6 Things You Need To Do BEFORE Your Next RV Trip

One of the first things many new RVers discover is that planning an RV trip requires a lot of forethought. You can’t just hitch up your RV and head out for an adventure. A successful RV trip requires weeks and possibly months worth of planning.

The best parts of RVing are the trips themselves but many people are filled with dread when it comes to planning. To help you feel confident about navigating the challenges of travel logistics here are five important things to do before you take your next RV trip.

1. Plan your route

There are a handful of questions to ask yourself when choosing where to travel. What appeals to your lifestyle? Are you looking for hiking opportunities? Or would you prefer to relax? Some enjoy the tradition of returning to a favorite spot whereas others may be inclined to go somewhere new.

Of course, some people know exactly where they want to go next. Whether you’re traveling to the beach or the mountains, you will need to plan and budget your route. To make the most of your road trip, research scenic areas, historic sites, landmarks, and roadside attractions.

If you’re interested in efficiency, you can download an app such as GasBuddy to determine how much you’ll spend on fuel before you even hit the road. You can then figure out how long you want to be on the road or how long you’ll be staying in your desired location.

Here are some articles to help:

Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Write your packing checklist

Once you know where you’re going—and for how long—you’ll have a better idea of what items to bring along with you.

It can be easy to get caught up in the excitement of your RV trip plans. However, if you’re not careful you could leave behind some important items. I recommend keeping a detailed packing list of everything you want on your trip.

Many RVers find it very helpful to list out the days and plan out their outfits and meals. This can help ensure they have enough clothes and food for the RV trip. You don’t want to hit the road and discover you only have two pairs of underwear for a week-long RV trip. If you do, your first stop will likely be a local Walmart.

Perhaps most importantly, you should make sure you have a first-aid kit on hand. Keeping a tool kit handy is never a bad idea, either. And always store on the curb side.

Besides clothes perhaps (everyone packs twice as much as they need), small personal items are easy to forget. These include your toothbrush, hairbrush, deodorant, toiletries, and accessories such as belts, hats, and sunglasses. Plenty of premade packing lists are available online but since everyone is different it’s a good idea to write your own list and check things off as you go. Just don’t forget toilet paper!

That’s why I wrote these two articles:

Padre Island National Seashore, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Secure RV protection

Sometimes things don’t go the way you planned. That’s just the way things are so be prepared. Check the expiration on your insurance policy before you head out. The last thing you want is for something to go wrong only for you to realize your safety net has expired.

In addition, you may want to consider investing in an RV extended warranty policy. Although they aren’t legally required like insurance warranties will cover everything your insurance policy doesn’t. Unexpected breakdowns are often expensive and inevitable. Let your warranty policy administrator cover your repair bill.

Here are some helpful resources:

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

4. Address routine maintenance

As mentioned in the previous section, prevention is important when it comes to protecting your RV. Before heading out, make sure your home-on-wheels is in good running condition.

In preparing for your next road trip check your roof, tires, and tow equipment (if applicable). You should check your RV tire pressure if your vehicle has been in storage longer than a month. Tires lose up to 2-3 psi per month in storage. To be extra cautious, this is also an opportunity to check for air leaks, lug nut tightness, and wear. Examine the tread and sidewalls for obvious signs of damage such as cracks or wear in the tread. Tires should be replaced every six years or earlier if there is obvious wear.

Don’t wait for it to rain—you’ll also want to inspect your roof for leaks. Over time, sun and air exposure weaken seals. You’re looking for cracked or broken seals. To check the integrity of the roof itself, you can do a hand test. If there is white residue on your palm after running your hand along the roof, this may indicate that it’s time to reseal your roof.

If you suspect any component may require attention, it isn’t a bad idea to get an RV inspection. The technician will alert you to any mechanical or electrical problems you may have missed. They will take a look at your filters, fluids, brake system, and so on. RVs continue to age in storage; it’s important to address any repair needs before your next trip.

Read more:

White Sands National Park, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. Have snacks or meals on hand

On long travel days, the last thing you’ll want to do is stop to make an elaborate lunch to satiate your hunger. Always have a few road trip healthy snacks or meals prepared to make your breaks easier and make sure you’re not stuck eating greasy or highly processed fast foods on your route.

We love having leftovers from dinner the night before, salads that are pre-made and just in need of dressing, or sandwiches. Nuts, hummus, veggies, or fruit can be another great snack.

Since I’m talking snacks, here are a two related articles:

Lassen Volcanic National Park, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Tie up loose ends

Now is the time to review your to-do list. Did I pack sunscreen? Did I check the oil? Are the slide outs functional? Is the sink working? There are so many factors to consider when embarking on a road trip. These may seem like obvious factors to address but planning trips can be stressful.

There are so many things to remember and there is so much to do! Make sure your awning is closed and secured. You also don’t want to take off with your leveling system deployed—that is an expensive repair. Items often shift around in transit so make sure loose items are secured and cabinets securely latched. If you’re worried about kitchenware rattling around, consider purchasing the special grippy mats that prevent this. Storage bins, bungee cords, and magnets are your friends.

Planning your road trip should be exciting, not stressful. The more informed you are, the better prepared you will feel on your journey. We want you to hit the road with peace of mind. Good luck and safe travels!

Read more:

Mount Robson Provincial Park, British Columbia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Make some priceless memories on an RV Trip

Hopefully, these tips will ease a bit of the stress and headaches of planning an RV trip. Just remember, things can still go wrong even with the best of planning. It’s easy to get frustrated and stressed if that happens but don’t fret. It’s all a part of the experience. I can assure you that years from now, you’re going to look back and cherish the memories you’ll create while on RV trips with your friends and family.

Take advantage of every opportunity to go on an RV trip. Where are you planning your next RV trip?

Worth Pondering…

Destination is merely a byproduct of the journey.

—Eric Hansen

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

What Every RVer Needs in Their Basic Tool Kit

25 tools you need on hand for your RV

For the most part, a basic RV tool kit is what every RVer needs. And when I say basic, I really do mean BASIC—the parts and tools you’ll most likely actually USE at some point.

Why You Need an RV Tool Kit?

Driving an RV down the road is frequently compared to owning a home that goes through a continuous earthquake and hurricane at the same time. Because of this, things frequently go wrong and need to be repaired. Whether you are handy or not (and I’m not), you will find it helpful to have a set of tools for simple fixes or even major repairs. Often a problem can at least be patched up to prevent further damage until a proper fix can be made.

What is an RV Tool Kit?

An RV tool kit is a collection of standard tools and items to assist with RV repairs and maintenance. Different situations call for various tools, so having an array of commonly used items can be handy.

Your RV set-up may require certain tools © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tool Kit Basics

Ready to hit the road? Not so fast! Let’s take a moment to inventory that tool kit of yours. I’ve rounded up a list of tools you want in your tool kit before you hit the road. Unnecessary tools waste space and add weight to your RV. You don’t want to carry around tools you’ll never use–and you certainly don’t want to be without the right tools when you need them most! Let’s look at some tools I think anyone should have in their RV tool kit. Cheers to a fun (and prepared) RV adventure!

Heavy-duty work gloves

Your hands can take a beating while RVing. A pair of heavy-duty work gloves can protect your hands when working on odd jobs or doing repairs. They can also add grip when needed. 

Multi-tool

Put fixing power in your pocket with multi-tools including pull-out knives, screwdrivers, scissors, bottle opener, and pliers from top brands like Leatherman, Victorinox, Gerber, and Outbound. Multi-tools come in handy in all situations so it’s never a bad idea to have one—even just to open a bottle of wine in a pinch.

Sewer hose and connection to sewer outlet © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Set of screwdrivers

Your RV is going to have all different shapes and sizes of screws. If you could pick just one tool to have, it’s a screwdriver. But, you’ll need to make sure you’ve either got a range of screwdrivers or a multi-bit screwdriver to save space. From vehicle-related issues to cosmetic things like decorating or adjusting your finishings, a range of screwdrivers will come in handy.

Silicone spray lubricant

Silicone spray stops squeaks but does not attract dirt.

Channellocks

These will come in handy if you ever find yourself having to change the hitch ball on your tow hitch. In combination with the right socket wrench set, they can also help you make adjustments to other hitch equipment that needs to be tightened to the right specs for safe towing.

Hex Key Allen wrench set

Hexagonal screws are used in all sorts of products including tables and bicycles. To loosen or tighten these screws, you’ll need a special type of wrench called an Allen wrench or hex wrench. These wrenches usually come in a set with several sizes and feature different arm lengths, end types, and storage cases.

Crescent adjustable wrench

No matter how many wrench sizes you already have, an adjustable wrench is a must. Sometimes, it’s simply impossible to find the perfect wrench size for the nut you’re trying to loosen. This is where your adjustable wrench will keep you from damaging the nut or bolt and putting yourself in an even deeper hole.

Electric Management System including surge protection © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

LED flashlights

Flashlights aren’t just great for taking on night hikes but also for peering into your RV’s dark spaces. This tool can provide light when working in cabinets or under your rig. Have one designated to your tools and several others in the different location in the interior of your rig as well as your tow/tow vehicle. Many people like LED headlamps or magnetic LED lights to keep their hands free to work. Naturally, you’ll want a pack of batteries, too.

Assorted fuses

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

Tire pressure gauge

Having a tire pressure gauge is a huge must. Checking tire pressures before each travel day should be an RV checklist items. Not all tire pressure gauges are equal. Be sure to carry a heavy duty tire gauge that works for 120 psi or higher.

Ladder

If you have an especially tall rig, consider a telescoping ladder so it can be easily tucked away. From sorting out issues with your awning to cleaning debris off the roof or checking for issues, it’s never a mistake to have a way to get up high safely.

All the tape

As is the case with any tool kit, you’ve got to have duct tape. From temporarily fixing leaks and other on-the-go repairs, you’ll be so happy you have it. On top of that, you’ll want to pack Rhino tape and electrical tape so you can deal with any issues that arise. Tape could be your best friend in a pinch, so you can never have too many options in your back pocket.

Zip ties

In the same vein, you might find yourself in a pinch and in need of an easy and creative fix. Especially when it comes to RV travel, you want to be sure everything is secured in place. Zip ties (and tape) are some of the best things to keep on hand.

Dawn Dish Soap © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tape measure

Self-explanatory! We use ours endlessly. You never know when you will need to measure something in the RV. A 25-foot tape measure should be more than long enough for most situations. Knowing if an item will fit before buying it can save you many dollars and headaches.

Bungee cords

There’s a laundry list of applications for which bungee cords will help you: keeping water containers upright in your truck bed, securing heavy tools so they don’t slide around, securing cupboard doors, expanding your carrying capacity by allowing you to strap camping gear to your roof rack. I recommend having a variety of different lengths and thicknesses so that you have the right bungee cord for the job.

First aid kit

No one should leave home without a first aid kit especially when they’re going on an extended adventure. This is why first aid kits are a necessity in every RV. First aid kits include the essentials such as bandaids, antiseptic wipes, gloves, swabs, scissors, iodine pads, and an emergency blanket. Some first aid kits come with a first aid guide.

Reversible mat

Much of the RV experience is spent relaxing outside the rig, perhaps under an awning but certainly on the ground alongside the RV. A mat which can be used to provide some underfoot protection goes a long way toward making the experience that much more comfortable.

Disposable vinyl gloves © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Utility knife

A utility knife is a fantastic tool to have in your tool kit. It cuts with a removable razor blade, so the edge is both incredibly sharp and very disposable. That means this type of knife is ideal for all of the grunt-work cutting jobs that are too difficult for scissors and too dulling and damaging for a nice pocket knife.

Pliars

Any good set of pliers will do but you’ll definitely need them in your RV tool kit. Needle nose pliers are perfect for harder-to-reach applications and great for precisely pinching connectors when finishing electrical repairs.

Vice grips

Another variation of pliers, locking vise grips allow you to maintain a better grip without constantly squeezing with your maximum strength. They’re also useful for holding things in place temporarily.

Hammer

A claw hammer is always good tool to have available. In addition to using it as a hammer, you can use it to bend things back into shape, knock something loose, or use the claw as a crow bar to pry something apart.

Water pressure regulator © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Water pressure regulator

Since water pressures vary depending on where you’re camping, a pressure regulator is a small but vital addition to your RV tool kit for protecting your RV water system.

Folding step stool

Whether you’re 5 feet 2 inches or 6 feet 2 inches, a step stool is a handy accessory to have in your RV. They help you reach higher storage areas and can provide an extra step up into your rig.

Camp chairs

There’s nothing more relaxing than sitting around a campfire in the middle of nowhere but it’s a little hard to do that if you don’t have anything to sit on. Folding camp chairs are compact, comfortable, easily stored. 

Hammock

Not really a tool but hammocks bring some comfiness to the outdoor space. When you arrive at that epic campsite you can set up a cozy reading or napping nook in the trees.

Jack pads © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What’s in Your RV Tool Kit? 

As you can see, there are many tools that you’ll find helpful in your RV tool kit. Most don’t take up much room but you’ll be glad you have them. Having the appropriate tools can help reduce anxiety and stress, especially in emergencies. 

Conclusion

Whether you’re a weekend RVer, a snowbird, or a full-timer, carrying an RV tool kit is important. But you don’t need to break the bank for the basics. Many of the tools and items noted in this article may be things you have on hand. If you keep them together in a versatile tool kit, you can move them into the RV whenever you travel. Or better yet—simply reach for your RV tool kit when you need to do a project at home.

Worth Pondering…

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.

—Benjamin Franklin

How to Stay Safe When RVing

10 tips for staying safe on RV trips

There is no question that the open road is a dangerous place. When you are traveling along highways and interstates, staying in campgrounds and RV parks, or exploring the wilds of the U.S. and Canada, it is easy to forget that fact. This is always a mistake.

If there is one piece of good advice I can give you and yours, it is to never, ever let down your guard.

While you cannot avoid every issue that might arise during your travels, advanced planning and trip preparation will help you to avoid or at least be prepared to deal with many of the problems that may arise along your journey.

Predators, drunk drivers, thieves, and scammers are everywhere and breakdowns can and do occur. There are also risks when dealing with nature. Therefore, it’s up to you figure out how you will deal with unhappy situations if they should happen. This article will show you how to do that.

Drive defensively © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. Drive defensively

Every person who owns a camper, travel or fifth-wheel trailer, or motorhome should make it a point to learn how to safely drive their travel unit.

You can avoid many mishaps by staying within the posted speed limit, being especially careful when entering and exiting Interstates and secondary highways, taking care when pulling into truck stop fuel islands, and avoiding driving distractions such as texting or trying to read maps while driving your RV.

Even if you do all of these things, you need to remember that the next guy might not be as conscientious as you.

People do stupid things such as putting on makeup, reading maps, talking on cell phones, and trying to balance food or liquids on their laps when they drive. Some are drunk, high, or medicated as well. Others may never have taken the time to learn how to drive big rigs.

No matter the cause, these people are a danger to you and your family so you must remain alert at all times.

If you see someone driving erratically, too slow or too fast, stay as far away from them as you can. Doing this may slow down your arrival time but it can also save your life.

Maintain your RV © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Take care of your vehicles

Repairing and maintaining vehicles is costly and time-consuming. For this reason, many people allow their rigs to fall into disrepair. When this happens, they are no longer safe to drive.

If you cannot afford to take proper care of your RV or tow vehicle you need to find some other way to travel because to do otherwise can bring great harm to you, to your family, and other people as well.

On the other hand, if you take the time to learn how to make minor repairs yourself and check your coach regularly for problems (and fix them quickly), you should be able to safely use your coach for many years.

Checking to see that tires are properly inflated, lights and turn signals are working, brakes are functioning, steps are retracted and antennas are down, and awnings are secured are all simple things you can do that will help you to avoid problems. Also, walk around your RV at each travel stop to ensure that no issues have arisen en route.

Keep a clean campsite an stow belongings when not in use © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Protect your belongings

Many people think campgrounds and RV parks are safe but this isn’t always the case. Most have poor security systems, so it is up to you to take steps to protect your belongings.

It is never OK to leave camping equipment and gear outside of units when you go off to fish, hike, or take part in a variety of other activities.

This is a bad practice because other campers also like to play tourists. This means there might not be anybody left to oversee your belongings when they are gone.

Awkward as it is, the only way for you to make sure your belongings will be there once you return home is to stow them away before you leave.

If you have a safe in your coach, you should use it. If you don’t have one, take your valuables with you.

You may think that locking your doors and windows will protect your things but the truth is that many RVs share the same locking systems. Thus one key can open many doors and windows are fairly easy to open, even when locked.

To resolve this issue, put a dead bolt lock on your entrance door.

You may think you can avoid doing these things by asking a neighbor to watch your things but you don’t know who these people are or who will be visiting them.

Make safety your first priority © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Practice safe camping

Camping is one of the best opportunities to get outside and enjoy the beautiful outdoors. However, your picture-perfect camping trip can quickly go awry if you’re not careful and prepared. To enjoy your camping trip to the fullest, you need to ensure that everyone on the trip is safe.

When it comes to camping, safety should always be your #1 priority (although having fun is a close second). A camping mishap can quickly turn a great trip into a camping nightmare.

Never assume that stopping points are safe. Many are not. The world has changed a great deal since the days when people could stay overnight in rest areas or camp in unsecured and unguarded areas.

The last thing you want is to head out on your camping trip unprepared for the weather only to be faced with unexpected rain, snow, or even extreme heat and humidity. Weather conditions can be very unpredictable and can change on a dime. Be sure to check the weather forecast for the entire length of your trip before you hit the road.

Not only is extreme weather unpleasant but it can also be dangerous if you’re unprepared and caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The bottom line here is that you should do whatever you can to stay safe and also avoid taking risks if you want a good RV travel experience.

Camp safely © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. More safe camping tips

When you are inside of a coach, there is only 3 inches of wall protecting you and it doesn’t take much to shoot a bullet through that wall or break through it.

This is why you should do as follows:

  • Only stay overnight in campgrounds or in well populated spots that are monitored regularly
  • Hide your valuables and cash
  • If you do not feel safe in your campsite, drive away and find a better situation
  • If you hear unusual noises in the night, do not step outside to investigate. Instead call the campground manager or 911.
  • Keep windows covered so that outsiders are unable to judge where you are when you’re inside your coach

Remember that things can be replaced, but people cannot.

Prepare for every emergency © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Protect your health

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, and most pharmacies, or assemble your own.

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

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

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

Hike safely © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

7. Understand nature’s safety issues

Nature is wonderful. People love to go to places that provide peaceful, quiet beauty, and the sense of serenity these areas provide. However, as noted above, going into nature has risks, especially for travelers who normally live in city environments. Therefore, travelers need to understand nature’s risks and be vigilant when faced with them.

8. Prepare for potential problems

One of the best ways to stay safe is to do whatever you can to prepare yourself for potential travel problems.

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

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

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

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

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

9. Create an escape plan

People often get a false sense of security when they look at their recreational vehicles because they give the impression of being solid and safe. But are they?

Do you know how you would react in the event of a blow out, a fire, a rollover, an approaching hurricane or tropical storm, heavy rainfall, severe winds, a flood, or a wildfire? Most people don’t which is why it’s important to take the time to create escape plans and practice using them so that you’ll know what to do in an emergency situation.

Know how to use emergency exits © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

10. Learn how to use emergency RV exits

Every second can be critical if you experience an emergency while RVing. The last thing you want to be doing is figuring out how to use an emergency exit window latch or having it stick.

An egress window is large enough to serve as an emergency exit window allowing for easy escape. The windows look like standard windows. However, they open fully to allow you to reach safety.

They should always be labeled with an EXIT label and have red latches that indicate how to open them. Everyone in the RV needs to know where the emergency exit windows are and how to use them.

Emergency exit windows are standard features on just about every RV. Most have at least one but sometimes multiple, emergency exit windows or an exit door.

Make safety your first priority © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV travel safety is important

There are few things as rewarding as taking an RV road trip but nothing so terrible as having it ruined due to a safety issue.

If you use the above methods for protecting your RV travel safety, you should be well prepared for whatever might come your way.

Worth Pondering…

Speed was high

Weather was hot

Tires were thin

X marks the spot

—Burma Shave sign

The Tool Kit Every RVer Needs

A tool kit is a must-have for every RV enthusiast

I come across numerous articles about what an RV tool kit should contain and they often include a whole lot of tools and other items that most folks will rarely if ever use.

As every RVer knows, space and weight are always considerations when we’re driving a little house on wheels and carrying more heavy tools that you’ll actually use doesn’t make sense for most RVers.

I’m not a big DIYer and we don’t carry a basement full of tools and maintenance supplies. I leave the major maintenance to more experience and trained RV technicians.

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

I carry a basic supply of tools, some I brought with us when we first set out on the road and others I’ve accumulated during projects and maintenance along the way.

We’re not full-timers and we don’t spend a lot of time time boondocking in areas far off the grid and far from stores.

Like many RVers we pull into a campground or RV park, hook up the utilities, and enjoy our camping experience for a few days or a week and move on to our next camping destination.

My point is that there’s just no need to spend hundreds of dollars creating an RV tool kit full of items you’re unlikely to use. So in this post, I’ll detail the contents of a simple, basic RV tool kit with items most RVers will actually use. But first, do you really need to carry a tool kit in your RV?

Camping at Lackawanna State Park, Pennsylvania © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Why you need an RV tool kit

Driving an RV down the road is frequently compared to owning a home that goes through a continuous earthquake and hurricane at the same time. Because of this, things frequently go wrong and need to be repaired. Whether you are handy or not, you will find it helpful to have a set of tools for simple fixes or even major repairs. Often a problem can at least be patched up to prevent further damage until a proper fix can be made. If you don’t have the tools or supplies on hand, you might just be out of luck.  

What tools do you need to carry in my RV?

For the most part, a basic RV tool kit is what every RVer needs. And when I say basic I really do mean BASIC—the parts and tools you’ll most likely actually USE at some point. Again, since full-timers carry everything they own with them, they tend to be more limited by space and weight. And part-timers can keep additional tools for more extensive projects at their sticks and bricks house. No need to carry 50 pounds of tools and supplies on every road trip, camping trip, or adventure.

You also need to consider what type of work you’ll actually do on your RV. For example, I saw one list that included a gigantic, heavy wrench (and I mean GIGANTIC and HEAVY), “in case you need to work on your leaf springs.” Leaf springs?? Really? Is that what you intend to do on your next camping trip? Probably not!

>> Related article: 16 Must-Have RV Accessories

So let’s get to the basics—the stuff you’ll carry and use that can be packed into a small tool box and tossed into the basement of your rig (on the curb side). You’ll notice that only some of these items are actually tools. The other items are things we think you’ll appreciate having in your RV tool kit.

Camping at Hunting Island State Park, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The 10 most important tools for your RV tool kit

If you want to be the least bit handy for some DIY projects and to avoid unnecessary service appointments, here are 10 tools I feel are necessary for your RV tool kit.

1. Assorted screwdrivers (flat blade, Phillips, and Robertson)

Many people have an assortment of screwdrivers at home which they can transfer to the RV as we did. Others may prefer a highly compact version of a multi-bit screwdriver.

2. Assorted pliers

Any good set of pliers will do but you’ll definitely need them in your RV tool kit. You’ll want different types of pliers including needle nose, diagonal cutters, and channellocks.

A pair of needle nose pliers is an extremely versatile tool. Great when you need to get into those tight spots in an RV. Add a small and large pair of adjustable channellocks for those times you need something larger with a flat nose.

Finally, consider a pair of vise-grips for your RV tool kit. These are a nice to have that come in very handy when you need to grip and hold something in place. As the name implies, you can use them as a mini-vise.

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

3. Adjustable wrench

When space and weight are at a premium in an RV, a few adjustable wrenches can replace a whole set of SAE and metric wrenches. A set of small, medium and large adjustable wrenches should cover most of your needs.

A good quality crescent wrench or two (we have both large and small ones) is also important to carry in your RV tool kit.

>> Related article: What’s in Your RV Emergency Kit?

Note: adjustable wrenches can slip on stubborn nuts/bolts or be unable to get to a bolt/nut you need to unscrew or tighten. That’s why the next tool is a must have for your RV tool kit.

4. Socket and ratchet set

A socket set is another necessary piece of your RV tool kit. Sockets are essential to reach things that you would never be able to get to with a wrench. An inexpensive socket set with reversible ratchet that has SAE and metric sockets is a good starting point. Of course, there are accessory sets that will increase the usability of your sockets.

Another note about sockets: You may eventually find yourself needing an unusual socket size. You’ll either need a deep socket for something or you’ll need a specific size for a specific job. A good example of this is when you’ll use a ratchet and a 1 1/16-inch socket for the anode rod of your Suburban water heater.

For those odd sizes that are both rarely needed and aren’t included in the average socket set, you can pick up individual sockets in most auto parts, hardware, or big box stores. Keep in mind that a large socket size like the 1 1/16 might be a ½-inch drive rather than the smaller/more common 3/8-inch drive. If your socket set doesn’t include a ½ to 3/8 adapter you’ll need one of those as well which avoids the need for a ½-inch drive socket wrench.

Camping at Lady Bird Johnson County Park, Fredericksburg, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. Cordless drill with drill bits and assorted drivers

If you were to only carry one power tool, the cordless drill would be my suggestion. It may be one of the most expensive tools you buy but you’ll love owning it and find it to be an excellent investment. You never know where on your RV you’ll need to use a cordless drill.

Remember that you’re driving your house-on-wheels over hill and dale and bumps and potholes. In addition to repairs and DIY projects, you’ll need to tend to things that loosen up. This is one of the most important tools you’ll carry in your RV tool kit.

6. A hammer… or two!

A claw hammer is always good tool to have in the RV. In addition to using it as a hammer, you can use it to bend things back into shape, knock something loose, or use the claw as a crow bar to pry something apart. Because with all that shaking, rattling, and rolling down the road, things are gonna pop out here and there!

7. Utility knife

A basic utility knife is a must have tool that you can use to cut through dense material or when breaking down boxes. Keep spare razor blades on hand for when the blade becomes dull and needs to be replaced. While you can use a pocket knife, I prefer to use the utility knife. Just be careful how you store it.

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

8. Tire pressure gauge

Checking tire pressures before a trip is one of my RV checklist items. Not all tire pressure gauges are equal. If you have large RV tires, your tire pressure could be well over 100 psi.

If you have the room, consider buying an air compressor. These can be invaluable if you have tires with high PSI ratings that most gas station pumps won’t work on and for those who like to take their campers off-the-beaten path, the ability to air down and then air your tires backup can be a game changer.

>> Related article: 35 Little Things to Remember to Pack for Your RV Road Trip

9. Leather work gloves

A good pair of leather work gloves can save your hands. These are essential when picking up fire wood, removing thorny brush or poison oak/ivy from a campsite, or changing a tire. I also find that gloves offer better grip than bare hands.

10. Allen wrenches

A simple set of metric and SAE Allen wrenches is one of those tools that you will be glad to have in your RV tool kit when you need it.

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

The 10 most important random items for your RV tool kit

In addition to the top 10 tools noted above, your RV tool kit should also contain a host of other items that are sure to be helpful to you on the road or during a repair or DIY project.

Here is my list of the 10 more items to toss into your RV tool kit.

1. Assorted screws, nuts, bolts, and small parts

We keep a good assortment of odds, ends, and miscellaneous parts on board so that when things need fixing, we seldom have to look for a hardware store.

2. Zip ties (sometimes called cable ties or zap straps)

Zip ties are among the best things ever invented for various repairs and upgrades. Keep a supply of various sizes on board.

3. Industrial strength Velcro

Strong Velcro is another indispensable item with multiple uses. Great for holding things in place and for many minor upgrade projects.

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

4. EternaBond tape

Seals just about anything and won’t come off… EVER!

5. Dicor self-leveling lap sealant

Every RV roof should be inspected at least a couple of times a year to ensure that any minor cracks in the sealant are touched up. We’ve never had a roof leak because we’re diligent about checking the roof and maintaining the sealant. The sealant if compatical with vinyl, wood, aluminum, fiberglass, and metal. You may want to add a putty knife too for scraping off old Dicor. Make sure they’re plastic to avoid damaging rubber roofs.

6. Caulk gun

You’ll need a caulk gun to apply the self-leveling lap sealant on the roof. You’ll need one for other projects as well like re-caulking the shower.

7. Silicone spray lubricant

Silicone spray will stop squeaks without attracting dirt. This is a very handy item for RVers who are handy with a DIY or maintenance project.

8. LED flashlights

They come in handy especially for RV repairs.  I can honestly say I don’t know how we would manage without this must have tool. Many people like LED headlamps to keep their hands free to work. If you need to light a room or your campsite, an LED lantern is a good tool to have.

9. Tape measure

You never know when you will need to measure something in the RV. A 25-foot tape measure should be more than long enough for most RVs. Knowing if an item will fit before buying it can save you many dollars and headaches.

10. Duct tape

Duct tape, gorilla tape, Rhino tape, gaff tape…it doesn’t matter. Just have a strong tape onboard!

I’ve seen Duct tape used to fix just about everything. I also carry Rhino tape.

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

2 Bonus items for your RV tool kit

A couple of other items you might like to have onboard your RV are a digital multimeter and a wire stripper.

>> Related article: 15 Things to Buy After Getting a New RV

1. Multimeter

RVs have complex electrical systems and a multimeter can make short work of tracking down an electrical problem. If you’re troubleshooting an electrical issue or even just need to check your battery health, a digital multimeter is both necessary and inexpensive.

2. Wire stripper

You may be surprised at the amount of electrical work you can do on your own on your RV. Whether you need to install a new propane detector or a more complex project, a wire stripper is a handy item to have in your RV tool kit.

Camping at Gulf State Park, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Conclusion

Whether you’re a weekend RVer or a full-timer, carrying an RV tool kit is important. But you don’t need to break the bank for the basics. Many of the tools and items noted in this article may be things you have on hand at home. If you keep them together in a versatile tool bag or tool box, you can just toss them in the RV whenever you travel. Or better yet—simply reach for your RV tool kit when you need to do a project at home!

Worth Pondering…

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

—Charlie Brown, from Peanuts