Everyone has to start somewhere. And when we began as RVers, we had NO CLUE. Zero. Zilch. Nada.
In fact, Nic and I (to this day!) have never been in a tent together … ever. Not in our 10 years as a couple. City people all the way! So, when we had this stirring in us to move to a new style of living and make the jump into RV Life, we had some heavy Googling and YouTubing to do.
We found all kinds of items that everyone said we NEEDED and didn’t need. So much of what you already own before RVing is completely perfect for the adventure ahead. And others (ahem … special toilet paper) are verrrrrry specifically necessary for RV living. For the most part, we fared well in our choices, but we found that there were a few purchases we wish we would have spent a little more time on before we laid down our cash!
So, save yourself some money, honey. And take these suggestions into account before handing over your card.
Hands down, the number one thing we bought that we didn’t need was a toaster oven. I know many people love theirs, but for the amount that we used it, it just took up too much precious counter space.
Amid mixed reviews of RV ovens in general, we weren’t sure how ours would be. But we have found ours to work really well! Our stove is great, and I really haven’t found a limitation with the exception of size … I mean no one is going to cook a full-size turkey in an RV oven. Well, probably not successfully. But, if you do, I want to see that. We use a toaster for toast, waffles, and bagels, and the oven for everything else.
Cell phone holder for the dash
We bought little things that we thought would be useful that just proved to get in the way, like a cell phone holder with a sticky bottom that guaranteed no slipping and traveling on the dash, that, immediately slipped and bumped, and fell off the dash.
Cute string lights
We have these cute little string lights that we bought on sale (at guess where?!? – Target, of course), that we never put up while we were traveling around. The idea was there, the cuteness was there, but the time wasn’t. And honestly, when we are traveling, our time is spent out exploring until the sun is gone. When we make it home, we crash and prepare for the next days’ adventures!
Now, we will probably get more use out of them as we transition to a more stationary lifestyle, so technically, this item is more of a “wait-until-you-need-it” than “don’t buy.” I will also say, there are nomadic families that do all of this at every campground they visit and are magicians of some sort. So, just see what suits you best.
Tow dolly for the car
There was one thing, a BIG thing, that we purchased and then actually returned – our tow dolly. We originally had a vehicle that could not be flat-towed, and we were BENT on having a car separate from our Class A motorhome. However, when we couldn’t have the tow ordered and installed in time for us to leave on our first leg, we went without our tow vehicle.
Surprisingly, we had a great time and only ran into a transportation snag once or twice, in which case we rented a vehicle for that time … easily cheaper. When you add up the car payment, insurance, extra gas used to tow and use the vehicle, as well as extra expenses for parking the car at campgrounds, AAA or another roadside program, maintenance, tow equipment and wiring, you really have to decide if towing a vehicle is even worth it. However, we did trade in our car for a flat-towable vehicle, which should be easier to bring along. But we are yet to purchase a tow for it. So, we’ll have to report back on how that goes!
These are the items that we use OFTEN (read: daily … minutely?) Anyhow, here are the things we bought, we love, and would buy over again!
Oh, ice maker, how I love thee! You give me cold drinks, relief from pain, and … well, that’s about it, but I love you! Ours makes a good bit of noise, but I’m a girl who just needs ice, and our freezer is busy with all the chicken nuggets, spinach-hiding smoothie ingredients, and waffles. Don’t judge me – we have veggie intervention on the reg, but the children need to eat! We need them to eat!
Another thing that we LOVE is our portable grill. It’s cute, the trays fold in to save space and fit in the cargo space, you can use a large or small can of propane, and it works on any solid (outdoor) surface. We use it to grill all the time and we have delicious meals!
We found that some campgrounds have a picnic table in your space, some don’t, and some have one that you will not use for fear of impalement or “other.” We carry a foldable table with us for our grill, for eating on, for playdough and kinetic sand play (strict “NOT INSIDE THE RV” rule, here), and it also comes in handy for drying swimsuits, towels, and puddle jumpers!
Our coffee maker (just a generic Mr. Coffee model) and our wine opener (probably bought at Target, because I have spent half my life’s earnings there), are next on the list. I don’t really feel like I need to embellish here, but they are small, affordable, fit well in the RV, and are essential life items for the grown-ups in our RV.
Sewer hose support
When you don’t want to provide the gravity for the ‘clean out’ of your tanks, a sewer hose support is your go-to item (we use the Camco Sidewinder). I am not about that hose-walking life. I don’t want to see the waste, I don’t want to lift the hose to walk it down. I. Don’t. Want. It. This wasn’t an item we heard about before RVing, but we saw it EVERYWHERE. And really, I can’t believe we didn’t focus on this area more, because we had some major sewage gross-outs before actually taking it on the first time. Get this and thank me later, also, treat yourself and buy a longer sewage hose, trust me.
These are products on our to-purchase list … things we want and don’t have. But we will … oh, yes, we will.
That little nozzle and hose thingy that attaches to your sink and cleans out your tank through your toilet (clearly, I have spent hours researching this item, and you can tell by my very technical descriptions of “little nozzle” and “thingy.”) But, upon further research, this item seems to be called a tank rinser.
We really want some sort of water filtering source. The RV community is all a-buzz about the Big Berkey system. I want clean water, but I also want to eat and this thing is expensive. We learned in our previous buys, if you don’t NEED it, wait for it and save for it. This is a saver. But I’m also torn by the thought of clean, fresh, yummy water, and the loss of counter space. These are the things that matter, people! HA!
Tire Minder or a tire monitoring system similar to that is also on our list. It monitors all kinds of things like pressure levels/fluctuation, tire temperature, and other conditions important to your safety during travels. I’m honestly proud of myself for even knowing about this one … though less proud for not already owning it…
Data plan or jetpack for internet while roaming. First of all, most of our work is online, and income is important. Also, we love adventure, our boys, and intentional living, but we Netflix (and HULU) a little frequently. Plus, a lot of educational programs and resources require internet access – hello fellow road-and-home-schoolers!
There it is! A quick, but deliberate, rundown of our favorite and not-so-favorite purchases, in no particular order. Tell us, what are your must-haves and purchase regrets?