Thursday, June 8, 2023


RV road trip fails: Update your packing lists or be prepared to face the consequences!

By Rod Andrew
No matter what kind of RV you own, I’ll bet you’ve said this sentence many times: “Do you  remember where we packed the …?” Or, perhaps even scarier: “Did we pack the …?”

Sometimes the missing item can be simply annoying. Or it can be nothing short of potentially disastrous. Here’s a tale of one of the latter.

My wife, Sharon, and I learned, early in our travels, that RV packing lists are essential and have developed several to ensure that nothing is forgotten. Here’s a section from one of them.

Our [old] RV packing list
During COVID restrictions, we hadn’t travelled, so our packing lists were not updated on our computer. We simply edited the old lists using highlighters and pens.


When we arrived at our destination park in Borrego Springs, California, we were exhausted. Our trip from southern British Columbia normally takes us 7 days, but this one was extended, by weather conditions and sickness, to 15 days. Both of us contracted severe bronchitis and had to seek medical help. We were relieved to finally be able to rest and set up.

Among the first items we unloaded were our two e-bikes. We had always brought two road bikes with us, but these new e-bikes would enable us to see and do more at a leisurely pace that would not tax our aging bodies.

These were heavy bikes, especially my fat tire, so they required a new rack and modifications to the truck and trailer. We made sure that we planned carefully and thoroughly.

The new trailer rack, a marvel of engineering, cost about $1,000. The hitch receiver for the rack had to be welded to the rear of our trailer—another $700. I moved the trailer spare tire to the front of the truck. More hitch modifications. In case of a malfunction, I bought an extra e-bike battery for $700. A cover for the bikes and additional velcroed covers for the battery receivers, all secured by a cargo net, completed our preparations.

We had nailed it. Every eventuality had been anticipated and we had planned accordingly.

The day after we finished setting up, I put the batteries, which had been stored inside individual bags, made by Sharon, onto the bikes, and checked the charges. They both seemed full, but, just in case, I removed them and put them on the picnic table to be topped up.

Now came that question that I referred to at the beginning of this account: “Do you remember where I put the chargers?”

I couldn’t remember packing them, but I was sure I had. I checked the lists. I hadn’t added e-bikes, batteries or chargers to the outdated lists. Our old list just said “bikes.” Sharon could see that I was looking anxious, so she helped me search the trailer and the truck.

No chargers. The bikes would each be able to travel about 60 kilometres, then they would become just huge anchors. The extra battery would extend the usefulness of only one bike.

Mine, of course.

I have to admit that I went into panic mode. This was all my fault! I could not remember packing the chargers, but I could remember exactly where each of them was the last time I had seen them. They had both been last used on a cupboard in our basement guest lounge. I suddenly realized that they must still be there.

What a mess! All the time and money getting the e-bikes to Southern California was wasted! Sharon calmed me down. She explained that we could ask our neighbour, Ian, who has a key to our house, to find the chargers and send them to us by parcel delivery. That would be a big favour to ask, but we knew that Ian would do it. He is that kind of neighbour.

I phoned.

“Glad to help.”

It was cold and snowy and slippery in our cul-de-sac, so it was a few minutes before he made the trek and called back. The key didn’t work.

Oh, crap!

We had installed a new door, and while we still had the same key as the old door, the one he had used in previous years wasn’t quite right. It was close, but wouldn’t turn all the way.

Plan B. Once again, from Sharon.

Another friend, Heather, who checks our house weekly, for insurance purposes, also has a key. We knew that this key worked. That would mean a 15-kilometre drive each way for her in dicey road conditions, but she agreed. Good friends, right? Ian would still handle the mailing if she could let him in to pick up the chargers.

They arranged to meet at the door of our house.

Ian phoned me a couple of hours later. They were in the house, had turned off our security system and were looking for the chargers. They didn’t seem to be in the room that I had told them they should be. They had searched everywhere.

No chargers.

Perhaps they were in our garage? Nope. They searched the detached garage and they weren’t there.

I apologized for wasting their time.

I realized that, although this still seemed unlikely, we must have them with us.

Sharon and I began a now desperate search through our trailer, this time unpacking everything, not just looking behind and under.

There was one place that we had neglected in our first search. Sharon puts all of our necessary documents in file folders and organizes them in pouches, then tucks them into the end of the cabinets over where our sofa once was.

I reached in and pulled the first pouch aside.

A black power cord with a male plug slid into view.

The chargers!

I have to admit that my relief at finding them was almost drowned by feelings of guilt at the trouble I had put my neighbours through. I still didn’t remember putting them up there.

I called Sharon and showed her.

She went a little pale and said that she now remembered stashing them away in a safe place. I had given them to her and asked her to pack them, while I carted the heavy batteries out.

This was great news! I wasn’t guilty! Sharon was!

Shared guilt, at the very least!

Now, I’m a caring man, so I only let her apologize for about ten minutes before reassuring her that it was partly my fault.

Well. Maybe a bit.

As I am also generous to a fault, when I phoned Ian and Heather to tell them what had happened, I put Sharon on the calls to explain that the chargers had been found. She told them that she had forgotten where she had stored them and said she was sorry. Both of our friends were non-critical in their responses. They even seemed to see the funny side.

In the two weeks since we arrived in Borrego Springs, in spite of the often wet and windy weather, the e-bikes have been just as useful as we had hoped.

Of course, I have forgiven Sharon.

All is well.


Our neighbour, Ian, has had several new keys cut, using Heather’s key as the master.

Our packing lists will be completely revised and updated. They will definitely be foolproof next year.

Need help with RV packing lists? Start with these:

Hey, Rod and Sharon’s experience sounds a little like Lucinda and her husband’s experience this week, too. Read it here (then you’ll really learn the lesson!).


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Uncle Swags
2 months ago

You’re never more than 3 hrs from a WalMart in America and if they don’t have it, you don’t need it.

2 months ago

Ha! One trip I forgot my camp chair! That was a pain in the rear end!

2 months ago

Does Ace turn counter-clockwise in the southern hemisphere?

Bob Walter
2 months ago

Before every trip, I update the packing list. Then my wife & I go out to the RV and quickly run through every item and physically lock eyes on each one then check it off.

2 months ago

One year before our trip to Lake Havasu I forgot to pack my clothes. We spent part of our first day there at Penney’s. Before that same trip my Brother-in-law had purchased hundreds of dollars worth of fishing gear to take and had forgotten all of it. We laughed thinking about these two events all through our trip.

Neal Davis
2 months ago

Thanks, Rod! I am sure that we, too, have failed (or thought we failed) to pack something important. I’d tell you what it was (or wasn’t) if I could remember. 🤔 Happy trails and safe travels! 😎

Last edited 2 months ago by Neal Davis
Andrea Schmidlin
2 months ago

Thank you for sharing your story! We recently bought e-bikes and I had not updated our RV trip checklist…until now! I have added bike batteries, chargers and keys. Thank you thank you thank you!

Jim Johnson
2 months ago

We use checklists for packing and even more so for preparing the house and mail for our seasonal absence. Stuff to go with us is accumulated and organized into one room. Even if loaded separately, ‘sets’ are placed together in this staging area.

My wife at first was annoyed when I started duplicating a number of personal items. But unless it is unique or outside our budget, leaving those items pre-packed in the RV has been a huge stress saver.

Gordon den Otter
2 months ago

Instead of paper lists, we use Trello on our phones. We share the board, so when either of us checks something off, the other’s list is updated. We have a checklist for each box or RV closet, and each list can be moved from “Not Done” to “Ready to Go Out” to “In Truck or Trailer”. It’s easy to update the lists whenever something changes.

Last edited 2 months ago by Gordon den Otter
Tom H.
2 months ago

We are full-time so everything we have is with us. It’s either in the truck or the camper. But I still occasionally will ask my wife “did you remember to bring?” To which she always responds “I brought everything.” LOL!

2 months ago

Have a list; never thought about including where the items are packed/stored.

Roger Chrisitanson
2 months ago
Reply to  Herman

It’s to the point that when we load up we take pictures of where we put things. We include enough of the background in the picture to indicate where something is. If the surroundings are too similar, we edit the photo and add a description of the hiding place.

2 months ago

2 ebikes, assuming same brand, equals two chargers. Simple, one in RV, one in house. Charge overnight.

2 months ago
Reply to  tom

or just go buy one

2 months ago

Either I leave stuff packed or keep it all in one pile of stuff. Haven’t needed a list yet. Before leaving the camp, just walk around a couple times after the dog is loaded .

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