16 Must-Have RV Accessories

These camping essentials are the key to a smooth journey

You just stood there, clueless and more than a little terrified, staring blankly at your new mobile living space. It was yours now. It was new. It was perfect. And obviously, you were also excited on top of everything else.

But what you slowly realized as the newness of the moment wore off was this: This thing is also very incomplete. This shiny new travel trailer needed help. It needed partners. It needed supporting characters to become the “adventure capsule” you dreamed of.

Class A motorhome on parking pad © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But you could not find a resource that covered all of the items you needed in one spot. And you didn’t have the time or energy to try and pull together recommendations from over a dozen different sources.

How do you know what you really need to buy for your new RV? This is the million-dollar question, right? Because we are all willing to buy what we know we will need and use, but nobody wants to buy stuff they will never use.

And, that my friends, is the motivation for this article.

Fifth wheel trailer on parking pad © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. RV First Aid Kit

A first aid kit readily available in an emergency isn’t just a good idea—it’s a necessity for every RVer. A well-stocked first-aid kit and manual can help you respond effectively to common injuries and emergencies. You can purchase first aid kits and refills at the Red Cross store, most drugstores, online, or assemble your own.

Contents of a first-aid kit should include adhesive tape, antibiotic ointment, antiseptic solution or towelettes, bandages, calamine lotion, cotton balls and cotton-tipped swabs, gauze pads and roller gauze in assorted sizes, first aid manual, petroleum jelly or other lubricant, safety pins in assorted sizes, scissors and tweezers, and sterile eyewash.

Related Article: Road Trip Ahead! What Do I Pack?

Familiarize yourself with the items in the first aid kit and know how to properly use them. Check your first-aid kits regularly, at least every three months, to replace supplies that have expired.

If you travel with pets, pet first aid manuals are also available.

Travel trailer on parking pad © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. RV Tool Box

A basic tool kit could quickly become your best friend. You never know when you’re going to need a screwdriver to tighten/loosen something or a hammer to pound something in place.

Just about anything in your RV that can snap, crack, rip loose, tear, bend, leak, spark, or fall off will do exactly that at the most inconvenient time. Something will need to be tightened, loosened, pounded flat, pried, or cut. To help you deal with everyday problems and annoyances, maintain a well-equipped tool box in the RV (always store on curb side).

Contents should include Phillips and Robertson head and flat bladed screwdrivers (large, medium, small), standard and needle-nose pliers, channel-lock pliers (medium and large), 10-inch Crescent wrench, claw hammer, hobby knife with blade protector, wire cutters, tape measure, silicone sealant, electrical tape, battery jumper cables, open and box-end wrenches, silicone spray, WD-40 lubricant, bungee cords, road flares/warning reflectors, fold-down shovel, stepladder, and heavy-duty tire pressure gauge.

Many RVers also carry a socket wrench set, small drill bit set and cordless drill with a spare battery, and digital voltmeter.

Tear drop trailer on parking pad © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Gorilla Tape 

Gorilla Tape is a brand of adhesive tape sold by the makers of Gorilla Glue and available in several sizes and colors, including camouflage, white, and clear. Gorilla Tape can solve many problems while on the road—and you can do most anything with this stuff. RVers have used it to temporarily repair a sewer hose, keep a driver’s side window from continually falling, and even affix the coffee maker to the counter so that it doesn’t move during travel.

4. LED Flashlight

Flashlights are a must-have on any road trip. 

5. Assorted Fuses

Vehicle fuses can blow at any time so it’s a good idea to keep extras around. We like to travel in a variety of sizes. But remember—something caused it to blow in the first place. Address the original issue as soon as you can. 

Water hose connection with pressure regulator © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Potable Drinking Water Hose

RV potable water hoses are lead and BPA-free. I recommend traveling with two hoses since you never know how far your RV will be parked from a city water connection.

Related Article: The Safety Checklist for When Your RV is Parked

Sewer hose © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

7. RV Sewer Hose

A high-quality sewer hose is essential to avoid any unpleasant leaks or malfunctions. I prefer the Camco RhinoFLEX kit that includes a 15-foot hose, a fitting that connects to your RV sewer outlet, an adapter that fits any sewer connection, and storage caps for each end. The durable hose is reinforced with steel wire so you can shape it as needed. Also, carry a 10-foot extension—you’ll be glad you did.

8. Disposable Vinyl Gloves

Emptying the RV black water tank is probably the most common reason to have disposable vinyl gloves around. But, they can also be used for a variety of other things like cleaning and handling food. Yes, you should absolutely use disposable gloves for sewer tasks.

Sewer hose hookup with translucent elbow fitting © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

9. Translucent Sewer Hose Elbow Fitting

If your sewer hose kit doesn’t come with a transparent connector, we recommend adding this accessory to your list. Clear connectors will give you a good idea of when the tank has been fully emptied. That way you won’t be stuck guessing when a good time is to close the connection.

Sewer hose hookup with sewer hose support © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

10. RV Sewer Hose Support

This product helps to hold the sewer hose in place and prevent a failed connection between the RV and dump station. It’s a recommended accessory if you’re camping at a site for long periods and want to avoid other travelers from tripping or moving your sewer hose connection. Also, some areas require sewer hoses to be elevated off the ground.

Class A motorhome on parking pad © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

11. Heavy Duty RV Dogbone Electrical Adapter

Every RVer needs to carry a few power adapters often referred to as dogbones to make sure that they can connect to whatever power is available to them. These power adapters will have a smaller, lower amperage plug (male blades) on one end and a larger/higher-amperage receptacle (female terminals). Look for UL-listed versions of these adapters preferably with rigid grab handles. They do not change the power output.

Recommended electric adapters include:

  • 50-amp RV plugged into 30-amp source
  • 50-amp RV plugged into 15-amp source
  • 30-amp RV plugged into 15-amp source

12. RV Stabilizer Jack Pads

Prevent hydraulic or electric jacks from sinking into the ground by using RV stabilizer jack pads. Available in sets of four they are solidly constructed of durable polypropylene with UV inhibitors. Interlocking for convenient storage they are available with a handy strap.

Heated water hose © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

13. Heated water hose

A heated RV water hose is required for winter camping. This product will give you safe drinking water even when temperatures dip below freezing. These hoses cost $100 or more depending mostly on length but will save you a lot in frozen pipes. A heated hose has a heat strip along the side of the hose that heats up when plugged into a 110-volt electrical connection. Some brands are rated to keep water flowing at minus 40 degrees.

Related Article: What’s in Your RV Emergency Kit?

Progressive Electric Management System © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

14. Electric Management System

There are four electrical issues an RVer can encounter while traveling: surges, miswired pedestals, high/low voltage, and wiring issues inside the RV. We’ve had a power surge, situations where pedestals were miswired, and both high and low voltage situations. Fortunately, our Progressive Electric Management System has protected us from all of these situations.

Check out the units available from Progressive Electric Management Systems or Surge Guard. Both portable units and hardwired units are available.

15. Toilet chemicals

The black water tank works more efficiently with what is commonly called “toilet chemicals.” Toilet chemicals are bacteria and enzymes designed to break down solids and control odor.

Commercial RV products are sold in liquid, crystal, and tab (drop-in packet) form. They are sold under numerous brand names. All seem to work pretty well and the major real difference is convenience—it’s easier to drop the tab in than to pour in the liquid plus there is no splash. These products are readily available at RV outlets.

Class C motorhome on parking pad © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

16. Other considerations

Other considerations, supplies, and equipment include fire extinguishers (one in the galley, one in the bedroom, and one outside of the RV in a basement compartment, plus one in the toad/tow vehicle), NOAA weather radio, heavy-duty whistles, emergency waterproof matches, jumper cables, ice/snow window scrapers, work gloves, and blue tarp.

Related Article: RV Emergency Kit Essentials

Now that you know the 16 must-have RV accessories, are you ready to hit the open road? Plan your route with one of the many online tools available today and don’t forget to take photos of your experiences. Happy travels!

Worth Pondering…

I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.

—Stephen Covey

9 Things to Consider Before Making an RV Park Reservation

Finding a good campsite begins at home when you are planning your road trip

Finding the right RV site may be one of the most important decisions to make as you plan your next road trip. Before you book online or over the phone ensure you have a site that meets your needs. This may be one of the most important judgment calls to make on your trip.

Club house and pool at Red Bluff KOA Journey, Red Bluff, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The quality of your time at the park may rest on whether you’re near the hustle and bustle of the clubhouse or pool, in a remote site under a shady tree, or backed up against a busy highway or railway tracks.

A+ Motel and RV Park, Sulphur, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

For the best results phone RV parks to make reservations. You can find out about any specials going on, any activities or events you might be interested in, and have a better opportunity to secure a prime site in the park. Calling also allows you to have your questions or concerns answered. You can also find out about the park’s amenities such as Wi-Fi, cable TV, pool access, and special activities.

Canyon Vista RV Resort, Gold Canyon, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Most parks will require a credit card number for the first night to secure the reservation. Some RV parks will assign a site number when you make your reservation while others will wait for you to check into the park. Make sure to keep the reservation confirmation number or e-mail confirmation.

Related: How to Choose the Perfect RV Park and Campsite?

Choose wisely, consult guest reviews, and consider the following nine things:

Pull-in site at Vista del Sol, Bullhead City, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1) Size and Configuration

Most RV parks offer several types of sites: pull-through, back-in, and drive-in. A pull-through site allows you to enter and exit a site without unhooking the toad or backing up. Backing an RV into a site is one of the less appealing chores in the RV lifestyle but if you plan to hunker down for several weeks or more, a roomy back-in site may be preferable.

Pull-in sites at Bella Terra Resort, Gulf Shores, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Some of the newer parks offer drive-in sites. This is particularly appealing for RVers with a Class-A motorhome. The site may face a river, fountain or water feature, or scenic vistas like the sites offered at Vista del Sol RV Resort in Bullhead City, Arizona (see photo above) or Bella Terra of Gulf Shores, Alabama (see photo above).

Leaf Verde RV Park, Buckeye, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4) Location, Location, Location

Each site in an RV park has its pluses and minuses. A site near the club house and pool is convenient but the foot traffic and noise may pose an annoyance. The same for sites near the playground or a dumpster. Study the park map to get the lay of the land.

Related: Consider Your Needs When Choosing RV Parks and Campgrounds

Cajun Palms RV Resort, Henderson, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5) Site Amenities

Consider the amenities that you like in an RV site. Fire rings and picnic tables are musts for some campers. Do you have room to unfurl the awning, fire up the barbecue, and watch the big game from your exterior TV? If you’re camping in the height of summer, look for a shady site. If possible, choose a north-facing site so that the summer sun has limited penetration into RV living quarters and your refrigerator is in the shade.

Dog wash station at Sun Outdoors Pigeon Forge © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

7) Camping with Buddies

Are you RVing with friends? Some parks allow RVers to park in contiguous spaces giving them a chance to camp next to each other. You can arrange a “buddy site,” like those offered by Red Bluff KOA Journey (formerly Durango RV Resort, in Red Bluff, California (see photo above) . These sites feature pull-through sites up to 90 feet in length with a common grassy area.

Related: What Makes an RV Park A Five-Star Resort?

Coastal Georgia RV Resort, Brunswick, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

8) Non-RV Alternatives

Do you plan to meet up with non-RVing friends? Many parks offer adjacent motel units, cabins, or park models. Then consider the following RV parks and resorts: A+ Motel and RV Park in Sulphur, Louisiana (see photo above); Canyon Vista RV Resort in Gold Canyon, Arizona (see photo above); Leaf Verde RV Park in Buckeye, Arizona (see photo above); and Cajun Palms RV Resort in Henderson, Louisiana (see photo above).

Dog washing station at Tucson/Lazy Days KOA, Tucson, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

9) Canine Considerations

Dogs make great traveling companions but these furry passengers sometimes can be challenging. If your canine barks at everything that moves, you’ll want a site as far away from foot traffic as possible. The same goes for cats that are prone to stress. And if you opt to camp close to a dog run, you can give Fido a chance to burn off steam nearby. Some parks even offer a dog washing station including Sun Outdoors Pigeon Forge (formerly River Plantation RV Park) in Sevierville, Tennessee (see photo above) and Tucson/Lazydays KOA (see photo above).

Related: What to Look For in an RV Campground?

The RV site is an important part of the travel experience. A good site can contribute much to a great road trip and a poor site will deter from the overall experience.

Worth Pondering…

If a man does not know what port he is steering for, no wind is favorable to him.

—Seneca

The 10 Essentials Every RV Owner Should Buy Before Their First Road Trip

Things you should never set off in your RV without

Buying your first recreational vehicle can be overwhelming. Then there’s the towing, learning to park and back up, and setting up once you arrive at your campground or RV park. That first outing can feel pretty stressful but with the right gear, it doesn’t have to be. We’re not talking about frilly gadgets like fairy lights and portable pizza ovens (though those are important too). This list is an honest roundup of the essentials you really need to keep your RV safe and comfortable. These are the essentials every new RV owner should buy before their first camping trip.

Water pressure regulator © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Water Pressure Regulator

A water pressure regulator keeps the plumbing system of your recreational vehicle fully protected from high water pressures. The problem is that high water pressure can cause damage to the RV plumbing system. A water pressure regulator is a small device useful in maintaining a safe level of psi as far as the water that enters your vehicle is concerned. While some newer vehicles are capable of handling higher pressure it is recommended all RVs stick to around 60 psi. The proper use of the device involves attaching it to the water supply of the campground first.

Do not attach it to your vehicle as doing so might only result in the bursting of the connection hose in case of really high pressure. High flow water regulators come in two basic types: adjustable and fixed. Unless you plan to use varying pressures of water for a range of applications, a fixed water regulator will suffice for your needs and provide an excellent water flow while saving you money. The two major manufacturers of water pressure regulators are Camco and Valterra.

City utility connections including water hose © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV Water Hose

Especially in a new RV when the fresh water tanks are sanitary and prime for drinking water, it is important that your RV water hose is rated for human consumption. But aren’t all hoses safe? No! Despite the fact that most people have drunk from the garden hose at some point, all hoses are not created equal. Your run-of-the-mill garden hose is actually not safe to drink from; it is not regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act and can contain toxic materials that are harmful to the human body such as lead, antimony, bromine, organotin, phthalates, and BPA (bisphenol A).

RV water hoses are NSF certified so you can be confident you will have quality drinking water available. Plus, there won’t be any chemical or plastic taste. 

Heated water hose © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Keep in mind that you will want a heated water hose if you’re camping during the winter.

Disposable Vinyl Gloves

RVing can be surprisingly dirty business. One of the best ways to keep clean and sterile on the road is with vinyl or latex gloves. Disposable gloves keep your hands clean when emptying your holding tanks. Gloves fit right or left hand. One size fits all; also available in small, medium, and large. Available at RV dealers, stores that sell RV supplies, pharmacies, and Walmart.

Progressive Emergency Management System © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Electrical Protection System

When looking at an electrical protection system for your RV, you want to make sure it is more than a surge protector and monitors high and low voltage. This is what the Progressive Emergency Management System does and what models like Surge Guard and other brands do as well. When looking at an electrical protection system, be certain to consider the protection levels. Here is what you need out of a great electrical protection system:

  • Surge Protection
  • High and Low Voltage
  • Pedestal Analysis
  • Load side protection

While there are different electrical protection brands on the market and the Progressive EMS is the unit that we trust with our RV. Others prefer Surge Guard brand. If you do not already have an electrical protection system for your RV, take it from me and other seasoned RVers—get an electrical protection system for your RV. You can’t go wrong with a model from Progressive or Surge Guard.

Sewer hose © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

High-quality sewer hose

Some things you definitely don’t want to skimp on and your sewer hose is one of them. No one wants to be dealing with a ruptured sewer hose while on vacation. Invest in a high-end hose—your peace of mind and nasal passages will thank you.

First Aid Kit

first aid kit readily available in an emergency isn’t just a good idea—it’s a necessity for every RVer. A well-stocked first-aid kit and manual can help you respond effectively to common injuries and emergencies. You can purchase first aid kits and refills at the Red Cross store, most pharmacies, or assemble your own. Contents of a first-aid kit should include adhesive tape, antibiotic ointment, antiseptic solution or towelettes, bandages, calamine lotion, cotton balls and cotton-tipped swabs, gauze pads and roller gauze in assorted sizes, first aid manual, petroleum jelly or other lubricant, safety pins in assorted sizes, scissors and tweezers, and sterile eyewash. Familiarize yourself with the items in the first aid kit and know how to properly use them. Check your first-aid kits regularly, at least every three months, to replace supplies that have expired.

The Mayo Clinic is an excellent source for first aid information to help you during a medical emergency.

Traveling with a pet © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you travel with pets, pet first aid manuals are also available.

RV Toolbox

Just about anything in your RV that can snap, crack, rip loose, tear, bend, leak, spark, or fall off will do exactly that at the most inconvenient time. Something will need to be tightened, loosened, pounded flat, pried, or cut.

To help you deal with everyday problems and annoyances, maintain a well-equipped toolbox in the RV (always store on curbside).

Oops! Almost disaster. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Contents should include Phillips and Robertson head and flat-bladed screwdrivers (large, medium, small), standard and needle-nose pliers, channel-lock pliers (medium and large), 10-inch Crescent wrench, claw hammer, hobby knife with blade protector, wire cutters, tape measure, silicone sealant, Gorilla tape and glue, electrical tape, battery jumper cables, open and box-end wrenches, silicone spray, WD-40 lubricant, bungee cords, road flares/warning reflectors, fold-down shovel, stepladder, spare fuses, and heavy-duty tire pressure gauge.

Many RVers also carry a socket wrench set (standard and metric), small drill bit set and cordless drill with spare battery, and digital voltmeter.

Gorilla Tape is a brand of adhesive tape sold by the makers of Gorilla Glue, and available in several sizes and colors, including camouflage, white, and clear. Gorilla Tape can solve many problems while on the road—and you can do most anything with this stuff. RVers have used it to temporarily repair a sewer hose, keep a driver’s side window from continually falling, and even affix the coffee maker to the counter so that it doesn’t move during travel.

A camera to record a West Texas sunset © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Camera

In reality, if you have a smartphone you probably have a camera capable of capturing amazing memories wherever you go. In fact, I agree with professional photographer Chase Jarvis, who says that “the best camera is the one you have with you.” 

Other Considerations

Other considerations, supplies, and equipment include fire extinguishers (one in the galley, one in the bedroom, and one outside of the RV in a basement compartment, plus one in the toad/tow vehicle), NOAA weather radio, LED flashlights, heavy-duty whistles, emergency waterproof matches, jumper cables, ice/snow window scrapers, work gloves, and blue tarp.

Camping in Arches National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But Not Least, Know where you’re going

Okay, okay. You likely have a destination in mind. But if you’re heading out for months on end, you might want to bring along a few suggestions.

Now hit the road already!

Worth Pondering…

I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.

—Stephen Covey

7 Tips for Newbies to Know BEFORE the First Trip

Vacationing by RV this summer? Here’s what you need to know.

When you first heard the words “black water” in conversation, you may have assumed the speaker was discussing an obscure movie, perhaps an Australian film created by 3D models or a 2017 Jean-Claude Van Damme flick.

Camping at Jekyll Island Campground, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But, if you’re one of the many people who decides to take a summer road trip in an RV you would know that the first definition of black water is solid and liquid waste that must be dumped from your RV holding tank.

Here are seven helpful tips to know before embarking on your first RV road trip.

Sewer hose connected and ready to dump © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. Don’t get poop on yourself

If there’s a toilet in your rig—and there most likely is—you’re going to need to dump the waste—the aforementioned black water—at some point (likely sooner rather than later). When you go to open the storage compartment on the side of the vehicle to remove the cap and connect the sewer hose in order to dump, remember this: Make sure the dump valves are closed! Trust me on this! Read the page in your RV owner’s manual about the holding tanks. Make sure you close those latches! Otherwise, you might gag while your sneakers become “poop shoes” you can never wear again.

Sewer hose connection up-close © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Remember your toolkit

It’s hard to anticipate something like having your side view mirror get so loose that it no longer provides any help with attempting lane changes. But these things happen, and you should prepare for them, instead of relying on your copilot to turn or finding a man on the road who has a wrench you can borrow to tighten said mirror.

Sewer dump station © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Bring a toolkit. And store it on the curb side. Again, trust me on this. Bring Allen wrenches or Hex Key set. Bring duct tape and Rhino tape. Bring variety of screwdrivers including Phillips and Robertson. Bring hammer. Bring scissors. Bring a variety of wrenches. Bring plenty of rags. Be ready to fix the unanticipated.

Read carefully before pulling lever © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Pack sufficient cookware

If you’re renting an RV that comes stocked with kitchen tools, check that it also has pots and pans, cutting boards, and silverware. And if it has knives, make sure they’re sharp enough to cut effectively. Will the rental company reimburse you for replacing any missing or faulty cookware? It may be wise to take complete inventory of your cookware at time of rental.

Camping at Arches National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Use leveling blocks

Like Legos? Stackable leveling blocks can be placed under your vehicle’s wheels in order to level out your parking spot. If you arrive at your camping site when it is dark or too tired to use leveling blocks, be prepared to face the consequences.  The fridge may stop running (because it relies on gravity to cool properly and only works when the vehicle is level). That brings us to the next tip.

Camping at Monahans Sands State Park, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. Arrive at your campground before dark

Plan your trip so that you get to your overnight parking spot before dark. Whether you’re driving into a campground, an RV park, or—especially—a place in the desert or woods where you’ll be boondocking (RV-speak for spending the night somewhere for free, without electric or water hookups), it’s important to be able to see your surroundings.

Camping at Badlands National Park, South Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It’s very challenging to see camping site numbers and even harder to determine whether you’ve parked safely (and level) in the dark. Also: You want to wake up the next morning and be able to recognize your surroundings. Not knowing where you are can have a rather disturbing feel!

Camping at Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Use RV toilet essentials

Sorry to bring up the poop thing again, but it’s important. Without it, traveling during a pandemic would be more dangerous. And if you don’t pack certain RV bathroom essentials, you’ll find yourself up a certain creek without a paddle.

Camping at Poches RV Park, Breaux Bridge, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Knowing what your black water tank holds, the next logical question to ask is: how the heck do you keep it clean and odor-free? Fortunately, the availability of commercial chemicals and deodorizers makes it pretty simple to maintain your black tank on a regular basis.

Camping in Sequoia National Park, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

At the start of your camping trip, add a dose of RV black water tank treatment, which may come in liquid form or in Tide-Pod-like packets. Be sure to add in about a gallon of water, as well, which helps the chemicals do their job. Along with keeping tank odors down, these chemicals also have the ability to break down solid waste and toilet paper. That makes for a much smoother process when it comes time to dump your tanks.

Even if you use those things properly, there is a rare possibility you might end up with a clog in your toilet—and that is not a pretty picture.

Hiking Lost Dutchman State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

7. Wake up early and enjoy the sunrise

Driving your bathroom and kitchen around with you makes life super convenient. You can eat, nap, and relieve yourself whenever you’d like! With that in mind, here are several suggestions on structuring your days when you visit national or state parks: Wake up early. Make coffee. Drive inside the park to a place with a gorgeous view. Enjoy the sunrise and wildlife with few other humans around. Go on a hike

Enjoying camping on Lake Pleasant, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

When you return to your camping site, take some time to appreciate the RV lifestyle. Bask in the nature around you before retiring to your big sleeping box. And promise yourself you’ll go on another road trip real soon!

Worth Pondering…

Wherever we go, we’re always at home.

What to Look For in an RV Campground?

A key factor in planning any RV road trip is the RV parks and campgrounds

Plans for your next RV road trip is mostly complete. You’re excited to hit the open road with your family, but haven’t given much thought to where you’re camping. Obviously, you know your destination. But, you aren’t sure how far you want to drive the first day, and whether you want to make some stops along the way. You’ll just Google the nearest campground when you feel the time is right to set up camp for the night.

Columbia Riverfront RV Park, Woodland, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But before you hit the road, you should be aware that not all RV campgrounds are created equal and no one park is perfect for everyone. Campers can find RV parks in state parks and national parks as well as privately owned campgrounds. And the quality varies from budget to high end resorts.

A key factor in planning any RV road trip is the RV parks and campgrounds.

Meaher State Park near Mobile, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you’re thinking that all campgrounds are the same, think again. Every campground has its own set of rules and regulations, as well as different amenities. If you aren’t looking for full hookups, you can be less picky about what campground you choose for your stay. But if you’re looking for all the amenities including electric, water, sewer, cable TV, and Wi-Fi, there are several things you should look for before making your decision.

Catalina State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Choosing an RV park sight unseen can be like playing the lottery. Many parks and resorts feature a variety of amenities, entertainment, and fun activities for the entire family and cultivate an atmosphere that’s welcoming for all ages enabling families to enjoy quality time together.

Before leaving home, take the time to check out the best camping parks along your intended route and at your camping destination.

Durango RV Resort, Red Bluff, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Choices for RV parks and campgrounds include luxurious RV resorts, activity-filled family destinations, 55+ parks, secluded natural settings, and basic parks conveniently located for an overnight stay. Prices also run the gamut.

Coastal Georgia RV Resort, Brunswick, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There is a variety of campgrounds, each offering different amenities and activities. These include private RV parks; casino camping; national, state, and county park campgrounds; Army Corps of Engineers parks; and service club facilities.

Harvest Moon RV Resort, Adairsville, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What are the best tips for choosing a campground and campsite that you and your family will love?

Irwins RV Park, Valemount, British Columbia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Nothing can make or break your RV vacation like choosing a campground not suited to your family’s needs and interests. When selecting a park, think about your camping style and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you camping with a young family?
  • Are you an active couple looking for outdoor adventures?
  • Are you snowbirds who enjoy on-site activities and the opportunity to meet new friends?
  • How large is your RV?
  • Consider your needs when choosing an RV park.
  • What amenities do you require? Full hook-ups? 30- or 50-amp electric service?
  • Are you looking for a rural or urban setting?
  • What is your nightly/weekly/monthly camping budget?
  • Do you travel with pets?
Cajun Palms RV Resort, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Whether you plan to stay one night, a weekend, a week, or longer, there are campgrounds throughout the U.S. and Canada to meet your needs. All are unique. No two parks are the same. Each campground will provide something a little different.

You decide. Remember, getting there is half the fun.

Whispering Hills RV Park, Georgetown, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Be aware that RV parks and campgrounds have varied rules for check in and check out. Although some parks have 24 hour check in, most have set times that you must check in and check out. Some parks do not permit check ins prior to noon. If you plan to stop after hours call ahead to make the necessary arrangements.

Worth Pondering…

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.

—Lewis Carrol

Operating an RV: Departure and Setup Checklist

Checklists can make your RV arrivals and departures easier and safer

If you’re new to RVing, you’re smart to wonder about how to drive and operate your RV properly. It’s your home away from home, and should be treated as such. And RVing with Rex has you covered with answers, tips, ideas, and more, so you can hit the road with confidence.

From inspecting and maintaining your RV to knowing how to depart from a campsite and set up procedure upon arrival at a new campground or RV park, having a plan helps everything run more smoothly and ensures you’re informed and in control every step of the way.

Camping at Irwins RV Park in Valemount, British Columbia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Below is a Departure and Setup checklist to help get you started. It is meant to be a starting point for your own list.

Departure Checklist

Lower antenna and satellite dish

Retract awnings

Camping at Ambassador RV Resort in Caldwell, Idaho © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Return slide-outs to their travel position

Secure loose items inside cabinets

Close and latch shower and closet doors

Close and latch oven, stovetop, and refrigerator doors

Camping at 12 Tribes Casino RV Resort in Omak, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Close and latch all internal doors (bathroom, bedroom, etc.)

Close roof vents and windows

Turn off propane-powered appliances

Close propane tank valve

Camping at Meaher State Park near Mobile, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Clear the RV of trash

Stow steps, hand rails, etc.

Close and latch external door(s)

Check tire pressure on all tires

Camping at Alamo Lake State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Disconnect all hookups (electricity, sewer, water, cable, satellite)

Remove stabilizing jacks, raise leveling jacks, and store leveling blocks (as applicable)

Hitch trailer to tow vehicle or dinghy/toad to motorized RV

Camping at River Run RV Park in Bakersfield, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Test hitch connection by driving forward

Check signal lights, 4-way lights, brake lights, headlights, and fog lights

Do a final walk-around

Check mirrors

Checking in at the office at Whispering Hills RV Park near Georgetown, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Arrival and Setup Checklist

Once you’ve arrived at your campground, RV resort, or final destination, it’s time to park, set up, and relax. Here are some basic pointers.

Check in with campground office/park ranger station

Obtain directions to campsite

Electric, water, sewer, and cable TV connections © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Upon arrival at your site, do a walk-through, and determine best location for RV and toad/tow vehicle

Drive into campsite (pull through or back in)

Check parking job (space, alignment with hookups, clearance for slide-outs and basement bins)

Level RV

Connected to city water © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Lower leveling jacks until RV is supported

Unhitch RV and park toad/tow vehicle

Extend steps and restore hand rails and slide-outs to their parked position

Open propane tank valve

RV connections with caution warnings © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Connect to hookups (electricity, water, sewer, cable, satellite)

Extend slide-outs

Raise antenna and satellite dish

Sealed sewer connection © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Set up outdoor gear and awnings

Return items to their parked storage positions

And now to kick back and relax © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

I find that a great part of the information I have was acquired by looking up something and finding something else on the way.

—Franklin P. Adams

7 Campground Hookup Essentials

Trouble-free camping makes for happy camping

You’re out on the road in your new recreation vehicle for the first time and pull into a campground or RV park. You commit that huge mistake that tells the world you’re a newcomer to the world of RVing. Everyone makes rookie RV mistakes, but you can avoid the worst ones if you do your homework ahead of time.

Pull-through site at Ambassador RV Resort in Caldwell, Idaho © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

For the first couple of years of RVing it seemed I learned something new every time I pulled into a campsite and hooked up to the utilities. Sometimes, it was not the most enjoyable experience but a learning lesson.

Pull-in sites with a view at Vista del Sol RV Resort in Bullhead City, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Over the years, experienced RVers develop a mental “checklist” of items to inspect, clean, and prepare for when hooking up at a campground or RV park.

Following is a list of seven campground hookup essentials to follow:

Choose a Site That Best Meets Your Needs

Pull-through sites with a view at Irwins RV Park in Valemount, British Columbia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

You may want the patio side away from the glaring afternoon sun, or you may want to look out on a beautiful sunset. North facing campsites will have the sun warming the patio early in the morning. 

Back-in sites at Gulf State Park near Ocean Shores, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

The closer to the bathhouse, Laundromat, garbage bins, and dog park, the more traffic and noise. If you need Wi-Fi, check with the campground host to see if the signal is strong enough to get to the site you’ve been assigned.

The Springs at Borrego RV Resort and Golf Course in Borrego Springs, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

If you are camping in extreme heat, check to see what side the refrigerator will be parked on during the heat of the day. Your refrigerator will run more efficient if it’s not in direct sunlight in the hot afternoon.

Inspect the Site

Inspecting the site at Coastal Georgia RV Resort near Brunswick and the Golden Isles, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Upon arrival at your site, do a walkthrough, and determine the best location for RV and toad/tow vehicle. Inspect the site for low hanging limbs and other obstacles that are in the way of an extended slide, broken glass, or other sharp items. Look down; look up. Check line of site for a satellite dish. Be aware of location and height of utility box in relation to your hookups and slides.

RV Leveling

Level sites at Cajun Palms RV Resort near Breaux Bridge, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Level the rig before extending the slideouts. A level coach means a level chassis which means a solid and flush sidewall for the room to extend out.

Electrical supply

Progressive Electric Management System © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

First step is to make sure the circuit breaker on the campground pedestal is turned off. Attach your RV power cord to an electric management system and plug into the pedestal. There are numerous choices in the marketplace but we believe the Progressive Electric Management Systems are the best. These units continuously monitor the power supply coming into your RV and if it detects a variance outside of the tolerances will shut the power down. Without the device, a power spike or low or high voltage can damage to your electrical system.

Sanitize

At the very least, check the electrical supply at the campground before plugging in by plugging in a GFCI tester. 

Sanitize the city water faucet before connecting your water hose and pressure regulator © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Sanitize the city water faucet with ½ cup bleach in a gallon of water prior to attaching your pressure regulator and water hose. Fecal coli and other pathogens can form on exposed fixtures and a simple spray will provide a sanitized environment. Make sure you use an approved drinking water hose for the supply and store it away from the drain hose equipment. Make sure the valve is set to city water, not “fill tank” if you rig has this feature.

Dump Hose

Electric, water, sewer and cable TV connections © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Connect your dump hose to the dump station if applicable but leave the valves closed. Open valves let odors into the rig and worse, allow liquid to drain out and solids to stay in the tank and pyramid.

Propane Tank

Open your propane tank slowly! There is an excess flow valve designed into the POL valve connected to the tank and opening it fast with shut down the valve until pressure subsides which can be several minutes. Check the stove and oven before opening the valve to make sure they are not on.

And it was another beautiful day at Las Vegas RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Worth Pondering…

I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.

—Stephen Covey