Monday, September 25, 2023


Every RVer knows the feeling: You’ve left something behind

It never fails. We arrive at the campground, get the RV unhitched, and hook up water and sewer lines. We extend the slides, lay out the outdoor mat, and set up the lawn chairs. That’s when it usually happens. One of us—either my husband or I—realizes that we’ve left something important behind. To our surprise and dismay, a critical item that needs to be with us at the campground is safely back inside our stix-n-brix garage. Or it’s still sitting on the kitchen counter. Or it was never pulled out of the cupboard or cabinet in the first place.

Too much confidence

Of course, we have packing lists. Do we always use them? Sadly, no. There’s a certain amount of smugness that overtakes a camper after a few trips away from home. It’s a feeling of pride mixed with too much self-confidence. That false feeling of superiority prompts each of us to mistakenly think: “I’ve got this. I don’t even need to look at the list. I could pack this RV in my sleep!” But, without fail, something is always left behind…

Inside? Outside?

Once the forgotten item has been identified, the finger-pointing begins. “I thought you put it in,” one of us will say to the other. “No. I figured you packed it. It’s an inside (or outside) item.” This probably needs some explanation. We’ve been married for 47 years. Somewhere along the line, it was decided that I take care of most of the “inside” stuff and my husband is in charge of most of the “outside” things at our stix-n-brix home. For example, he spreads fertilizer on the lawn, and I usually am in charge of laundry. This is not a hard and fast rule, however. I do the gardening. Well, the vegetable part. He’s in charge of the flowers. See what I mean? The rule is not set in stone. “Inside,” Hubby will sometimes vacuum, and I’ll mow the lawn (“outside” duty).

A left-behind replacement plan

In any case, “blame” is never definitively assigned. We’ve both learned better. (It’s been 47 years, after all!) When we discover that we’ve forgotten something, we make a quick run to Walmart to search out and buy the forgotten article. Maybe this is why I have multiple sweatshirts crammed into my dresser drawer at home. Or why Hubby has so many 3/8-inch box wrenches.

What have you left behind?

We cannot be the only ones who’ve forgotten something. (Actually, many things over the years.) I refuse to believe that we are the only RVers that fail to consult their packing lists. So, how would you complete this sentence: “I wish I would have remembered to bring along ________________.” Fill in your response(s) in the comments section below. I’m curious to hear what you have to say.



Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh is an avid RVer and occasional work camper. Retired from 30+ years in the field of education as an author and educator, she now enjoys sharing tips and tricks that make RVing easier and more enjoyable.


  1. We are lucky to have our trailer in the attached garage my husband built (10 foot door that we have 1/2″ to spare with the low profile a.c. on the trailer!) We move out to the trailer a night or two before we leave so we go through our morning and night routines to be sure we have everything we need like pillows, meds, cpap, etc.

  2. A funny thing happened on the way to the rally, before cell phones, ….. traveling with our good friends, they in their motor home, us in truck and trailer.We left them behind as we departed about an hour ahead of them. The motor home wife/copilot, deathly afraid of crossing bridges (we don’t know why) always goes to the rear bedroom or bathroom approaching a bridge. The motor home pilot stops for fuel shortly after a bridge crossing. Unknown to him, his wife goes into the truck stop for a brief shopping trip. Hubby finishes fueling and drives away thinking his bridge fearing and frequent napping wife is snoozing in the bedroom. An hour later he calls back with no answer, and right away knows where she is. It was an interesting night around the fire then! We’ve shared this story often over the years. Hmm .. where’s that fit on the check list? Count noses, too!

  3. My rule is one for the house and one for the motorhome. Consumables are bought on the road. We are (almost) always ready to move in to the motorhome and move down the road.

  4. On our last trip, the wife had me load the entire RV from bedding to groceries and toiletries. She was working and could not help. Sadly,…I forgot milk, eggs, and other various food items and condiments. At least I did not leave engine oil, tools, bedding, and toiletries at home. 🙂

  5. We are fulltimers and leave our big fiver on our RV lot in Yuma, AZ. Take our traveling fiver north in the summer. Summer of 2021 we take off for the summer and the the first stop was the Elks Lodge in Lake Havasu, AZ. Second day there my wife hollers at breakfast that there is a bag of onions on the top of the refrigerator in Yuma. Well since we didn’t want caramelized onions or the stink when we got back with them sitting in 120-degree heat, we jumped in the dually and beat feet back to Yuma. Made it a fast trip as that evening meal at the Elks was ribs and I wasn’t missing them. Most expensive bag of onions we ever had!

  6. 15 years of camping gives you no skills in this area. Just two weeks ago we left for a four day stint. Got to the fridge for dinner, NO FOOD! Yes, all the refrigerator items neatly packed in cartons sitting on the back steps at HOME! Add to that, a large watermelon, cut in half sitting on the kitchen counter. Our neighbors ate well that week-end! Adding insult to injury, I forgot to mention the watermelon to the neighbor retrieving the forgotten food. Memories? I don’t have one!

  7. Our worst “left-behind” experience was on a Great Lakes trip that included Ontario. When left Colorado, we checked to make sure we had our passports. But we made it to SD before I realized I had left my wallet, with driver’s license, at home. Fortunately, one son lives 3 miles from our house, so he used his house key to retrieve the driver’s license and Fed-Ex it to us. He also texted an iPhone photo of it. We picked it up at a general store/gas station located in Grand Portage, MN, just a few miles from the Canadian border. It was an interesting store because it had a Fed-Ex counter with two full-time employees manning it. When I inquired if Americans picked up that many Fed-Ex packages before entering Canada, the lady at the counter laughed and said “no, the Canadians use it to pick up packages so they don’t have to pay the higher package fees from the US to Canada”. Apparently, Canadians from as far as Thunder Bay use it on a regular basis when ordering from Amazon!

  8. When we first started RVing the question would be “I wonder if we left something behind.” It didn’t take long to realize the question should be “I wonder what we left behind.”

  9. I forgot the charger for my laptop ($50). Forgot to pack clothes for ALL seasons (never fails to have a cold snap or extra hot weather=$60-100). Every time we forget something.

  10. Our RV has everything in it we “need” except our food, the dog food, and whatever clothes we want for a given trip. We even leave a couple of sweatshirts, hoodies, and jackets in the RV in case we pack for warm and get cool weather on the trip. Can’t leave without the keys so wallet, purse, prescriptions, and cell phones are it besides the food.

    I tend to worry more about what we forgot to do at home before leaving!

  11. Three times I have left integral parts to my Cpap, power cord, hose, and mask. Now I keep a complete extra set in the motorhome at all times. Pisser getting old.

  12. Haha! I just returned yesterday from my second camping trip of the season. Of course, I always forget something, who doesn’t, but this time it was a humdinger! I forgot my camp chair. A week on the banks of the Hudson River and no chair. Arghhh!

  13. For the first time in 14 years of RVing, we forgot to pack the sheets for the bed that we had washed at home after our last camping trip. Off to Walmart,……

  14. The only time we ever made a departure list was when we bought our first rv. After that we had nearly everything we needed. The only list I make now is during each trip. I jot down anything I use up or need for the next trip. It’s usually very short- 5 or 6 things at the most.

  15. The actor Jeff Daniel has a monolog about the time they rented a class C or maybe it was an A. Anyway they made a pit stop and when everyone was done they piled back in the RV and got going. About 25 miles down the road one of the kids asked where “mom was”. A quick check and it was quickly discovered she was left behind. He had to drive awhile to get an exit where he could turn around. Meanwhile wife had talked someone to chase after Jeff and family. This was before cell phones and they finally reconnected with the aide of personal assistants back in Michigan. I’m not sure i have the whole story right but Jeff’s monolog is on YouTube and it’s hilarious.

  16. Strange this should appear today, daughter and SIL drove down here to central FL yesterday, no new RV yet but they do have a park model home here in the park. Talking to them yesterday as they were coming through Atlanta, “hey mom you did make extra keys to the house for us, right?” “Do you have a key to our storage shed?” Yes and no. They forgot the keys on the kitchen counter. They had to stop at Walmart last night to get a new puppy pen for the puppy to stay in, they forgot that too. Over the next few days they’ll probably find more things they forgot. Lol it happens all the time if you don’t have a check list. I used a check list all the time, but sometimes I’d forget to put it on the list. Lol

  17. While leaving my Texas home and traveling with my daughter back to her home in Minnesota, after 5 hours of travel and setting up for the night, my daughter couldn’t find her backpack containing her laptop computer, which she uses while working at home. S0, we called my neighbor, who checked my home and found the backpack.
    My daughter and I headed back home at 9 PM that night, leaving my 5th wheel trailer at the campground. We picked up the lost backpack and drove back to our campsite and arrived at 5 AM in the morning! We had a few gas and rest stops along the way, and counted at least 70 deer grazing along the roadside, while they counted passing cars, who’s occupants, were retrieving forgotten items at home.

  18. We are full timers as well, so nothing to forget from home, but I did leave a water pressure check valve at a campground once. They called me to let me know and I thought I would be returning later that month and would pick it up, but we never did and I told them to just donate it to another camper.

  19. We usually manage to forget something, sometimes a big deal, mostly not. What we are struck with most of the time is, upon returning home, realizing how much stuff we dragged along with us that we never touched. There’s a case to be made for the KISS principle!

  20. Usually it’s nothing that isn’t easily replace. And we usually only take short trips and can do without for a while. But for one weekend trip I decided I was tired of gathering clothes for everyone. I told my son 14 years) and my husband that they were responsible for their own clothes and toys. I took care of myself. Off we went. Saturday morning my son asked me where I put his clothes. Yep, he left all his clothes at home. Not wanting to spend the weekend with a smelly teenager, we went yardsaling. Got lucky at an Amish farm and found clothes that fit from inside to out.

  21. We are full-time and everything we own is in the rig or the truck but on a few occasions after a few minutes on the road I’ve turned to my wife and asked “did you remember to bring ……. . She laughs. I feel a little dumber. LOL!

  22. I have made a Word File Checklist and it has grown over the years. Last time out, we forgot the battery pack to extend the power for the cell phone, it is now on the list. List is divided into three columns, Reefer/Freezer items, General Food items, Non-Food Items and last column is the departure day items like locking the out buildings, shut off water heater etc. So far the first three columns are on the front page and the day of departure items are the first column on the back of the page. Being married 53 years and getting slightly older, we find this works out for us. I keep the file on a USB stick so I can add to it when we discover something new we forgot.


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