Lake life is where it’s at. Camping near a lake has so many opportunities to play at the beach, go fishing, boating, canoeing, or stand-up paddle boarding. Being by the water not only gives you plenty of things to do but also triggers a sense of calm and joy. Hearing the sound of loons calling or waves hitting the shoreline is reason enough to find yourself gravitating back to the lake. And there’s nothing better than ending a beautiful day of RVing with an even more beautiful sunset at the lake.
To prepare for a day of RVing at the lake, there are a few essentials to check off the list to make sure you have a great time while lake camping.
Waterfront campsites are among the most popular spots to get taken at campgrounds. Be sure to book your lake campsite far in advance if you want to guarantee a spot for your RV. Be sure to hit the refresh button often because there are last-minute cancellations at campgrounds all the time.
Where there is water, there are typically pesty insects — especially when temperatures warm up. It’s the unfortunate part of camping next to a lake. It is hard to truly enjoy the outdoors when you’re constantly swatting away unwanted insects. Mosquitoes, biting flies, and ticks are among campers worst enemies when lake camping so come prepared with anti-insect weapons of choice: bug spray with DEET, permethrin-treated clothes, Thermacell, and a screen room. Learn How to Repel Bugs When Camping.
- Bug spray. Look for a spray with 25 to 50 percent DEET will get the job done. I spray every couple of hours, especially if I’m using repellent that isn’t sweat or waterproof. After a day on the water, I always make sure to douse myself in bug spray before coming back to the campsite.
- Permethrin. Treating your clothing with permethrin will work wonders. I always try to treat my clothes a few days before a big camping trip to make sure it’s working at its highest potency. The treatment usually lasts up to five or so washes though. The best part is that after you treat your clothes, there’s no smell or sticky residue that bug spray sometimes leaves behind.
- Thermacell. Create your own little forcefield of protection around your lake campsite by using a Thermacell or two. This thing works wonders. Make sure to bring yours anytime your going to be hanging out at an outdoor area whether it’s the dock, beach, campsite, or the park. Thermacells run off a butane cartridge which heats up a replaceable mat that’s saturated in a repellent called allethrin which releases into the air to create a protection zone.
- Screened room. A screened room is an easy way to create an outdoor space that’s bug-free. It’s basically a large tent with screen walls so that you can still see and feel the outdoors while keeping unwanted pests away. It does take up space so make sure you have room for one when booking a campsite.
Reel In Your Next Big Catch
If you’re camping by a lake, never leave without your fishing gear! Lots of campers usually choose lake campsites because they want to fish. It’s a great way to spend time outdoors alone or with friends and family. It’s a good idea to always keep an extra travel rod in the RV just in case you forget to pack the fishing gear or you end up breaking a rod.
Our pick for the best travel fishing rods are telescopic rods which are perfect for RVers. These rods telescope in and out so that they can be a full-sized rod but also collapse to fit inside a backpack for portability. Be sure to have a ready-to-go tackle box filled with a variety of lures including spinners, jigs, bare hooks, crankbaits, spoons, and bobbers. And be sure to swing by the bait shop for minnows, leeches, nightcrawlers, or grubs depending on what you’re fishing for.
If you plan to catch and cook, then be sure to pack a sharp filet knife, cutting board, and your favorite dry batter. You can keep these fish fry essentials in your RV pantry at all times so that it’s fewer things we have to remember to pack.
Safety First with Life Jackets
When it comes to spending time on the water, safety is always first. If you plan to boat, kayak, canoe, or stand-up paddle board, a life jacket should always be worn or on board.
If you don’t like the bulk of life jackets, there are lower profile vests, as well as inflatable vests, that inflate upon immersion in water or manually inflate when you pull the inflation handle. Most kids prefer the life jackets that come with built-in floaties for their arms. It’s great for swimming and insurance for a fun, safe day by the water.
Stay Safe in the Sun
While soaking up the sun and having fun, it’s easy to forget about sun protection. Before heading out onto the lake, plan ahead and lather on your sunscreen from head to toe. A day on the water usually means stronger sun rays because of the reflection from the water. That’s why it’s important to make sure everyone is covered in sunscreen when you’re at the beach.
There are two kinds of UV radiation that hit your skin when you're in the sun: UVA and UVB. UVB is the kind responsible for sunburns, while UVA is the kind that reaches deeper into the skin and causes skin aging.
Both UVB and UVA rays increase your risk of skin cancer. SPF (short for "sun protection factor") is a measure of how well a sunscreen protects you from UVB. To ensure you're getting equal protection from both types of radiation, check the ingredients list. The product should contain 3% avobenzone or at least 15% zinc oxide.
Get on the Water Without Towing a Boat
No lake getaway is complete without a way of getting on the water. When towing isn’t an option because you’re already hauling an RV, there are still plenty of other ways to bring a “boat” with you. There’s nothing like paddling around on a lake in a kayak, canoe, or stand-up paddle board. It allows us to fish and explore different areas of the lake that we otherwise can’t experience.
Kayaks can easily fit in many RVs whether through the door or either on a bed or the floor. Just remember to measure your kayak and the dimensions of your RV first. Wrap your kayak in a blanket before sliding it in to avoid scuffing up cabinets and walls. An alternative option is to take advantage of a toy hauler and its ramp door access to get your water vessel of choice into the vehicle. Kayaks, canoes, and stand-up paddle boards will slide right in through the ramp door opening.
Another idea is to get a kayak rack that’s made for the back of your RV. If you want to be able to take your kayak to a lake that isn’t within walking distance, you’ll want to get a roof rack for your vehicle. Again, you’ll want to take note of the length of your kayak and how far forward you can secure it onto your roof rack so that there is enough clearance between your RV and kayak when making turns.
If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of securing a large boat like a kayak or canoe, look into the wide variety of inflatable boats that are available today. From kayaks to stand-up paddle boards, floating docks, and regular tube floats – there are many durable and versatile options to get on the water.
Many inflatable kayaks and SUPs come in a kit with a carrying case for storage and portability and a manual pump so that you can pump them up anywhere. It takes about 10 to 15 minutes to pump manually so if you want to save time, you can use an electric pump.
Party Essentials Checklist:
Being at the lake calls for a beach party or at least an atmosphere that feels like a beach party. Walking through the sand, dipping your toes in the water, soaking in the sun, and seeing others enjoy a day at the beach always gets me in the mood to bust out the fun items as well as the must-pack essentials that make our lake day feel more like a party.
- Folding beach wagon to carry all your items for a day at the beach
- Beach bag to carry additional essentials
- Sand-free beach towels as a way to mark your home base on the beach and to dry off after a dip in the lake
- Portable beach chairs that you can place on the shallow shoreline to cool off your toes (ideally one with a cup holder)
- Cooler to keep your food and drinks perfectly chilled throughout the day (throw in some freeze pops for a summer treat and also to keep items cold)
- Umbrella or portable beach shade to protect little ones and grownups from the sun
- Waterproof Bluetooth speaker to blast some Beach Boys or other lake-vibe tunes
- Beach games like volleyball, water frisbee, water pickle, and velcro ball toss
- Beach toys for the kids including sandcastle-building essentials, water balloons, and an insect-catching kit to keep the curious little ones occupied
- Portable fire pit to have a beachside campfire as the sun sets
Now you have everything you need to plan the perfect lake day getaway!