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Once you become a well-seasoned RVer, you will still remember your first RV. Before the new car smell (or new RV smell in this case) disappears during your first trip, you will realize there is a lot of RV equipment that didn’t come with your new RV.
Most RV dealers will include a courtesy starter kit with any new RV they sell. My most recent RV purchase included a kit that was enclosed in a sealed 5-gallon bucket.
It included a white potable water hose, water pressure regulator, 1 roll of RV toilet paper, and an introductory supply of black water odor control chemicals. It also included a waste tank draining hose & coupling and a 30-amp to 15-amp electrical power cord reducer–all critical items thoughtfully planned to get you on your way into this new RV lifestyle.
There is one problem though, this is only the beginning. There’s a whole bunch more stuff you’ll be needing real soon.
RV Waste Water Management
The first time you go to empty your waste tanks, you will discover the complimentary sewer hose that was included is rather short. In fact it is so short, you will need to maneuver your RV practically on top of the dump site opening.
You can purchase a coupling to extend this hose, but by the time you buy clamps, hose and coupling, you will be better off saving the original hose for emergency use. Go ahead and buy a higher quality, longer hose that will serve you well for a number of years.
If your campsite includes a sewer hookup, most campgrounds and RV resorts require your connection to be sealed so that odor doesn’t escape. This can be accomplished by either a rubber donut seal or an elbow adapter that has multiple sizes of seals included.
Carrying an extra garden hose is a good idea too. Make it any color except white so you know it isn’t for drinking. Painting the last foot of both ends black will alert you that this second garden hose will be used to keep your black water tank functioning properly, and is unsanitary. Occasionally flushing out black water tanks is the only way to keep them from building up solid matter. Bits of toilet paper clinging to the tank sensors, causing the black water level gauge to always read full, will be an ongoing problem. It will also come in handy if you want to wash your RV.
RV Entertainment Accessories
Your crank-up TV antenna will do a good job for you in many instances. Surprise, on-site cable TV is included at many resorts for no additional charge. To make use of it, you will need a length of coaxial cable. A cable about 25 feet in length should be long enough to make the connection.
Unless you are installing satellite TV, you better plan on bringing a DVD and some movies with you. You don’t have to be very far from civilization before you will lose your TV signal, especially now that the country has gone all digital.
One of the most useful items I’ve always brought along is a portable radio– just something to sit on the picnic table, and play softly for background music. My radio is a multi-band shortwave model so I can listen around the world, while I kick back and sip a cool drink in the shade. Make sure it’s a NOAA weather radio, because you don’t want to miss weather alerts while you are out of touch with civilization.
RV Cleaning Supplies
Keeping the interior of your RV clean and orderly is important, because a cluttered small space becomes unlivable very quickly. Products like cleaning wipes and ArmorAll Auto Wipes can help the surfaces of your RV clean and fresh — both inside and out.
Garbage is an ongoing issue too. Plastic carry-out grocery bags are the perfect size, because you can drop them into the trash can at the fuel station or wayside rest. A door-mounted bag holder can keep a supply close at hand.
No matter how luxurious an RV you purchase, they never seem to come with a paper towel dispenser, mounted and ready to use. You’ll also be needing a broom and dustpan, to sweep up. Make it a collapsing one, because space is always an issue in an RV. For the carpeting, a small lightweight vacuum cleaner will keep ahead of the tracked in dirt from outside.
The best way to keep the interior clean is to keep the outdoors outside where it belongs. A good door mat and an entry throw rug will keep most of the dirt from being tracked in. Additional throw rugs are nice, because they can easily be shaken out when you don’t have a vacuum cleaner with you.
RV Clothes Storage
Closet space must be used to its full potential. Plastic clothes hangers will have everything falling on the floor while you drive. Felt-covered clothes hangers will have your garments clinging to them, keeping things neat and tidy as you travel.
Plastic storage containers are great for small items like toiletries and makeup. Socks and underwear take up less space this way too. In fact, we pack much of our clothing military fashion. Folding and rolling them up, then placing them in a plastic storage box.
RV Food Preparation and Storage
Think multi-tasking when it comes to cooking utensils, and pots and pans. Sure, you may do some cooking inside your RV, but we have found that cooking outside is more the norm. Choose cooking tools that work well outside, but are still of a size that they can function well inside too. Leave your best cookware for home. After all this is camping. A little soot from the fire on your pot means you are doing it right.
Ziploc bags are a great way to maximize your freezer space. You can freeze liquids in them, and they will lay flat in the freezer. This means you’ll have more room for ice cream. Speaking of the freezer, your refrigerator needs to be level for it to function properly. The easiest way to check this is with a little circle bubble level. It’s only a $3 item, but like everything else, it doesn’t come with your RV.
Many RVers travel with a portable ladder strapped to the existing ladder mounted on the back of the RV. You can’t believe how many times a ladder will come in handy–like when you’re reaching for a low hanging branch that’s rubbing against your RV, tying your dog’s run rope high enough so it doesn’t interfere with traffic, or (my favorite) unjamming your awning after it got retracted a bit crooked the last time out.
These are just the basics in RV equipment and accessories needed to make your first few outings a success. As time goes on your wish list will grow, and many more items will be added. Every year, new catalogs come out with the latest time-saving devices, designed just for the RVer. I hope you’ve got deep pockets, it gets addicting real fast!
I’ve been involved in RVing for over 50 years — including camping, building, repairing, and even selling RVs and motorhomes. I’ve owned, used, and repaired almost every class and style of RV ever made. I do all of my own repair work. My other interests include cooking, living with an aging dog, and dealing with diabetic issues. If you can combine a grease monkey with a computer geek, throw in a touch of information nut and organization freak, combined with a little bit of storyteller… you’ve got a good idea of who I am. To date, I've shared my RV knowledge in over 300 articles here at The Fun Times Guide!