Your RV Essentials Checklist
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The RV essentials kit Jon diligently put together before our first trip was our one saving grace on our disastrous first night in our RV. Don't head out on the road without checking off every item on the RV essentials check list below. We didn't do much right leading up to our first night RV camping, but buying and carefully organizing the major RV necessities was the one thing we did right! Even before we ever saw our RV, we ordered each item, carefully unpacked it, and placed it in a designated plastic bin. And to make sure the bin didn't end up in storage, we kept it by our front door.
RV Essentials Checklist
Why you need them: If you are not level, your RV fridge will not work. Your RV's LP system (propane) can malfunction if your RV is not level. The ground at your campsite will most likely not be level. Leveling blocks ensure your RV will be level even when the ground is not. This will keep your fridge running and your food from spoiling. Also, swinging doors in the RV will stay in place, you won't trip, your beer won't roll off the table, and blood won't rush to your head while you sleep!
Why you Need Them: You need wheel chocks to ensure your travel trailer will not roll away. If you are in a motorized RV (otherwise known as motorhomes, Class As, Class Bs, or Class Cs), then you do not need these, because your transmission and your parking brake will ensure your RV won't roll away. Though we are now in a Class C, we began in a Travel Trailer (also known as a Towable, Camper, or Camper Trailer) and we'd like to give you our exact list, in the order we bought everything in. If you will be towing a Travel Trailer PLEASE be sure to purchase wheel chocks.
Why You Need It: The ability to see hands-free in the dark is crucial as a first-time RVer. Ideally you will plan to arrive to your campsite nice and early (not before check-in time though) during daylight hours, but things happen. We arrived in the dark, and we know of others who also arrived at their first ever RV campsite in the dark despite their careful planning.
LED Camping Lantern
Why You Need It: Again, it's important to see in the dark. If you've been camping before your first time out in your RV, you likely have one. We, however, had neither camped nor RVed before our first time out in our RV, so these were on our checklist of RV necessities. When going around the campground at night, I prefer the lantern to the head lamp.
Two-Way Radios (Walkie Talkie)
Why You Need Them: In the event that you need someone's help to back your RV into a site or park it, you do not want to rely on cell service. Many campgrounds are in the mountains or in less populated areas with little or no cell reception. This is also a better method than yelling or running back and forth!
The items up to this point are enough to get you settled in to your campsite safely. The next batch of items on the RV checklist will allow you to take full advantage of RV camping (versus tent camping) at your campground by allowing you to use the RV hookups at the campground.
Drinking Water Hose
Why You Need It: The drinking water hose connects your city water RV connection to the water spigot at your campsite. Without the drinking water hose your RV won't benefit from your campsite being equipped with water hookups. We also bought a second water hose both as a back-up and to be able to have a dedicated water hose for our black tank flush. Not all RVs have a black tank flush, but both of ours have. Nearly two years into RVing we still carry two hoses.
RV Water Filter
Why You Need It: A water filter will ensure you're getting good-tasting, clean water. The water filter reduces chlorine and it helps with the fact that water anywhere outside of where you're used to always seems to either taste or smell funny.
Why You Need It: The water regulator ensures that when you hook up to the city water connection at the campsite, the water pressure is kept within a certain acceptable range. Excessive water pressure can cause damage to any fittings, water lines, and connections in your RV.
90 Degree Hose Elbow
Why You Need It: This little elbow is very inexpensive, but does the very important job of reducing stress on your RV wall. It reduces the strain on the plastic water connection on your RV wall. (The strain is caused by the weight of the drinking water hose and RV water filter).
RV Dogbone Electrical Adapter
Why You Need It: If you find yourself at a site where the amperage that your RV is equipped for is unavailable, but another amperage is, then you can adapt. Our rig had a 30 amp connection, so we bought this adapter so that we could use the 50 amp connection at a campsite if we needed to (for example: in the event 30 amp was not working). If your rig is a 50 amp, you would need a different adapter (one that goes from 50 down to 30). In the case of our disaster of a first night, this ended up being our best purchase. We were unable to park close enough to the power pedestal (it was dark!) for our RV power cord to reach. This adapter gave us enough extra length to reach the pedestal so we could finally turn on our AC on that muggy August night in the South!
RV Sewer Hose Kit
Why You Need It: Unless your campsite has "Full Hookups" (meaning water, electric, and sewer), you won't use this at your actual camp site, but rather at the RV dump station. Basically, all the waste in your RV (water that goes down the sink, whatever you flush down your toilet) goes into your gray and black tanks. The tanks have a limited capacity so the waste must be emptied from these tanks through your sewer hose. Otherwise these tanks will overflow, which means waste will come out of your toilet and shower pan... so this is a VERY important RV essential! Do get a good quality hose like this one so that you don't have any problems with the hose ripping or breaking while it is in use!
45 Degree Clear Sewer Hose Fitting
Why You Need It: The clear sewer hose fitting allows you to see when there is no more waste coming down the sewer hose. Without it, you can listen for when the waste stops flowing, but it's much easier to see. Overall, we have never had any sewer hose mishaps and we're happy we didn't skip out on any sewer related RV accessories.
RV Toilet Paper
Why You Need It: You do not want to clog your tanks. Regular 2-ply household toilet paper is not suitable for RVs. Now there are those that say that cheap one-ply household toilet paper is okay or that toilet paper that is septic safe is okay. As stated above, we went with whatever we felt was the absolute best for all things RV sewer related, and have had zero black tank or sewer issues. For your first time out, we highly recommend going with the RV specific toilet paper. If you want to experiment after that, why not? But, for your first time out, try to keep things as easy as possible.
We didn't have a very good showing our first night in the RV, but we survived thanks to Jon's careful planning when it came to the RV essentials. Buying the items on the checklist was the one thing we got right! Keep this list handy when planning your first RV trip, pin it for later, and share with any new RVers. If you have any questions, let us know in the comments!