We all want to take as much stuff as possible when we go on the road. But an RV, no matter how big, has a limited amount of closets, cupboards and drawers. Even with creative packing, there's a limit to how much it can hold.
And ... there's a limit to how much weight, including passengers, you can add to the RV. That limit is called cargo capacity.
So, before you start packing, find out how much weight you can load into your rig. Refer to the chapter on Vehicle Weights and Ratings to determine your RV's cargo capacity. Once you know how much weight you can add to the RV, the fun part can begin.
One of the secrets of successful RV packing is minimizing the things you have to pack. Before you pack an item, ask yourself... is it absolutely necessary? Can I do without it? How often will I use it? Will some other item do the job? Will this item do double duty?
While you're packing, try to keep the RV's center of gravity low by storing heavy items at or below floor level.
The contents of an RV's cabinets and cupboards have a tendency to rearrange themselves as you drive down the road. Pack everything to minimize movement. Non-skid material placed on the cupboard shelves works well. It's available at RV accessory stores.
Partitions made of cardboard, masonite or wood will keep things stationary and increase storage space.
Pack things in containers -- boxes, bins or bags.
Transparent plastic storage boxes come in various sizes, are lightweight, durable and interchangeable.They can be packed in your house and carried to the RV for the trip. Kept in overhead cabinets, you can see what's inside and pull them out like a drawer. At the end of the trip, they can be carried into your house and unpacked.
Cardboard boxes are lightweight, inexpensive and can be cut to fit if necessary. Covering them with self-sticking vinyl shelf paper reinforces them and makes them more attractive.
Zippered plastic bags and small plastic food containers make efficient use of refrigerator and cupboard space. They also keep out critters and humidity.
Try to create additional space. Buy or build shelves. Plastic-coated wire shelves are available in many RV accessory stores.
You might be able to add shelves, drawers or cabinets to the bottom of the wardrobe closet if you don't need the full-length space.
Hooks for jackets and bathrobes can be placed in corners or out-of-the-way spots.
Pack things according to their priority. Pack the absolute necessities first. Then the things you think you need and so on.
Pack similar items in the same cupboards, drawers or sections of the RV.
The busiest area of your RV will probably be the kitchen. Begin there. Put cooking and eating utensils where they make the most sense for convenient preparation and serving of meals. Next comes food items. Put them where they are readily accessible. Dishwashing and kitchen cleaning materials should also be easy to reach.
The bathroom is easy. You'll want everyday toiletries handy. If each person keeps their personal toiletries in a separate plastic box, it will make things that much easier. Daily medicines should be up front or at eye level. Seldom used medications can be relegated to the harder-to-reach locations.
Identify a shelf or cupboard to store extra towels and linens. You don't need to carry more than seven to ten days worth. You'll probably do laundry that often.
In the bedroom, you may be able to get by with no more than seven to ten days worth of clothing. Once again, plan on doing laundry.
Try to take only the clothes you'll need for that trip. Utilize mix-and-match outfits to minimize the number of clothes you need. You can save hanging-locker space by taking wrinkle-resistant, foldable clothes and putting them in cupboards or drawers.
Begin exterior packing at the utility-hookup cabinet. Leveling and hooking up the RV may take place daily. You'll want the hookup and leveling equipment to be as accessible and convenient as possible.
Leveling boards will get wet and dirty. Create a moisture-resistant container for their storage. Better yet, create an outside rack for them.
You'll find that large, plastic storage containers provide maximum effective use of the space in your exterior cabinets.
Patio furniture and outdoor cooking equipment will be readily available if stowed on the entry-door side of the RV.
Tools, kept in the trailer's tow vehicle or the motorhome's towee vehicle, will be available when you are driving the transportation vehicle without the RV.
If these vehicles are trucks, you have additional storage space in their beds, especially if they have camper shells.
Finally, when you're packed and ready to go, take your fully-loaded RV to the scales and weigh it again. Front axle, rear axle, side-to-side. Don't forget to weigh the trailer's fully-loaded tow vehicle or the motorhome's fully-loaded towee.
With any luck you'll be within your rig's gross vehicle weight rating.
You can minimize packing and unpacking between trips by permanently storing as much as possible in the RV. Many RVers equip and stock their rigs so they only have to add perishable foods and a few items of clothing before getting on the road.
We maintain a list of the things we routinely pack in our RV. Another list is created for those articles we want to take on that particular journey. When items are moved into the RV, they are checked off on the list.
So what do we do if we forget to pack something? Anything we forget, we buy along the way or we do without.
When it comes to packing an RV, you might not be able to take all the stuff you want. But, with a little bit of organization and creativity, you should be able to take all the stuff you need.