There might be no better way to see the United States than by traveling in a recreational vehicle, a compact home on wheels that allows you to set up camp just about anywhere. But before you embark on a cross-country road trip or extended nature getaway, there are some RV essentials and accessories that you should have in your inventory. In order to make the most out of your RV life, make sure to stock up on the basics as well as the trappings and trimmings that will make the most of your adventure.
What you need for your RV
Whether you’re road-tripping, boondocking or camping at a full-hookup campsite, your RV needs a source of power and a means of managing it. Most RVs have one or more batteries, including a 12-volt direct current battery (for powering lights, a water pump and other basics) and a 120-volt alternating current battery (for appliances and conveniences like a refrigerator, microwave or TV). These batteries alone won’t provide you with endless power, but they will recharge whenever hooked up to an external electrical grid or generator.
If your RV is connected to a “shore power” source, like a campground grid, you’ll need a surge protector to prevent an errant electricity spike from damaging your batteries and devices. Depending on the size of your RV, or “rig,” it will come equipped with either a 30 amp or 50 amp connection, so make sure you find the appropriate surge protector. Other power accessories that should be on your RV essentials checklist include external generators and solar panels.
Here are a few options for your power supply needs:
Progressive Industries 30 Amp Portable RV Smart Surge Protector
Progressive Industries offers a full line of surge protectors and electricity management systems for every RV need, offering both portable and hardwired solutions. This 30 amp surge protector is well-suited for most small rigs, but make sure you find the correct match for your RV.
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Renogy 100 Watts 12 Volts Monocrystalline Solar Starter Kit
If you’re planning on spending most of your time off the grid, a solar kit can keep your batteries charged and power your basic needs. Keep in mind that you’ll need a power inverter to convert your solar power into a 120-volt AC hub before running small appliances. Also, solar alone can’t power air conditioning, so make sure to account for your heat factor.
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WEN 56203i Super Quiet 2000-Watt Portable Inverter Generator
If you absolutely need an external power source, consider this WEN generator with automatic fuel shutoff and an eco-mode feature. It produces clean energy while limiting total harmonic distortion to a minimum, making it safe for charging laptops, tablets and smartphones.
Sold by Amazon
Clean water and sewage management
While you’re traveling in your RV, you must make sure you have a clean water hose for refilling your clean water tank or hooking up to an external water source, not to mention a filter for safe drinking water. Also, adjustable water pressure will protect your plumbing and fixtures from damage. A sewer hose support for your sewage line will also go a long way toward preserving your overall plumbing situation. If you don’t have the luxury of an onboard bathroom, a portable toilet is a convenient replacement.
Other setup essentials
One of the most important things to include on your adventure is an all-in-one emergency kit for any roadside emergencies or minor injuries — a spare first aid kit never hurts, as well. Leveling blocks are necessary for preventing a runaway rig, and you should keep some battery-powered camping lanterns handy so you’re never left out in the dark.
Comfort and living essentials
You can’t properly enjoy your RV if you don’t have some crucial trappings of comfort throughout, making it truly feel like a home on wheels. Once you measure your bed space, find a comfortable, durable and properly fit mattress and a set of breathable sheets that won’t keep you too warm in hot climates. In addition to sleeping pillows, if you have a couch or other group seating, consider decorating with some throw pillows.
A lot of the touches that make your RV feel like home include everyday trappings like drapes, towels, cookware and dishes, not to mention all the cleaning supplies you usually keep in your home. If you’re lucky enough to have a fully functioning bathroom, you might want to install a water-saving showerhead made for RVs. Also, make sure to pick up some RV toilet paper in order to prevent clogging and other potentially messy headaches.
Once you have your power strips plugged into your 120-volt power source, you can start using kitchen conveniences that require electricity. Nowadays, many RVs come fully equipped with a fridge and microwave, but there are some other electric conveniences that will enhance your camping, boondocking or traveling experience.
Coffee makers are definitely an RV camping essential, depending upon your limited counter space and storage. If you like espresso or flavored coffee, a Nespresso Vertuo Next Deluxe takes up very little counter space, or you can stick with a simple drip brewer, like this one from Cuisinart.
Another great small appliance for your RV is an Instant Pot — an all-in-one pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice maker and more. This is one of the most versatile tools for an RV kitchen, with enough options to keep you from cooking the same meal every time. Since you’re going to be enjoying the outdoors, a portable grill makes a great substitute for campfire cooking. When the cooking gets you too hot, make sure you’ve packed a solid compact fan.
Extra comforts and conveniences
Once you have all the necessities, then it’s time to make sure you have some more comfort and convenience items. Camping chairs, a hammock and maybe a small table or two are all things that take your outdoor relaxation to another level. If you need extra space to ice down your beverages, consider an electric portable fridge/freezer to keep the cold ones icy cold.
With all your free time in the wilderness — or the KOA — consider some new hobbies like birdwatching with a set of Nikon binoculars. Another fun hobby is droning, which involves operating a small camera-enabled drone for photography and videography. Either way, make sure to soak in as much nature as possible. To avoid the dangerous UV rays, you may want to invest in a pop-up outdoor canopy — not to mention the sunscreen.
For inside the RV, there are luxuries you can add to feel more like home. If you have to catch the big game, cable news or just YouTube for the kids, you can always mount a small TV with a Fire Stick in your rig. If your RV community has wireless internet, a travel router is a great way to enhance what is likely a weak signal.
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Matt Fleming writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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