We were the last to arrive at the campfire because we were trying to help a newbie RVer set up. Lois, a single gal, just purchased a new RV. She’s excited to begin life on the road as a traveling nurse. Her enthusiasm reminded me of when we first started RVing!
The RV dealership gifted Lois with a “Welcome Bucket.” The salesman assured this new-to-RVing gal that it contained everything for a weekend of camping. While the gift bucket held many items, some necessities were obviously missing.
Here’s the thing when you’re new to RVing (or new to anything): You don’t know what you don’t know.
Sewer hose and support
Lois’s welcome bucket contained a sewer hose. However, the ten-foot hose was too short for her assigned camping spot. The hose end came nowhere near the campsite’s sewer pipe. We tried maneuvering her RV closer, but it was impossible to get the rig close enough for the sewer hose to reach.
Lois trekked off to find the longer RV sewer hose she hadn’t known she would need. Before she left, she asked folks around the campfire to brainstorm RV necessities she should purchase before heading off to the assignment. Everyone was eager to help. Here’s the list we came up with along with reasons why each item is important.
Water pressure regulator
A water pressure regulator keeps the water pressure coming into your RV at a constant and acceptable pressure. Folks recommended Lois buy a brass, adjustable water pressure regulator featuring a gauge. That way, she can see and adjust the water pressure, if necessary.
Without a regulator, you risk damaging pipes or causing pressure leaks in your RV’s plumbing system. This is because campground water pressures can widely vary from place to place.
Fresh water hose
A white water hose came in Lois’ welcome bucket. Several people said they’d buy an upgrade to replace the cheap, continually tangled hose that came in the welcome bucket. Not everyone agreed. “We use ours,” Tom noted. “It just takes a little patience to work with it.” (And make sure you have hose quick connectors, too.)
Fresh water filter
A fresh water filter will provide better-tasting water and also remove contaminants and sediment present in some campground water lines. An inline filter with a flexible hose protector was also a recommended add-on by most folks. (It helps lessen stress on hose connection points.)
Black water treatment
Lois had two packets of holding tank treatment in her welcome bucket. Someone advised her to try it out and if it controls the odors, she’ll need to purchase more. Every time she empties the black and gray tanks, she’ll need to add another treatment to the holding tank. (This is the one RVtravel.com’s Dave Solberg recommends.)
Electric surge protector
This must-have add-on can potentially save you thousands of dollars! A surge protector prevents the electrical voltage coming into your RV from becoming too low or too high. It will protect your RV’s TV, sound system, appliances, and more. “Well worth the cost,” Sandi stated.
During the shoulder seasons of spring and fall, a portable fan or heater may help preserve electricity and/or propane, because you won’t need to use the RV’s air conditioner or furnace.
“We use fans and portable heaters inside our RV, depending on the season. For items like these, we carry along an extension cord,” Tom offered. “Just use caution. Never link several extensions together and periodically touch the cord to see if it’s overheating.” Good advice for Lois (and everyone).
Small fridge fan
While this is a battery-operated add-on, not an electrical one, it’s still an important item. Unless Lois has a residential, self-defrosting refrigerator, a small fridge fan can extend the time between defrosting duties on her RV fridge.
There are a LOT of RV extras needed to travel safely and comfortably. Here are more items for Lois to consider.
Wheel chocks—Thankfully, Lois received wheel chocks in her welcome bucket. Wheel chocks are used to keep the RV from moving when parked, and are therefore a necessity.
Leveling blocks—This may be something the newbie wants to purchase soon. We seem to use our leveling blocks every time we RV.
Storage boxes/containers—To keep the RV basement organized, several folks recommended that Lois purchase storage containers. Plastic, lidded containers seemed to be the storage box most recommended. These are lightweight, stackable, and can hold (and organize) a lot of RV necessities along with hobby gear (bike helmets, hiking boots, etc.).
Kitchen, bath, and bedroom items—To save on initial costs, some folks brought linens from their stix-n-brix home into their RV. Eventually, though, they purchased an entire set exclusively for the RV. Same goes for pots, pans, coffee maker, dishes, silverware, and other kitchen needs. Since Lois will be living full-time in her rig, she’ll transfer items from her apartment into the new RV.
Extra fire extinguishers—RVs typically come with at least one small fire extinguisher. Firefighter friends, who also RV, recommend everyone have an extinguisher in the RV bedroom, kitchen, and outside in the basement storage area.
RV toilet paper—Some marine-grade toilet paper came in Lois’ welcome bucket. Thankfully.
After RVing for a while, all of us find things that make the RV life better. Here are items that you can do without, but they are very nice to have.
Portable grill—If you have your own, you need not wait for a campground grill to become available. Nor do you have to carry food, utensils, and more over to the campground grill. (Note: Grills are not always located near RV sites. Instead, you may find them in the common areas.)
Outdoor RV mat—Even a small grass-like mat positioned at the bottom of your entry steps will help keep your RV’s interior cleaner. A large, outdoor mat will work even better, though it does take up basement storage space (something to consider). (Check these out!)
Camping chairs or recliners—RVers generally like to be outside in nice weather. Sure, you can sit on a blanket or large bath towel, but a camping chair or recliner may be more comfortable.
Entrance rug and rugs for living spaces—The entrance rug will catch some dirt that the outdoor mat misses. Indoor rugs also help the RV floor feel warmer in cooler temps, and can add personality to your rig, too.
Mattress topper—No matter what RV we’ve had, the factory mattresses were bad. Really. Bad. We’ve replaced the entire mattress on a few rigs we’ve owned. For our current RV, I simply bought a thick mattress topper and put it right over the factory mattress. It works fine.
Appreciative and happy
Lois was so appreciative and seemed happy to have a list of RV necessities and niceties. She just didn’t know what she didn’t know. We’ve all been there, right?
Would you add anything to our campfire group’s list of RV extras? Please do so in the comments section.
If you know a new RVer, suggest they review this list for themselves. Better yet, tell them about RVtravel.com and help them register to receive our great newsletters (see what we did there? Wink.).
Twice the money you had planned to spend.
Gail, another great article to get the thought process started prior to the part time camping season for most of us…always great content even for the experienced camper
Thanks, Scott! Enjoy your upcoming travels!
Must have and read all manuals and other written information that supports the RV and all of its equipment. A couple of quality flash lights. Must have a membership to FMCA. Their regional and international rallys and expos have seminars and vendors that provide a great deal of useful information and products. Services included in membership, plus their magazine, can prove to be critically important. The next international expo will be held August 23 to 26 at the fairgrounds in Gillette, Wyoming. We have been to that one a couple of times and even with 40 years of RVing under our belts we always learn something new and worthwhile. Belong to one or more regional chapters is good for socializing with like-minded RV owners. We also belong to Good Sam. Under previous ownership Good Sam had a huge annual RV expo and two good magazines, Motorhome and Trailer Life. The present owner killed them both and replaced them with one magazine that as far as I was concerned was dumbed down.
I am getting a new RV to be shipped to Maine. I have, after camping for over 40 years have come to realize that what ever I have left over after moving to NC new home I am packing stuff to go to the new RV that will become my second home there. But some I disagree with. Water pressure gauge? Not necessary. But a propane gauge? That helps when you want to know if you are going to need propane before you run out. I order most of my stuff from Camping World. The yellow blocks do help keep the unit stable. And when you have to put it to bed an RV tarp that yes Camping World has big discounts and do ship to your campground. I always say this. Make a list of what you need and stick to it. Adding to it as time goes by. Good luck.
E-Trailer.com is a very good source of items in many categories. They have reviews, installation instructions and tips, great resource. I had a trailer brake controler that was sucking my tow vehicle battery dry. After way too many jump starts, shop bills and part replacements I found the info about the brake controller on e-trailer, problem solved.
When I bought my jeep grand cherokee several years ago they added the factory tow hitch and they did install the brake control system as well. No problems so far. Will not be towing the new RV to my seasonal site. My jeep can’t tow it with that weight. Otherwise this will be the first year I am not towing anything except moving some things from the old rv to the new. Just hope I have enough room to pack everything in. Thanks for the link. Will check into it.
Anything usb, lights, headlights, fans, hot water bottle, bug zapper, cooler!!
Most newer RVs have usb ports. I am not sure if my new camper has working usb ports because my last RV did and they died. So make sure they are working otherwise bring ports to plug into regular outlets.
Those are really good recommendations but hot water bottle?????
Great suggestions, in the campfire list. For us we purchased a mosquito tent, and erect it over our campsite picnic table.
Great idea, Dennis. Thanks!
In addition to a basic tool kit, I would add a pair of channel lock (slip joint) pliers, electrical adapters to allow plugging in to various electrical outlets, a voltage tester to check power pedestal BEFORE plugging in your rig, and a hands free light of some style.
Add duct tape and ty-wraps. They can just about fix anything temporarily.
Subscription to RVTravel.com and others as well. And Dave Solbergs’ “Rv Handbook”. Owners & equipment manual(s). Not sure you need the MotorHome magazine replacement – altho Ken Freund is still on-board for professional advice. Also, disposable vinyl gloves or heavy washables. Rags! Multi-meter, flashlite and an additional fire extinguisher for the bedroom.
Thanks, Doug and Joan. We appreciate your recommendation.👍 Have a great day. 😀 –Diane at RVtravel.com
That’s the thing I love about RVers – the willingness to help out and/or answer questions. You all did Lois a great service! 😁
Absolutely agree with you Susan !
In addition to everything listed here ( great list btw ) I would add a notepad and tape measure. RV’ers, especially new ones, will think of storage ideas while they are camping.
Also, get in the habit of removing stuff you brought along, but don’t use. The storage space you wish you had might be there, just occupied by things you don’t use. Happy Trails
I guess I’ve forgotten how much stuff I’ve accumulated over the years. I’m sure I’ve got everything on your list.
I dont think I want to add up the cost.
The starter gift pail, WHAT A JOKE
An 8 ft wafer hose, a sewer hose. A roll of TP and a 15/30power adapter. The bucket is handy though.
For sure, baby wipes and hand sanitizer! Also, if you plan to walk to places to say, get ice cream with the kiddos, I stick a few of the individually wrapped wet wipes in my pocket.
Flashlights plural. It helps in unfamiliar RV parks.
Mitzi Agnew Giles and Ed Giles could use these.
Strange, I am still using the cheap, white water hose that years ago came with our first travel trailer. I have a much newer, heavy-duty potable water hose in the motorhome, but I use the white hose in the yard at home. After I ran over one end of the white hose with my TV, I brought it home and repaired it. But that was my fault, not the hose’s problem!
I never knew a television could do that much damage to a water hose. Need to make sure they stay away from each other.
Ha. Once upon a time, many years ago, I thought when someone wrote “TV” they meant “RV” and not referring to a television. Turned out they were referring to the Tow Vehicle. Have a good night, Jillie. 😀 –Diane at RVtravel.com
That’s a pretty good list! Of course, if you have an RV, you’ll need a tool kit and some basic spare parts, sealants, lubes, etc. I carry a small generator, too…and a credit card!
Make sure the window shades are capable of blocking out the light from rude people who think camping requires a flashing light show that goes on all night. I’ve even seen new RVs with built in flashing underbelly lights that ruin the night sky for those parked next to them. One guy who was on his inaugural outing bought Christmas lights and laid them on the ground all around the rig.
He was thoughtful enough to ask at the campfire, if leaving the lights on was bothering anyone.
He was “nicely” educated and informed by all that no one cared to see his Christmas lights and would he please turn them off.
We just put our RV on the market. Since we are no longer going to be on the road (not up-or-downsizing) we included a list of accessories, many fairly new or rarely used. We added up that list using today’s retail value, and it was over $4K!!
Largest expense was the direct braking system and the Blue Ox tow system, but also included was the DISH satellite, the RV-specific GPS (both older models but still used regularly); Also Snap Pads, chocks, levelling blocks, used 1X Rhino tote, rugs, chairs, lamps, i.e. the whole works!
You are dead on — newbies just have no clue as to the true expense of RVing (and neither did we 30 years ago).
I have found water “quick connects restrict the flow of water. Most have no more than a 1/4”-3/8” opening to pass water through. No matter what size pressure regulator you have you can only push X number of gallons through a 1/4” opening. This only seems important when you take a shower. They’re convenient but they do restrict water flow. Also the cheap pressure regulators do the same thing, the correct one is the adjustable one with the gage.
Not to mention that most quick disconnects are not rated for potable water. The brass type often use some lead bits because lead is less ‘sticky’. The plastic types often use plastic known to leach undesirable organic chemicals into the water. They tend to be fine for garden hose use because the water is rarely under static pressure like it is for an RV. It isn’t just the hose that has to be rated for potable water!