In no sense of the word would I consider myself a "fulltimer" although I have used the RV extensively and treat it as a second home. After three years of playing around, month long trips, traveling to rallies, resorts, and other social events I desperately needed to organize, purge, and clean the RV in order to take an Alaskan trip of this magnitude. There were a huge list of things I wanted to do to make my trip more relaxing and less stressful. It doesn't take long to accumulate a bunch of stuff in every conceivable nook and cranny of the RV. This part of the organizing would prove to take longer than I had first anticipated. If I didn't need the items on this trip they came out, primarily because I was concerned with the extra weight in the RV.
First on my list was to look at the basement bays and pull out the miscellaneous items I wouldn't need and probably didn't remember were there. Do you really need those heavy, comfortable lounge chairs or will the camp chairs serve you fine on this trip? How much golf will you really play on this trip and can you get by with rentals at the course? I probably don't need the awning lights, the miscellaneous rally items and decorations, or the patio mats. The auxiliary satellite dish won't work in Alaska, so that can be stored elsewhere for the summer.
For this trip I packed the basement bays with the following:
- Fishing equipment - hip waiters, Ugly Sticks with open bale reels, large net, 5 gallon bucket
- 2 camp chairs and a small folding table - many camp grounds in Alaska don't offer a picnic table
- Weber grill, stainless mesh baskets for grilling veggies and fish over a campfire, Dutch Oven
- Ladders - a three step and a larger extendable
- Tools - every tool you would normally carry with you
- Empty Rubber Maid containers to fill with souvenirs and unused clothes
- Aluminum step, door mat, Easy Up with zippered side walls. You will want the extra covered space outside the RV to store your rain gear, hip waiters, fishing gear, muddy boots, etc. It will be a welcomed dry space. For reasons which should be obvious, you won't be able to leave your awning out for extended periods of time.
- Distilled water, normal fluid items, filters, belts. If your rig is small you may consider a spare. Most likely nothing will happen to your tires if you've taken proper precautions and don't drive like a madman over the frosties.
- Large Rubber Maid container for dry dog food. You don't want to run out of your dog's favorite food and/or treats while on the road, although they will most likely love to dine on fish.
- The normal extra length of water hose, extension cord, sewer hoses, 30amp/20amp adapters
- I'm really embarrassed to admit this, but I stored away my Dyson so I could vacuum messes the central vac just couldn't handle. And before you start laughing, consider that I was traveling with two Saint Bernard's into a very wet and muddy rain forest. There will be messes. There will be dust no matter how tightly sealed you believe your RV windows to be.
- Fishing is a must and having a DC freezer in the basement is as well. You can ship your fish home, but then comes the extra task of finding someone to receive the shipment and get it to your home freezer. Your freshly caught halibut tastes incredible after a long day of fishing. If you have this extra freezer you'll be able to enjoy your catch throughout the summer.
Inside Storage Cabinets - Checklist
I enjoy my creature comforts. If I want to rough it I'll throw my tent and air mattress in the back of the Suburban (that was a joke men). I bought my RV to have my home with me. Even though I may be camping, fishing, hiking, and exploring I don't feel the need to give up modern conveniences. This is my home away from home so if something makes me happy I'm going to have it with me, Saint Bernard's and all.
For years I've tried to think of a solution to keep wine glasses, or for that matter any glass, upright while on the road, with the added benefit of not tumbling out of the cabinet and smashing on the countertop upon arrival at the campground. I posed this question on one of my travel group sites and their first response was to ask why I would travel with glasses at all? The short answer is because I really detest paper and plastic products. I don't use them at home so I feel no need to use them on the road. Besides, who can drink Riesling out of a plastic cup? So, I compromised. I bought cheap, 16 ounce, stemless wine glasses at Wally World and stainless steel, mesh rectangular baskets. These fit nicely in the cabinet and hold all the glasses in place. A piece of shelf liner placed between the row of glasses helps keep them quiet. I also used this shelf liner between all plates and bowls and under the silverware in each section. Noise problem solved without having to use paper and plastic.
I cleaned out every cabinet and drawer to re-organize for this trip. I wanted to make sure things were conveniently located for ease of use and quick access. I'm a cook, and with the added benefit of fresh fish, crab, and oysters I planned to enjoy myself in the kitchen. Very rarely do I eat out when on the road. This organization also gave me the opportunity to create a list of pantry, refrigerator, and freezer items that I could give to Boarder Agents. This printed, updated sheet makes the crossing much easier.
- Fill all spice bottles, stock up on canned items. I placed these in the rectangular mesh baskets in the pantry and never again had an issue with things moving around. Extra cans of soup, tomatoes, etc I put in canvas baskets in another part of the RV.
- Pasta, beans, barley, and rice stored in air tight Rubber Maid containers.
- Coffee, tea, sweetner, flour, sugar, etc place in air tight Rubber Maid containers
- Transfer olive oil, vinegar, soy sauce, etc to plastic containers
- Cookies and crackers in Ziplock bags
- Costco Stretch Tite Food Wrap, Aluminum foil, extra Ziplock bags of various sizes
- Fruit, potatoes, and onions I placed in the kitchen drawers. Quantities of these will depend on their origin and if you will be entering Canada. You can check current food regulations here.
- Small appliances - coffee maker, coffee grinder (my indulgence), toaster, small deep fryer (I promise it will come in handy), the Cuisenart electric skillet became my new best friend.
- Mesh baskets in the wall cabinets help organize items and keep them in place. Very helpful.
- I would suggest stocking up on personal items. If the item is difficult to find in your area, you don't stand a chance of finding it in Alaska. Even common items can be difficult to find.
- Store toilet paper and tissues. Most of us are particular about our favorite brands.
Other Areas - Camping Ideas
- I have a curio cabinet in my RV which holds some of my favorite items. I use museum wax to keep these in place while on the road.
- I have a drawer within easy reach for my camera equipment, binoculars, and video equipment.
- Like most RVs I have a table with 4 chairs. Instead of keeping this setup I changed out the 4 chairs with a rolling desk chair and turned the table into a desk space for my computer, printer, and office supplies. I attached a two file tray to the underside of the table and used museum wax to anchor a small desk lamp. It's an enjoyable work area that I don't have to break down every time I get back on the road.
- I mentioned carrying an Easy Up to dump wet and muddy items outside. Mine has zippered sides that velcro into place. A piece of paracord cut to size and a few clothespins let me hang damp items on one side while the other area can be used to sit outside out of the rain. I also kept a larger sized Rubber Maid container in the toad for rain gear and boots. It helps ensure your gear is reachable without opening the slides of the RV.
- Pack clothes within a color scheme. Things should be easily mixed and matched. Pack only your favorites. Pack to dress in layers; t-shirt, long sleeve shirt, fleece, water proof rain jacket. You don't need a lot of clothes. You need comfortable clothes, comfortable boots, and great socks. One of the nicest things about Alaska is they've taken casual to a whole new level. Dress so you're comfortable in the weather you're faced with. You will do laundry every week and you'll find yourself wearing the same comfortable clothes week after week. It's okay. you're going to Alaska, not the Grammy's. The only one who cares about your $150 pair of Blood and Guts convertible pants is you. Alaskans are pretty unimpressed with anything related to "down south." They are a pretty straight forward lot, who care more about who you are, not how you dress. Be a visitor, not a tourist. Leave the dressy pantsuit, cocktail dress, and heels to the cruise ship tourist.
Checklist Items Worthy of Mention
- Cooler for overnights on the ferry and day trips
- Favorite pillows from home
- Get a good backpack, like a North Face, and leave your purse at home.
- DVDs, books, magazines or whatever else you enjoy. Your satellite will not get reception in Alaska and you won't always have access to cable at campgrounds. Plan some down time. You don't want to be running from one activity to another.
- Extra eye glasses and sun glasses
- Water bottles - reusable
- Comfortable winter hat for glacier trips, whale watching trips, and ocean fishing excursions
- Clothespins, paracord, carabiners
- Ammonia or hydrogen peroxide in a small spray bottle - for mosquito bites
- Vitamin B12 - some people swear it repels mosquitos and bees. It works for me.
- Rain Gear - 2 water proof jackets at least (one lightweight and one larger/heavier), knee high rain boots like XtraTuffs, hiking boots, sneakers, and sandals (if you wish)
- Gloves - with finger holes so you can still take photos on the cold boats rides
Further Preparing Your Vehicles
- If you don't already have one, install a rock guard on your coach. This not only goes a long way to saving the paint on your toad, but depending on where your radiator is installed this will probably save it when traveling over the gravel roadways.
- I made a windshield cover for the Jeep out of some rubber material I had hanging around the garage. I punched grommets in the corners. When installed properly it would be placed under the wipers and reach inside the door frame. Inside I would attach a bungee cord to the bottom two grommets and a bungee to the top two grommets. It was extra windshield security to protect from flying stones of other vehicles.
- I covered the headlights (and fog lights) on the RV and Jeep with two layers of clear packing tape to protect against flying stones.
- For everyone who isn't used to the Land of the Midnight Sun, return the insulated window coverings you used for the Arizona heat to the bedroom windows and skylights .