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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NEED TO HAVE – $182
These are the very bare-bones you need for full RV hookups to function.
SEWER HOSE – $28
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.
FRESH WATER HOSE – $15
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.
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.
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.
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.
BE PREPARED FOR ANYTHING – $120 – $220
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
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!
- RVjedeye – a very funny RV YouTuber that has helped us with a few tricks along the way!
- The Road To Adventure – a beautiful blog with a lot of national park guides
- Random Bits of Trial and Error- from video tours to hilarious stories, this blog offers a wealth of information for every RVer.
- Exploring the local life– super cute family that are full-time RVers living in South East USA.
Happy traveling everyone!