RV Snowbirding: 10 Tips for Driving South This Winter

From fuel discounts to safety protocols to being comfortable, I share my best RV snowbirding tips for the drive South plus helpful resources

Are you preparing to drive south for the winter? Here are RV snowbirding tips to help you get there safely.

Like birds, RVers across northern North America prepare to head south for the winter. These snowbirds leave their northern homes for a few weeks or the entire winter to escape the cold winter months for a warmer climate. 

If you’re joining the flock this year, I have some helpful snowbirding tips for the drive down. And some of these tips can help experienced snowbirds as well!

From fuel discounts to safety protocols to being comfortable, I share my best tips for a snowbird road trip plus helpful resources.

I have lots of articles on the RV snowbird lifestyle including the most popular snowbird destinations and other great places to stay. But in this article, I’ll cover the most important things to consider for your drive down.

The following RV travel tips will help during all road trips but especially during the snowbird season. Since you’re heading out for long periods of time you want to make sure you’re prepared and comfortable.

Carefully inspect your tires and check air pressure EVERY travel day © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. Carefully inspect your tires

Before setting off on your winter adventure, it’s crucial to inspect your RV tires. Better yet, take them to a trusted tire shop because the back of the tires is difficult to properly inspect at home.

Cold temperatures can affect tire pressure so make sure they are properly inflated. Additionally, check for any signs of wear and tear or damage.

Don’t forget to pack a spare tire, a tire pressure gauge, and a portable air compressor.

I STRONGLY ENCOURAGE you to read the following articles as they can save you from ending up on the side of the road or even save your life:

Make your RV comfy © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Get comfy accessories for the road trip

Long drives can take a toll on your comfort. Making your RV as cozy as possible for the driver and passengers is essential. Invest in soft pillows, warm blankets, and supportive seat cushions.

I suggest reading How to Stay Safe When RVing. And for nervous passengers, I recommend reading RV Driving Tips: 20 Ways to Stay Safe and Calm.

3. Prep your roadside emergency kit

No matter how cautious you are, emergencies can happen. Prepare a roadside emergency kit containing essential items like a first aid kit, jumper cables, flashlight, extra batteries, roadside flares, and a basic toolkit.

It’s also a good idea to have spare fuses, a tire pressure gauge, and a portable jump starter. Be prepared and feel confident on the road.

In addition to a roadside emergency kit, I recommend carrying RV roadside assistance coverage. Here are some helpful resources:

Make sure your insurance is in order © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Make sure your RV insurance is in order

Before heading south, double-check your RV insurance coverage. Ensure that your policy includes comprehensive coverage for both accidents and natural disasters related to your destination.

Confirm that your policy extends to the full duration of your trip and that you have coverage for any additional drivers.

5. Make sure your health insurance and prescriptions are in order

Your health is of utmost importance and you don’t want to wait until something goes wrong or your prescriptions run out to find a solution. The farther you get from your doctor and pharmacy the trickier things can become—unless you’re prepared!

I have a helpful resource regarding managing your healthcare while traveling:

Stop for roadside attractions © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Follow the 330 Rule

The 330 Rule is you stop when you have driven 330 miles or its 3:30 in the afternoon. The idea is to get somewhere while it is still early enough to explore, chill, and enjoy the place when you’re not exhausted from driving miles upon miles. 

You can learn more about the many benefits of the 330 Rule by clicking here.

7. Have podcasts or audiobooks queued up

Long stretches of road can get monotonous and lead to drowsiness or irritability. To make the journey more enjoyable have a collection of your favorite podcasts or audiobooks ready to keep you entertained.

You can learn something new or dive into exciting stories while cruising down the highway making the hours fly by.

Museum of Appalachia, Clinton, Tennessee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

8. Embrace serendipity travel

While planning your route is important don’t be afraid to embrace the spontaneous side of RV travel. Allow yourself the flexibility to deviate from the itinerary and explore unexpected attractions or beautiful camping spots along the way.

Serendipity travel can lead to unforgettable experiences and hidden gems you might have missed otherwise.

You can see some of the amazing places and experiences we’ve enjoyed because of serendipity:

9. Use fuel discounts

Whether your RV runs on diesel or gas, fuel costs are a big part of your travel budget. RV fuel discount cards and programs help you stretch those dollars farther.

The benefits range from discounted gas prices to multiple ways to save at specific locations. Plan your fuel stops accordingly to take advantage of these discounts helping you save money while enjoying your snowbird journey.

Here’s a great article on How to Save on Gas and Diesel: RV Fuel Discount Cards and More RV (for gas and diesel!).

Texas State Aquarium, Corpus Christi, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

10. Get a reciprocal membership

RVers can SAVE BIG with reciprocal memberships that give you free or discounted access to a network of museums, zoos, and more.

A reciprocal membership program is a collaboration between cultural institutions that extends benefits to members of participating institutions. If you have a reciprocal membership with one museum you’ll get benefits from all other museums in that network. 

Benefits may include free or discounted admission, merchandise discounts, special newsletters, and other great deals. It’s a great way to save while doing fun things along your drive. Learn more by reading Plan an RV Trip to a Museum: How to Save with Reciprocal Memberships.

Safe travels!

Worth Pondering…

As Anne Murray sings in the popular song, Snowbird:

Spread your tiny wings and fly away

And take the snow back with you

Where it came from on that day

So, little snowbird, take me with you when you go

To that land of gentle breezes where the peaceful waters flow

Best RV Roadside Assistance Plans for Peace of Mind

There are RV roadside assistance programs with just about every level of coverage throughout a wide price range. Yet which RV roadside assistance program is best?

Whether you live your life on the road and your travel coach is your home or you’re a weekend warrior using your RV for short trips with the family, a roadside assistance plan is an absolute must and it’s important to have the best RV roadside assistance plan possible. We’ve never been without one… and we wouldn’t be without it, despite the fact that as we step into our 26th year of RVing, we’ve only very rarely used it.

Roadside assistance plans are like a type of insurance, though they’re not insurance. So just what is a roadside assistance plan, who needs one, and what are the best RV roadside assistance plans available to us?

A roadside assistance plan is an absolute must © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What is an RV Roadside Assistance Plan?

There’s RV insurance and then there’s an RV roadside assistance plan. The two are not the same, they don’t provide the same type of coverage and they exist independently of one another even if they’re offered by the same company.

Let’s take a look…

Perhaps your RV insurance policy’s collision coverage protects your RV if it’s damaged in an accident and liability coverage addresses damages and injuries on the road and when your rig is parked. Medical bills and vehicle repairs may be covered here and comprehensive insurance covers your rig in case of theft, vandalism, fire, weather-related incidents, collisions with animals, etc.

That’s very different from what roadside assistance offers. The so-called insurance offered by roadside assistance is a sense of peace of mind should your RV be disabled due to a mechanical failure or if your rig runs out of fuel or has a flat tire or a dead battery.

A roadside assistance plan may send a tow truck out to tow your rig to the nearest repair facility (depending on your plan’s details) or to change a tire right where you’re stranded. It may send a truck out with enough fuel to get you to the nearest fueling station.

Roadside assistance plans exist to help you if you’re stranded by something that renders your rig incapable of moving to a location where you can obtain the assistance to get back on the road.

You may opt for roadside assistance coverage through the same company that provides your RV insurance (or through an independent company) but they’re different plans and provide different types of reassurance. While an RV insurance plan provides insurance coverage, a roadside assistance plan provides assistance—at the roadside.

A roadside assistance plan is an absolute must © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What should I look for in an RV Roadside Assistance Plan?

There are a few factors you’ll want to look into prior to settling on a roadside assistance plan. Let’s review those briefly and then I’ll take a look at some of the best RV roadside assistance plans available.

Does the plan cover your RV?

You’ll first want to be sure that the type of RV you have is covered by the roadside assistance plan you’re considering. There are plans that will cover any type of RV but there are also plans that will only cover non-motorized RVs. If you have a travel trailer, that plan might work. If you’ve got a Class A diesel pusher as we do you’d need to find another plan.

You’ll also want to make sure the plan includes coverage for any other vehicle type you’re RVing with. We tow an SUV, for example. Perhaps you carry a motorcycle or other type of vehicle. Details are important here, so before signing on with any RV roadside assistance plan, make sure the plan applies to your particular situation and will cover the vehicles with which you regularly travel.

A roadside assistance plan is an absolute must © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Allowable towing distance

This can be very important and sometimes it’s hidden in the fine details of a plan. You’ll want to sort out the towing details in advance of committing to any roadside assistance plan. It’s great to do something like this via email so that you have responses in writing to fall back on if necessary.

Some roadside assistance programs will take you to the nearest service station regardless of whether they’re capable of working on the type of rig you have. You may wish to have the ability to choose where your rig will be towed to and you may want to sort out other details such as whether they’ll provide a flatbed (if that applies to your rig) or whether they’re capable of towing a motorhome that weighs 18 tons, like ours.

Check out the fine details of the plan in advance, rather than being disappointed to learn that your needs aren’t covered at the time when you find yourself stranded. Not all plans are created equal.

A roadside assistance plan is an absolute must © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Specific provisions

If you’re interested in a plan that offers emergency fuel delivery, you’ll need to make sure that’s in the plan you’re considering. How about assistance in the case of a lockout or a plan that provides for tire changes on the side of the road? How about a jump for a dead battery or even delivery of a new battery if you’re stranded on the side of the road?

Might you one day need the services of a professional who can use a winch to pull your rig out of a ditch? Is it conceivable that you could get stuck in sand or mud?

You need to be absolutely certain that the roadside assistance plan you choose will be able to provide what you need to pull your rig out of an unexpected situation.

The services provided by roadside assistance plans are all in the details and you’ve gotta sort out those details in advance.

A roadside assistance plan is an absolute must © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Cost

A good RV roadside assistance plan needs to be reasonably priced. This isn’t something you’ll use every day, after all. Or even every week. In fact, you may never use it in the course of a year but peace of mind is valuable (priceless, even) and these plans are very important for helping ease concerns of getting stranded.

That said, the cost shouldn’t be excessive, nor does it need to be. Some plans do cost more than others but in general, it’s because they offer more. So, when you’re evaluating roadside assistance plans take cost into consideration while paying very close attention to the features offered by the plan.

What are the best RV Roadside Assistance Plans?

Let’s take a look at the best RV roadside assistance plans for your peace of mind. These are plans you’ll buy, hoping you’ll never need to use them. They’re also plans you’ll be grateful to have if you DO find yourself in need of roadside assistance.

A roadside assistance plan is an absolute must © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Coach-Net

Coach-Net has been providing assistance to owners of towable RVs and motorhomes for more than three decades and their reputation is excellent. Coach-Net is the roadside assistance plan I know best… because it’s the plan we use.

Coach-Net offers a couple of different plans—one for drivable RVs like ours at a cost of $249/year and a plan for towable RVs at a cost of $179/year. The features of the plan are excellent and coverage includes your entire family of drivers (including your dependent children ages 24 and under). Coverage extends to your RV and all other personal vehicles owned, rented, borrowed, or leased. This means that even if you’re not driving your RV you’ll be covered by Coach-Net in whatever vehicle you’re driving.

We haven’t had to use our Coach-Net plan very often in the past 26 years but I can say that when we needed the plan it was put into action quickly, carried out professionally and effectively, and we were extremely grateful to have it. We feel its well worth $249/year for the peace of mind and the service provided.

Now to the details of that service…

Coach-Net’s Premier Motorized Plan ($249/yr) offers 24/7 roadside assistance that includes towing your disabled vehicle to the nearest qualified repair facility with no out-of-pocket expense to you and no mileage or dollar amount limits. It also includes unlimited tire assistance such as changing a flat tire or delivery of a comparable tire for towing your vehicle to a repair facility (which may be necessary if they are unable to source an exact replacement for your existing tire but need to get it moved until they can).

This plan also includes delivery of fuel and emergency fluids to your disabled vehicle, unlimited battery boosts, and lockout assistance that includes locksmith services or assistance in unlocking your vehicle or obtaining a replacement key.

Coach-Net provides a concierge-like service that will assist you in obtaining the first available appointment at the closest qualified repair facility and they’ll provide winch out or extraction services up to 100 feet off a maintained road or in a commercial campground equipped for camping vehicles.

You’ll also receive up to $2,000 reimbursement for vehicle rental, food, and lodging made necessary by the disablement of your RV due to a collision that occurs more than 100 miles from your home.

Discounts on tires, RV products, hotels, motels, and camping are also offered as are a number of other features and coverage can be obtained for trailers, tow dollies, boat trailers, and utility trailers.

Coach-Net offers a number of other services, all of which you can check out on their website.

While we’re most familiar with Coach-Net’s services, there are four other RV roadside assistance plans that are highly reputed for excellent service. Below we’ll provide a brief description of services.

A roadside assistance plan is an absolute must © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

AAA Plus RV

One of the most popular RV roadside assistance plans is AAA Plus RV. Many drivers already have AAA for their personal vehicles and adding AAA Plus RV is a natural inclusion. Additionally, in order to buy AAA’s RV roadside assistance plan, you must already have a AAA membership.

AAA offers a couple of different RV-specific plans. The first is the AAA Plus RV plan and the second is their Premier plan. In general, the Plus plan will run you somewhere around $140 annually while the Premier plan will cost around $210/year. These prices include AAA coverage for your car or truck but you’ll need to obtain additional coverage for each driver in your household.

Unfortunately, cost varies from state to state (and province to province) and there may even be coverage differences from state to state. This makes the services somewhat cumbersome to navigate for a general post like this one but typing in your zip code on their website will bring you to some information pertinent to your state and making a phone call may be even more helpful.

AAA Plus RV does offer towing to a service station (your choice) though this may not be available to you if you camp in very remote locations so this is something you’d want to check directly with AAA in your state.

RV coverage also includes fuel delivery, flat tire and battery services, locksmith, and winching services.

A roadside assistance plan is an absolute must © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Progressive Roadside Assistance

Progressive’s 24/7 roadside assistance is extra coverage that you have the option to add to your existing RV insurance coverage through them.

Towing services are limited to anywhere within a 15-mile radius, however, if there isn’t a repair shop within 15 miles, they’ll tow you to the nearest qualified repair shop. You can choose to have your vehicle towed to another shop (other than the closest one) but you’ll have to pay for the additional mileage.

Winching services are provided within 100 feet of a road or highway—they’ll pull your rig out with a motor-powered cable or chain.

They also provide the typical battery jump-start, fuel delivery (delivery and service are free, you pay for the fuel), locksmith services, flat tire change (as long as you can provide the spare), and up to one hour of on-scene labor if your car is disabled.

Progressive notes that there may be a limit to the number of roadside events a policy covers and in some states (i.e. North Carolina and Virginia) roadside assistance coverage is subject to limits noted in your insurance policy.

I can’t offer you a precise cost of Progressive Roadside Assistance due to its integration with your motor vehicle insurance policy.

But, you’re probably starting to see the importance of reading the fine print… and then reading the finer print. It’s very important that you understand the coverage you’re buying before you need to use your roadside assistance plan.

A roadside assistance plan is an absolute must © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Escapees Roadside Assistance

If you’re already a member or plan to become a member of Escapees RV Club, you’ll be entitled to purchase an Escapees Roadside Assistance plan for your RV for $109/year. This gives you unlimited access to all of the features/services provided by the plan.

Escapees offers unlimited roadside assistance coverage that includes towing of your disabled RV to the nearest repair facility suited to your needs, a mobile mechanic (you’re responsible for the cost of any needed parts and labor), tire change service (even if you don’t have a spare in which case a similar tire will be mounted for towing to the nearest repair facility), fuel delivery, lockout services, battery jump-starts, winching, trip interruption, and a variety of other features.

Escapees Roadside Assistance even offers technical assistance (24/7) from RVIA/RVDA and ASE Certified Technicians who’ll have a conversation with you to try and troubleshoot the issue(s) you’re having. Should they be unable to troubleshoot the issue successfully in this communication, emergency roadside service will be sent to your location.

The roadside assistance program will cost you $109 annually. This is in addition to your Escapees RV Club membership which is $39.95 for residents of the United States and $49.95 for residents of Canada and Mexico.

Escapees RV Club offers a number of amazing features and is well worth your time to check out.

A roadside assistance plan is an absolute must © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Good Sam Roadside Assistance

Good Sam offers three roadside assistance RV plans: Standard ($129.95), Platinum ($159.95), and Platinum Complete ($239.95).

These plans vary widely, so I won’t post all of the details here.

While we’re sure Good Sam offers very good roadside assistance in many situations, their website notes that they’ll get you the right tow truck for the size of your rig. That may be true, but I feel I should note (particularly for folks with larger diesel RVs) that I’ve heard stories about tow trucks arriving on scene that were too small to handle a large Class A or diesel pusher. This issue may have been remedied but I suggest that if you have a large Class A motorhome and you’re interested in Good Sam’s roadside assistance program, you confirm your precise expectations with them ahead of time and ask if they’d be able to assist you appropriately.

A roadside assistance plan is an absolute must © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

FMCA (Family Motor Coach Association) Roadside Assistance Plan

FMCA is another terrific RV club with a multitude of great benefits including the ability to opt into their roadside assistance plan. You’ll pay $159 annually for a driveable RV and $129 for a towable rig.

The general FMCA membership is $60 for the first year and $50 per year thereafter so if you’re not already an FMCA member you’ll want to figure that into your annual cost as well.

FMCA’s roadside assistance covers your RV, your tow car or other vehicles, and your spouse and children age 25 and under. They offer towing to the nearest qualified service shop no matter the distance. You can opt for the services of an on-scene mobile mechanic.

In the case of a mechanical issue that leaves you stranded, FMCA’s plan will allow you up to $300 a day for five days as trip interruption compensation. And as with all of the other plans, you’ll be entitled to tire and battery services, fuel delivery, lockout services, and winching.

FMCA’s general membership is worth checking out and if you’re interested in that, then the roadside assistance program might interest you as well.

A roadside assistance plan is an absolute must © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Do you need an RV Roadside Assistance Plan?

The answer to this question really has to be based on your own evaluation of your circumstances. But, for us, an RV roadside assistance plan is a must and we wouldn’t be on the road without it. Again, we’ve rarely used ours but the peace of mind it offers and the services we have at our fingertips should we need them makes our annual fee well worth paying for sure.

Remember that if you break down, depending on where you’re located, what type of tow truck has to be sent to rescue you, and how far it needs to tow your rig, you could very quickly find yourself paying more than an annual fee for any one of these excellent RV roadside assistance plans.

Worth Pondering…

I’m still learning.

—Michelangelo

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