Dear Kathi,

We are getting ready to go on another adventure in our RV. We only use the beast 2 to 3 times a year and always leave taking too much stuff with us. With the price of gas these days and one more kid this year, we need to streamline our packing list.

What can you recommend to keep our load light and still ensure that we have what we need?

Tom, Cardiff by the Sea


I have a lot of ideas for you!

It is always helpful to work from a master list each time you get ready to take an adventure. If you haven’t compiled an RV adventure list before, use this outing as a platform for creating your master list. As you remember items that you need to pack, add them to the list. Don’t worry about organizing your list at this point, simply add items as you think of them.

Keep this list handy and add items to it as you load them into the RV. Once you are underway and using your inventory, you might remember things you have forgotten to pack. Add these additional items to your list. During one of your leisure evenings, take the time to sort your list into categories: food, clothing, accessories, gear… whatever is applicable to your RV lifestyle.

Once you return home, type the info into a list format on your computer. Leave space for checkmarks beside each item and print several copies. Store a few in the glove box or cabinet in the RV and refer to it for future expeditions. If you store your RV, keep your list at home instead so you can begin preparing for your trip prior to accessing your RV.

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?”

Pack things according to their priority- the absolute necessities first, then the things you think you need, and so on.

To lighten your load and conserve gasoline, use as much plastic as you can. Choose plastic instead of glass bottles for condiments and other items. Buy plastic dishes and tumblers to replace Corning dishes. Rely on plastic bags and containers to keep items separated and organized in the bathroom, bedroom and cabinets.

Another way to lighten your load is to pack only one week’s worth of clothes per family member and do laundry once a week while you are on the road.

If you take bicycles and other sports gear, consider taking only two of each. Let family members take turns using bikes and surfboards during the trip.

Open up each cabinet to see what has been stored within from the last trip. Consider whether or not you used these items the last time around, or ever. If not, perhaps they don’t need to stay onboard for this trip. We often stash a lot of stuff into our new RVs because we are excited, then never reference it again. It remains forgotten and lives in the cabinets for years, never seeing the light of day.

You can always stop en route to pick up anything that you have forgotten. Keep this in mind so that your trip preparation and departure will be less stressful.

Remember the first aid kit, have fun and please let me know how these ideas worked for you.

Thanks for writing and don’t hesitate to write with any other specific questions.

Please submit your questions to: [email protected]

San Diego Professional Organizer