I am an RV enthusiast with more than 50 years of experience owning, driving, traveling and living in recreational vehicles.
RVers who buy too many accessories spend a lot of unnecessary money.
If they want to have enjoyable vacations and save their travel dollars for more appropriate things, they need to pay attention to what they keep on board when they're on the road.
The best way to do this is to keep things simple, eliminate excess and only buy what the items needed for travel.
Recreational vehicles come equipped differently.
- If they are new, they may or may not have basics such as sewer hoses and jacks.
- If they are previously owned, they can come equipped with everything imaginable.
Also, people have different needs, so what one person may need, another might not.
Items that are duplicates or are old and worn take up space and serve no useful purpose. These should either be removed from an RV or replaced with more useful things.
What you don't want is to stuff your travel unit areas with all sorts of paraphernalia that you likely will never use but that will constantly be in your way.
It is harder than you may think to pick and choose, but doing so is a must. Here are some tips that will help.
Pack Only What You Will Need and Use
The most important items to keep on board are those that add to function or are what you will need in order to be comfortable when you're on the road..
These include but are not limited to
- appropriate bedding and linens, (a comfortable mattress)
- medications and cosmetics,
- appropriately weight rated towing equipment,
- sewer cleaning equipment,
- water hoses,
- dishes, silverware, pots and pans, and cookware,
- laundry, soap and personal soaps and shampoos,
- cleaning equipment such as rags, mops, brooms and dusters
- portable heaters and fans and
- a basic tool kit.
However, you should keep these in limited amounts where possible.
A service of dishes for four comprised of thin, stacking and unbreakable dishes will work better than a service for 8 and will take up much less space in your galley closet.
It's important to note that not every unit needs the same items.
For example, larger coaches usually have carpeting while smaller ones likely do not. Therefore, a vacuum cleaner becomes a necessity in one but is not needed in the other.
What matters here is that you do not carry duplicate items or those you likely will not use on a particular vacation. Thus you need to set your needs for each type of vacation you take.
If you keep or make lists that you can use for doing this, you'll be much more likely to take what you need with you and avoid clutter.
You won't need swimwear if you will be traveling in cold weather, but you definitely will need at least one warm coat!
Pay Attention to Space and Weight Limitations
Those who bear in mind that an RV is actually only a vehicle with a very limited area for living and storage do much better if they follow the above advice.
If you overload your travel unit or put so many items in it that you make it claustrophobic or dangerous to drive, you’ll be unhappy and likely will cause problems for yourself.
How to Load and Pack Your RV for Safety and Comfort provides some good tips about deal with loading issues, but common sense should prevail.
- if you have several hobbies, choose one that takes up very little space to carry with you, rather than trying to take several that will severely limit your living area.
- leave bulky, heavy items at home and
- avoid taking several items that can do the same job. For example, a pot can be used for carrying water, cooking or washing dishes.
Keep items light and limited. Avoid loading golfing equipment, fishing gear or similar types of heavy, bulky sports equipment. Instead take cards, puzzles and similar things that will entertain you but not take up much space.
Why You Need to Keep These Basics on Board
There are reasons you need to have basic items available when traveling:
1. Obviously you need to be able to sleep , cook and eat so bedding, linens, dishes and cooking are givens.
2. Portable fans and heaters are important to have in case cooling or heating units stop working as they will be able to work off of the campground's electric system separately from that of your RV if necessary.
3. Basic cleaning items such as a broom, duster, rags, ammonia, cleanser and buckets, mops and other items are must haves if you want to keep your RV clean.
4. What You Need to Have in Your RV’s Tool Box has in-depth lists of tools and gadgets you should always take with you when you travel so that you can make repairs on the go when necessary, especially if you are not located near a repair shop when something goes wrong.
5. Ways to store food so that it doesn't spoil or get wasted is vitally important and lidded, containers that stack and seal are perfect for this purpose.
6. Using a gps system as well as camping guides such as a Good Sam Directory (which is the best and least costly camping guide available) is the best way to do this. My husband and I never travel without this travel guide because it saves us time and money and provides tons of reliable and important information.
7. Keeping your sewage system sanitary will keep your coach from to smelling so bad that you won't be able to use it! The only way to do this is by using the proper tools and chemicals.
How to Dump and Deep Clean Your RV's Sewer Tank in 5 Easy Steps not only shows you which items you must have to do the job but also how to do it.
8. Having appropriate wires and connectors on board allows you to hook up without problems.
Small RVs generally only need 30-amp connections, but larger ones require 50 amps or more. An adapter combined with proper wires will guarantee that you won't have problems.
My husband and I once had to leave a campground that only offered 20-amp hookups because we did not have the right equipment with us. We made sure that never happened again!
9. Wheel chocks can keep your RV from rolling if parked on uneven or slanted land. Tuck them up against your wheels and you can avoid a costly and dangerous accident. We never RV without them because although light weight and easy to store, they do a good job of protecting our RV.
If you want or feel you need more items, add them in as you travel after determining that doing so is necessary. Doing this can save you a good deal of money.
Appropriate Towing Equipment
If you will be towing a vehicle, you will need equipment that will help you to do so correctly and safely. No matter the equipment, you will need to make sure that it is properly weight rated for the vehicle it will be towing.
There are several towing methods available.
You can use
- a tow bar,
- tow dolly or
- enclosed or open trailer
The best and easiest one to use is a tow bar that adjusts.
Dollies are awkward to use and trailers can be quite costly.
Each type has its own pros and cons, so it is up to an RV owner to decide whether he wants to tow, how much he wants to spend and what type of equipment he wants to buy.
It is common for people to choose a dolly or a non-adjustable tow bar at first, but they usually wind up trading it for an adjustable tow bar because, while expensive, it is much easier to use.
Travelers can choose not to take a car with them, but will quickly learn that doing so severely limits mobility.
Most people find that they will want to have a car with them, and that choosing the right type of equipment will make vacationing much easier. As you can see, it pays to look around for a deal before you buy!
If you are loading your coach with much more than what has been mentioned here, you can use the information in this article to identify the items you really need to have so that you can remove the others and give yourself more living space.
Ask yourself questions such as
- How many towels and sheets do you need?
- Do you need all of those appliances?
- Are your closets so full that you can't even find the clothes you want to wear?
- Do you have items that are old or broken or no longer useful?
Once you decide what you want to eliminate, either throw a garage sale or donate the unusable items to some worthy cause.
Remember that an RV is not a house and will always function better if you give it room to do so.
If you learn to think “weight, size and necessity” when equipping your recreational vehicle, you’ll always have the things you need to make your vacations enjoyable.
Doing this will keep you comfortable and will save money, too!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2018 Sondra Rochelle
Sondra Rochelle (author) from USA on September 10, 2019:
Glad to hear you're paying attention! You'll find lots of money saving ideas within my work and also many ways to make your RV more comfortable. Good Luck!
John Hansen from Queensland Australia on September 10, 2019:
A very helpful article TT2. We bought an old Toyota Coaster bus that we have been converting to a motor home. Recently did our first major road trip...Brisbane to Darwin (approx 7000 km round trip) which gave us time to find out many things we still need, and which are not necessary. It is still always good to get tips from experienced RV users however so I will probably visit more of your article in future.