you need them later on, or you may feel after your first trip that you packed too heavy. There may be must-have items for you we didn't include (maybe you really need your foot bubble spa machine—I don't judge).Note: We've put an asterisk by the items we think you'll want to purchase right away if you don't already have them for your very first trip out. But feel free to pick and choose and create your own list!
First RV Trip Products

Checklist For Your First RV Trip:

These are the must-have items every RVer should have for their first trip to make it as fun, safe, and convenient as possible.
For a printable version of this checklist, click here: Checklist for Your First RV Trip
Towing & Parking Checklist
RV Sewer & Plumbing Checklist
  • Sewer hose | Required for dumping waste tanks
  • Fresh/potable water hose | Necessary if you'll be filling your fresh water tank (not required if only using campsite water hookup)
  • Water pressure regulator | Campground water pressure varies; use a regulator to avoid damage to your plumbing system
  • Water filter | If drinking or cooking with anything but bottled water, invest in a water filter to remove bacteria, bad odor, chlorine, etc.
  • RV toilet paper | Built to degrade and prevent clogs in RV plumbing system
  • Septic tank treatment | Helps manage your sewer system to break down solids and prevent odors
  • Sink strainer | RV pipes are narrower than the pipes in your house; ideally, you should allow only water down the kitchen sink. A sink strainer is a simple, affordable way to prevent food from accidentally slipping down your drain.
RV Power Checklist
  • Fuel | For generator, propane tanks, etc.
  • Power adapter | Lets you plug your 30-amp or 50-amp RV power cord into any campground power pedestal
  • Surge protector (30 or 50 amp) | Protects your camper from electrical surges from campground power pedestals
  • Generator | Highly recommended if camping without electrical hookups
First Year RVing Product Collage

Checklist to Pick Up During Your First Year RVing:

These aren't necessarily items you'll need right away, but within the first year or so of frequent camping, you'll want to start considering upgrading some of the stock options that came on your RV, planning for winter storage, and generally making your camping experience more comfortable and convenient.For a printable version of this checklist, click here:Checlkist for Your First Year RVing
Watch now: My buddy and long-time 5th-wheel owner Jake discusses his favorite camper upgrades.
Watch now: You can see another of our expert-enthusiasts, Adam, go over his favorite upgrades for even more ideas!
Sewer Upgrades
  • Thicker sewer hose | Most stock RV sewer hoses are quite thin and prone to getting pinholes. Consider upgrading to a thicker hose (23-24 Mil thick) for better protection.
  • Holding Tank Rinser | Flush out waste tanks to prevent buildup after dumping.
  • Sewer hose extension | Helpful if the dump station is a stretch from your RV.
Safety & Security Upgrades
Power Upgrades
  • RV battery charger/management system | If you plan on boondocking (camping without hookups), you'll want one of these to monitor and charge your battery bank.
  • Power cord extension | Helpful to reach faraway power pedestals at campsites.
  • Solar panels | Solar panels aren't right for everyone, but if you plan on camping off the grid, they might be right for you. If you're curious about solar, we recommend starting here.
Tire Upgrades
  • New tires | Stock RV tires are notorious for being...well, not great. Consider a hearty trailer tire from a well-trusted brand like Goodyear.
  • Tire Pressure Monitoring System | Tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) help keep an eye on your tires and warn you about irregular pressure or temperatures. This helps prevent tire blowouts, so you don't end up stranded.
Kitchen Upgrades
Winter Storage
  • Storage cover | You'll want to pick one of these up before you store your RV for the winter. Check out our article here for help picking the perfect cover.
  • Antifreeze or blowout plug with compressor | You'll need to winterize your RV to prevent the pipes from bursting from the cold. Check out our how-to guide on the process here.
  • Small solar battery charger | For maintaining your rig's battery while it's in storage.
Convenience Upgrades
  • Magnetic door holders | For holding your compartment doors open while you load and unload.
  • Night lights | Sometimes you just need a little light to illuminate the way to the bathroom at 4 am.
Product Collage RV Daily Living

Checklist for Daily RV Living:

Bring these essentials from home or snag extras for your rig.
For a printable version of this checklist, click here: Checklist for Daily RV Living
  • Toothbrush/paste
  • Shower curtain
  • Bath towels & wash cloths
  • Shampoo
  • Soap
  • Razor
  • Deodorant
  • First aid kit
Recommended RV starter set: Camping Kitchen Set by GSI Outdoors
  • Phone/charger
  • Camera/charger
  • Portable device power bank
  • ID
  • Cash or credit card
  • Headphones/ear buds
  • Shirts, pants, shorts
  • Jacket or hoodie
  • Underwear
  • Shoes/hiking boots
  • Pajamas
  • Socks
  • Swimwear
  • Rain jacket
  • Hats
  • Gloves
  • Sunglasses
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Medication or other personal health itemsMedication or other personal health items
  • Feminine products
  • Off-line content (movies, books, podcasts) for entertainment in case you lose cell service
  • Dry bag/trash bag for wet/dirty clothes
  • Flip flops (if you plan on using the public showers)
  • Makeup/skincare products
  • Crucial info saved on phone/offline (map, directions, checklists, etc)
  • Internet antenna or cell phone booster
  • Laptop or tablet
  • Extra computer monitors
  • Noise-canceling headphones
Related ArticlesWritten by: Amber S.Updated on: 12/15/20

Sam C.


did i miss matches or a lighter and a hatchet

Etrailer Expert

Jon G.


Those were not on the list (at this time), but I'm guessing those are some things you've found to be helpful during your RV camping experience - thank you for sharing!



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