Ok, you’ve rented an RV and you’re ready to hit the road, right? Well, hold up just a minute. Let’s make sure you’ve got everything you need for a successful trip. If you were like us, we’d never rented an RV before and we weren’t sure what to expect, so we put together this helpful list of RV must-haves for newbies. In addition, we will cover everything you need for setting up a travel trailer for the first time.
You’ll see plenty of list for RV must-haves that include expensive items, items that you might want for full-time living, but our list is based on experience for what’s really important for renting or enjoying an RV occasionally. We tried to be budget conscience or find items we can reuse for future rv trips.
RV Must Haves for Newbies
Most RV rentals come with the basics. That means an electric cord to hook up to power. Sewer hose (for the poop tank) and a basic water hose. Some even come with leveling pads/blocks, wheel chocks, and a few interior options (think shower curtain). These are all RV must-haves, so be sure to call and check to make sure these items are included.
Even if your rental RV comes with those items, we highly recommend a few add ons to make your first RV trip a success.
Drinking water hose. Even if your rental RV comes with one, I suggest having your own. You never know what someone has or hasn’t used that hose for. We didn’t want to wonder if someone had flushed the tanks with one.
Make sure you buy one that is meant for drinking water, it won’t have a rubber taste. It’s high on our priority list for travel trailers must-haves and isn’t overly expensive or hard to store.
Be sure to get one that is at least 25 feet or longer. Hookups aren’t always convenient and you want to make sure your drinking water hose can reach the hookup. Click the picture below to grab one from Amazon.
Water filter. Super easy to hook into your drinking water hose for perfectly pre-filtered water to drink, brush your teeth, and cook with. Better safe than sorry since each campsite has different water sources (city water, well water).
Flexible connector. Ours came with the water filter. Makes it easy to connect the water hose and filter to the RV. Not an RV must have, but nice to have.
Water pressure regulator. We learned pretty quickly that RVs require a certain level of water pressure and you have no idea what is coming out of the hose. If you don’t regulate the water pressure, you can damage the RV travel trailer. We grabbed an inexpensive option that does the trick and doesn’t break the bank.
Grab your RV Essentials using the links below!
TIP #1: First time RV camping tips for hooking up your water line
When you arrive at your campsite, you’ll want to set up the waterline. First, turn on the water from the faucet, make sure it is clean. Next, take out your water hose. Connect your water hose to the faucet, then add the water filter, water regulator, and flexible fitter before attaching everything to your camper. Go ahead and turn on the water at the faucet, then turn on the sink faucet inside the camper.
RV sewer hose support. We thought we wouldn’t need one of these, but we realized after 8 nights that they work really well to make the wastewater go down the pipe and not get stuck with awkward angles and dips. We used rocks and extra level blocks, but it’s on the list for next time now.
We decided to go ahead and use everything else that was provided, in addition to the items above. When you start looking into RV must-haves, you’ll notice the list can be really long. There were a few items we considered, but decided the cost was prohibitive for a week-long trip. You can decide if the items below are must-haves for you.
TIP #2: Hooking up your sewer line
You’ll want gloves handy for this part or a quick way to wash your hands with antibacterial soap. First, pull out your sewer hose. Attach the sewer hose to the camper/travel trailer. Then run the sewer line/hose to the hookup pipe in the ground. Make sure everything is firmly seated. Next, make sure the sewer line is headed in a level downward direction towards to dumping point. This is where an RV sewer hose support can come in handy (or use lots of rocks and bricks).
RV Friendly Toilet Paper: Don’t make the mistake of grabbing some extra TP from home! Your camper/travel trailer/RV requires specialized toilet paper. Grab some RV friendly toilet paper that breaks down quickly and won’t clog your wastewater hose or tanks.
Holding Tank Treatment: In order to reduce smells, help break down waste, and keep everything smelling fresh, grab some drop in’s for your black water tank.
You’ll add these each time you empty the tank. So you’ll want a small pack for a week-long trip.
Grab your RV Essentials using the links below!
Camper Must Haves
If your rental doesn’t come with anything (other than the electric cord), you’ll need to add the following items:
Wheel chocks: This helps to make sure your trailer doesn’t roll away after you unhook it. We suggest having one in front of and behind each wheel. Most travel trailers and pop up campers have two wheels (one on each side), so you’d need four-wheel chocks.
Leveling blocks: The trailer should be as level as possible. This is really important for the fridge to operate correctly. It also helps with water draining in the sink and shower. Not sure if your trailer is level? Download a “leveling” app.
TIP #3: Leveling the RV/Camper
Not all camping sites will have a perfectly level pad. Most are gravel sites and require you to level the trailer. First of all, you never want to disconnect your trailer without wheel chocks. Place them on either side of the trailer wheels so you don’t lose your trailer.
Next, use leveling pads to help level the trailer. We used ours under the leveling jacks. Then you can use a leveling app inside the trailer to check.
Waste Water Hose: This is one of the must-haves for RV camping! If you have a grey and/or black water tank you’re going to need this to help you dump your tanks.
You don’t need anything fancy, so I’m recommending one that is affordable. They have wastewater hose attachments to make it easier to open/close and clean the tanks and hose. Those attachments are optional.
Grab your RV Must Haves using the links below!
Must Haves for RV Living: Interior
Now let’s talk about the inside. I know when we first rented an RV I had no idea how to store everything. One word… BASKETS. Seriously, go gather all the baskets and bins in your house, you’ll want them.
We used baskets and bins in every cabinet and storage area to keep items from shifting around, tipping over and making a mess.
Foldable bins for clothing. They fit perfectly under the bed storage area. Each person ended up with 2-3 bins and they fold away at home for the next use.
Baskets for the pantry area. We grouped items by meals, snacks, breakfast/coffee, and then one for first aid/sunscreen/bug spray. We tucked the baskets into various places.
Below are some of the baskets that we used, but feel free to raid the house to see what you have. There is no sense in spending a bunch on new baskets unless you plan to use them to organize after you return.
In addition, we wanted to stay organized, so we added some wall hanging storage, hooks, and command hooks in various places to keep items off the surfaces.
Multiple wall hanging organizers for my son’s books/toys in his bunk bed, paperwork for the RV parks and national parks near the dinette, and one on the back of the kitchen cabinet for large utensils. We plan to reuse them each trip and the command hooks were easy to remove.
Grab some great interior RV Must Haves Below!
Broom storage hook in the bathroom. They come in a pack of two and are reusable with removable command strips.
Double door hooks for towels on the bathroom door. We were able to hang all of our towels for our family of three.
Shower curtain with pockets for toiletries. This was a favorite first-time RV camping accessory because it keeps everything stored away and nothing falls over in transit. Win-win.
It comes with smaller and larger sized pockets. We were able to fit all of our toiletries, including my son’s water toys to play in the shower/bath.
Grab these awesome interior RV Essentials using the links below!
Thin laundry bin. When living in a small space, you want to make sure you have a designated spot for everything. This laundry bin is perfect and doesn’t take up a ton of space. It has handles and a drawstring top for easy trips to the laundromat.
What about sleeping spaces? Oh yes, getting a good night’s sleep is high on my priority list. RV rentals aren’t known for their high-quality mattresses, unfortunately. Here are some items that help with that.
Mattress toppers or mattress pads. If you have some extra money in your budget, I suggest a mattress topper. We have some blow-up mattress pads from our camping kit, so we used those. We also added our personal linens and pillows, which made it feel like home.
For future RV travel, we would go ahead and purchase a mattress. Amazon has some lightweight and affordable options that we could store between trips. If you are purchasing an RV, you can spend a bit more to make sure that you sleep well during longer trips.
Grab our favorite interior RV Must-Haves!
Kitchen RV Accessories
Now that you’ve got the interior well organized, let’s talk about the kitchen. Cooking in an RV is usually pretty tight. We rented a 21ft travel trailer, so there isn’t a ton of countertop space. You’ll also want to keep things light because the more weight, the harder it is to pull the trailer and you don’t want to max out your towing capacity.
Lightweight dishes. Walmart has a great set of camping plates, silverware, and cups. Easy to clean and they stack to save space.
Another option is checking your local thrift store for plastic plates, cups, and silverware.
Dish drying rack. This is a must. The more compact and foldable the better. We were gifted one for the first trip, but it was bulky to store, so we grabbed this foldable one for the next trip.
Bins for smaller items. Sounds like a repeat right? I told you it’s all about the baskets and bins. Lol. Seriously though, we grabbed some baskets that we had from strawberry picking and tossed in dish soap, sponge, extra trash bags, and dish towels.
Stock up for all your RV Kitchen Needs using the links below!
Foldable Tupperware, strainers and bowls. Walmart has a great selection in their camping area. We love the bowls that nest inside each other for compact storage.
If you want to save money, check out your local thrift stores. We easily found plastic bowls, a collapsible strainer and extra Tupperware.
Raid your kitchen. Save money by using what you already have. Grab spices, baggies, cooking utensils, and everything you can use that is lightweight. Measuring cups, measuring spoons, and bowls.
Way to make coffee. Whether it be a mini coffee maker, Keurig machine, or a hot water heater. If you decide on a hot water heater, it can also double for tea, making oatmeal and making quick cook pasta.
Ice Trays with a lid. One thing I missed during our RV trip was ice to keep our drinks cold. Grab some ice trays with a lid in order to make ice while maximizing space in the small freezer and reducing spills. It also allowed us to stack on top of the ice tray.
Small Trash Can with lid. We like having small trash cans that can fit under the kitchen cabinet. A lid is helpful to keep everything tidy and neat.
Check out these awesome RV Must Haves!
First Time RV Camping Accessories
Ok. Now you’ve got the inside sorted out, what else? It really depends on where you are going, to be honest. However, here are some RV/camping items that we like to have and why.
Reusable table cloth. You’ll almost always have a picnic table and they are never cleaned between use. We like tossing down a tablecloth to keep everything nice and clean. Add some clips so you can leave the table cloth in place when you venture around the campsite or campground. This is one of our camper accessories must-haves, especially in 2021.
Camping chairs. This is a personal preference for what style you like. We like items that pack small, so here are our picks for comfortable chairs that pack small.
Clothes drying. Get some cording that you can tie between two trees or on your RV to dry suits and towels. The one we linked to is great because the clips are already attached. No need for clothespins.
Welcome mat. It doubles as a shoe scrubber. You’ll save yourself from sweeping out the floors, I promise. We also added a bin for shoes, just as a reminder that we don’t allow shoes in the camper
Insect/Mosquito Repellent (Citronella). Some campgrounds spray for mosquitos, but others don’t. You’ll want something to keep the bugs away while you are enjoying time in the great outdoors. We like using citronella candles on the picnic table and then spray when we venture away from the rv.
The following items are nice, but up to each person if they need/want these items.
Hammock. Nothing is more relaxing than taking a nap or reading a book in a comfortable hammock. We like the lightweight packable types
Bicycles. Let’s just say campgrounds can be quite large. If you have space, it’s a nice addition to get around. We didn’t have space, but we did bring our son’s scooter and helmet.
Now that you have all the must-haves for RV camping, it’s time to hit the road. Where will your travels take you? Perhaps you enjoy the beauty of the Northeast and National Parks? We love Acadia National Park. Or are you exploring the beaches and mountains of the west coast? The open road awaits you. Did I miss any travel trailer must haves? Feel free to comment below.
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