What to Pack When You Go RVing For A Year
Its hard enough to figure out your clothing situation when you pack for a week-long vacation. If you are like me, then you are flooded with 'what ifs' and crazy ideas about 'freak weather scenarios' that are not likely to happen. Somehow I always end up packing my really cute yellow polka dotted wellies just in case a hurricane hits and I need to navigate flooded streets... but that's just me and I'm, lets say, imaginative! Lol.
For our year long adventure, I knew I did not want to lug around clothing I would never in a million years need, but those vacation packing fears flooded my mind ten fold! Because you know... it's a whole year!!! Ahhhh!
So when I made my choices, I did some things right and some things wrong, oh so wrong. Hindsight is definitely 20/20, and living on the road these past five months has taught me so much about the types of clothing you need for an adventure like this. So if you are planning a similar journey, here are my 8 recommendations for packing on a year long RV trip:
1. Consider Your New Lifestyle
This was easy for me because we knew before we started that our goal was to hit as many national parks as possible. So that means hiking...lots of hiking! So I reached for all my workout gear, yoga pants, breathable shirts, insect repellent clothing and two pairs of hiking boots (tall and short). This amounted to just over a week's worth of clothing if I was to hike every day. I also packed about 4 pairs of lounge wear for after hiking and showers and this worked out well.
I also knew that we would on occasion go out to dinner or explore a city so I packed a couple pairs of jeans and nice pants, some day dresses I could make into night dresses and two pairs of heels (day and night). This worked well for a bit, but as soon as we moved from west to east, things shifted around for us. Scroll to the bottom for our official his & hers packing list or click to download the list here.
2. Consider Your Route
This is something I wish I would have known before we left. When you look at a map of national parks, the majority are in the west and the rest are scattered across the United States. That means that when we left the west and headed east, National Parks and our daily hiking would be few and far between. Instead of parks, we found ourselves in awesome cities, beach towns and visiting tourist attractions- not exactly the camping we had in mind and I definitely did not have the right type of clothing!
We spent about two months making our way from Utah to Florida and we only visited one national park along the way. So my plethora of work out clothes felt uncomfortable when going to get world-renowned oysters in New Orleans or a dinner on the beach in Naples, Florida! I had to buy a bunch of city-worthy clothes that I already had siting in my closet! So word to the wise, make sure you bring ample clothing to match the different areas of the US you will be traveling to, even if it's not your main focus.
3. Remember Holidays
I totally failed at this one. For some reason I thought that since we would be on the road, there wouldn't be any celebrations! Boy was I wrong. I really missed out not having my ugly holiday sweaters for Christmas or my favorite clutch for New Years. Make sure you bring the things that you love so you can feel at home on the road!
Thank God I had this blue Grecian style dress with me for Murray's surprise Valentine's dinner. It worked perfect for a swanky dinner on the beach. When I packed it, I seriously said to myself, "There is no way I'll wear this"! Just goes to show... ya never know!
4. Laundry is a Luxury
Oh boy is it! I figured when we started that we would do laundry about once a week, which is basically what we do at home. This would probably be true if we were staying in campgrounds with laundry facilities. However, the majority of our camping is boondocking in incredible locations out in nature, far from civilization. What we didn't realize was that sometimes getting to a laundry mat is difficult if not impossible.
We unfortunately ended up having to reuse stinky workout clothes or trying to hobo wash our hiking gear in the sink just to get by. So gross. That's when we decided to up our number of outfits to at least two weeks' worth since that was about how often we found ourselves doing laundry. Since then it's been so much better and I wish I would have known this ahead of time! It would have saved us a lot of stress!
5. Ditch Anything White & Prepare To Be Dirty
I'm an OCD clean freak... and I LOVE being clean. When I was at home in a house with regular hot water, I took two showers a day when I was being conservative (not a joke). Yes I still take showers, now only once a day, and they are quick (2-5 minutes) - not my usual 30 minute 'Ali Time' showers.
The same goes for clothing! Camping and RVing is dirty business no matter how much you clean and wipe and sweep. Somehow I always end up with dirt all over me even on the rainy days when we don't leave the coach! I'm baffled by it, but I also appreciate the daily reminder of my connection to this earth. So in order to keep my sanity, I ended up ditching everything that is the color white; from socks, to underwear to towels, to sheets to pillows to you name it! Get rid of it all! Choose darker colors and your OCDness (is that a word?) will definitely be taken down a notch or two. Mine has!
6. Buy As You Go If You Can Bear It
I'm a conservationist at heart and I hate having to purchase something I already own. But when you are on the road, you are going to need things you didn't anticipate. Things that are sitting in your kitchen or closet or garage back home, and if you could just teleport them, you could have them in your hands! Well I can't do that yet, as much as I try, so I've finally succumbed to the fact that I will have to buy things I already have while on the road. If you are on a budget, you will definitely want to factor in those things.
For example, I thought I would never need a hot glue gun while I'm camping for a year. Why would I? I literally own 10 in my craft room at home. So when I had to buy one at Walmart for a project we were working on, I almost cried at the shame of it! But ya gotta let that go and know it's part of the deal when living on the road!
7. Bring Your House Shoes!
I can't stress this enough! RV floors get dirty! Like real dirty! All that in and out, even if you practice the Japanese style of leaving your shoes at the door, the floors still turn your feet black! Wearing house shoes in the RV is a must! It's pretty disgusting and it was something we bought only after about a month of wasting water trying to wash our feet several times a day. Another plus is if it's cold outside, the shoes are super warm. We love these Bear Paw Moccasins that come in both men and women's sizes.
8. Don't Be Afraid To Bring Your Feminine Goodies
Nothing makes me feel better after a hiking day than a good shower with all my fun products and some manicure time! I know its silly, but painting my nails makes me feel beautiful and definitely helps keep all that dirt out from underneath them. Doing some nail art also helps my creative side feel fulfilled which make my inner goddess happy :). Check out my 'Saguaro' nails from our recent trip to Saguaro National Park!
I also made sure to bring my good shampoos and lotions and all things that make me feel clean and beautiful. I brought my essential oils and I love infusing the RV with different aromas. It's helped me keep my sanity and has really made my RV feel like home. And I'm sure my husband appreciates that I haven't turned into a she-man with all this roughin' it! Just kidding!
His & Her Packing Lists:
So these are our recommended packing lists for an adventure similar to ours. You can download them here. Let us know what you think and if we missed anything! Happy Camping y'all!
Let us know what you think or if you've been on a similar journey, tell us about your packing list!