14 Essential Items to Pack on Your Next Road Trip

There are certain essential products that are must-haves for RVers

Packing the right items is key to the perfect road trip. In addition to necessities like your wallet, phone, clothes, and keys, you’ll be glad you brought these 14 items along for the journey.

Basic toolkit

The essentials all in place at Columbia Sun RV Resort in Kennewick, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It’s always a good idea to buy and stock a basic toolkit, just in case. The toolbox in your RV should include screw drivers, sockets, claw hammer, pliers, utility knife, tape measure, cordless drill, and adjustable and combination wrenches. Also, consider extension cords and spare fuses.

Roadside Emergency Kit

Water hose with pressure regulator at 12 Tribes Casino RV Park in Omak, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

An emergency roadside assistance kit won’t break the bank but it just might save the day in the event of a breakdown or accident. Pick one up from any big-box store and bring it along for long road trips. Reflective road triangles are so effective, they are used by the Amish as electricity-free tail lights.

First Aid Kit

Power cord and water and sewer connections in place at Vista del Sol RV Resort in Bullhead City, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Like a roadside emergency kit, a first aid kit is a must for road trippers. This way you’ll have essential first-aid supplies to help treat most common injuries, including cuts, scrapes, swelling, sprains, and strains. Your first aid kit should include antibiotic ointment, hydrocortisone cream, antiseptic cleansing wipes, gauze dressing pads in varied sizes, tape roll, tweezers, adhesive bandages in varied sizes, scissors, disposable vinyl gloves, and Red Cross Emergency First Aid Guide.

Congaree National Park in the South Carolina Lowcountry issues bug alert © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Bug Spray

You will need bug spray when touring the Audubon Swamp Garden near Charleston, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

All kinds of annoying bugs come out in the summer so make sure you’re prepared to keep them at bay and avoid itchy bites by grabbing some bug spray with DEET. 

GPS Device

Moody Mansion in Galveston, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Having a portable one of these helps for adventures taken outside your car, too. There have to be at least 24 satellites in a “GPS constellation” of synchronized orbits in order for your GPS device to work. That’s a lot of rocket science and delicate mathematics, so take advantage of it.

Paper Atlas

Hiking the trail to Clingmans Dome in Great Smoky Mountains National Park; don’t forget the bug spray © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

An atlas you can hold in your hand is the ultimate back-up plan. If the technology seems old, that’s because it is—road maps go back as far as 5th century Rome.

USB Charger

Roseate Spoonbills along the Creole Nature Trail south of St. Charles, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Don’t let your gadgets die on you. Modern USB connections aren’t just faster than their predecessors—they consume less power, too.


A warning to watch for and not step into a hill of fire ants © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

You’re enjoying the great outdoors—which means you’re bringing the great outdoors back into your RV with you. Staying at campsites means mud, grass, and insects—all of which can dirty up your home-on-wheels quickly. A small, cordless powerful vacuum is a must-have.

Folding steps

Monahan Sandhills State Park in West Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Folding steps are one of those useful tools you might not think about, but they’re handy to have around. As extra seating, an added step to get into your RV, and standing on to reach things when making repairs or finding the back of a high cupboard, it’s a useful tool.

High-quality sewer hose

Pack a high-quality sewer hose and required attachments © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Some things you definitely don’t want to skimp on, and your sewer hose is one of them. No one wants to be dealing with a ruptured sewer hose while on vacation. Invest in a high-end hose—your peace of mind and nasal passages will thank you.

Folding tables

Horse farm in Bluegrass Country, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

You can find a basic folding table in most stores—but you won’t find them in most campsites. They’re a great addition to your packing plans for meals, games, and hobbies. The benefit of a folding table is they take up a small amount of space and are generally water-resistant.


Touring Fort Adams State Park, Rhode Ialand © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The cooler, or portable ice chest, was invented in 1951, but things have gotten a little fancier in the 67 years since. Some modern coolers can plug into your RV’s electrical outlet and use a powered fan to draw away heat and keep things even cooler.

Cash For Tolls

Keep some quarters and spare paper cash so you never have to go digging.


Mitchell Corn Palace © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

This one is obvious, but don’t leave home without it. How else are you going to document your visit to the world’s only corn palace, located in Mitchell, South Dakota?

Worth Pondering…

As Yogi Berra said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”