When we picked up our RV for our very first trip we literally had a head lamp and some special towels. We bought the RV used from some seasoned full-timers that thought we may just be crazy. “You don’t have a sewer hose? Or an electrical outlet?” “Nope. Do we really need all that?”  In case you’re wondering, the answer is yes, yes you do. Again, learn from us. Here is what you need to RV for the first time: BEFORE you hit the road.

You can also buy these things along the way, particularly in camp stores, like KOA’s and others. But if you get them upfront it is usually significantly cheaper. Depending on how detailed you want to be, you can expect to invest about $200 – $700 to get out and RV like a pro!

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These are the very bare-bones you need for full RV hookups to function.


If you have a bathroom or sink, how you remove the grey and black water systems is through a sewer hose. It hooks into the rig on one side and screws into the ground. At first, we didn’t realize we needed to screw it into the ground pipe, but couldn’t figure why it smelled so much! Make sure you screw it in.



In order to take a shower, flush the toilet, or use the sink you’re going to need a fresh water hose.  Though it looks like a garden hose, make sure you get the proper RV water hose for handling the pressure and drinking.


Water Pressure Regulator – $9

This is a must have because it regulates the pressure the water comes from the campground hookup into your pipes. Without this, a pressure surge in the campground water could easily blow out all your pipes.


Electrical Line choose 30 or 50 amp – $53

This is a huge 30 amp extension cord to run electricity to your rig. Larger rigs require 50 amp cords so do your research for what you need first.



Leveling Blocks – $35

We call these legos for adults. When you’re on un-level ground you have to drive your trailer over these in order to level your camper horizontally. Some RV’s have self leveling gadgets but if you’re in the less-fancy like us, you’ll need these to have a good night sleep (and the refrigerator tends to only work on level ground.)


Levels – $3

So how do you know if you’re camper is level? Get a few small levelers to assure you’re on even ground. We like one inside to measure how level it is side to side, and another out on the hitch to level front to back.


Wheel Chocks – $10

Safety first friends. If you don’t want your rig rolling away from you when you unhitch or while you’re sleeping, you’ll need these to stay safe.


Porta Potty Packs – $9

Essential if you don’t want your rig to stink. This not only helps cut down odors in the bathroom but also helps break down waste so it will not clog up your pipes.


Fire Extinguisher -$16

We think most RV’s come with this but if you don’t have one, get one. You don’t want your house going up in flames because of a grease fire.


Probably good to have – $75-$140

Though not required for basic function, these items are pretty key to maintain a healthy life on the road.

Grey water packs – $7

This one, again, was not thought of for the first 3 months full-timing. Then there was an odor we thought was coming from the bathroom- nope! Grey water tanks can smell just as bad, if not worse, than the black water. This helped freshen the place up.


Water Filter

This one we figured out the hard way- nasty tasting water will sure teach you quick! While the spiffy RV water hose is fine for drinking, it still tastes like a garden hose. There are two options to filter your water.

Faucet filter – $33

We are using a regular faucet filter. We found PUR filter that hangs to the side of the faucet, so that it doesn’t take up precious vertical space


Hose filter – $16

Evidently it’s more common to put the filter outside on the hose with this handy-dandy hose filter.


RV Hydroflush – $17-$40

This handy contraption hooks up to your sewer system and flushes out the hose and tanks. It has back-flow preventer valve so you can plug in the hose or water source faucet and won’t contaminate the clean water supply.


Slide out Seal Conditioner – $17

This is important for people with big RV’s that have slide-outs. It helps keep the slides from cracking, breaking, and generally moving smoothly.


Rubber Gloves – $10

Lots of people use these when draining the grey and black water tanks. We, honestly, just wash our hands but others love to use gloves.


Flashlight/Batteries or headlamp – $10-$20

You’ll thank us.



These are some basic home-maintenance and emergency readiness stuff that’s wise to have on hand just in case you need them.

Basic Tool Kit – $15-$30

It’s always good to be prepared for anything. It took us one month to put our license plate on our trailer because we didn’t have a square tip screw driver.


Basic First Aid Kit – $5-$20

Doing anything handy or outdoorsy you’re bound to get a few bumps and scraps along the way- don’t go without a little medical kit, it saves a lot of trouble. We recommend something complete…and tiny!


Jumper Cables – $10 – $30

If your battery dies, it will be handy to have a pair of these around just in case. In fact, jumper cables often come bundled in a little road-side emergency kit, so it’s easy to have everything you need in case.


Electrical Tape – $4

While driving we got pulled over because our brake lights were out. Turns out, the cord had dragging on the ground across 2 states and tore every wire attached to our trailer. The cops who pulled us over kindly spent the next 45 minutes fixing it for us and the one thing they needed? Electrical tape!

Duct Tape – $9

Because, c’mon, this is great in every situation.



Tire Pressure Gauge – $8

For both the trailer and your tow vehicle!



Spare Fuses – $8

Ok, we have to be honest, we don’t have this but we should. Fuses blow and we hear they blow often.


Pocket Knife – $10 – $30

Because, you’re badass, and all badasses should have a pocketknife.


For the Good Life: $100 – $175

Here are a few extra details that can really sweeten the deal.

Cable Hook-up – $9

We have a cable hook up for our television that we have yet to use. But almost all RV parks offer cable so maybe we’ll use this at some point. For the TV watchers, this is how you can get some “free” cable for your stay.


Sewer Hose Support – $35

Now this is a luxury item we still haven’t purchased but it’s on our wish list. It makes the sewer hose drain without having to manually lift it up. But keep in mind not to always have your sewer valves open, just drain it once every few days or else there will be nasty clogged toilets.


RV Toilet Paper- $12

RV toilet paper is not that luxury triple ply that you once owned- no this is camping folks but this won’t clog your toilets.



Outdoor Chairs – $10

If you’re lucky enough to have a picnic table, you may not need these, but we like the comfortability of a good ol’ campfire chair. One of the best parts of camping is hanging out outside. So folding chairs give us an instant outdoor living room.


WD-40 – $8

So many things start to squeak such as the shower door, the table or the entire camper but if you give whatever it is a little shot of WD40 it will make your life so much less noisy.


Shower Tote – $37

Reminds us of our dorm room days when we shared showers with 1,000 other girls…the shower tote changes everything if you’re showering in the campground showers. Fits all the essentials to scamper across the campground to get clean.


Plastic/Stainless Cooking Gear – $20- $50

Admittedly we don’t like plastic. But when you’re on the road and your house is on wheels, you need unbreakable dishes. We got a mix of stainless and plastic and by the way, stainless cups are awful-don’t do it. They make your morning coffee taste like metal and they get hot. The worst.

Lip Balm – $2-$5

When you’re changing temperatures and climates a lot you need a good chap stick! We love EOS chapstick lately…every flavor but mint! Mint chapstick and chapped lips is as pleasant as fire ants.


Garbage Bags – $5-$11

You’re welcome.


Learn from the Pros

A lot of people have been doing this WAY longer than us. Here are a few RV bloggers we’ve learned from. Each one has their own story and information to share. Check them out!

Happy traveling everyone!





  1. Jessica Meinhofer Reply

    Hey Valerie! This is a fantastic list. It’s always such a daunting process to know what you need when you first get your RV!! Thanks for the shout-out!! 😀

  2. Nice job! A very comprehensive list. You’re saving somebody a painful start to rv traveling.

  3. Thank you so much! I’ve gotten some great ideas here. I’m going straight on Amazon next! BTW…I had been looking at the T@B trailers for a couple months now, and after seeing your video I decided to just do it. I bought mine TODAY! I’ll be picking her up in 2 weeks. Thank you for this list!

    • Valerie Reply

      CONGRATULATIONS!!!! AH!!! We read this comment more than once, out loud. We are SO excited you bought a T@B. Enjoy 🙂 And please let us know if you need anything or have any questions

  4. Bethany Austin Reply

    Thank you so much! I’m very excited to begin my adventures. I’m sure questions will arise once I start getting out there. I’m gonna be doing it alone, but it looks totally doable for a single girl. I’ll be following you two, and learning from your experience as well. Storage is a concern. Less is more right?! ?

    • Valerie Reply

      Storage is actually not an issue for us if you can believe it! We have 1 years worth of canned salmon, homemade jam, and everything else all in the t@b. We are actually not even using all the space, totally doable 🙂 Let us know how it goes!

  5. So exciting!! My friend is picking up her tear drop this weekend 🙂 Thank you for the list of house warming presents!
    Do you have a wrap around rug for the step? If so any info on what to get?? Thank you so much for this site….excited for you travels!

      • That’s it! Just what I were looking for!! My friend had the dream and she is picking up the teardrop this weekend. Want to surprise her with a “mini”life on wheels warming gifts, so your wish list is a hit!!! Pics to come! What an inspiration you girls are!! Follow your dreams. Loving your site. Thank you!!

        • Valerie Reply

          Oh wonderful! And what a thoughtful gift. We picked up our teardrop and didn’t realize we needed special RV things- yes, we were that unprepared, so that is so nice 🙂

      • My friend is in her new Honda Pick up driving to OHIO (as I type) alone to pick up her teardrop on Saturday! Did I mention BY HERSELF!!! I think it is so cool and very adventurous! Any words of wisdom or little tidbits of help you can offer? We have watched your “setup in 10 minutes” and the must have list, as well as why one may need electrical tape. What surprised you or wish you knew as you were hitching up the first time? She will be coming back on a major highway and thought she could overnight at a truck stop or Walmart???? Is that safe to do alone?

        PS. Great video of eye surgery! I am jealous…have worn glasses since 5th grade!

        • Bethany Austin Reply

          As a single woman, and an adventurous gypsy soul myself. Thanks to these two ladies I just took off alone from California to Washington to pickup my new teardrop last weekend. I also watched the set-up video at least a half dozen times. My recommendation for your friend is to video record the parts of her walk through that she doesn’t feel 100% confident about, including them hooking up her trailer.
          I spent the night in a rest stop, surrounded by big trucks, and I felt completely comfortable. My rule is to always listen to your gut. If your spidy senses are going off, then move along. I would also recommend a sleep mask, because there’s a lot of lights in places like this.
          Ok…I hope this helps! Congratulations to your friend, it’s soooooo exciting!!!!


          • Valerie Reply

            Thank you Bethany!!! Women helping women travel- our favorite part of this journey 🙂

        • Valerie Reply

          Oh my goodness!!! Yay!!! She will do great, and as Bethany said, totally doable!! Biggest surprise: the car goes much slower than you think when hooked up AND people will not always let you merge onto the highway…just scoot on in there, you’re bigger than them 🙂 We JUST stayed for the first time at a walmart… it was awesome. It’s like having the best camp store you could imagine right next door. There was also 7 other RV’s in the parking lot so we felt safe. Just invest in a good headlamp.

          If you have ANY questions, please feel free to reach out any time. We were traveling this last week so sorry for the delay but next time we should be able to respond more quickly. Happy travels!!

  6. Dear Happy Camper Wives: My husband and I are proud to report that we’ve just purchased not only our first-ever camper but also our first-ever T@B, and we couldn’t have done it without the encouragement we received from your awesome website. Initially, we found one of your videos on Youtube and then went to Happy Camper Wives (great name and logo too). We’re getting the 320 S and will be picking it up soon. We’ll keep you posted of our progress, adventures, and getting started on this amazing journey. Thanks for your posts, sharing your experiences, and Carpe Diem spirit!

    • Valerie Reply

      Wow, what an amazing message to get today. Thank you. Truly. We can’t wait to see photos from all your adventures! Hope our paths cross on the road sometime.

  7. great post! I definitely did not think about all of the things I will need aside from the actual camper.
    Kind of scary lol. Might set my purchase back a month or so, but I’m determined 🙂

    • Valerie Reply

      We did the same thing!! We showed up, got the camper and then we were like “oh, wait, there’s more to this? LOL!

  8. Jennifer Betts Reply

    I am just about to purchase a vintage cruiser (Gulfstream), and have been seeking info to offset my nervousness about doing this alone (traveling to see friends, taking a sabbatical from my education job, working from the road) with my dog, Leon. I plan to scour your site for more great tips and counsel!! Thanks!!

    • Valerie Reply

      Hey Jennifer! So excited for your new adventure! If you have any questions please reach out anytime!

  9. Update: We now have our cute tiny T@B trailer nestled into our garage with two trips under our belts to include Cunningham Falls State Park in Maryland and Westmoreland State Park in Virginia. We’ll be heading to Shenandoah Nat’l Park to see the “All-American Total Solar Eclipse” on Aug 21, 2017 with our Golden Retrievers. No hook-ups there, so we’ll be figuring out how to use the battery and propane systems. One of our Golden Retrievers just had a tumor removed and is now a “cancer survivor,” so it’s even more important for us to be out in the wilderness to experience the wonders of this world with such a beautiful hound. Thanks for all your amazing videos which are so enjoyable, funny, inspiring, and witty. I admire your courage in living a life of adventure and I give you so much credit for following your dreams. We’ll keep you update on our progress.

  10. We are getting our first Camper, a 2015 CROSSROADS RV SUNSET TRAIL SUPER LITE TT 240BH, on Friday!!! This is the first list that came up when I googled shopping lists for new campers and it is awesome!!! I really like that you included pictures and some of these terms are new to us.

  11. Marissa Hunker Reply

    Thank you for you knowledge. It’s very overwhelming for first time owners. We are so excited and terrified at the same time. Is being a dream for 5-7 years come true.

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  14. Elizabeth Tallent Reply

    Just letting you know that we purchased our first 30ft Camper over rwo months ago but just now will be taken her our this weekend. I was not what to take and have heard so many horror stories. But hopefully I think we are ok now that we followed the list.

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  54. Love the “need to have” vs “probably a good idea to have.” I’m always adding more to my RV set up each time I take my rv out. Hope to be full time soon, but still adjusting and trying to figure out what all I need to do it. Always love learning what others have used and gone through. Getting started is an emotional journey. At least it has been for me.

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