A Word on RVing Necessities

  • About a year ago I started a list of the things I would need to buy for RVing. Early on this was an exercise to get me thinking about how much the lifestyle would cost up front and see if it was feasible for me. Once I got serious about it, the list grew at a rapid rate. Some things were obvious, like the truck, hitch, and RV. Then there were things that weren’t items that I knew I needed to have, like a mail forwarding service and mobile internet.

But the most difficult list to manage is accessories and what I wanted to have inside the RV. With the best of intentions, I peeked at forums and blogs and made notes of what other people said were “must-haves” for RVing, and soon had a ginormous list. Not only would all of this stuff that people say they can’t live without cost a respectable sized fortune, it wouldn’t all fit in the Casita.

The conclusion I came to is everyone’s idea of what is necessary is different. Since I’m going to be traveling small to save on money, time, and hassle, my needs are different than many other RVers.

If you are also in the process of getting ready to go full-timing, whether it be in a large or small rig, here’s my advice: Go ahead, and make the list. Keep it handy, but don’t buy everything on it. Instead, when you get started RVing, buy only the basic necessities first, the stuff that will obviously be needed. Start taking trial runs in the RV not far from your home base, preferably months before your planned departure date for full-timing.

This will give you time to figure out what you will really need, and time to compare prices as you shop around. If it’s something that needs to be ordered, you still have a home address to ship it too, and if you really forget something that is absolutely necessary, you won’t be far from home.

On a somewhat related subject, this also lets you discover any quirks or issues with your new RV before you need to be in it all the time, it’s much easier to make repairs or modifications when you aren’t living in it yet.

For Christmas this year when my family asked what I wanted, I wanted to ask for things that would be handy for RVing. But since I don’t know what exactly I’ll end up needing, I asked for Amazon gift cards from them. Some of the money will go towards buying e-books for my Kindle, and some will go for those random RVing things that I find I need.

Putting my whole list of possible RVing needs down here would take up a lot of space and would only be useful to some people. Here is an abbreviated version, and at some point in the future perhaps I’ll dedicate a page to the full list – probably once I have the RV and a clearer idea of what the necessities for me actually are.

A list of common things that people say are necessary to have:

  • water pressure gauge
  • leveling blocks
  • wheel chocks
  • electrical adapters and extension cord (the Casita will have a 30 amp hookup, so 15/30 and 30/50 adapters would be handy)
  • water and sewer hoses and the couplings to connect them
  • basic tool set
  • Non-fragile dishware

A few things I’m pretty sure I’ll want for boondocking

  • Portable propane heater
  • Solar setup
  • Collapsible water jugs

If you’re already on the road, where did you fall along the spectrum when you started:  More stuff than you later found you needed? Not enough? Just right? For those of you not on the road yet, do you have this kind of list started?

Image courtesy of cepoverde

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  1. Jayne on August 20, 2012 at 5:09 am

    Well, I’ve only gotten to this blog post (I started from the beginning), but in case it is *not* touched on later, I felt compelled to mention this important item.

    Extra carbon monoxide detectors for each “room”. Especially important if you intend to boondock in any form of urban location, but still vitally important even when out in the middle of nowhere, as our own generator has set our CO detector off. Most people neglect to purchase additional for the rest of the “rooms” of their RV, as there is usually one already in most newer models, usually at floor level in the bedroom or bathroom.

    We have a separate, portable, battery-operated model that clips onto the front visor or, in our case, the window valance; this is in addition to the one factory-installed in the bathroom wall at floor level behind the bathroom door.

    The battery-operated unit is the only one that has gone off, while the wall unit has only gone off once, and that was a few days ago, when a few rags covered in denatured alcohol were brought in before they got rinsed. We also bought a third unit that plugs into the wall with a battery back-up, however, that one has yet to go off since I tested it at purchase.

    Buy a few, and test them, to see which one(s) go off first, if at all. I’ve returned many that don’t go off at all. And mark when you got them, because they only have a lifespan of so many years, then you need to replace them.

    Sorry this is so long, but CO has no odor, and is deadly, especially in RV’s with generators or that can/will be slept in at any point near any other generators/engines. I’d rather be safe than sorry in a situation like this.

    (And no, I have no ties to any CO detector company, other than my preference of which ones work for me the best. 🙂 )

    • Becky on August 23, 2012 at 12:13 am

      Yep, that’d be a good one Jayne. I don’t expect to be running a generator, I want to boondock entirely on solar power, but using a propane heater in the winter gives off CO as well so a good thing to have for that reason.

  2. Danny H on January 3, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    I’m enjoying your blog, keep up the great work. I finished restoring a 1976 13′ scamp and my wife and I took it out last year for the first time. We found that it had more than enough space for multiple weeks of travel. It all depends on what your used to living with. We have kayaked for a week with everything stored inside our double and back packed in Europe for 2 months with a medium sized back pack.

    I think it’s good that everyone does like you have, and really think what you need and how you will be using your trailer. Everyone is different and there are no wrong solutions if it fits what you need. We are also planning to full time, in around 4 to 5 years, and have been looking at trailers with this in mind. With both of us living in it and knowing our need for a little personal space, we are looking at a length of 25 to 29 feet. This seems way big to us and we know we could be happy in your size of trailer if it was only one of us doing it.

    I’m excited about your new adventure as I am about ours. Have a fun time with the learning experience.

    • Becky on January 4, 2012 at 7:12 pm

      Ooo, backpacking and kayak trips, two things that I also want to do at some point. I looked at Scamps too when I started peeking at molded fiberglass trailers, they seem like very nice little trailers. I admire people like you who are able to restore them, the retro look can be so, well, cute. I also have a secret love of old teardrops, but something that size would be a bit smaller than I feel I could live comfortably in.

      It sounds like you two have a solid plan worked out and a good idea of what you want. I know of another couple that started full-timing in a travel trailer that had 27′ of indoor space (bumper length was something like 29′), information can be found at http://roadslesstraveled.us/Lynx.html if you are curious.

      It’s great having you aboard Danny, wishing you the best on the start of your full-timing adventure as well. 🙂

      • Danny H on January 6, 2012 at 12:07 am

        Thanks for the heads up on Roadslesstraveled. Keep up the great blog.

  3. Carolyn on December 30, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    Hi Becky,

    Good suggestions you stated in your article.

    Before I purchased my RV, I had a long list, as well. 🙂 Some of the items I purchased, I wished I had waited to purchase until it was needed (still have not used some of it). I have made up my mind in the future, I will wait until an item is needed before puchasing. This also goes for after market items I want to add to my RV. 🙂

    • Becky on December 31, 2011 at 5:45 pm

      Sounds like a good plan Carolyn. 🙂 I discovered this lady who makes custom stained glass windows in sizes that’ll fit behind RV windows, she’s done several for Casita owners that go on the door and their so beautiful. The temptation to order one is strong, but so far I’ve been able to resist.

  4. jim on December 30, 2011 at 10:32 am

    Weight will be your enemy, both in mpg and wear and tear. I’d use paper products until you get comfortable, no clean up(no need for grey water) and disposable.
    You are in a position in life where you do not know what your needs are. Most people who RV full time do it after accumulating “stuff” that they now realize they do not need and need to eliminate excess “stuff”. Your “stuff” list is small so that is a good start. You do not have to pare down so be careful when you pare up!

    • Becky on December 30, 2011 at 12:03 pm

      Indeed Jim, would be a shame to let the downsizing I’m working on now go to waste by buying all this new stuff that it turns out I don’t need.

  5. Cherie @ Technomadia on December 30, 2011 at 9:28 am

    Ehh… don’t sweat the small stuff 🙂 Your advice of waiting to buy everything but what you need to get your RV home and parked is a good one.

    Aside from the points you’ve made, I’d add:

    – RV Storage space varies widely from rig to rig. You’ll not only need ‘unbreakable dishes’ – you’ll need ones that fit in YOUR cabinets. And in a small space, ones that go with your decor also help keep the sanity (well, mine at least). In the past, I’ve had to meticulously select pots
    & pans, and spatulas by their size to fit in the drawers available.

    – Until you see where your sewage connections are and what space you have to store them, you won’t know how long of a hose you need. And you won’t need a sewage hose until you’ve lived in your RV for at least a few days. More than likely connectors, power cords and such will come with your RV. Find out before you make your offer (and what shape they’re in), so you can properly budget around that.

    There’s very little RV specific stuff that I’d recommend purchasing before you have your RV. Break controller (if needed), safety chains, wheel chocks.. probably all you need to pick it up.

    With each RV we’ve had, the needs were different. We just purchase as we identified what was needed… and did trial runs to figure that out.

    Instead of spending money on stuff now for things you may or may not be able to utilize… put aside money for accessories, and get exactly what you need when you need it.
    Cherie @ Technomadia recently posted..Jobs, Careers and Income Sources for TravelersMy Profile

    • Becky on December 30, 2011 at 12:01 pm

      Very good points on storage Cherie, I hadn’t thought about the space available for hoses, and dishes, thanks for the tip. 🙂

      I already have a simple hitch, brake controller (I’ll need one), and wheel chocks for getting it home, was just the safety chains I’m missing.

      I often feel like a juggler these days, there are just so many things to try to keep afloat. But I’m happy, and I feel like I’m on the right path. It’ll all work out in the end I’m sure. 🙂

      • OhhWell on January 6, 2012 at 12:05 pm

        I have yet to see a pre-owned trailer that did not already have the safety chains but you never know.

  6. Pleinguy on December 29, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    Oh yes, I have a list; and it can get quite long indeed. And, I’ve already begun purchasing some of the items. I carry the list with me at all times, in case I run across a deal. Pretty much everything obtained so far are items that will be useful even if my plans don’t pan out. I think getting the things that may be a bit expensive while still working is a good idea. Since I will be buying a used RV, some items may already be included with the rig. So, I’m avoiding getting those types of things. Spreading out the buying over a long period makes it easier on the budget too. The process is a good way to stay on track and to keep motivated toward the goal.
    Pleinguy recently posted..On the Home StretchMy Profile

    • Becky on December 29, 2011 at 8:35 pm

      Mine is a good 3 pages or so, but includes notes so it isn’t a solid 3 page list. 😛

      I’ve purchased all the things I’ll need for getting the RV home except for safety chains and your right, just seeing my truck when I’m getting off of work makes me smile since I bought it specifically to tow with, it’s a good reminder of the big picture.

      But for the most part I’m holding off on buying other stuff for now. Part of it is because I’ll be switching jobs soon and the new one won’t be paying as well, may wait to do the majority of the purchasing once I can move to a less expensive place and am saving more again. Again, it’s all a bit fuzzy right now, but I’m working on it.

      Glad to hear your making progress Plein. 🙂

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