Of the hundreds of pounds of “stuff” we carry with us, there are certain things we consistently express our appreciation for. Either through our research or just by dumb luck, we’ve collected a handful of items we would not want to travel without. These are those items. Please note, this is not intended to be an exhaustive list of everything a new RVer needs to buy, as there are plenty of those lists out there. These are just the things we have personally found to be particularly worthwhile and helpful.
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Outfitting the RV
- Heavy Duty Chocks – Chocks are really really important. They provide peace of mind when you’re parked on a not-so-level surface that you don’t need to worry about your house going for a joyride in the middle of the night. We started with a set of regular chocks supposedly built for RVs and promptly cracked one. We graduated to these heavy duty ones and have been very confident in them ever since.
- Tri Lynx Levelers and flat top plates – These are pretty standard equipment for RVers. We managed to crack a couple of the levelers early on, which led us to buy the flat tops, and we’ve had no losses since. So definitely get both the levelers and the tops. We have 4 sets of the levelers and have been to places where we needed every single one in order to get level.
- Progressive Industries surge protector – This is an item that was consistently recommended by other RVers and which we installed very early. Given the number of times we’ve lost power at various campgrounds, we are very happy to have the peace of mind that comes with this equipment. It also protects your electronics from “under-voltage,” which can be even more dangerous than over-voltage.
- Emergency Weather Radio – After tornadoes touched down less than 2 miles from where we were parked, we got very serious about tracking the weather and being prepared. We have this weather radio plugged in and ready to go at all times, and adjust it to reflect our current location every time we move.
- Water regulator – We’ve been to all kinds of campgrounds with all kinds of water pressure. This device ensures we won’t end up with damaged plumbing as a result.
- Vent covers – These allow us to have our ceiling vents on even when it’s raining. Given how much we use the vents, this is a nice feature.
- De-humidifier – Living in a small space with cruddy insulation means you have to worry about humidity and condensation. A dehumidifier helps you avoid lots of destructive problems that can creep up if you’re not paying attention.
- Damp-Rid – this is a cheap de-humidifier. We have two of these in the RV at all times. They capture excess moisture, and, as an added benefit, smell nice. We replace the crystals about once a month.
- Ladder – This sturdy, adjustable, ladder easily fits in our pass-through storage and has come in handy many times. It’s not cheap, but in our view, it was a worthwhile investment.
- Oxygenics shower head – We installed this very early on, so we really can’t say how much of a difference it makes as far as water usage, but we notice we have consistent, strong, water pressure in the shower.
- RhinoFlex Sewer hose – “People in the know” will tell you to upgrade your sewer hose from the factory-provided one to this one. “People in the know” know about these things…. You’ll also probably want the sewer hose extension, rinse mechanism, clear elbow, and rack to hold the thing in place.
- Refrigerator bars – We place these bars in the fridge before driving to ensure items that shift don’t fall out when we open the refrigerator. So far, they’ve worked like a charm.
- Tire Pressure Monitoring System – If you’ve ever seen a youtube video of an RV blowing a tire and going out of control, you know the importance of a TPMS. This one came highly recommended from other RVers we trust and we have found it to be easy to install and easy to use.
- Platform Step – We bought this step to help our dog, but it’s helpful for us as well. It’s adjustable, sturdy, and stable. While more expensive than we wanted, the cheaper ones are not as stable and this did not seem like the kind of item to cheap out on.
Daily Life and Maintenance
- Walkie Talkies – When we took our driving lessons, we decided Kevin would be responsible for parking while I would be responsible for directing him. We have found using walkie talkies makes this process 1000 times easier. Instead of him trying to find me in the mirrors, and me trying to communicate with him via hand signals while constantly moving around, he can focus on driving while I can focus on directing.
- Shark Rocket – This vacuum is pretty compact, doubles as a handheld dust-buster, and costs a fraction of a comparable Dyson. It gets into most spaces, never loses power, and is easy to maintain. If I had it to do again, I might go with the cordless version just for convenience, but really, either one works fine.
- Swiffer – Possibly the greatest invention ever and perfect for quickly cleaning RV floors. Just make sure you buy refills of the solution and cleaning pads at BJ’s or another wholesale store. Otherwise, they are crazy expensive.
- Space heater – The problem with RVs is once it starts getting really cold, you need propane to heat (since electric heat pumps only work when the outside temperature is above 40 degrees). Unfortunately, while propane furnaces are great and do the job well, they burn through propane quickly which means you have to move your whole RV to refill the tank. All of which is a giant pain. If you’re on 50 amp electrical service though, you can fire up a space heater or two, and it can do the same job, without all the extra aggravation.
- Multimeter – Of all the items in Kevin’s toolbox, this is the one he uses the most. For diagnosing electrical problems, it’s an absolute necessity.
- Cordless headphones – When Kevin wants to play video games and I want to write, he can slay dragons without bothering me.
- Command strips – Because we can’t use nails and screws to hang items on our walls, we use these instead. They work well, and don’t damage the walls or cabinets we attach them to.
- Portable steam cleaner – Unfortunately, our RV has some carpeting (we’d much prefer all tile), so I bought this small steam cleaner to try to keep the carpet from getting gross. It does a reasonably decent job and is small enough to easily store.
- Damp Rid Hanging Moisture Absorber – Even though I had cedar blocks in our closet, it still started getting a bit musty in there. This product works extremely well (we use the regular Damp Rid containers in other places in the RV – see above). It has completely resolved the issue.
- Tick Removers – Even with our use of flea and tick preventative treatments, our dog still picks up the occasional tick. We used to try to get them off with tweezers, with varying degrees of success. We tried these and were blown away by how effective they are. We’ve used them a handful of times and each time, it’s been a breeze. Highly recommend….
- Instant Pot – Many RVers have them, and for good reason. This one device does a LOT – everything from soups and stews, to slow cooked meats, to rice, to yogurt. It’s the kitchen device we use the most and it’s been absolutely worth the investment.
- Ninja Prep – It slices! It dices! It does everything…. and it’s a lot lighter than a normal food processor
- Collapsible colander/salad spinner – This is a neat little combination of gadgets. A salad spinner, a colander, and a large plastic bowl. All collapse down and fit neatly in a small space. We use them frequently and they have held up well.
- Flexible cutting board – We got rid of several large plastic cutting boards and bought this instead. It’s easier to clean in our small sink and has held up well to some pretty harsh spices. It seems like we’ll have it for a good long while.
Travel and camping
- RV specific GPS – This GPS, which is programmed to take into account our height and weight and ensure we don’t get stuck somewhere, has served us well, with the caveat that Kevin double checks our route with Google maps and Streetview before we head off. I’m sure there are lots of RVers who just set the GPS and go, but we like to double check and make sure. On the other hand, when we got stuck in traffic once and I couldn’t get over in time to make our exit, we relied on the GPS to re-route us in real time, and it did a great job. It provides some nice peace of mind.
- Passport America membership – $44 per year gets you a 50% off discount at hundreds of campgrounds. Restricted dates? Yes. Limited days of the week? Yup! Limitations, exclusions and small print? You betchya!!! But when you’re sitting at a campground where you paid $216 for 9 nights rather than $432 for the same 9 nights, you’ll quickly conclude that it was worth it.