Traveling by RV is amazing. You have the freedom to choose your routes and move based on your schedule. Preparation is vital for the success of any road trip.
Adapting to the RV lifestyle can be overwhelming—overwhelmingly fun. Sure, there are a few things here and there to get used to but, overall, it’s an adventure you’ll wish would never end. The beauty of a road trip is the journey—it isn’t just about reaching your chosen destination. With that being said, it’s important to remember that the journey is often long and proper preparation is the key.
To relieve any stress or anxiety you may have about the RV lifestyle and to help elevate the fun of it all, I’ve gathered 30 RV hacks and tips to help ensure your next trip is your best trip.
1. Create an RV Departure Checklist
There are certain RV camping essentials you need to take with you such as your RV paperwork (insurance, registration details, roadside assistance documents, and road maps). Whether it’s a physical copy or one stored on your phone, having a checklist available can save you the trouble of leaving something behind or having to turn around once on the road.
2. Kitchen Essentials
If you plan to prepare meals in your RV (and why wouldn’t you?), you’ll need to ensure you have all the equipment and supplies you need. For example, you’ll require bowls, plates, cutlery, cups, pots and pans, knives, chopping boards, and matches. You’ll also need to pack products to clean these items once you’ve used them such as sponges, detergent, and trash bags.
3. Bedroom Essentials
The RV checklist for the bedroom includes linen and bed sheets, duvets and blankets, pillows, and laundry essentials. You might also want to pack towels in your bedroom because RVs usually lack storage space in the bathroom.
4. Bathroom Essentials
Fully stock your bathroom with your bathmat and toiletries. Toiletries could include a toothbrush, toothpaste, liquid soap, shampoo and conditioner, lotion, deodorant, and a hairbrush. And don’t forget the toilet paper and bathroom cleaning products too.
5. Clothing Essentials
Nobody wants to go away and realize they only have one pair of underwear and socks, so make sure you pack your clothes carefully. Work out the number of days you’ll be away and decide which clothes you want to take and how frequently you’ll do laundry.
Your clothing pack list should also be influenced by the location and time of year. For example, if you’re going on vacation to the coast make sure you pack sunscreen, sunglasses, and your swimsuit. If you’re heading to the mountains be prepared for all four seasons.
6. Entertainment Essentials
You won’t spend all your time outside and on the go, so you’ll want to pack some entertainment. The type of entertainment depends on you and your family and the amount of space you have in your RV. Some examples of entertainment essentials include music, movies, laptops, games, puzzles, toys, and books.
7. Personal Essentials
Personal essentials you’ll need during your RV travels include your smartphone and charger, credit card and cash, and campground and RV park confirmations. Another personal essential might be medications.
8. Grocery Essentials
A major positive about RV travel is that you are self-sufficient meaning you can be off-grid and explore the backcountry. However, if you’re planning on going off-grid and away from stores make sure you think about the grocery packing list. Since you’ll need sufficient food in your RV to last during your time in the backcountry, pack plenty of canned goods, vegetables, fruit, nuts, and cereals.
9. Camping Essentials
Whether you plan to go off-grid or not, you’ll also need camping supplies. These may include flashlights, maps, pocket knives, a compass, water filters, and ropes. If you plan to do specific camping activities such as hiking, fishing, or kayaking, you should also pack these items.
10. First Aid Essentials
Accidents can happen which is why it’s important to be prepared and ensure your first aid kit is fully stocked. Ensure that your kit includes bandages, band-aids, antiseptic wipes, disposal plastic gloves, a thermometer, and any other medications or creams you might need. You might want to pack some insect repellent and bite and sting ointment.
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.
When hitting the road in your RV, you’ll a good pair of sunglasses, regardless of whether you’re heading to the beaches or to the mountains. No one wants to stare into the sun for hours on end, not to mention that driving without sunglasses can be dangerous. Do yourself (and your eyes!) a favor and remember your shades.
12. Turn the propane valve OFF before traveling
This should definitely be on the departure checklist, but fire safety is worth stressing more than once. Traveling with your RV’s propane valve open is a fire hazard. With all the shaking that occurs on and off the road, propane connections can loosen or come apart entirely while in transit.
13. Create a Campground Setup Checklist
A setup checklist will ensure everything is set up as it should be. You checklist should include:
- Check the site for low hanging branches or obstacles on the ground
- Locate the electrical, water, and sewage hookups
- Pull your RV in, close to the hookups, and level it with blocks or stabilizing jacks, if necessary
- Make sure the circuit breaker on the pedestal is turned off before connecting the power cord to the electrical pedestal
- Connect the water hose using a pressure regulator
- Attach your sewer hose to the drain hook-up and dump the black water tank followed by the gray water tank—be sure to wear disposable vinyl gloves for this process
14. 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.
Related: Prep Your RV for Summer Travel
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).
15. 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.
16. Assorted Fuses
Vehicle fuses can blow at any time so it’s a good idea to keep extras around in a variety of sizes. But remember—something caused it to blow in the first place. Address the original issue as soon as possible.
17. LED Flashlight
Flashlights are a must-have on any road trip.
18. Deep Cell Batteries
Batteries are life. They keep everything running especially when you’re off the grid. Batteries also die if you don’t keep them adequately filled so they can maintain their charge. Check batteries monthly and add distilled water as required.
19. 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.
20. 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.
21. RV Sewer Hose
A high-quality sewer hose is essential to avoid any unpleasant leaks or malfunctions. I prefer Camco RhinoFLEX kit that includes a 15-foot hose, a fitting that connects to your RVs 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.
Related: 12 Simple RV Maintenance Tips
22. 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.
23. Translucent Sewer Hose Elbow Fitting
If your sewer hose kit doesn’t come with a transparent connector, I 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.
24. 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 of time and want to avoid other travelers from tripping or moving your sewer hose connection. Also, some areas require the use of a sewer hose support.
25. 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) on the other end. 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
26. RV Stabiliser 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.
Check the age of the tires—RV tires usually age out before they wear out. Check the sidewalls for cracking. Use a high-quality truck tire pressure gauge to check that all tires are properly inflated. Under-inflated tires can increase fuel consumption by up to 4 percent, according to International Energy Agency. Proper inflation also reduces the incidence of tire failure and blowouts.
28. 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 and hardwired units are available.
29. Carbon Monoxide Detector
Carbon monoxide (CO) is produced when fuel is burned. LP-gas, gasoline, or diesel-fired equipment in and around your RV creates CO. Most of the gas appliances vent to the outside; however, a blocked flue, exhaust pipe, or even a breeze in the wrong direction can bring CO inside the RV. Generators are frequent offenders especially in tight quarters such as an RV rally where the exhaust can flow from one RV to another.
CO detectors generally have a 10-year lifespan from the time they are first activated. If the CO detector in your RV uses a battery, it should be replaced annually. Use only the type of battery recommended by the manufacturer. Many, but not all detectors have a low-battery and/or an end-of-life signal.
30. Smoke Detectors
Everyone should be aware of smoke detectors mounted in RVs. The simple act of making toast can set them off as can smoke from a campfire or outside grill. They can be annoying but they will save your life in the event of a fire. All they require is a new battery every year.
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.
Now that you know the top 30 hacks to make your road trip more fun, 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 what you see. Happy travels!
I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.