RV Hookups for Beginners Guide

Here’s an RV hookups for beginners guide to better prepare you for your first RV trip

Dania and I have been doing this for a long time. So, sometimes I take for granted some of the beginner’s tasks that are now second nature to me—RV hookups being one of those things.

I decided to take a step back and cover some basics that RV beginners need to know. And what better way to start than how to connect full hookups on your first stay at a campground or RV park?

As a first time RVer, you’re probably wondering what steps you need to take and in what order to do them. So, I’m going to share the general rules and my best tips that new RVers need to know.

Electric (with Electric Management System), water (with pressure regulator), and sewer set up © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How to set up your RV

For this article, I will focus only on RV hookups for beginners. These steps and tips are the same whether you drive a motorhome, travel trailer, fifth wheel, or camper. Hookups are essentially the same wherever you camp whether it’s an RV park, state park, national park, or any other place that offers hookups.

STEP 1: Set your parking break

The most important thing to do before you even start hooking up is to set your parking brake! Experienced RVers can share plenty of stories where either they or someone else forgot to do this with disastrous (and sometimes humorous) results.

The last thing you want is for your RV to settle and shift back or forth putting tension on your cables. Or, worse, roll-off and pull out the cables and do costly damage to the campground’s panels and connection points.

So, don’t repeat the dumbest RV camping mistakes and set your parking brake!

Electric Management System © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

STEP 2: Electric Hookup

I recommend that the first thing you connect is your electric hookup. The main reason is so you can start running your air conditioner, heater, fridge, etc. on the power source from your RV campsite instead of from your RV’s power supply.

There are usually three different plugs on a campsite’s electric pedestal: 20 amp, 30 amp, and 50 amp. Big rigs usually use 50 amps and smaller RVs use 30 amps. You need to know which amp service your RV runs on. But, if you don’t, since the plugs have differently shaped prongs you’ll only be able to plug into the correct one. Before you plug in make certain the breaker is turned OFF.

Once you’re plugged in, flip the breaker switch corresponding to the amp service you need. For instance, you flip the 30 amp breaker after you plug in your 30 amp plug. Then you plug in the other end of your RV twisting it and rotating the collar until it’s snug. You will forego this step if the power cord is wired directly into your RV as our Class A motorhome is.

BUT BEFORE YOU PLUG IN, here is one of the best RV tips I can give you…

PRO TIP: Always use an Electric Management System

Always use an electric management system when connecting your RV to power! Many have learned the hard way that campground electrical panels are not always well-maintained or wired properly. You can also experience a power surge that can severely damage your electrical system.

You can use one of the Progressive Electric Management Systems or Surge Guard portable or hardwired units.

Plug this portable surge protector into the campground’s electric power supply and then plug your power cable into the surge protector.

Power adapters

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) at 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 the 30-amp source
  • 50-amp RV plugged into the 15-amp source
  • 30-amp RV plugged into the 15-amp source
Water hookup with pressure regulator © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

STEP 3: Water hookup

The next hookup to connect is your water hose to the campground’s water source. Just like I recommend an Electric Management System with electrical hookups, I recommend you always use a pressure regulator and water filter connected to your fresh water tank.

STEP 4: Cable hookups

If your campground offers cable TV, you can now connect it to your RV. There’s nothing special to know here. Simply plug in the cable cord to your RV. If you don’t know where your cable port is, consult your owner’s manual.

Sewer hookup © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

STEP 4: Sewer hookups

Lastly, it’s time to do your sewer connection. Since not all campsites have sewer connections this might be something you don’t do until you dump your black and grey tanks at an RV dump station. Whether you’re connecting at a campsite or the dump station, the process is the same. The only difference is how long you leave it connected.

Now, let me warn you, that dealing with your black water tank is one of the biggest downsides of camping. It’s just gross. But it needs to be done and is well worth the stinky effort in the end.

That said, I suggest you put on disposable vinyl gloves before you connect your sewer line or what the RV world likes to call the stinky slinky

Disposable gloves © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

I’ve sometimes wondered why anyone would take on this bacteriological nightmare without protection. From those who don’t use gloves, we sometimes hear the excuse, “It’s just too much bother and I can’t see much advantage to it.”

Another reasoning runs, “The stuff stays in the hose, so what’s the big deal?” In a perfect world, it’s a good line of reasoning. But since we’re not living in a perfect world, the stuff doesn’t always cooperate and stay in the hose. Pinhole leaks can occur and a misaligned bayonet fitting can pop off, unloading an unholy amount of stuff. File that under “Been there, done that.”

“So you get a little doo-doo on your hands, just wash it off,” is the next comment. Good idea: a thorough washing with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds. Meantime, make sure none of it gets off elsewhere and ends up in your mouth eyes, or nose. And hope in the meantime that you don’t have any minor breaks in your skin. If so, the damage may already be done, no matter how much you wash afterward.

What can happen with a bit of misplaced sewage bacteria? Here’s the short list:

  • Gastroenteritis, characterized by cramping stomach pains, diarrhea, and vomiting
  • Hepatitis, characterized by inflammation of the liver, and jaundice
  • Infection of skin or eyes

I don’t think any RVer would like to have a bout of any of those manifestations. Washing up even when using gloves is still a good idea and an outside shower unit that many RVs are equipped with is great for this task.

For those that glove up before going into the ring with the sewer hose I can only say, I gotta hand it to you! Good disposable gloves are best. Gloves you reuse over and over can easily get contaminated.

It’s always a good idea to check and make sure your gray tank and black tank are closed before grabbing your sewer hose.

Sewer connection © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Connect the end of the hose with the twist-on connector to your RV drain spout. Then run the hose to the sewer drain. It’s usually easiest to run your sewer hose support as you go. This support helps direct the hose (and its contents) toward the drain and it is required by law in some jurisdictions.

Now, attach the end of the hose with the elbow connection to the sewer drain. Screw it into position if the sewer drain also has threads (not all do.)

PRO TIP: Do NOT leave your black tank valve open when hooked up

This is a mistake that many new RVers make. They understandably think that if they’re connected, they might as well leave their blank tank valve open so it can continuously drain. Less poo stored in your RV, the better, right? Wrong!

If you leave your black tank valve open while you’re hooked up, it will cause gross and sometimes expensive problems. The most common of which has its inelegant RV terminology: the poop pyramid.

This happens when liquid waste easily drains out when your valve is left open but solid waste builds up in your tank. Like I said, it’s gross—and stinky! And can be expensive to clean out.

Now enjoy the rest of the day! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

So, don’t leave your black tank valve open!

By the way, I have a post on this dilemma and several others on avoiding sewer woes:

Worth Pondering…

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.

—Benjamin Franklin

Does a Surge Protector Provide Enough Protection?

While the use of a surge protector does have merit, it protects your equipment from only one of a wide variety of possible electrical problems

An electrical surge—at least in terms of what a surge protector will protect against—is a sudden and large (generally huge) increase in voltage, oftentimes of only a very short duration—maybe only milliseconds.

It’s the type of surge caused most often by lightning hitting electrical equipment or by certain failures—or faults—within the electrical system itself.

A surge protector may or may not protect against any particular surge. Different surge protection devices have different ratings. Having a surge protector in place is better than having nothing at all. But, does a surge protector alone provide adequate protection?

Electric Management System © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There are a variety of other electrical malfunctions that can be identified with a simple outlet tester.

An EMS (Electrical Management System) device can protect against additional damaging conditions that a surge protector will not protect against and that an outlet tester will not detect.

Let’s start first with the very basics of 120V AC power, the type found at home and in your RV. There is a hot wire (the source of the electricity), a neutral wire (the return path to the source of the electricity, thus making a complete circuit), and a ground wire which is provided as a safety measure and will route the power in the circuit to ground (literally into the Earth) in the event of a wiring failure.

A tester will test an outlet and indicate if there are wiring problems present among any of the three wires mentioned above and their associated connections:

  • Open (disconnected) ground wire
  • Open neutral wire
  • Open hot wire
  • Hot and neutral reversed
  • Hot and ground reversed
  • Proper and normal connection
Electric Management System © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

More surge protector abnormalities

Additional abnormal conditions can be present and are not necessarily unsafe for the occupants of the home or the RV but over time can be very bad for the equipment particularly for refrigerator and air conditioning compressor motors.

The following abnormal conditions must be protected against: High or low voltage and high or low frequency.

Most EMS models will protect against abnormal voltage conditions and some also protect against abnormal frequency conditions. A surge protector will not protect against any of these four conditions.

It seems obvious that high voltage is a bad thing. Just as high water pressure will rupture a water hose, high voltage will damage electrical equipment.

But why is low voltage a bad thing?

Electrical components run on power (watts) which is a combination of both voltage (volts) and current (amperes or amps). At proper voltage, an electrical device especially a motor will draw enough current to operate properly.

As the motor is being asked to do more work, it will draw more current. If it becomes overloaded, it will draw too much current and the circuit breaker will trip, thus protecting both the motor and the wiring.

Some more advanced motors will even have internal protection devices that trip and reset automatically.

Let’s say the voltage at the campground is low. The motor will start to draw enough current to still do the work it is being asked to do. As the voltage drops, the motor will draw more and more current.

Current is what causes the motor to heat up. If the motor runs for an extended period at low voltage and high current—but not high enough to trip the breaker—it will heat too much and damage itself.

However, this damage may not occur right away. Repeated conditions of low voltage will cause the motor to damage itself little by little until it eventually fails.

An EMS device senses this low voltage condition and will trip the power at a preset voltage to prevent motors from damaging themselves.

What about frequency?

The standard electrical power utilized throughout most of the world is alternating current.

In the U.S. and Canada, power is delivered to the home at 120 V ac and 60 Hz (the abbreviation for Hertz which stands for cycles).

In Europe, the standard is 240 V ac and 50 Hz.

The frequency is simply a reference to how many times per second the voltage alternates, hence the term alternating current. (The voltage and the current both alternate.)

Many devices depend upon that 60 Hz as a timing reference to properly do whatever they do.

Electric wall clocks, electric light timers, traffic signal timers, telephone company switching equipment, radio receivers, etc., all depend on a very steady and accurate 60 Hz as a reference so they can, in turn, remain accurate. (More modern Equipment tends to utilize internal timers or reference signals from the GPS satellite system for high-accuracy timing.)

The fact that so many devices need reliable 60 Hz power is the reason the non-inverter type generators have to run at 3600 rpm (revolutions per minute) regardless of how much load is on them. If they only ran at 3000 rpm, the frequency would only be 50 Hz.

Electric Management System © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What about high or low frequency?

A high or low frequency condition might not be damaging to the particular device but it could cause the device to act improperly or it could damage the equipment that the device is controlling.

To summarize, yes a surge protector is good, an EMS is better and an EMS that also protects against abnormal frequency conditions is better still.

Regarding that circuit tester mentioned above, once it is known that the RV is plugged into properly wired shore power as determined by an EMS device, it is an excellent idea to go around and check all the outlets in the rig periodically.

Unlike a home, the wiring in the rig is subjected to all the vibrations and temperature variations that come along with the RV lifestyle.

Insulation on wires can rub through and expose bare wires, connections can become loose, and any of the dangerous conditions already mentioned can develop over time, conditions that may be harmful or even fatal, and must be avoided by taking the proper precautions.

And if you have electric heaters plugged in, you might want to review this post again and get it organized.

Here are a few links that may help you prepare for your next RV trip:

Worth Pondering…

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

—Stephen Covey

Dumb to Dumbest: 50 RV Camping Mistakes NOT TO DO!

Have you made a really dumb mistake while RVing? You’re not alone! Here are the dumbest RV camping mistakes.

RVers—even smart ones like you and me—do some really dumb things.

Here are 50 of the dumbest mistakes RVers make. The dumber mishaps are more traumatic and costly which is why you definitely don’t want to make them yourself. So, read on, learn from the mistakes of others and save yourself some serious grief and cash!

What are the dumbest RV camping mistakes you’ve seen? (I don’t want to be one of THOSE guys!)

Like I said, we have all made mistakes. 

Camping at Texas Lakeside Resort, Port Lavaca, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The good news is that we can laugh about some of the dumb things we have done. The bad news is that some mistakes may cost you time or money, or both!

The following are some dumb mistakes that RV campers make. Read on so that you can be sure NOT to make the same mistakes!

1. Forgetting to close the black water tank valve

2. Bringing dogs that bark constantly. Try to teach your pet how to behave around the campsite. 

3. Walking through your neighbor’s campsite. Be respectful of their space.

4. Placing dog poop bags on the picnic table. 

5. Forgeting to bring bug spray on your trip.

Using a secure sewer hose connection to avoid spillage © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Thinking that your vehicle is strong enough to pull your trailer when it is not. Make sure you account for extra weight, like water, fuel, propane, tool kit, clothing, and other items.)

7. Driving out of camp with the antenna up. An excellent way to ensure that you hit a tree and rip it right off of the RV!

8. Pulling out of the camsite without realizing the windows are still open. 

9. Forgetting to close or secure a storage hatch door. 

10. Forgetting to place the handrail in the travel position. 

11. Forgetting to unplug and stow the power cord. Dragging the cord is a hazard plus you’ll do considerable damage to the campground’s power pedestal.

12. Driving away without retracting your stabilizers. Your trailer may just tip and cause you to go flying! Great photo op, though!

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

MORE dumbest RV camping mistakes

13. Forgetting to ensure that the trailer is level BEFORE unhooking. It is really annoying to have to rehook and reset your rig.

14.  Making noise early in the morning or late in the evening. Most campgrounds have designated quiet hours. These hours take effect typically around 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. Be respectful of the other campers and turn down your music and keep noise at a minimum.

15. Taking turns too fast and too soon. If you turn too soon, the tail swing from your rig may come dangerously close to things you wish to avoid!

16. Not locking up your food appropriately. Even if you’re not camping in bear country, you might attract other unwanted visitors. 

17. Not double-checking your hitch and your jack or landing gear. 

18. Driving too fast! Being safe in your RV may just save a life and save you from getting caught in a speed trap.

19. Not retracting the entry steps.

Flushing back and gray water tanks © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

20. Not setting a timer when flushing the black tank. Otherwise, you might forget and your toilet will morph into a geyser! It won’t be a pretty picture.

21. Forgetting camper walls are not soundproof. Be careful with your words and noises!

22. Window coverings are not always opaque. Be careful not to expose yourself to others. 

23. Forgetting to retract roof vents when prepping for travel. 

24. Not putting away any camping gear that you don’t want stolen.

25. Forgetting to check if your tailgate will hit the trailer hitch before opening it.

26. Forgetting to turn off the outdoor sink faucet when turning on the water inside the rig. Otherwise, you can have a flood!

27. Not retracting your awning at night or when leaving your campsite. Awnings are not made for inclement weather and rain or wind can damage them. They are expensive to replace if you’re not careful! Since weather can change quickly, always stow your awnings before retiring for the night or whenever you leave your RV for a prolonged period of time.

28. Not cleaning up after your dog.

Electric Management System © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

29. Not using an electric management system (often referred to as a surge protector) on the electric box. Otherwise, you may damage your RV electrical panel and sensitive electronics on board. To be in the know read Is Your RV Protected from Electrical Issues?

30. Not wearing gloves when draining the septic tank It’s best to use disposable vinyl gloves. 

31. Do not forget that you put your sewer hose in the back of the truck to dry before leaving your campsite. You will no longer have a black hose and other campers may not appreciate it. 

Use disposable vinyl gloves when dumping sewerage tanks © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

32. Forgetting to remove the chocks before driving off. This does happens, Have you ever seen one of my favorite road trip movies, RV?!

33. Forgetting to turn off your outside lights when you retire for the night. 

34. Using the freshwater tap to clean your sewer hose. Yuck!

35. Not checking that your RV is shorter than the basketball hoop when backing into your driveway! (The same is true for going under overpasses!)

36. Not being courteous to other campers and staff.

Is your smoke alarm in working condition? © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Even MORE dumbest RV camping mistakes

37. Not understanding your RV’s tail swing! It can be an expensive and unsafe mistake!

38. Locking yourself out of the RV. Have several sets of keys and keeping one outside of the RV. If you lose one during hiking or another adventure, you don’t want to have to break into your rig. 

39. Not blocking your trailer’s wheels before unhitching. You really don’t want your trailer to roll down the hill.

40. Not making an RV checklist and following it every time. 

41. Listening to music or the television too loudly, especially outdoors.

42. Not packing enough water. People tend to drink more when camping than when in the comfort of their home.

How NOT to treat your tires © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

43. Not keeping your batteries and tires in good condition!

44. Overflowing. Be respectful of each other’s space by not overflowing your own RV camping site and into your neighbors. If you bring a bunch of gear like bikes, chairs, and outdoor games, make sure it fits inside your site.

45. Putting your grill on the picnic table. Grills can leave stains, cause the table material to warp, and leave a residue. Instead, bring along an inexpensive portable table so you can leave the campsite clean for future campers. 

46. Speeding through the campground. A speed limit is just that—a limit. Don’t go over the posted number. Campgrounds are busy with campers walking their dogs, children chasing balls, bike riders, and RVs pulling in or out of their site. For the safety of you and those around you, slow down.

46. Forgetting to do a walk-around. Before you hit the road, walk around your RV and check to ensure everything is put away and in its proper place for highway driving. Now do it again. Two walk-arounds may seem excessive, but trust me, drive-off disasters do occur.

Damage from a fallen tree during major wind storm © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

47. Not checking that your cupboards and fridge doors are secure.

48. Ignoring sounds and signs that something is wrong. RVs have a lot of moving parts. There’s nothing like driving down the highway listening to something beep or rattle behind you to realize you’ve got something terribly wrong. While on the road, be sure to listen to your rig and check your mirrors often to be certain you are secure and safe.

49. Overloading your RV. The best way to avoid RV accidents caused by overloaded RVs is to pay attention to your weight and respect the manufacturer’s weight ratings.

50. Trailer sway. Trailer sway is a side-to-side motion of the trailer you’re towing. Not only does that side-to-side motion make it difficult to stay on the road but it can build to the point where it becomes whipping, tossing the trailer back and forth violently. This can—and often does—result in very serious RV accidents.

While you want to avoid making as many mistakes as possible, just know that you are bound to make a few along the way. 

Yes, they may cost you some time and money but most will end up being funny campfire stories.

Be familiar with the operation of your fresh water and gray and black sewerage systems © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Check this out to learn more:

Worth Pondering…

Have you put…

Step up

Antenna down

Wife in?

—sign at a Dickson, Tennessee campground

35 Little Things to Remember to Pack for Your RV Road Trip

Here’s a list of little things to remember that make a big difference on the road…

Packing for an RV road trip can be both exciting and overwhelming. With limited space, it’s important to prioritize what items to bring along. And while it’s easy to focus on the big-ticket items, it’s the small things that can often make the biggest difference.

One such example is a tool kit. It may not be a glamorous item but having the right tools on board can make all the difference in a pinch. Whether it’s a loose screw or a minor repair having a tool kit can save you time and money by allowing you to quickly fix the issue without needing to visit a repair shop.

Another important item to consider is a water filter. While most RVs come equipped with a water filtration system, it’s always a good idea to have a spare water filter or even a backup. A portable water filter can ensure that you have access to clean, safe drinking water no matter where you are on your journey.

In summary, it’s important not to overlook the small things when packing for an RV road trip. A tool kit, water filter, and first aid kit can make all the difference in ensuring a smooth and enjoyable journey.

There are at least 35 little things that can make a big difference in your next RV trip!

Water system © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

35 Little Things to Remember Before You Hit the Road

I have written in the past about 16 must-have RV trip accessories. However, I am expanding on that post to include other small things.

Just because something is small does not mean it is not important. In order to remember all the things you need for your next camping excursion, you may want to keep a checklist. 

The following are important items that you can add to your list!

1. Basic tool box

It is always a good idea to have a tool kit on hand in your RV. You never know when you might need a screwdriver or wrench or to hit something with a hammer! 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). This is definitely one of those things you’ll kick yourself for not having if you end up needing it. 

Progressive Electric Management System © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Electric Management System

Protect your RV from electrical threats with an electric management system sometimes referred to as a surge protector. That way a power surge or low and high voltage issues will not cause harm to your rig’s electrical 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.

Water pressure regulator © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Water pressure regulator

You do not want your RV’s water system to get damaged or spring a leak! That is why you need a quality water pressure regulator for your RV. It’s an $8 part that will save your plumbing system.

Water filter © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Water filter

Having an RV water filter ensures that you have clean, safe drinking water. A water filtration system cleans out the gross gunk in many campground water hookup systems. 

5. Foldable rake

This little item can be very useful. You never know what the ground cover will be like when camping. Use a rake to even it out. You can also use a foldable rake to put out a fire, clear out a sitting area, or make your RV more level. A foldable shovel is also useful to carry onboard.

6. Portable air compressor

Be prepared. The last thing you want is to be stranded somewhere with low air or a flat tire especially if you are far away from services! A portable air compressor can pump up your tires if needed to get you out of a jam. It can also help keep your tires properly inflated to ensure they have a longer life. 

A nifty trick is to use your air compressor to dust off picnic tables, BBQs, and other campground fixtures.

7. 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.

8. Road atlas: Digital and non-digital

I always recommend keeping a hardcopy road atlas in your RV in case your GPS fails. However, most GPS systems and apps allow you to look up routes ahead of time and download them to your phone. That way, you can still access them even when you do not have cell service. 

9. LED flashlights

Flashlights are a must-have on any road trip. 

10. Long jumper cables

Do not risk being stranded with a dead battery and no jumper cables. Or ones that are too short to reach your RV’s engine. 

Another thing to consider is a jumper starter that can jump-start a rig without needing another vehicle. This may be a good idea for you boondockers out there!

So, make sure to include jumper cables in your Emergency Roadside Kit.

11. Emergency radio

An emergency radio can help you stay in touch with the NOAA Emergency Radio Station in the event of a natural disaster or emergency. They can help you identify fire danger or recovery information for other natural disasters. All in all, it can help keep you and your family safe. 

12. Folding step stool

Whether you need to fix your awning or clean up a spill in a high cabinet, a step stool saves the day. The best part about this stool is that it folds up flat for easy storage. It can easily be stored in an outdoor storage hatch or utility closet inside. It can even be tucked away under a couch or bed if they are elevated above the floor.

Disposable vinyl gloves © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

13. 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.

14. 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. 

15. Duct tape

You probably already know that duct tape can come in very handy around the home. It is no different when you are in your RV! As one person said, “If it moves and it shouldn’t, use duct tape.” 

Use it to temporarily repair frayed wires, holes or leaks, or hang up holiday decorations. The uses are endless with good ol’ duct tape!

Electric space heater © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

16. Space heater

Space heaters are great for warming up an RV. Even though they are small, they are mighty. 

A small electric space heater can quickly warm your RV, keeping you toasty in chilly camping conditions. They are simple to use since all you need is a plug. 

17. Fan

Just like a heater, having a camping fan to keep cool can be make camping that much more enjoyable. Fans are great for cooling you when it is not hot enough to warrant using the air conditioner. 

18. Heavy duty RV dogbone electrical adapters

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
  • 30-amp RV plugged into 15-amp source

19. 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.

20. Rain gear

Another small thing to keep on hand is rain gear. That way, you can be prepared for any unforeseen downfalls. 

Keep a poncho and rain boots in a closet for rainy days. Here me out on this one… Another great tip is to purchase plastic disposable shower caps to wear over your socks inside your shoes. They can help keep your feet from getting soaked!

Comfortable pillow and bedding © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

21. Comfortable pillow and bedding

Comfort is key to a successful camping trip and that includes a super comfortable pillow. Instead of just grabbing a spare pillow from your house, invest in a good one specifically for your RV.

22. Fly swatter

A fly swatter makes a great addition to your RV. You can quickly rid your space of annoying flying insects. 

23. Mosquito and bug repellent

One downside of being in nature is being around unwanted bugs. While many folks love all of nature’s creatures, most do not want mosquitos and flies bugging them. There are products on the market that will combat pesky bug on your next road trip. You’ll be ready to battle the little buggers on your next camping trip with one of the following deterrants: Thermacell Patio Shield, Yaya Tick Ban, Buzz Away, OFF! Deep Woods Bug Spray, and Citronella candels.

24. Silverware

This one might seem funny to some folks! It certainly won’t be amusing if you forget to pack silverware on your next RV trip.

Stabilizer jack pad © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

25. Stabilizers

One small item you do not want to go without is stabilizers for your rig! These small pads can help keep your rig level, making your camping experience much more enjoyable. 

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.

26. Chairs

Sitting back and relaxing on a trip is one of the main reasons I travel! Camping chairs are an absolute must.

27. Spare keys/hidden keys

It’s a VERY GOOD IDEA to make an extra copy of your key and hide it on the outside of your rig using a magnetic hide-a-key. Of course, make sure you hide it in a clever place that won’t easily be discovered by no-do-gooders. I also recommend leaving a spare with a family member that can ship it to you, just in case.

28. Zip ties

Zip ties are convenient, especially while camping. Zip ties are handy to tie up a cord or attach something inside your rig. 

29. Matches or lighter

Nothing is worse than trying to light your stove only to realize you do not have matches or a lighter. Even if you just want some ambiance by lighting a candle, you do not want to learn too late that you cannot burn it. 

30. Paper towels

Camping is messy, and paper towels can help keep you and your rig tidier. Paper towels help clean up spills at home and in your RV. They also make great napkins for those messy BBQ nights when camping. 

31. Can opener

You’d be surprised by how many people forget to pack a can opener! It’s not something you really think about until you stare dumbly at a can and wonder how the heck you will open it.

32. Pot holders

Same as can openers, people often overlook packing pot holders. And, trust me, a double-upped towel doesn’t work as well. Especially if you’re using cast iron! Do your hands a favor, and don’t forget pot holders!

33. Large trash bags

Inside our rig, we use small trash bags or grocery store bags to line trash cans. The 13-gallon trash bags do not always cut it, so we also pick up the large black trash bags from Costco and bring a handful along. And having large trash bags for all the outside debris is really useful. 

You’ll need a corkscrew for most wines © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

34. Corkscrew

We all know how catastrophic forgetting a corkscrew can be to some people’s camping trip. Settling in for the evening with a nice glass of wine is a common RVer indulgence. But what do you do if you forget a corkscrew?

35. Dog poop bags

Last, but not least, bring along some dog poop bags. That is, if you travel with a dog, of course.

In addition, these little bags can be handy for other items too. Put raw meat or strong-smelling foods in them before throwing the food in your trash. It can help keep your trash fresher for longer!

Worth Pondering…

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.

—Benjamin Franklin

15 Things to Buy After Getting a New RV

RVing is so much easier when you have the right gear

Congratulations! You just purchased your first RV. That sense of accomplishment, excitement, and joy is mixed in with “What the heck did I just do?” Now it’s time to get those 15 things you have to buy after getting a new trailer or motorhome.

The call of the road is stronger than ever and you’re ready to hit the gas pedal. You bought a camper, now you need to prepare for the road.

Your wallet may feel like it’s smoking from the large amount of money you just spent on your RV, but now you have some essential gear you’ll need to purchase. The good part is the amount of money you need to complete your travel trailer supply checklist is like adding a few sticks to the fire, not another gas can.

To make this as painless as possible, I’ve put together an organized list for first-time RV owners on what you should keep in your recreational vehicle of choice. You don’t need to wait until you have your RV this is what you need to know before buying an RV concerning essential gear.

Sewer hose and attachment © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What comes with a new RV

If your sales representative was good at their job, they did a complete walkthrough of your new RV. We hope you came prepared with your own version of an RV checklist to make sure everything is in proper working order. You may be asking yourself, “Do new RVs come with sewer hoses?” or other questions about essential gear.

RV dealerships may have a “new owner’s kit” or some other goodies they give to their customers but there’s no such requirement. If they do offer basic hoses, they may be too short or poorly made.

You’ll either want to walk into their parts department, take a ride over to a camping supply store, or go home and jump on Amazon to find the best RV gadgets.

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

Essential supplies checklists

1. Hoses

There are a few different hoses you’ll need. If you’ve seen that movie with Robin Williams, we promise the real versions are a lot more sanitary.

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.

See-through sewer hose attachment © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Sewer hose attachments: There are various attachments that make the draining process easier. One type connects to the end of the hose to create a good seal to the dump station. Another is a clear plastic elbow that lets you monitor the flow.

Disposable protective gloves © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Protective gloves: There are two schools of thought to keep your hands clean. Some like to use rubber gloves that can be washed while others prefer disposable latex gloves they can throw out after each use.

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. This hose looks like a garden hose but it’s white in color instead of green. The interior of the hose is lined to keep it sanitary for drinking.

Heated water hose © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

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.

Water pressure gauge © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Water pressure guage: This brass attachment connects between the campground’s shore connection and your water hose. It protects your RV’s plumbing system from receiving too much water pressure. It only takes one situation for your water lines to blow.

Water filter © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Water filters: RV water filters probably aren’t the first thing to leap to mind when you’re contemplating everything you need before you hit the road in an RV. But water flavor and quality can be variable when you’re camping. The goal of an RV water filter is to remove sediment (like dirt and sand) and other unwanted contaminants from your RV’s water supply.

Campground water quality is all over the map and that goes double if you’re getting your water elsewhere like an unknown water tap at a truck stop. There are two main categories of RV water filters you can use. One is an exterior RV water filter that goes between the spigot and the RV’s fresh water tank. The other is an interior drinking water filter that goes between the fresh water tank and the faucet used for drinking water.

Progressive electric management system © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Electric

Most RVs come with electric cords that plug directly into shore power. There are additional things you’ll need to hook in correctly.

Electrical protectors: There are four electrical issues an RVer can encounter while traveling: surges, miswired pedestals, high/low voltage, and wiring issues inside the RV.

What exactly are you protecting your RV from when you use an electrical protection device? It’s much more than power surges which we typically associate surge protectors with. Surges are actually the least common problem with RV electricity. An RV typically has a lot of sensitive electronic circuitry in it and having steady power is crucial to keeping these components from having an early funeral. Failure of components like AC units, refrigerators, washer/dryer, and computers plugged into a wall outlet can be very expensive to replace. You can use one of the Progressive Electric Management Systems or Surge Guard portable or hardwired units.

Extention cord: Sometimes you may have to park your RV further away from the utility box than your cord can reach. You’ll want the same amp extension cord that your unit comes with (30 or 50 amp).

Power adapters: 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 the 30-amp source
  • 50-amp RV plugged into the 15-amp source
  • 30-amp RV plugged into the 15-amp source

Fuse kit: Pickup a set of fuses that handle different amperages. Each color represents a different level of current. They’ll work for your automotive and coach systems.

Stabiiizer jack pad © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. RV jacks

Using your jacks on grass or dirt can be problematic. You may start out level but as you move around in your RV they may start to sink into the ground.

Stablilizer 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.

Jack blocks: Jack blocks work like Lego to give your jacks a higher surface to sit on. They are useful if your jacks can’t reach the ground. Interlocking for convenient storage they are available with a handy strap.

Tire chocks: If you’re on an incline, tire chocks prevent your RV from rolling. Use these first, and of course make sure your brakes are set. Always use with travel and fifth-wheel trailers.

Bubble levels: Putting bubble levels on your trailer will help you with the leveling process. Higher-end travel trailers and motorhomes use auto-leveling systems that won’t require the use of bubble levels.

4. Toilet

Your RV’s bathroom doesn’t need to smell like a state fair’s port-a-john. Using the proper tools can keep your RV bathroom smelling fresh and toilet clog-free. Preventive maintenance isn’t that difficult but you do want to keep up with it.

Black tank chemical: This chemical comes in your choice of liquid, powder, and packets. A weekly treatment poured down your toilet is all you need to prevent odors and proper breakdown of waste. An an alternative to commercial products you can use Dawn dish soap.

RV toilet paper: Toilet paper designed for RVs are designed to breakdown in black holding tanks. Most residential toilet papers are too thick and will create clogs.

5. Emergency kit

Nobody wants to think about it, but emergency kits are one of those items you want stocked and ready to go. There are still places take hours or days for emergency services to reach. Making sure you’re safe if a disaster strikes is essential.

Road Side Kit: A good quality kit will have hazard signs, flares, jumper cables, and tow cables. You may not find an all-in-one kit with everything you need, so you’ll probably have to piece it together yourself.

First Aid and Survival Kit: You’ll want more than just band-aids and gauze. Good quality first aid kits have everything you need for almost any situation. You’ll also want survival items like matches (waterproof matches if possible) and freeze-dried food for a couple of days. Your freshwater tank will be your source of water, so use it sparingly.

6. Tool kit

Every RVer should have a basic knowledge of D.I.Y. repair. A couple of quick YouTube videos will show you travel trailer dos and don’ts in basic RV repair. Your tool kit should have the following items:

  • Hammer
  • Set of screwdrivers with flat and Phillips heads
  • Set of Allen wrenches
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Drill (if it’s cordless, have at least two batteries where one is fully charged)
  • Drill bits, screwdriver bits, and bits that fit your jacks
  • Heavy duty tire gauge
  • Two (or more) flashlights (preferably one wearable one to keep your hands free)
  • Small tube of silicone caulk
  • Work gloves
  • Rhino, duct, electrical, and masking tape (If you don’t know why, watch a couple of episodes of the Original Macgyver)

7. Generator

If your RV doesn’t have a factory-installed generator, it’s always a good idea to invest in a good one. There are many affordable options that are relatively quiet. This way you’ll have a power source when you’re dry camping or in a power outage.

Pack supplies for your pets © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

8. Pet supplies

If you’re one of the over 65 percent of RVers that bring your pet with you having separate pet supplies just for the RV is a great way to avoid forgetting something. Outside safety equipment like leashes, latching devices, and outside toys will make their RV adventure a fun time. If your coach doesn’t have a built-in dog station I recommend a dog dish with a collar to prevent messes.

9. Back up camera

If you have a motorhome, you’ll already have a backup camera. Most towables now come prepped and wired with backup camera brackets. This camera makes traveling and parking easier.

10. Kitchen supplies

RV kitchen must-haves are essential. Having cookware, dishware, cutlery, and other kitchen items separate from your home make it less complicated when you’re getting ready to leave for your camping trip. Camping accessory manufacturers make these items specifically for camping to hold up to the conditions of camping.

RV mattresses come in different sizes © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

11. Linens

RV mattress sizes can be different than residential sizes. Queen mattresses come in short, three-quarters, and other near residential measurements. Sheets, towels, and a portable laundry basket designated for your RV will keep your home linens from degrading too quickly.

12. Outdoor furniture

Picnic tables are good to use but they aren’t that relaxing. Having a mat at your entry will help you keep the dirt outside. Folding tables, folding lounge chairs, and other outdoor furniture will help you make the most of the outdoor camping experience.

Dawn dish soap © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

13. Cleaning supplies

Camping and dirt go hand-in-hand. Vacuums, laundry detergent, and cleaning wipes should always be in a cabinet. Many veteran RVers like to use Dawn dish soap because of its many uses to clean other items besides dishes.

14. Internet service

Pretty much everything we do these days, we do online—so if you’re going to be spending significant time in an RV, internet is an essential. The bad news is, there’s no one easy answer to this question. Staying connected will depend on where and how you camp and what kind of surfer you are. But that bad news is also good news because it means there are plenty of ways to secure internet for your RV, which means you’re bound to find an option that will work for you. Here are the basic options for RV internet:

  • Public WiFi
  • DSL or Cable
  • Cellular data 
  • Satellite
  • Starlink

15. RV insurance

The last and most important thing is RV Insurance. RV insurance is different than car insurance. That’s why motorhomes, travel trailers, and campers need custom coverage. RV insurance gives you many of the same benefits you get with car insurance coverage but includes more protection based on the unique risks that RVs face.

Worth Pondering…

Learn from yesterday, live for today, look to tomorrow, rest this afternoon.

—Charlie Brown, from Peanuts

9 RV Fire Hazards and How to Avoid Them

In this article, I cover the most common reasons that RVs catch fire and what you can do to prevent it

When you head out on the road with your RV, regardless of the type, you are probably thinking about rest stops and your eventual camping spot. Fire safety probably doesn’t cross your mind. However, fire risk is a real concern with RVs, so you need to be prepared. 

According to data published by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), there are nearly 2,000 devastating RV fires every year. An RV fire can start anywhere whether you are on the road or parked.

Being aware of potential fire hazards in your RV and taking steps to mitigate your risk of a fire can go a long way to keeping your RV safe.  

Older models are more at risk of fire © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Which RVs are most at risk of a fire?

According to a NFPA report on fire hazards associated with RVs, older models of RVs have fewer and less advanced fire safety measures. They also have older engines and equipment that is more likely to fail which is a common cause of RV fires. Most fatal RV fires occur in older models of RVs.  

If you own an RV that is more than 10 years old, you should upgrade your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. Also ensure your fire extinguishers are adequate for the size of your rig and handy in the kitchen, bedroom, and living areas of the RV. Every year, it’s wise to get a full inspection of your rig to find out about potential problems before they become fire hazards.   

While there are a number of things that cause RV fires, doing a few things will help reduce your risk of a disaster. Here are nine fire hazards and what you can do to mitigate them.

Electric space heater © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. Malfunctions of the RV electrical system

Many RV fires originate from malfunctions in the RV electrical system. Here is what you can do to lessen the risk of an electrical fire in your RV:

  • Make sure any electric space heaters run at their lower wattage setting. Usually, space heaters are set at 1,500/750 watts or 1,200/600 watts. You should only run a space heater at 750 or 600 watts in your RV. 
  • Always plug your space heater into a wall outlet; never use an extension cord.
  • Don’t overload your electrical outlets by plugging too many things in at once. For example, if you plug a space heater into an outlet, you shouldn’t have anythng else plugged in.
Electric space heater © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Mice, rats, and squirrels love to chew through cable and wire housing in vehicle engine compartments and the RV’s living compartment. If any of these critters have invaded your rig, inspect your wiring for any signs of nibbling and do the necessary repairs immediately. 

>> Related article: On the Road Again: Summer Road Trip Safety Tips

Don’t leave small electrial appliances plugged in when you aren’t home.

Inspect your rig’s 12-volt connections before each trip. Loose connections can cause shorts that ignite combustible materials in the RV.

Carbon monoxide detector © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Propane system leaks

Propane system leaks are one of the top causes of fire ignition in RVs. It’s important to have your propane system inspected regularly.

In addition to detecting propane gas leaks in your RV, there are a few more ways you can prevent your RV’s propane system from causing a fire. 

Never drive your RV with propane on. Everything in your RV is jostled around while you drive. If there is a leak when the propane valve is open, it just takes a spark from a flat tire or the little flame in your RV’s propane fridge to ignite it. 

Make sure your RV propane/carbon monoxide detector is working and up-to-date. RV propane/carbon monoxide detectors should be replaced every five years.

RV refrigerator and microwave © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Your RV refrigerator

Your RV refrigerator can be a fire hazard due to manufacturing defects. Dometic and Norcold have both recalled certain models of their RV refrigerators over the years because they could catch on fire. The boiler in absorption RV refrigerators can also overheat and become a fire hazard when the fridge is not kept level.  

4. Wheels and brake system

When your RV’s wheels and/or brakes get too hot, they can ignite materials around them. Be sure to check your tire pressure when your tires are cold. Get your wheels and brakes inspected regularly and before long trips.

5. Stuff near your RV cooktop

Having combustible items anywhere near your RV cooktop can lead to disaster. Because RVs are made with far more combustible materials than a traditional home, a fire in the galley can rapidly get out of control.  

>> Related article: The Safety Checklist for When Your RV is Parked

Keep combustible items like paper towels, plastic, and wood well away from your cooktop when you are cooking.

Don’t store cooking oils or fats close to your cooktop.

Always stay in the kitchen/galley area when you are cooking and keep an eye on things.

Smoke detector © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Not having a working smoke detector

I know it can be tempting to take the batteries out of your RV smoke detector after it goes off for the tenth time when you are just making toast. Don’t do it. Working smoke detectors really do save lives. 

>> Related article: Electric Space Heater Safety Tips for RVers

Test your smoke detector monthly and change the batteries twice a year around daylight savings time. 

Be aware of fire hazards near the RV © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

7. Portable grills and campfires too close to the RV

Portable grills should be at least 12 feet from the RV and campfires should be at least 25 feet away from your RV and any fuel source. This makes setting up a gas or charcoal grill underneath your RV awning a really bad idea.

Electric system and surge protection © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

8. Not having adequate fire extinguishers in your RV

You should have a 2.5 lb fire extinguisher in each area of the RV. A fire extinguisher is required near the doorway of the RV, so manufacturers meet the minimum standard for this. But if there is a fire in the galley of the RV, the extinguisher can either be out of reach or precious seconds are wasted accessing it. 

>> Related article: Raise Your RV IQ with These Tips

Fire extinguishers are classed according to the type of burning fuel that is being extinguished. A Class ABC fire extinguisher will put out the types of fires common in RVs. Here are the types of fires that each class extinguishes.

Class A – Ordinary combustibles such as wood, paper, rubber, fabric, or plastics.

Class B – Flammable liquids and gasses, including gasoline, oils, paint, lacquer, and tar.

Class C – Fires involving live electrical equipment.

9. Gasoline and propane   

Gasoline and propane present an immediate fire hazard when stored incorrectly or when there are leaks or spills. Storing gasoline out of the sun and well away from the RV or tow vehicle is a good idea. Generators should be set up a safe distance from the RV.

Electric space heater © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In conclusion

Although we hope it never happens, we should always be prepared for the worst. By being diligent, properly maintaining our RVs, and practicing cooking safety, we can reduce the risk. Since we can’t completely eliminate it, planning ahead and practicing evacuation can ensure the whole family stays safe.

Worth Pondering…

Speed was high

Weather was hot

Tires were thin

X marks the spot

—Burma Shave sign

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

The Safety Checklist for When Your RV is Parked

All the basics you need to know

Parking an RV can be daunting. Oftentimes, drivers may be so focused on perfect parking placement that they aren’t sure what to do next. There are a few simple steps to follow once you’re in a place to ensure your rig and its contents are safe and secure. Here are some tips to help you get started.

Motorhomes on level concrete sites © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Leveling and Stabilizing

RV leveling is critical for more than comfort. It ensures appliances like the fridge work and slide-out sections can move freely.

Self-leveling Systems

Like many newer models, your rig may have a self-leveling system, requiring the push of a button to make sure everything is even. Some have manual leveling options. You can change the levels for up to two tires at once to get the evenest setup.

You may need to relevel your RV if the ground shifts under the weight of the rig. 

RVs on level gravel sites © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Manual Stabilizing

RVs without this auto-level feature including many travel and fifth-wheel trailers and older motorhomes will require more work. You can purchase heavy-duty plastic leveling blocks that interlock to help raise or lower your RV. These options increase RV safety by preventing the blocks from separating when you need more than one.

Related: On the Road Again: Summer Road Trip Safety Tips

First, place a bubble level in the center of the floor in the RV interior parallel with the front bumper. Your rig may have a center level and levels that align with the axles to make this process easy. The center reading will help you tell whether to add blocks to the left or right tires. Drive the rig onto the blocks after placing them in front of or behind the wheels on the RV’s lower side. Repeatedly check your level until it is even. 

Motorhome on mostly level site © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If the ground is very uneven, create a ramp with blocks by placing one in the direction you’ll drive. Then, add two stacked blocks butting up to the first. Add a three-stack in front of that if needed. Check your level between each block addition.

Safety tip: The wheels must be perfectly centered on the blocks to prevent the motorhome from rolling and ensure it is level.

Once the RV is even, get out the chocks. These safety accessories are often made of plastic or rubber and prevent the RV from moving forward or backward. Place chocks in front of and behind the tires that did not require blocks. 

Trailer set up on-site © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Slides

RV slides conveniently add square footage to your living space. Some RVs have electric slide outs that extend in minutes. If your rig has this feature, make sure it’s level and push the button or flip the switch to extend the slide out.

Related: 30 RV Hacks and Tips for a Successful Road Trip

Parking Brakes

Pull out the parking brake knob in the cab. It should be yellow. Always engage the parking brakes once the rig is parked, level, and chocked. 

These RVs required leveling blocks at the rear © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Awnings

RV awnings offer sun and rain protection. They can also make your RV more energy efficient by limiting how much sun enters through the window. If your awning opens automatically, make sure you are connected to shore power or a generator. If using an inverter, your batteries must be charged to power the awning motor.

Open your motorized awning by flipping the switch inside the cab or on the remote. If the awning doesn’t open, you may need a new remote battery. Ensure you are plugged into a power source and the parking brake is set. If the brake is not engaged, the awnings may not open.

For manual awnings, undo travel locks on the arms. These safety devices may be part of the RV or as simple as velcro or string. Loosen the rafter knobs on the back of the arms to allow the awning to open. Use an awning rod to reverse the locking level into the “roll down” setting.

Electric power, city water, and sewer connections © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Reach for the awning loop and slowly pull the awning backward away from the RV. Avoid adjusting the awning on windy days as you could damage your rig or harm yourself. Once extended, lock the rafter arms by sliding them into place on the RV exterior. Tighten the bolts on the rafter arms to spread out the awning material and make it taught, avoiding flapping in the wind.

Extend the awning arms to allow for a slope with the part of the awning furthest from the RV a little lower than the part that connects to the rig. This slight decline will encourage rain to flow away from the RV and prevent it from collecting and collapsing.

Electric management system © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV Electrical Hookup

When you pull into your campground site, it’s tempting to plug right in and turn everything on. However, you want to keep safety in mind, especially when dealing with electricity. First, it’s a good idea to test the hook up with a polarity tester to make sure the campground’s wiring is in good shape. If it’s not, your polarity tester will tell you before you fry any or all of the components of your RV electrical system.

Related: 10 RV Driving Tips

Electric management system © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Or better yet invest in an electric management system. This electric detection device will protect you from four electrical issues an RVer can encounter while traveling: power surges, miswired pedestals, high/low voltage, and wiring issues inside the RV.

City water connection © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Water Connection

Find your RV fresh water drinking hose in your RV storage. Add a water pressure regulator before attaching the loose end of the hose to the potable campground water spigot. Make sure you are using the potable water spigot as it is safe to drink. 

Do not turn on the water pump if you are connecting to a city water connection as it is already pressurized. Only use the pump if you are pulling water from tanks inside the RV when you cannot hook up to an outside water source. Once attached to the spigot, slowly turn it and have someone in the RV turn on a sink. Once the water runs into the RV, you know the connection is correct.

Sewer connection © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Emptying Grey and Black Water Tanks

First, a quick clarification for anyone new to RVing. When you run an RV faucet, the water goes into built-in grey water holding tank. Anything flushed down the toilet flows into a black water tank. 

Related: Five RV Tips BEFORE Your First Road Trip

Dump station for when you don’t have a sewer connection © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Most large rigs will come with 60-80 gallons of grey water capacity and 40-60 gallons of black water capacity. That means these tanks can go a few days to a couple of weeks before needing to be emptied depending on the usage.

Sewer connection © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Many resorts offer full hookups which include a sewer connection on the RV lot which allows the tanks to be dumped as needed without needing to leave the camping site. The alternative is driving the RV to a dump station in the campground. Full hookup sites come with the obvious benefit of avoiding the need to move the RV and relevel and stabilize after each dump. 

Wear disposable plastic gloves when dealing with sewage to prevent stomach bugs or other sewage-related illnesses. Make sure the RV gray and black water sewer valves are securely closed before opening the cap.

Connect one end of the sewer hose to the RV sewer valve and the other end to the park sewer dumping station inlet. Slowly open the black water discharge valves to drain the system. When empty, close the valve.

Motorhome set up on-site © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Next, follow this process with the grey water. This order of operations will wash the sewage out of the hose, preventing an unsanitary mess. Once done, close the grey water valve. Disconnect the hoses and attach the caps to the RV valves. 

Related: 12 Simple RV Maintenance Tips

If you are staying long-term at an RV park you will leave the sewer hose attached.

Throw away your disposable gloves before thoroughly washing your hands. 

Worth Pondering…

Remember, Safety First, and Happy RVing!

30 RV Hacks and Tips for a Successful Road Trip

Road trips are still very much a trending means of travel and here are some tips to know before you plan one

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.

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

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.

Kitchen essentials © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

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.

Bedroom essentials © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

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.

Related: Best Preparations for an RV Road Trip

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.

Las Vegas RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

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.

Music © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

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.

Shopping for groceries at a farmers market © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

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.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Planning the Best Summer Road Trip

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.

Connections for fresh water and sewer systems © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

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.

Columbia Sun RV Resort, Kennewick, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

11. Sunglasses

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.

Connected water hose with pressure regulator © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

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
12 Tribes Casino RV Park, Omak, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

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).

Vista del Sol RV Resort, Bullhead City, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

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.

The Lakes and Gulf Resort, Chowchilla, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

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. 

Orange Groove RV Park, Bakersfield, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

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.

Heated water hose © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

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.

Sewer hose © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

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.

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

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.

Sewer hose support © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

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.

Lakeside RV Park, Livingston, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

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.

Not a good way to treat tires © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

27. Tires

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.

Electric Management System © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

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.

Sunny Acres RV Park, Las Cruces, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

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.

Hidden Lake RV Park, Beaumont, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

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.

Sea Wind RV Resort, Riviera Beach, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

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.

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!

Worth Pondering…

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

—Stephen Covey

Is Your RV Protected from Electrical Issues?

Most RVers are not protecting their RV from electrical issues

There are four electrical issues an RVer can encounter while traveling: surges, miswired pedestals, high/low voltage, and wiring issues inside the RV.

It is unbelievable to think that 90 percent of RVs do not have any type of electrical protection system in place. 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.

Electric Management system attached to electric cord at pedestal © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What exactly are you protecting your RV from when you use an electrical protection device? It’s much more than power surges which we typically associate surge protectors with. Surges are actually the least common problem with RV electricity. An RV typically has a lot of sensitive electronic circuitry in it, and having steady power is crucial to keeping these components from having an early funeral. Failure of components like AC units, refrigerators, washer/dryer, and even computers plugged into a wall outlet can be very expensive to replace.

While the expense is a big deal, there are other considerations like the inconvenience of getting your RV to a repair shop. And, if you are on the road and something fails you’ll be scrambling to find a reputable repair shop. One of the best things you can do to prevent these type failures is to make sure that the power coming into your RV is monitored. Let’s look at the four areas that need to be addressed as it relates to RV electricity.

Progressive Electric Management System © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Electrical Issue #1: Surges

The first issue that most RVers think of as it relates to power coming into the RV is surge protection. A surge is a quick electrical spike that can quickly destroy anything in its path. Surge protection is rated in joules; the higher the level of joules the better the protection. When shopping for an electrical protection system take a look at the joules level, and remember, no system can completely protect you from a direct lightning strike.

Electric Management system attached to electric cord at pedestal © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Electrical Issue #2: Miswired Pedestals

A good electrical protection system will analyze the pedestal and let you know if there are any issues with the ground wire, neutral wire, and if there are any reverse polarity issues.

Let’s consider RV parks for a moment. The original design should have been professionally inspected but then the years start to pile on and over time the electrical pedestals that we plug into can begin to have problems. Thousands of RVs may have plugged into the pedestal before you and over time, pedestals can start to wear down. Wiring can come loose in the pedestal and you could lose the ground wire which can be dangerous. The neutral wire could become disconnected and put your RV in danger of up to 240 volts running to one side of your RV.

Progressive Electric Management System © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Electrical Issue #3: High/Low Voltage

Your electrical protection system should have the ability to cut you off from the power if the voltage drops too low or goes too high. Usually systems will cut off at 102-104 volts and on the high side at around 132 volts.

So, what causes a low or high voltage situation? Imagine you are at a crowded park in the middle of the summer and everyone is turning on their AC units. A low voltage situation will not always zap an appliance but it will reduce the life expectancy of an appliance over time. Low voltage and high voltage are the silent killers and dealing with this should be a part of your plan to protect your RV.

Rest assured that your electric system is fully protected © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Electrical Issue #4: Wiring Inside the RV

What if the incoming power is fine, but you have a wiring issue inside of your RV? A good electrical protection system will detect elevated ground currents and open neutral conditions in the RV. This level of protection is new to the market (within the last year) and can be found in the Surge Guard brand.

You may be protected against some of these issues with devices that were installed in your RV from the factory. But, you are not covered from all of these issues with a built-in unit from the factory. Many Diesel Pushers have some type of built in surge protector that is combined with the transfer switch. Smaller class A, B, and C motorhomes may or may not have any electrical protection built in, and fifth-wheels and travel trailers likely have nothing built into the unit.

Enjoying a sunset on the Texas Gulf Coast © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It surprised me to learn that I did not have the protection from my built-in unit I thought I had. When I checked the model number of the built in electrical protection system and studied the manual, I found that it had nothing more than a surge protector and all of the other elements we discussed were not accounted for.

You can use one of the Progressive Electric Management Systems or Surge Guard portable units even if you have a hardwired unit installed. They will work together to protect your RV.

You don’t need electrical protection until you need it. Saving a few hundred bucks and risking damage due to your lack of electrical protection just does not make sense. I can tell you that having my Progressive Electric Management System plugged into the pedestal makes me feel a whole lot better about being protected from poor park power.

Why would any RVer not want such protection?

Worth Pondering…

As Yogi Berra said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”