You’ve just purchased your first RV or motorhome and you’re ready to hit the road! Just go home and pack up some food and clothes, right? No, there are a few other essential items you’ll need before taking that first trip if you want it to go smoothly. Before you start your first trip in your RV, be sure you’ve invested in the following items that are sure to make your journey the best it can be. Most of these are one-time investments unless they are left behind or broken, so they’re well worth the money.
First, let’s look at a few things that are absolutely essential. These are the items we consider “must haves” for every RV owner. You simply don’t want to be without them for any reason.
- Leveling Equipment
You’ll need jack pads to help you level your RV on gravel or uneven/unstable surfaces. Some campsites require them, so it’s best to have them on hand. You’ll also need leveling blocks, which make it easier for you to level your camper or RV. They’ll give added support underneath your tires and make it easier to level your vehicle.
- Heavy-Duty Surge Protector
Many RVs have built-in surge protectors, but not all of them. Be sure to check your newly purchased motorhome or trailer has one; if it doesn’t, buy a heavy-duty surge protector to attach at the electrical post. It will prevent electricity spikes that could cause damage to your electrical systems.
- New Hoses
Always invest in a new, clean freshwater hose for your clean, fresh water. It needs to be drinking water safe and should be at least 25 feet long. Having two that connect together is an even better idea, as you may come across a fresh water hookup that requires the added length to reach your vehicle.
You should also invest in a new, top quality sewer hose. If it costs a bit more for the top-of-the-line, go for it. You won’t regret it, because a broken sewer hose can ruin your day. While you’re at it, invest in a sewer hose support that can help you drain your black tank more easily because it will ensure everything drains in the proper direction.
- Water Filter
In most cases, the fresh water flowing into your RV is safe, but it can contain particulates and sediment that may eventually clog up your plumbing. Be safe and install a filter that works before the water enters your RV.
- Pressure Regulator
The water pressure at campsites can vary dramatically. Since you want to preserve your plumbing, don’t take a chance that the water pressure is low enough. High pressure water can damage plumbing. A water pressure regulator attached to the spigot will regulate water flow.
- Amp Converter/Reducer Plug
Some campsites only have 30-amp electrical hookups. If you have an RV that requires 50 amps, you’ll need a 30-50 Amp Converter Plug to give you the flexibility to camp on sites that have incompatible hookups. Your power will be reduced, but at least you’ll have power.
- Roadside Assistance Plan
When you break down in the middle of the night on a back road or get a flat tire while sightseeing, you’ll be thankful you have Roadside Assistance from a company that covers RVs and motorhomes. Just one use a year will probably pay for your membership, and you’ll be so thankful for the help when you’re stranded somewhere! There are several good companies that offer roadside assistance for RVs and motor coaches, including AAA Plus, RV Premier, Coach-Net, Good Sam, etc.
- RV Toilet Paper
This will prevent sewage line clogs and black tank problems. While some people claim that any septic tank safe paper will work, you don’t want to take a chance your first few times on the road. It’s inexpensive to buy RV toilet paper and you’ll greatly reduce the risk of sewer related problems in your RV. Which will make everyone much happier, won’t it?
The rest of this list features some items we consider very important, but not necessarily “must haves.” Yes, we think you should have them, but it won’t completely ruin your first trip if you decide to wait for a while before investing in them. They fall under helpful rather than necessary, but if you get them we know you’ll love them.
- Folding Table
For picnicking outside, playing cards at the campfire or simply socializing, a folding table is easy to store and great for almost anything. While many campsites have picnic tables, they aren’t all in good condition, and they may be missing entirely. Since they’re weatherproof, you can also leave them outside once you set them up without worrying.
- Folding Step Stool
Another great folding item you’ll use again and again. It provides an impromptu seat for doing chores, for an extra step when needed (not all campsites are level), extra outdoor seating, reaching things you’ve stored on the top shelves, and cleaning or repairing your RV. You’ll be amazed by how often you reach for it.
- Portable Vacuum Cleaner
You’ve left the house behind, but you still need to do some housekeeping in your RV. You’ll track in all kinds of debris, grass, sand, dirt…you get the idea. Spending a little bit more for a powerful, portable vacuum is a good idea. Look for cordless, rechargeable models that can take care of vacuuming the floors and upholstery while not taking up a lot of room.
Moisture is the enemy of RVs and motorhomes. A small, portable dehumidifier will keep the humidity in check even after you’ve taken a steamy shower. You can plug one into your shower area and use a second one in your kitchen area to keep dry goods cool and dry.
- RV Power Extension Cord
We don’t know if you’ll need it to power up some outdoor lighting, for running an extra fan inside or simply for connecting to your generator, but at some point, you’ll need an RV extension cord. Having an extra one stored with your tools will minimize the chances you’ll have to make a last-minute run to the hardware store.
Some people will argue that a generator is an essential. Others will say you don’t really need one at all. In the end it comes down to what kind of camping you’ll be doing. If you always stay in a campground that provides electricity, you can do without a generator. If you plan to do a lot of dry camping, sometimes called boondocking, a generator is a valuable tool for recharging your RV batteries, so you don’t run out of power. Make sure you get one that’s specifically designed for use in motorhomes and get one that’s powerful enough to keep your air conditioning running, since the AC uses the most electricity. Coming in second is the refrigerator. When camping, you don’t want either of them to quit on you.
- RV Tank/Toilet Enzyme Treatment
Much like the enzyme treatments used for septic tanks, enzyme treatments for RVs help break down black tank waste and prevent unpleasant odors using live, anaerobic bacteria. It’s easy to add every time you drain the black tank. Be sure to add a few gallons of water to the tank first, then flush the enzyme treatment down the toilet. It’s an easy way to prevent potentially smelly, nasty clogs in your black tank.
As you go on your travels, you’ll discover some items you can’t live without and others you’ll realize you didn’t need. Depending on your style of camping, your list of essentials and Nice-to-Have items will vary from ours, but the lists above are certain to give you a successful head-start on your RV adventures!