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Your Go Bag Essentials for RV Excursions & Emergencies

This post was updated on May 17th, 2022

RV experts and veterans tell you to be ready for the unexpected and have emergency supplies and backup gear for those worst-case scenarios. What about those situations where you’ve lost most of the morning getting ready for your day excursion? Or once you get there, you find out you forgot something? An excellent RV storage technique is to create a go bag for day-trips to have ready in your RV’s closets or exterior storage bay.

We’ll walk you through the essential, comfort care, and adventure go bags worth keeping in your RV. These bags and backpacks keep things organized, take up minimal space, but more importantly, give you the peace of mind that you have everything you need for your themed excursion. So, whether you’re headed out to a planned event or feel spontaneous, you won’t forget to bring something.

3 Emergency Go Bag Kits

Everyone that lives the RV life should have the three essential kits “stocked and locked” in their coach before they even put the key in the ignition. Things happen while traveling, and depending on where you break down, you need to be ready. Your health and safety come first, always.

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First-Aid Kit

Red first aid kit with essential items displayed outside the kit

When you shop for your RV first aid kit, don’t just grab the biggest one on the shelf. Instead, look through the list of supplies it offers. Many of the pre-packaged kits offer gauze, bandaids, and a few tools. You need to think about the common injuries that happen while camping. Typical injuries include:

  • Dehydration
  • Skin ailments (sunburn, poison ivy, etc.)
  • Cuts
  • Insect bites
  • Sprains/fractures

Pick up bigger bottles of the various skin ointments and other over-the-counter medication you’ll need to treat everything you can think of to supplement the kit of gauze and bandaids to complete your first aid kit. Pack it in a place where moisture is least likely to contaminate the sterilized supplies.

Roadside Hazard Kit

People often underestimate the importance of RV roadside emergency kits. How often have you come too close to hitting a car on the side of the road? RV roadside kits combine car and semi-truck hazard gear. You can find kits online or piece them together at truck stops or auto part stores.

An RV roadside kit should include:

  • Air pressure tire gauge
  • Bottle of flat tire repair liquid
  • Bungee cords (a container of multiple sizes)
  • Duct and electrical tape
  • Flashlight and glow stick
  • Heavy-duty and latex gloves
  • Jumper cables
  • Pocket knife
  • Poncho
  • Reflective orange triangles
  • Road flares
  • Yellow reflective vests
  • Tools:
    • Manual screwdriver with multiple head options
    • Manual socket wrench with various sockets
    • Adjustable wrench
    • Needle-nose pliers with a wire cutter function
  • Tow cables
  • A 3×5 card with your insurance company’s roadside assistance phone number and what information to give them. (This is a great way to guide yourself through your panic-stricken frozen mind).

Survival Kit

RV survival kits aren’t as straightforward as the previous two. During the various hurricanes and tornadoes, if RVers couldn’t escape, these large plastic storage bins became their survival raft in the temporary shelters until the insurance companies processed their RV claims. Those with the best RV emergency survival kit had the provisions to make it through the first days of the aftermath.

Consider adding the following:

  • Battery-powered or alternative source AM radio
  • Bound journal in a zip-top bag with a list of names, phone numbers, and other important information
  • Boxes of gallon and quart zip-top bags
  • Case of water bottles
  • Dormant pay-as-you-go cell phone
  • Emergency mylar thermal blankets
  • Emergency supply of medication
  • Freeze-dried food and granola bars (or something similar)
  • Packaged undergarments
  • Pens and sharpened pencils
  • Two complete changes of clothes
  • Well concealed cash (During Katrina, it took days before people could access their bank accounts)

Go Bag Checklists for Comfort Care

Once you have your vital need kits in place, now it’s time to put together those all-important multi-use care bags to keep your loved ones happy and healthy (and keep some semblance of your sanity). Of course, parents caring for children with medical conditions are pros at this already, but having a comfort go bag to keep the kids and/or the fur-babies occupied can make any day trip better.

Children Care Necessities

Little girl with a pink backpack

Many child psychologists and parent magazines focus on positive behavior reinforcement concerning what to put in your child’s go bag. Those techniques work well in the long run, but what about that being the “Greatest Parent In The Multiverse and Twice on Tuesday” status we all crave? Yes, there is a way to have both! Here are some ideas for your bug out bag for toddlers and children:

  • Kid-friendly tablet with headphones
  • Some small toys for imagination daycation
  • Non-perishable snacks
  • Small water bottles or non-staining juice boxes (don’t ask, we don’t want to talk about it)
  • Security blanket, stuffy, or toy
  • At least two travel size wet wipe packages for their hands 
  • An activity book with a small box of crayons

Pet Care Necessities

Fur-babies are our children that don’t grow up, move to the opposite side of the country, and make us wait by the phone for days at a time just for a simple, “Hi, I’m still alive and healthy.” Over 63% of all RVers bring their pet with them. 93% of those RV pet owners have dogs (sorry cat people, we’re just reporting the statistics).

Campgrounds, trails, and other day excursions cater to your canine companion in many ways. If your dog is big enough, you can even strap on a dog backpack and let them carry some of their own go bag supplies. Even if they’re not a working-class breed, most dog breeds want to help their humans. So you may see your Beagle or Spaniel hold their head higher and have an extra bounce in their step because they have a job to do. They’re carrying stuff for their human, and they’re awesome at it.

Dog day bags can include: 

  • Small bag of food
  • Water bottles with water bottle attachment for dogs 
  • Medication and first aid supplies
  • License and health records with a recent photo (in case they run off)
  • Dog waste bags in a dispenser
  • Chew toys, bones, or a favorite stuffy
  • Dog shoes for rocky trails or hot pavement
  • Reward treats

Read more: 6 Important Things To Remember If You’re RVing With Dogs

The “Just in Case” Kit

A “just in case” kit could be a quart-size zip-top bag. You can add it to the go bag you’re using that day or create one for each excursion bag. You can put over-the-counter travel medication for allergies, pain relief, hygiene products, an extra pair of disposable contact lenses, and PPE items. Use it for needed but easily replaceable things that may pop up while you’re out and about. 

Adventure Go Bags

Male and female walking down the beach with go bags and fishing rods
When adventure calls, be ready!

If you’re taking full advantage of the RV LIFE Pro Suite, you know your RV vacation planning phase can be effortless. For those still looking for the best trip planning app, RV LIFE Trip Wizard connects with RV LIFE Campgrounds. Not only can you find the best campground to stay at, but the listings also show you what’s nearby. This feature allows you to learn what to plan for during your stay besides the major destination highlight.

For example, if you head out to Grand Canyon National Park, did you know it’s minutes away from Route 66? When you head south from the national park on State Route 64, you’ll come to The Mother Road. Here you’ll find legendary landmarks, restaurants, and other places worth exploring. Make sure you have your sightseeing go-bag ready, so you have everything you need to enjoy the day on America’s Main Street.

Items you’ll always want to include in your adventure go bag:

  • Cash for parking and cash-only situations
  • Emergency contact information written on a 3×5 card (paper can’t power off)
  • Hat, ponchos, sunglasses, and sunscreen for outdoor activities
  • Medication with the prescription label and hygiene necessities
  • Mobile device charging cords and 110v adapters
  • PPE supplies, including extra masks
  • Secure cell phone cases that are water-resistant
  • Water bottles and healthy snacks (some places may not allow food)

Customize your go bags based on your specific needs. Our recommendations come from experts in their fields. Remember, the goal is to have everything you need and want with you to enjoy your vacation. 

Amusement Park Bag

The best amusement parks in the U.S. like Disney, Universal, and Six Flags can take days to explore and require a lot of walking outside. They have nerve-testing roller coasters, drenching water rides, and skill testing games (which we wonder if the casino industry designed).

An amusement park go bag should be medium to large. Pack it light with plenty of room for the prizes you win throughout the day. We recommend a waterproof bag that seals tight, so it’ll keep everything dry for the water rides or unexpected weather. Backpacks keep your hands free and won’t tire out your hands. Make sure you bring:

  • Garbage bags to protect those other items that shouldn’t get wet
  • Photos of children (in case they get separated from you)
  • Sweatshirts or jackets when it cools down at the end of the day

Beach Bags

The best bag for the beach has several requirements. You’ll want one that’s oversized, stylish, and well made. A designer beach bag completes your beach chic look making it both trendy and functional.

Some public beaches have lounge chairs for rent. Have cash on hand because the person who handles this may not have a card reader (this author learned this the hard way). Beach shops may have rentable snorkeling gear, scuba diving equipment, flotation devices, or personal watercraft. Here’s what should go in a beach bag for your day excursion:

  • Beach hat
  • Beach spiker drink holder
  • Beach shelter or umbrella
  • Beach towels
  • Bluetooth speaker
  • Flip-flops

Events & Festivals Bag – Including RV Shows

When heading out to your favorite concert, event, sports game, meet up, or RV show, using a clear plastic festival-approved bag or backpack makes the security check less of a hassle. Small pouches fit into the clear festival bags when you prefer privacy for specific items, but be ready for security to ask you to open it up. Remember, they’re just making sure no one ruins the fun time. Fully prepared festival go bags will have: 

  • Binoculars
  • Checklist of things to see, do, and/or purchase
  • Earplugs 
  • Extra memory card for your mobile device
  • Map of the event site
  • Room for brochures
  • Small notebook and pen

Hiking Backpack

Hiker with a hiking go bag

Packing a hiking bag is a difficult process. The goal is to carry the most useful equipment using the least space and keep the hiking backpack as light as possible. There are hiking backpack diagrams online to help you with your packing strategy, but your focus should be on multi-purpose tools and essentials.

You’ll need a 35-50 liter backpack for a 3-day hike to take care of all your needs, but get used to the idea of wearing your jeans for more than one dance. Clothes take up a lot of space. It’s more important to keep your strength up with food than finishing the trail in fresh clothes. Here’s what to pack in your hiking bag:

  • Clothing for hot and cold temperatures (long underwear, sweatshirts, etc.)
  • Container/bag for trash to bring with you (take your garbage to dispose of properly)
  • Cookware, utensils, and portable cooking devices
  • Fire-making items (matches, portable campfire stove, etc.)
  • First aid kit and insect repellent
  • Folding multi-tool and an all-purpose knife
  • Food and water
  • Hygiene items (leaves are not substitutes for two-ply)
  • Navigation items like maps, a compass, and GPS
  • Reliable communication device (you may need a booster for your cell phone)
  • Tent or another sheltering item
  • Water filtering devices

Orchard Picking Bags

Are you heading to Florida’s Strawberry Festival in March, Georgia’s Peach Festival in June, or another state’s fruit or vegetable festival during the year? There’s nothing better than picking something off the plant, completely missing the basket, and ending up in your mouth. Although you’ll want to make sure you bring plenty with you back to your motorhome or travel trailer, so you can make some of the best RV recipes.

Whether you’re picking plant-based food from bushes, vines, trees, or other types of vegetation, your orchard picking go bag should sit inside your set of collection baskets. When you research the farms or orchards, you may find that not all supply containers to hold the produce you pick. In addition, you may have to stop at an ATM on your way because they may not have credit/debit card readers. Here are some items you should have in your orchard picking go-bag:

  • Alcohol wipes to clean sticky hands (uh, I didn’t eat anything, it was the other guy)
  • Insulated water bottles (the garbage can could be a long-distance away)
  • Leather gloves (some berry plants have thorns)
  • Natural sunscreens and insect repellents (chemical-based products could contaminate the crop and harm the organic ecosystem the farmer uses)

Picnic Bags

For years, picnic backpacks, bags, and baskets have taken the outdoor meal to the next level. These backpack picnic sets come with complete service for 2 or 4, cutting boards, blankets to sit on, wine bottle holders, and an insulated pouch to maintain your hot or cold food items. You need to bring the food and your favorite drink since the picnic go bag has it all. 

To enhance the experience, you may want to hop onto your favorite internet radio app and put together a playlist to set the mood. Then, connect it to a portable Bluetooth speaker so you and your fellow picnic companion can enjoy the music together. 

Race Car Bag

Gimme fuel, gimme fire

Gimme that which I desire

If you can sum up your ultimate RV vacation with these lyrics from Legendary Rock Icons Metallica, then you must be a Race Fan!

Whether it’s NASCAR, Rally, Demolition, Formula 1, or watching an NHRA Top Fuel dragster get the best time on the quarter-mile, you love it if it has an engine. The racing world, especially NASCAR, holds special events for their RV fans before the competition begins. You’ll want to make sure you can hunker down for a few days because once the preliminaries start, you’re going to experience a long weekend of excitement. 

You’ll want to protect your ears from the extremely high decibel engine roaring that makes rock concerts seem like quiet concertos. Make sure you use plenty of sunscreen while you sit outside. Keep these items in your race car go bag so you can enjoy the event safely:

  • Bottle of over-the-counter pain reliever
  • Cooler with water (remember, alcohol dehydrates you)
  • Earplugs
  • Noise-canceling headphones for children
  • Sharpie markers so drivers can sign pictures and program guides

Sightseeing Bag

Sightseeing go bags for historical locations, museums, and other significant places will look similar to event and festival bags. They don’t necessarily have to be see-through unless you’ll be walking through a museum campus like the Smithsonian or the many museums that surround Grant Park in Chicago, IL. Pace yourself at the gift shops because if you can’t get back to your car to drop it off, it’ll add up to a lot of weight to carry around all day. Come prepared with the following:

  • Checklist of things to see, do, and/or purchase
  • Extra memory card for your mobile device
  • Map of the event site
  • Room for brochures
  • Small notebook and pen

Conclusion: Refill What You Used

When this author was a teenager, his father attended an executive’s baby shower at the office. Everybody spent more than they should be gifting the executive to suck up to the boss. When it came to his father, he handed the executive a gallon-sized zip-top bag. 

Confused and feeling a little insulted, the executive asked, what’s with the bag? His father answered, “put two diapers in it, baby powder, other supplies, and place it in the trunk of your car.” Insult avoided but still confused, the rest of the event concluded well. 

Two weeks after the baby was born, the executive came up to his father and shook his hand. He thanked him for the bag and wise advice. The executive and his family were at an event the previous weekend, and they ran out of diapers. If it weren’t for that backup supply in the trunk, that event would have been a disaster for the young family (especially since the executive was a speaker at the event). 

The writer’s father said, “I’m glad it worked out, but did you refill the zip-top bag?” not expecting the question, the executive said no. “Well, then how useful will it be again?” (add witty sarcasm to this question).

Using go bags keeps you organized and virtually guarantees you have everything you need and want for a specific day trip excursion. The trick is to refresh the supplies so the go-bag is ready next time you use it. Many of these items can be reused or are cheap to replace. Yet avoiding that panicked moment where you forgot something is priceless.

Do You Want to Learn More RV Creative Solutions?

If you like this go bag idea, you can learn more RV creative solutions through the RV LIFE Network. Each of our affiliates has a weekly newsletter that you can sign up for on their homepages. When you sign up for all of them, you’ll receive a newsletter every day to enjoy with your morning coffee.

For a more interactive learning experience, take a class with RV Masterclass. Our instructors are highly reputable RVers with the education and real-world experience to teach you about those big decisions in RV Life. Topics include homeschooling on the road, boondocking, buying techniques, preparing to go full-time, and many others. Get the knowledge and skills you need to help you make informed choices that’ll lead to success.

So, from our family to yours, stay safe, and we’ll see you down the road!

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