If you’re planning on living and traveling in an RV, getting set up with the right equipment and RV accessories is a must. Unfortunately, knowing exactly what you need without having ever experienced life on the road is nearly impossible.
This is where we step in. Using our combined years of full-time RV living experience, we have compiled a list of the must-have items—as well as the most fun gadgets—that every new fulltime RVer should have before leaving home. Stock up on these things and you’ll be good to go!
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Must-Have Items for the Fulltime Family
Let’s begin with the MUST HAVES. These are the items you really won’t be able to live comfortably without. (Of course, these are in addition to all of your regular household items.)
- Good Insurance — Okay, so technically this isn’t a gadget. However, good insurance is an absolute must before you hit the road. Learn more about how to make sure your insurance covers you properly here.
- New Mattresses — The mattresses that come in RVs are notoriously terrible. Save your back and your sleep by replacing your mattress with something better as soon as possible.
- New Shower Head — Another item that simply must be changed out is the shower head in your RV. RV shower heads are inefficient, and this doesn’t work out very well when you’re working with limited tank space and limited hot water. An Oxygenics shower head will help solve this problem.
- Jack Pads — Keep your RV from sinking into the ground and save the cement or asphalt you park on by using a simple set of jack pads.
- X-Chocks — X-chocks are great for keeping your trailer or motorhome from rolling away, and they add a bit of stability to your setup.
- Traditional Wheel Chocks — It might seem like overkill, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. That’s why we recommend using some traditional wheel chocks in addition to the X-chocks.
- Leveling Blocks — Unfortunately, not all RV sites are level. Leveling blocks will help keep your RV from feeling like a funhouse when parking in an uneven spot.
- Sewer Hose — Emptying waste tanks isn’t pretty, but it is a regular part of RV life. Obviously, you’ll need a sewer hose to take care of this job.
- Clear Sewer Hose Connector — A clear sewer hose connector is a great little piece that allows you to see when your tanks are finished dumping. It can also help you determine whether your tanks need another rinse.
- Sewer Hose Support — If you’re lucky enough to be parked in a place with sewer hookups, a sewer hose support will allow you to leave the hose connected and draining gray water throughout your stay.
- Freshwater Hose — Of course, you will need some way to put water into your RV’s water system. This is where a freshwater hose steps in.
- Electric Adapters — There will be times when a campground doesn’t offer the electric hookup you need. Depending on the situation, certain adapters will be needed. Some examples:
Whatever the case, just make sure you’re using them safely.
- Surge Guard Surge Protector and Outlet Tester — Speaking of using electricity safely, you will want to protect your rig and yourself from bad campground wiring. The Surge Guard Surge Protector and Outlet Tester allows you to do just that.
- Blue Boy — You never know when you might get stuck in a spot with no sewer connections. A blue boy will allow you to dump your tanks and move that waste to a dump station without having to move your rig.
- RV Extension Cord — Once in a while you may come across an electric pedestal that is way too far from your RV. In these cases, an RV extension cord is an excellent thing to have on hand.
- Camping Chairs — Among the best things about living in an RV are all the awesome people you meet along the way. Of course, you’re going to want something to sit in while hanging out with your newfound friends, making camping chairs a need.
- Good Tool Kit — A sad truth about RVs is that they have a tendency to break. Luckily, a good tool kit and the willingness to put in a bit of elbow grease can fix a lot of the problems that may arise.
- Flashlights — Flashlights are important for navigating dark campgrounds and even for walking through your home-on-wheels if the power goes out.
- Water Pressure Regulator — Water pressure that is too high can quickly mess up an RV’s delicate water lines. Keep your water pressure in check with a simple yet effective water pressure regulator.
- Water Filter — Don’t trust the water everywhere you go? A super simple inline water filter can remove all kinds of less-than-ideal things from the water coming into your rig.
- Cellular Hotspot — Chances are you’re going to need an internet connection while traveling, and a cellular hotspot with a good cellular plan can give you just that. Learn more about internet on the road here.
- Emergency Kit — Emergencies can happen anytime and anyplace. Be prepared with a well stocked emergency kit. Learn what to put in your emergency kit here.
- First Aid Kit — Of course, you’ll also want to have a first aid kit on hand. This should include everything listed in this article.
- Tire Pressure Gauge — Keeping tabs on your RV tire pressure can prevent all kinds of disasters. For this reason, a tire pressure gauge should always be within easy reach.
- Insect Repellent and Sunscreen — Living in an RV tends to mean more time spent outdoors, and more time spent outdoors generally means more bugs and sun. Protect yourself from these things with sunscreen and bug repellent.
- Trucker’s Atlas or GPS — RVs can’t always go everywhere that an average car might wander. A trucker’s atlas or GPS will help ensure you stick to roads that are big-rig-friendly.
Not sure which household items to pack in addition to these RV specific must-haves? Check out this post on purging.
The Best RV Accessories for Boondocking
Many RVers (and especially fulltimers) quickly discover the magic that is boondocking. For those who don’t know, to boondock is to camp completely off-grid without any water or electric hookups whatsoever. As you might imagine, this requires some extra gear.
We’ve listed the most crucial of the boondocking items below:
- Generator — Not having electric hookups can be rough. A generator will give you the extra power boost you need to run certain appliances while also recharging depleted batteries.
- Macerator Pump — When sewer hookups or a dump station aren’t in walking distance, a macerator pump can help you move wastewater from your tanks into a blue boy kept in the back of your truck or on a trailer. You can then drive to the closest dump site and the pump can move that same water from the trailer or truck into the sewer.
- Water Bladder — Refilling water is another thing boondockers must be prepared for. A water bladder allows you to move large amounts of water from a potable water source to your rig.
- Food Grade Pump — Not sure how to move that freshwater from the bladder to your tank? A transfer pump will do the trick!
- Venture Wipes — Even with the dumping and refilling tool mentioned above, using precious water to shower every day while boondocking might feel like a bit of a pain. Venture Wipes can help keep you feeling clean and fresh between shower days.
- Max-Air Vent Fan Covers — When boondocking, running the air conditioner is usually a no-go. Roof vents can help with this, and Maxx-Air Vent Cover will allow you to run those vents even if it happens to be raining out.
Want to learn more about boondocking? Be sure check out this post on the topic!
Nice-to-Have Gadgets and Tools
There are some things that aren’t really needs, but still definitely do their part to make RV life more enjoyable. For this reason, we recommend investing in as many as you think you’ll use. After all, living in a camper shouldn’t mean roughing it 24/7.
- Grill and Grill Tools — Nothing says good times quite like a cookout. For this reason, many RVers like to carry a grill and grill tools with them wherever they go.
- Solar System — Adding solar panels (and everything that goes with those panels) to your RV is a huge undertaking. However, it can really pay off, especially if you boondock often.
- Upgraded Battery Bank — Another thing boondockers may want to consider is an upgraded battery bank. Certain batteries are better than others, and obviously, having more than one battery is always a good thing when you go off grid.
- Awning or Canopy — If your RV didn’t come with an awning—and in some cases, even if it did—you may want to consider adding an awning to your rig or setting up a detached canopy of some sort.
- Tankless Water Heater — Hot water tanks in RVs tend to be very small. Since running out of hot water mid-shower is never fun, some RVers choose to put in a tankless water heater.
- Instant Pot — The perfect tool for cooking when you don’t want to use propane or heat up your tiny home, the Instant Pot pressure cooker is a versatile kitchen tool that every RVer should consider investing in.
- Propane Fire Pit — It’s always nice to gather around a campfire with friends. Unfortunately, wood fires aren’t always allowed. Propane fire pits, on the other hand, are allowed almost anywhere and are super easy to set up and take down, making them the perfect compromise.
- Berkey Water Filter — Even with an inline water filter, many RVers still don’t feel comfortable drinking campground water. A Berkey water filter creates perfect drinking water you can feel safe consuming.
- Hammock — Clearly, this isn’t a need. However, hanging out around your campsite in a hammock is tons of fun.
- WeBoost — Those who require a fast internet connection for work may consider this a need. For most however, the WeBoost is a want. This handy gadget helps boost your cell connection to make it stronger and faster. Read about it here.
- Two-Way Radios — When you head out into the boonies, counting on cell phones isn’t always the best idea. Two-way radios are great for keeping tabs on kids while they’re out playing, communicating with your spouse in a second vehicle, and more.
- Bikes and Bike Rack — If you enjoy riding your bike now, chances are you’ll find yourself riding even more once you’re out traveling. For this reason, many people like to bring their bikes along on a bike rack of some sort.
- Kayaks or Canoes — Just as bicyclists tend to bring their bikes, those who enjoy kayaking or canoeing will want to bring their kayaks or canoes along.
- Splendide Washer and Dryer — Doing your laundry using the park machines or heading to the laundromat is fine. However, many people find that they much prefer having their own washer and dryer onboard their RV. Splendide is an excellent choice.
- AeroPress, Pour-over Dripper, or French Press — Traditional coffee makers are bulky, taking up valuable counter space. Besides, they require electricity to run, something you won’t always have if you plan on boondocking. The AeroPress, pour-overs, and French presses of the world are all great replacements.
This is quite the shopping list, we know. For this reason, many people who are just jumping in prefer to purchase the essentials in the first list and add the boondocking and convenience items at a later date. After all, you’ll have plenty of time to finish building your stock and ensure it suits you after you’ve hit the road.
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