My family and I have been RVing full-time for nearly three-and-a-half years now. We’ve been back and forth across the States, we’ve done lots of repairs inside and out, we replaced our furniture back at the two-year mark, and we generally like to think we have some idea what we’re doing at this point.
We were recently discussing what we might’ve done differently when starting out, if we knew then what we know now. The conversation inevitably turned to the list of tools and accessories we’ve picked up along the way — the stuff we wish we would’ve had at the start.
If you’re thinking of buying your first RV, or you already have one and have considered a side business of renting it out during your “off-season” and need a packing list for guests, here are the essentials you’ll want to keep in the rig always.
Exterior RV Accessories
Sewer hose — That’s right newbie, you’re in charge of dumping your waste now. You can’t just flush your toilet or take a shower and have the water magically drain away anymore. You have to physically connect the rig to a sewer outlet using this type of hose — whether at a campsite or a standalone dump station — and dump your black and gray tanks manually. Yyyyyep.
You may also consider a sewer hose support set for situations where the sewer outlet is at an awkward position relative to your rig, or sticks a foot out of the ground for some reason and the hose has to run back uphill as it dumps (which happens more often than you’d think).
- Fresh water hose — Of course, you also need a way to get fresh water into the rig. All you need is a simple white hose like this one, which fits standard outdoor spigots on one end and your rig’s “city water inlet” on the other.
- RV water filter — Campgrounds don’t always have the cleanest or best-tasting water. Having an in-line filter removes some of those worries, though some people still opt for extra measures like the standalone Berkey water filtration system.
- Surge protector (30-amp or 50-amp, depending on your rig) — The last thing you want to do is hook up to shore power and fry your whole electrical system. This kind of surge protector actually has an analyzer built in, so you can plug it in first to see if the power box is faulty, badly wired, etc.
- RV water pressure regulator — The water in some campgrounds can be very high pressure. This regulator can protect your plumbing and hoses from the assault.
- Wheel chocks — You’re gonna find yourself parking on an incline more often than not. Use rubber wheel chocks like these to keep your tires from suddenly rolling downhill. Buy as many of the two-packs as needed to match the number of tires your rig has.
- Jack pads — If I had a dollar for every leveling jack I’ve had to lower into soft mud, well…I’d have a lot of dollars. Use these little pads underneath the jacks to keep them from sinking in. Some upscale places with nice paved sites will also ask you to use them so you don’t damage anything.
- Jack crank/handle (if applicable) — Assuming the rig doesn’t have auto-leveling jacks, you need a good crank handle you can rely on.
- Awning pull rod (again, if applicable) — Same deal; if the rig’s awning is manually extended, a pull rod (sometimes called a pull cane) lets you quickly deploy the awning without having to climb a ladder.
Interior RV Accessories
I’ll split this section into 3 main categories: Kitchen, Bedding, and Bath.
#1: Kitchen Supplies
- Plates and bowls — Made from melanine so you don’t have to worry about them breaking during travel.
- Cups — These aren’t likely to break on moving days or in kids’ hands.
- Mugs — Double-walled vacuum-insulated stainless steel with spill-resistant lids. ‘Nuff said.
- Silverware — Really, use any silverware you want. I’m just linking this set because it’s frills-free and functional.
- Pots and pans — RVing isn’t just grilling burgers every night. You need real kitchen equipment for making great meals.
- Spatulas and turner — Silicone tools work best here. Not only do they protect your nonstick cookware, you don’t have to worry about them banging around with everything else in their drawer on moving days.
- Baking sheets and cake pans — Yes, your RV’s oven works just fine for baking purposes.
- Can opener — We like just about everything made by OXO Good Grips, and their can opener is no different. It has a bottle opener built in too, which is nice.
- Magnetic measuring cups and measuring spoons — Not only can both of these sets hold up to abuse, they stay together rather than getting shuffled around in the drawer as your rig moves.
- Salt and pepper shakers — These little shakers are the perfect size for living in a small space.
- Coffee maker — I’m partial to the Hario V60 dripper and the AeroPress for my mobile coffee needs, but if all you need is a machine — we’re not all pour-over nerds, I get it — then Cuisinart’s little 4-cup maker is great and doesn’t take up too much counter space.
- Instant Pot pressure cooker — Ah, the Instant Pot. The sheer versatility of this thing is a godsend for travelers without a ton of space for other kitchen gear. As long as you’ve got shore power to connect to, it can solve just about all of your meal woes.
#2: Bedding Accessories
- Protective mattress cover — The master bed in many RVs is what they call a “short queen” size. This type of cover is totally optional, but if you’re going to buy one, make sure it’s the right size for the bed in your rig.
- RV bed sheet — ^ Same deal goes for buying a bed sheet.
- Comforters and/or blankets for every bed — Buy accordingly for the kind of weather you expect to be in.
- Pillow(s) for every bed — Goes without explanation. I personally like to cover mine with a satin case, but you do you.
#3: Bathroom Essentials
- Washcloths and hand towels — You gotta have linens of course!
- First aid kit — Things can happen when you’re far from civilization, and you can never be too prepared. At the very least, get yourself some basic first aid gear.
- Travel-sized toiletries — Totally optional, but smaller containers are definitely easier to deal with when you’re carrying a shower bag to and from bathhouses a lot.
There’s a lot more I could probably add to this list, and I’ve probably even missed some things here and there. A lot of RVing comes down to figuring out what works best for you over time, but I hope I’ve at least given you a good starting point for having a capable and comfy home-on-wheels experience.