Outfitting Your RV
                Things that are Essential and Things that are Just Nice to Have

                                                 By Warren Petkovsek

     So now you have your RV or you’re about to get one and you are wondering what you will need to get it properly outfitted. We’ve been doing this RV thing for decades now and it’s a little hard to remember those times when we were just getting started and finding what we needed for our travel trailer. Yet folks that are new to RVing ask me all the time what I think they will need for their rig. Well, my wife, my RVing friends and I have given this subject a lot of thought for several months now and we came up with a list of things that you really need to have as well as another list of things that would just be really nice to have. One thing that we all agree on is that we have probably forgotten something or left out an important item of some kind. Oh well – we tried. Still, this is a good starting point and guideline for most RVers.
     Don’t be overwhelmed by the lists. You are eventually going to get this stuff anyway. Maybe you can get a little every payday or even put some things in lay-away for awhile. You can also get a lot of good things like tools and cookware at garage sales at a big savings too. There may be some things that folks up north may need that others won’t need. Use your own judgment on this. Also try to be cognizant of the weight of the items that you load in your RV. It doesn’t seem like each item adds that much weight, but believe me, it all adds up in a big way. Stay within your RV’s weight carrying capacity which is posted inside one of the kitchen cabinet doors as well as on a decal on the outside front left corner of trailers. Also try to get items for your RV that just stay in the RV. I’m talking about dishes, cookware, tools, some clothes and other things. Believe me, you will get tired of hauling stuff back and forth from the house to the RV and there is always a chance of forgetting something important.
     OK, let’s take a look at the lists. Here we go!

First list: Items that are essential before going camping in your RV:
Get a jack and a good lug wrench. Many RVs come with a spare tire, but no way to change it. I have two 6-ton hydraulic bottle jacks that can also be used for leveling and stabilizing.
Bring along some tools, but don’t go overboard and don’t forget about the weight. An inexpensive tool kit in a molded plastic toolbox like the kind found at Wal Mart will be sufficient for most of us. You also need a socket the size of your water heater drain plug in order to service the anode rod or drain the water heater when necessary.
Have a can of WD-40, some Super Glue and a roll of duct tape (universal “fix-all” items).
Torque wrench for checking the trailer wheel lug nuts. Mine always stays in the RV.
Have an extra sewer hose and a coupling to tie two or more sewer hoses together. You will eventually find a campsite where the sewer connection is pretty far away.
Rubber “donut” or plastic 90 degree “ell” for attaching your sewer hose to the campsite sewer connection. These items generally don’t come with the RV.
Disposable medical exam gloves for handling your sewer hose and connections
Black water (sewer) tank chemicals (I like Pure Power)
Extra interior and exterior light bulbs
Extra fuses
Zip ties and/or hook and loop straps. You will eventually need these things. Really!
Garbage bags (outside, kitchen and bathroom)
Bedding and towels (don’t forget bedding for the sofa bed and/or convertible dinette.)
Flatware, dishes, glassware and cookware.
Pieces of wooden boards, Lynx Levelers or other materials for leveling the rig or to go under jack feet and landing gear.
An additional white drinking water hose. You never know how far it will be to the campsite water connection.
Water pressure regulator and water filter
Garden hose (green, yellow or any color but white. This is for non-potable water uses only.
Hand held pump spray bottle with a 20% bleach/water solution. You need to sanitize the water connection at your campsite before you hook up your water hose.
Paper goods (paper towels, napkins, toilet paper, etc.)
Refrigerator thermometer. If you ever have a refrigerator problem like I have you’ll be glad you have one.
Have some kind of logbook for your RV. That way you will remember where you’ve been as well as the good (or bad) campgrounds. We also make notes of nice campsites for the next time we visit. This is also a great way to log the maintenance and repair history of your RV.
Have a file folder for warranty papers, repair receipts and records. It’s good to have all this in one place.
Have another file folder for campground brochures, maps, business cards, etc.
Have a list of emergency phone numbers, emergency road services (like AAA or Good Sam Club) and contact information for your warranty and your dealer.
Cleaning supplies including broom, mop and cleaning products (be sure that all chemicals are “RV compatible”).
Vacuum cleaner (hand held or upright – whichever you need)
Tire covers to protect tires from damage due to ultraviolet sunlight
Tire pressure gauge – a good accurate and dependable one

Ok, that’s the list of necessities. Like I said before, I’ve probably forgotten something, but the list is a good start.
On the next list are things that would be nice to have. Some of you may consider one or more of these items to be indispensible. Here we go.

Electric skillet and/or induction cook top. This will save propane.
Electric space heater (also saves propane)
Interior night lights
Gas or charcoal grill for outdoor cooking and giving your neighbors “food envy”
Charcoal and starter fluid unless your grill is a gas grill
Quick connectors for water hoses (I love mine!)
Swim noodles or split pipe insulation to pad the outside lower corners of the bedroom slide on 5th wheels. This will prevent a possible concussion. (Don’t ask me how I know.)
Astroturf, patio mat or welcome mat for outside the entry door
Outdoor lights with associated cords and timers
Folding outdoor table
Lawn chairs
Insect control including, but not limited to citronella candles, tiki torches, Pics, Thermacell, electric bug zapper, fogger, claymore mines, machine gun, flame thrower and tactical nuclear devices (Can you tell I don’t like bugs?)
Games (indoor and outdoor) like cards, Monopoly, Farkle, checkers, dominos, washers and horse shoes (to name a few)
Shoes and clothing (summer and winter as needed). This will eliminate much loading and unloading.
Camping club membership(s) such as Good Sam Club, Passport America and Happy Camper (to name a few) will provide campground discounts from 10% to 50%.
Travel and camping guides such as Trailer Life Campground Directory, The Next Exit or Exit
Now make it easy to find campgrounds, fuel, restaurants, medical services and other traveling needs.
A GPS device to assist with navigation. This could easily be on the mandatory list.
Groceries such as canned goods and staples can remain stored in the RV. Be sure to write the expiration date on packages and on the top of cans.
Baskets, boxes and bins for organizing cabinets, closets and exterior basement storage
TV set and VCR or DVD player. This is standard on most RVs; optional on a few.
Shelf and drawer liners
Various devices for stabilizing the RV in the campsite including wheel chocks, jacks, king pin tripod or even a frame mounted device such as a SteadyFast system.
CDs, DVDs, MP3s, books, magazines and other entertainment in case of bad weather.
Outdoor cooking appliance such as a Coleman stove with the associated fuel
Small appliances such as a coffee pot, toaster, slow cooker, waffle iron, etc.
Inflatable bed for guests, kids or emergency back-up kids (your kid’s friends)
Shower organizer for soap, shampoo, etc.
Additional coat hooks and towel racks installed throughout the RV. There are never enough of these.
Lap top computer. This may be especially important for long term RVers.
Clear sewer hose adapter that goes between the connection on the RV and the sewer hose (I have a friend that calls it a t_ _ _ counter). This allows you to see when the water clears up as you flush the black water tank.
Sun shading screens or devices that go on the inside of windows or overhead vent openings.
These make your rig much easier to cool in hot weather and are also good if the RV is stored outside.
Blue sewer water tank (honey wagon) for hauling black & gray water to the dump station if you are in a campsite without sewer hook-ups in the sites.
Satellite TV dish, tripod and associated cable, compass and signal meter.
Battery powered two-way radios to help the driver and copilot back the rig into campsites or other tight places. Cell phones would work as long as there is cell coverage. ‘Not always the case. These radios are also great if you are traveling with a group of other RVers. They can also be used as intercoms in the campground.

     OK, that’s about all I can think of right now. Like I said before, I’m sure I probably forgot something and if I did please feel free to let me know.
     Don’t forget to limit the weight of the things you load in your RV. I would suggest that if you are carrying anything that you haven’t used in the past year that you take it out of your RV. Also, don’t think that just because there is unused space that you can completely fill it with heavy items. That can easily cause your RV to be overloaded.
     Finally, some of us like to really decorate our campsites. You know – things like patio lights, holiday decorations, flags, yard gnomes, pink flamingos, white picket fences and fake neon palm trees as well as enough light to illuminate an airport runway. Oh, we used to do that a little before we retired because we didn’t get to go RVing that much due to our work schedules. We wanted to make our trips really count by having a cool campsite. We don’t do that much anymore. We’ve found that everything you put out has to be picked up and packed. Yuck! We got over that real quick.
     OK, that should do it. If you’ve got all this stuff you will have a nicely outfitted RV. Just remember that you don’t have to have every single item listed, you don’t have to get it all at once and there may be other things you need that are not on the lists. Also remember to clean out unnecessary items from your camper every year or so. That way you can sell them on eBay or in a yard sale to some other newbie that thinks they need it.
     Have fun outfitting your rig; be safe on the road and HAPPY TRAILS!

Warren Petkovsek has been an avid RVer for over several decades. He lives in Lumberton, Texas with his wife, Myra. A former teacher, band director and professional musician, Warren is now retired from the petrochemical industry. In addition to being a freelance writer he is also a school volunteer, a Texas State Park volunteer and has been a Boy Scout Leader for many years. Warren would be delighted to answer any RV related questions that you may have and would be happy to send you some or all of his other articles. He can be contacted at wpetko@sbcglobal.net .

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