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Taking It All With You: An RV Enthusiast's Guide To Packing

     Remember watching your dad pack the car for the family vacation? The luggage, assembled in a huge pile by the rear door of the station wagon, would defy all laws of physics if it fit into the car and left room for kids, dog and two adults. And then he began to pack. By the time he finished his magic, deflating the basketball to store it with its pump in the spare tire compartment, you regarded your father a technical engineer of the highest degree.

     Now that you're standing in Dad's shoes, here are a few road-tested, practical packing tips to help make your RV vacation safe and trouble-free.

  • Know your limits. You might want to re-think taking along the electric organ. Check your owner's manual for the recommended load limits for your RV. Many RVs have certification labels attached to door jams and trailer tongues. Take this information seriously because the engineers who design your camper specified these figures with your safety in mind.
  • Understand the principles of load distribution for your particular type of RV. To ensure stability, a truck camper should have the heaviest cargo placed as far in front of the rear wheels as possible. Heavy objects placed in the rear section of a truck camper can result in steering problems. In a trailer, locate the heaviest items close to the area above the trailer's axle. When loading a motorhome, place the heaviest weight in the center of the unit between the front and rear axles. In most RVs, place all heavy objects in lower compartments and towards the middle to keep a good center of gravity. Heavy items should always be well secured and never stored on the roof.
  • Make a list of all of the equipment you'll need on the trip. Bring only comfortable clothes that you know you will wear. Place high-use items where they can be easily reached in cabinets and living quarters. Make sure all cabinets and compartments are closed in transit. Store seldom used items in less accessible places. Reduce pots, pans and dishes down to the bare essentials. The more you camp, the more you'll realize what can be left behind.
  • Your emergency gear should include a jack, lug wrench, flashlight, flares, tool box, first aid kit, wheel blocks and fire extinguisher. Keep all emergency gear in one easily accessible place. Keep an extra fire extinguisher in the kitchen area.
  • Watching the amount of weight you are hauling will improve your gas mileage and your safety. For every hundred pounds of cargo, you reduce your gas mileage by one percent. Don't buy all your food and supplies before you leave. Stop and purchase items along the way to keep your load lighter. If your RV has water tanks, fill them with only enough water to see you to your next destination. One gallon of water weighs about eight pounds. When traveling, sewage tanks should be kept at minimal levels, just enough to allow chemicals to work. Whenever possible, gray water tanks should be dumped before departing. Keeping weight levels down will save you money at the gas pump.
  • Once your RV is loaded, you may want to draw a diagram of the unit to find what is where. Take it extra easy those first 100 miles until you get a feel for the load you are pulling. You may want to make some adjustments so the load pulls smoother. If your hitch weight is too light, your trailer will fishtail at high speeds. If your hitch weight is too heavy, steering and braking problems may result.

     With a little planning and preparation, your next trip will be worry-free and relaxing.


--article courtesy of

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