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 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. These are just the things we have personally found to be particularly worthwhile and helpful.
Full disclosure: This post contains affiliate links which you may choose to use (or not) as you wish. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. As always, everything I write on this site is honest and every item listed here is something we use and love. If the particular item we bought is no longer available or has been updated, I have noted that in the description.
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. The smaller ones are best for smaller rigs and trailers. For larger motorhomes, these heavy duty chocks are perfect.
- 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. We carry 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.
- Maxx Air Vent Covers – We have one of these over each of our fresh air vents in the rig. It allows us to run the vents even when it’s rainy or windy.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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. Our fridge door has only flown open once while in transit, but, thankfully, these bars did their job and we did not lose a single item. Had we not had these in place, it would have been a disaster.
- Tire Pressure Monitoring System – If you have any doubt about whether or not a TPMS is worthwhile, watch this video on YouTube. Then, get yourself a TPMS. This particular version came highly recommended from other RVers we trust and we have found it to be easy to install, easy to use, and accurate.
- 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 sturdy and this did not seem like the kind of item to cheap out on.
- Blue Tote – This is a 4 wheeled tank that we use to dump our gray water when we’re not hooked up to sewer. It allows us to keep our RV in our campsite while still being able to use a normal amount of water. We carefully dump the gray water into the tote, then attach the tote to the back of our car, and just drive it over to the dump station. It saves us a ton of hassle and makes camping without a sewer hookup much more convenient. (Note: some people dump black water into these things, but that is crazy talk, so…. No.)
- Lumax no-mess oil drip and storage container – This large container makes draining, storing, and transporting waste oil easy.
- Fumoto Drain Valve, Cap, and Hose for easy and neat future oil changes. The drain valve linked to here works for the F-53 chassis, but the manufacturer makes equivalent valves for other chassis. Here’s a how-to video for oil changes that uses this valve.
- Pneumatic Grease Gun – This air-powered grease gun has everything you need to lube any RV chassis. For a good how-to video on the process for an F-53 chassis, check out this video.
- Air Compressor – Kevin uses this thing all the time for all kinds of maintenance and cleaning projects (filling RV and car tires, attaching to the pneumatic grease gun, cleaning dog hair out from under and behind furniture, etc). It is one of his go-to tools.
- 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 Vacuum – 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.
- Space Heater – We use this when we need to supplement our heat pump, or when we’re worried about running low on propane. (Note: this is not the exact heater we bought. The one we bought is the Lasko brand, but for some reason, I cannot link to that one. This appears to be equivalent.)
- 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.
- RV Queen Sized Sheets – If you have a standard RV sized mattress, it will be shorter than a regular mattress. These sheets are the right size and we’ve bought several sets. They are pretty soft and have held up well.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Induction Cooktop – This cooktop sits on top of our counter, so it ends up using a lot less space than our regular stove (we have to remove two large countertop panels to get to our propane stove, so we lose all that work space when we use the stove). Additionally, because this cooktop uses electricity, it allows us to save our propane. Since buying this cooktop, I can count on one hand how many times we’ve used the propane stove. The only caveat is your pans need to be all metal (so no non-stick) for it to work.
- Yeti Cups, Yeti Tumblers, and Hydroflask Thermoses – We used to mock hipsters for buying stuff like this, but turns out, they were right. These things are great – so great, in fact, that they’re the only cups we use now. They keep beverages hot or cold, don’t sweat, and look like new forever.
- Weber Propane Grill – Kevin bought this propane grill when we first started traveling and it has never let us down. While it’s certainly not the same as a charcoal grill, it fits nicely in our storage bay and is a lot easier to work with on the road.
- Weber Portable Smoker – As much as he uses the propane grill, he still misses his big ceramic smoker. Sadly, we couldn’t take that with us (it weighs several hundred pounds), so he settled for this portable one instead. It breaks down into several pieces and has done a solid job on pork shoulder, ribs, fish, and even homemade bacon.
- 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….
- Benebone Dog Bone – Friends of ours introduced us to these bones and they are now Thor’s favorite. He chews on them for hours and they don’t leave a mess or wreck his stomach.
- Cheap but quality Dog Poop Bags – I know it sounds stupid, but dog waste bags are expensive and some of them are really cheaply made. And the last thing you want is to end up with a mess on your hands – literally. These are a great combination of sturdy and cheap. We’ve been using them for years. They come in a relatively small box that is easily stored away in our cabinet.
- Kiddie pool – When I posted a picture of Thor in this kiddie pool, I received multiple messages from friends asking me where we’d found it. It’s inflatable, so it’s easy to store in the RV and it’s a good size for dogs (and people.)
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. (Note: this link is for a newer model than the one we have, but appears to be the same thing.)
- 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.
The Best Apps
- All Stays – This app costs about $10.00 in the app store and is worth every penny. We can pull up the app anywhere, even without good cell service, and find campgrounds, propane dealers, gas stations, rest stops, and every other place an RVer might find a need for on the road. The app pinpoints your location and then allows you to see everything within about 50 miles of your location. You can then filter for what you need (ie: are you looking for gas stations or campgrounds or free parking or a rest area?) You can also see reviews for the various businesses. This app has been an absolute lifesaver for us several times and we highly recommend it.
- WindAlert – This is a free app that provides real time wind information and forecasts. We’ve found it to be extremely accurate. The app uses wind monitoring and forecasting equipment from locations all over a given area and we’ve never found ourselves far from a monitoring station. Wind it is something all RVers should be paying attention to and we’ve changed our travel plans several times as a result of information we got from this app.
- AllTrails – This app and website is free (there’s an upgraded pay version, but we haven’t felt the need to buy it yet) and hugely helpful for finding hiking trails wherever we are. Written descriptions of the trails are provided along with distance, elevation, difficulty, and pet friendliness. Individual users submit their own reviews and photographs to provide even more helpful information. Additionally, you can “record” your hike as you go and compare it to the map to ensure you haven’t wandered off the trail, an incredibly helpful feature when you find yourself on routes with less than stellar signage.