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  • Rachel

12 RV Essentials for Beginners

Jumping into RV life can be intimidating. Whether you're setting out for a weekend or hitting the road full time, there's so much to consider. Making sure you have the proper accessories is the key to a successful camping trip or full time RV life.

We bought our 2007 18ft travel trailer in early 2021 and had no idea what we were doing. We browsed the RV accessory section of Walmart and thought "do we really need all this stuff?". The answer is no. You do not need to spend thousands on RV gadgets as soon as you buy your first rig. Throughout our time on the road, we've learned which items are truly necessary for beginners and which items are nice to have once you've gained some experience.

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Must-haves for RV newbies

1. Leveling Blocks

You find your perfect campsite with picturesque views only to discover it's not even close to level. That's why you need a set of simple leveling blocks. I can count on one hand the number of times we have not needed blocks to level our rig. If you're not level, you're not going to be comfortable during your stay. There are all sorts of fancier leveling blocks on the market but a basic set is all you need when getting started.

2. Wheel Chocks

Wheel chocks keep your rig from moving once you unhitch. It's obvious why these are essential for a travel trailer or fifth wheel, but chocking your wheels in a motorhome or van will also help eliminate movement while parked.

3. Fresh Water Hose

You'll need a way to get fresh water while on the road. Whether you're staying at a site with a city water connection or you're filling up your fresh water tank, a good hose is a must-have. This is the hose we've used for months with no issues and no leaks.

4. RV Sewer Hose

Most RVs have two separate wastewater tanks - a black and a gray water tank. Black water refers to liquid and solid waste that comes from the toilet in your RV. Unless your RV has a composting toilet or no toilet at all, you will have a black water holding tank. Your gray water tank holds all other waste from the kitchen sink drain, bathroom drains, etc. We recommend an extendable sewer hose with an elbow attachment for emptying your wastewater tanks.

5. Sewer Hose Support

Help protect your RV sewer hose and make emptying your tanks easier with a sewer hose support. This helps prop up your sewer hose, allowing wastewater to flow through it more easily and directly. It also helps keep your sewer hose clean by preventing excess buildup.

6. Water Filter

Having clean, safe drinking water is important for any RVer. Most campgrounds offer water that is "safe for drinking", but we recommend taking another step and filtering the water as you fill up your fresh water tank or connect to city water. This style filter connects directly to your fresh water hose.

7. Water Pressure Regulator

Did you know you can seriously damage or destroy your RV's plumbing without one of these? Neither did we at first! This is one of those things you don't really think about until you start RVing. The plumbing in RVs can't withstand the same water pressure as a building. This little device helps make sure the pressure is okay before entering your rig.

8. Surge Protector (50 or 30 Amp)

A power surge can be detrimental to the appliances and electrical system in your RV. Investing in a surge protector before you hit the road can save you a lot of money in the long run. Most RVs run on either 30 or 50 Amp electric. Make sure you purchase a surge protector that fits your rig's electrical system.

9. Power Adapter

There may come a time you'll need to plug into an electrical hookup that doesn't fit your rig's system. For example, our travel trailer runs on 30 Amp electric, but we occasionally can only find sites that offer a 50 Amp hookup. That's when you'll need a power adapter. It's important to note - RVs that run on 50 Amp electric will be limited on power when plugging into a 30 Amp hookup and may not be able to run all appliances.

10. RV Toilet Paper

This is pretty self-explanatory. Not all toilet paper is safe for your RV's fragile septic system. The last thing you. need as an RV newbie is a clog to deal with. Better to be safe than sorry and stick to RV/Marine toilet paper.

11. Holding Tank Treatment

RV holding tanks stink. Even when you do all the right things like use RV safe toilet paper, there's bound to be build-up in your tanks. Use a holding tank treatment regularly for both black and gray water tanks to avoid build-up and odor.

12. Gloves

Not just any gloves, I'm talking about the kind that protect your hands from all the mess that comes with maintaining an RV. Trust me, you don't want to be without protective gloves while trying to empty your holding tanks or the first time.

Other Important Bonus Items

1. New Lock

Factory RV door locks may have the same keys, which raises a big security concern. We recommend upgrading your lock, especially if you plan on staying in campgrounds regularly.

2. X-Shaped Wheel Chocks

If you're spending a lot of time in your RV, you may want to consider investing in X-Shaped Wheel Chocks to reduce movement more than a regular wheel chock. These are designed specifically for rigs with tandem axels. We notice a big difference since making the upgrade, especially having two dogs in our camper.

3. Reflective Window Cover

If you're camping in the PNW under cloud and tree cover, these probably aren't on your list of must-haves. But if you're staying in an area with abundant sunshine and heat, you're going to want some kind of reflective window cover. We purchased a roll of this material and cut it to size to fit our windows.

4. Dehumidifier

Moisture inside your RV can lead to disaster. That might sound extreme, but it's true. Any kind of moisture, even condensation can lead to mold issues inside your rig. If you're camping in a particularly humid or rainy area, a mini dehumidifier can help keep your RV dry.

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