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Things I Didn't Know An RV Needed - Subtitled: Learn From My Mistakes....

Updated on September 19, 2014

Boy, was I living in the dark when I bought my first travel trailer!

I had absolutely no business visiting that RV sale at the fairgrounds in Tucson last May. No business at all. Long story short, I walked out with a brand new 28' 2013 Shadow Cruiser travel trailer and then had to go find a truck! Luckily for me, I have not rued the decision to jump into the RV world. In fact, to the contrary, John and I have had many fine mini vacations in our travel trailer and fairly inexpensive vacations too boot.

Whether you own a travel trailer, a big Class A RV, a Class C RV, or my dream trailer, a fifth wheel, there are things that you need to have on hand for your camping trips. And, there are things you might not have even thought of, which is why I'm writing this Squidoo article. I figured I might as well give you a leg up about stocking your RV - you'll learn what you'll want to have on board your RV to maximize your comfort and usability. So, come along and see what I've uncovered in the 6 months since I've owned my Cruiser RV.

Note: all pictures on Things I didn't know an RV needed are my own pictures unless they're items for sale on Amazon.com.

Edit: Since I penned this article, I've used and loved my travel trailer even more. So much so, in fact, that I started up a website of items I use every time we head out: GoodGiftsForRvOwners.com. Come see what interesting items I've found that might help you or your RV owner friend out.

We lived on the Queen short mattress that came with the RV for over a year. This mattress though, as to be expected, was a cheap imitation of a real mattress. At only 4" thick, John and I both woke up hobbling around in the morning until...

I put a crow bar into my wallet and replaced my flimsy RV mattress with the Parklane mattress you see there to the right.

I read all the amazon reviews and liked what I saw. I also liked that this RV mattress is coils inside, not foam (memory foam is just not my friend). It's also super thick so it's really like sleeping on a nice firm bed. And, boy, do I like having it along for camping trips. I get such wonderful sleep now and wake up feeling refreshed and raring to go.

Source

Now, being of a certain age (ahem), I suffer hot flashes and night sweats so no mattress in the world is going to be cool without a cooling mattress topper. That's how I found the Double Plush Bamboo mattress topper you see there to the right. (You'll need to click that link to see the bamboo mattress topper in action.

The thing is wonderful! Most reviewers (myself among them) love the cooling ability of this mattress pad topper. And, since John likes a softer mattress, this mattress pad added just enough softness for him while keeping the bed firm enough for me.

This cooling mattress pad topper doesn't come in Queen short size so I bought the regular Queen and hoped for the best. With really nice, deep elastic sides, it molds to about any size Queen mattress. I made sure the sides wrapped all the way around. The thing haasn't slipped or even moved an inch. I love it so much that I bought the King size for my thermupedic mattress in my house.

Reviewers note that it's like sleeping on a cloud, and they're right.

A Collapsible Ladder Is A Must Have For An RV

Our Shadow Cruiser has a slide out that you can see there on the right. But, what it doesn't have is a small, protective awning to protect the top of the slide out from leaves, acorns, branches, etc. Especially when we are in a campground in the woods, it's imperative that the top of the slide out be clear of any impediments before we close it (we learned this the hard way - our slide out wouldn't come in one day - a branch was blocking it. Off to the RV repair shop we went).

Since you'll want to reduce the amount of weight you're toting along on your RV trip, a collapsible ladder is the perfect thing to have along so you can climb up there and clear the top of the slide out, the awning, or the top of the RV itself. Now, if you're lucky enough to have bought an RV with a ladder on the back, you can just skip ahead....

Note: the telescoping ladder you see in the link below is the exact same one I saw yesterday at the camping store. The difference? The camping store price was (drum roll please....) $253!!!!!

Comfortable Chairs Are An RV Necessity

Even if you're among the more active campers and enjoy trail hiking, rock climbing, or other physical activities when you're out on an RV vacation, at some point, you just have to sit your fanny down. And, it makes absolutely no sense to be sitting in an uncomfortable camping chair, so pay the extra money and treat yourself to a chair you'll look forward to relaxing in for years to come.

As noted above, my travel trailer purchase was sort of impulsive (not 'sort of' at all - it was 100% 'what the heck did I just do' impulsive....), and I bought my camper in Arizona when I live in MD. So, the very first RV vacation John and I took was a rather ambitious one - we drove 2300 miles from Tucson, Arizona to Boyds, MD.

I did have a few weeks to outfit the RV with the very basics we needed; Costco was my best friend. But, in looking back, the cheap camping chairs I bought there just were a temporary solution. They're not very comfortable for long time lounging, something John and I excel at. So, when we got home, I invested in the Picnic Time Reclining Camp Chair shown below. It's an outstanding chair at a much reduced price on Amazon.com than what I paid. This particular chair is big enough that I can sit Indian-style while writing. I love that.

Here's a link to more camp chairs on my website: GoodGiftsForRvOwners.com camping chairs.

The Camco Little Red Campfire

Even if camping in an area where fires are not permitted, this portable campfire is allowed as it's run on propane. Just turn the valve and the fire is instantly out. It also puts out a good amount of heat and is quite portable and clean with the cover that clamps on.

We also bought the little gas tank to bring along camping for those times when lugging the bigger tank was not feasible.

To see more portable campfires and accompanying extras, come visit my webpage: Good Gifts For RV Owners, Portable Campfires.

For Those Of Us Who Enjoy Our Cocktails -

You Shouldn't Leave Home Without A Travel Bar

We've had our travel bar for a few years now and have found it incredibly handy. The one we own is that Picnic Time 2 bottle case below - that gives us a bottle of vodka for me and a bottle of scotch for John.

When we bought the Shadow cruiser travel trailer, I knew that the travel bar would come in even handier. And, it sure has. These travel bars make great Father's Day, Birthday, or Christmas presents for anyone who enjoys a good happy hour.

Here's an article I wrote with more choices:

Top 15 Travel Bars For Those On The Go
John and I have a travel bar set and love to tote it along on our car trips (it's too difficult to take on flights these days) - no, we don't use it while driving but, after a long and dusty road trip, once you're in the hotel, a cold martini...

A Portable Ice Maker!

We just totally love our new portable ice maker - no more running out of ice, ever! Just fill with 3 liters of water, plug it in and turn it on. Within 15 minutes, here comes your first ice.

Portable ice makers generally either make 28 lbs or 50 lbs of ice a day so you'll have plenty of fresh ice for those cocktails you're planning.

For more details about the NewAir portable ice maker, check out my article: Never run out of ice again.

 NewAir AI-100R 28-Pound Portable Icemaker, RedCheck Price

An Induction Hot Plate and Pots

I was turned onto the idea of induction cooking when a friend was making a huge pot of crabs on an induction cooktop outside. I was so impressed that I couldn't wait to get to Bed, Bath & Beyond with my little 20% off coupon. Let me tell you, Amazon is about 1/3 the price for the exact same induction cooktop.

I bought an 1800 watt induction cooktop which is very powerful. Water boils in under a minute on the highest setting and soups and stews simmer gently on low.

Nesting Induction Cookware Set

Since most RV kitchens are pretty small, a nesting cookware set just makes sense. And, if you bought that induction cooktop there above, you're going to want this Magma Nesting Cookware Set.

Reviewers love the stuff so much that many people have actually mentioned they use it in their home kitchens also. It's extremely heavy duty and will work well in any environment so it's perfect for camping or taking on a boat.

Note: induction cooking relies on magnets within the pots so not all cookware will work. When shopping for cookware, just take a magnet along. If the magnet sticks, you're good to go. I love the nesting cookware set for the camper as it gives me full functionality in little space.

The Soleus Portable Mister

John just gave me this portable mister last week in preparation for my trip to Bayshore Campgrounds next week. We immediately set it up on our hot/humid balcony and....instant relief....I mean instant. The mist that this unit puts out is so fine that you can even use it indoors. Just add water and plug it in - no hose connection is needed.

You can read more about the misting fans in an article on my website: The beauty of a misting fan.

This portable mister is a must-have item for anyone who enjoys the great outdoors, in and RV or not.

Make Sure To Have Plenty Of Leveling Blocks

Our RV is parked in our backyard when we're not using it. Since the yard is sloped and it's important to keep the RV level, we bought two sets of these leveling blocks to put under the supports. The leveling blocks create a much more stable surface than just putting the support down in the yard. Also, since the yard is sloped, we have to use 5 or 6 leveling blocks at the hitch just to have the hitch meet the ground. These are inexpensive and are great to have along any RV trip.

Tire Locking Chocks

You know how your RV might wobble a bit when you walk in it even if the stabilizers are down? Well, our's sure did - especially with 4 dogs along for the trip. Every time one of them would turn around in their bed, we're rock and roll. That is, until we bought these tire locking chocks.

These chocks work by putting very slight pressure on the tires - you just snug them up to the tires. No more wobble. At all. These are well worth the money.

Here's a few of my other RV related articles you might like.

These articles are geared toward those of us who have stepped outside our comfort level with the purchase of an RV. Did I mention that I tried for ONE FULL HOUR to back the sucker into the first campground? Oy. Anywho - here you go!

The Camco Little Red Camp Fire - When Real Fires Aren't Allowed
I bought my first travel trailer (I say 'first' as I already have my eye on my next one) in May 2013 when I happened to wander innocently into a camper expo in Tucson, Arizona. I wish I hadn't wandered in with my checkbook as, in just two sh...

Camping Tables For RVs, Travel Trailers, Class Cs or 5th Wheels
I just bought a new 2013 Shadow Cruiser travel trailer (which is, as I type this, in the shop - that's another article - sigh) and was thrilled to be given a great camping table as a camper warming present. Since I got it, it's become a staple wh...

Shadow Cruiser S260BHS Review From An Owner
. yes- sir- ee, Bob, that brand new Shadow Cruiser S260BHS was not planned! I'm not one to pass up a free RV show but, perhaps, in the future, I'll think twice. Now, it's not because I don't really enjoy my Shadow Cruiser S260BHS travel...

Good Gifts For RV Owners
With the recent purchase of my Shadow Cruiser RV camper, I've found that outfitting this trailer for travel means doing a lot of shopping. We're just today completing our first trip in the camper, coming across country from Tucson, Arizona to our...

RVing - How To Set Up An Outdoor Living Area
I just bought a 2013 Shadow Cruiser travel trailer in May so I'm brand new to RVing, but one thing I have quickly figured out is how to set up an outdoor living area while camping. I like my creature comforts which is why I'm in a travel trailer...

Camco 22873 50' Heavy-Duty Contractor's Water Hose - Lead Free
Camco 22873 50' Heavy-Duty Contractor's Water Hose - Lead Free

This drinking hose is heavy duty and well worth the price. I've had this exact same hose for a year and a half now and it hasn't had one leak.

 

You'll Need A Good Drinking Water Hose

I did not realize that one shouldn't drink out of a regular garden hose - as, well, I've been doing it 50+ years now. Regardless, evidently, it's not a good idea. So, I bought this Camco drinking hose. I like it as it feels more sturdy than the last white one I had that sprung a leak on day two. This drinking water hose has lasted me a year and a half now.

Just make SURE to keep it separate from where you store your sewer hose. It's also a great idea to carry a small spray bottle with bleach/water combo and spray the ends of the hose and the tap before attaching it.

What Goes In, Must Come Out - RV Sewer Hose and Sewer Hose Supports

rv sewer hose
rv sewer hose

RV Sewer Hose

The very first thing we lost on our RV trip from Arizona to Maryland was the bumper covers and the sewer hose – shoot. This is a pretty typical happening it appears. So, we had to purchase a new sewer hose our second day out in our new RV. Luckily, we've managed to keep this one for a year and a half now.

Camco makes a nice sewer hose. It's the one we bought at our replacement and, for what it's worth, the Camco sewer hose is much more heavy duty than the cheap one that came with our camper.

Sewer Hose Supports

If you're camping at a site with a sewer hook-up, you're going to really love these sewer hose supports. They allow a steady downhill flow from your camper to the sewer so waste water and sewage drains out much more efficiently.

And, the best part of these sewer supports is that you 'set it and forget it.' It's ready to go every time you open the gray water or black water drain.

I love to hear from the people who wander across my articles. Please leave me a short note to let me know you stopped in.

Please leave me comments ~

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    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 3 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      Wow, you have become an RV pro, Lori! So impressed!

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 3 years ago from Central Florida

      The raised sewer hose is also important, since you are less likely to get punctures in the hose if it is up off the ground. We call ours the "slinky."

      We find wheel chocks important to have also.

    • Frischy profile image

      Frischy 3 years ago from Kentucky, USA

      Excellent tips for new RV owners!

    • profile image

      CamperVamp 3 years ago

      Great list!

    • profile image

      RinchenChodron 3 years ago

      Great advice learned the hard way! Good story too.

    • profile image

      GrammieOlivia 3 years ago

      I never knew there was so much involved in RVing. Oh my!

    • Aladdins Cave profile image

      Aladdins Cave 3 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

      Nice lens and informative for those who are thing of buying something.

      Cheers from DOWNUNDER

    • Heidi Vincent profile image

      Heidi Vincent 3 years ago from GRENADA

      This is a very practical lens, gottaloveit. I really guess we are learning from your mistakes :))) So it will be smoooooth riding and living for those who want to rv trailer-ing

    • girlfriendfactory profile image

      girlfriendfactory 3 years ago

      And here I thought RVing was so easy! I guess all those folks who do it all the time just make it look that way! Great tips!

    • Elyn MacInnis profile image

      Elyn MacInnis 3 years ago from Shanghai, China

      I love the idea of blowing bugs away with a fan! Smart!

    • PNWtravels profile image

      Vicki Green 3 years ago from Wandering the Pacific Northwest USA

      I've been an RVer for several years, too! Great tips!

    • kislanyk profile image

      Marika 3 years ago from Cyprus

      Never been in an RV, but it must be wonderful to travel around the country with it. Btw I would want one those chairs in my own home, they look great!

    • AnonymousC831 profile image

      AnonymousC831 3 years ago from Kentucky

      Great lens.

    • profile image

      marsha32 3 years ago

      oh how I dream of the day that I can go to the state fair and to the RV sales section and walk out owning one!

    • profile image

      michnative 2 years ago

      We just inherited a class C rv, now while that sounds awesome, and it is ...we inherited it from an aunt who drove it and never did anything to it.....no outside maintainance, nothing inside... so we have had to unbury it as well as spend a ton of money to bring it up to code....and everything has to be ordered from a company who does not take credit cards ( In this day and age?) so we have to send a check, wait for them to open it, pull the item and to ship it...the last order we made they sent the wrong part!

      We figure sooner or later the whole rv will be brand new and we will finally be able to use it! (laughing)

      Do yourself a favor guys.....read everything you can, plan for the unexpected and have a ball!

      We plan on using this trailer till it dies! Thanks for all the good tips.....and Happy Camping!

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 2 years ago

      How I miss my caravan. They are superb fun and great holiday happenings. Enjoyed your lens and great tips.

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 2 years ago

      OMG! I surely wished that my mom did NOT give away her fifth wheel - I would have been traveling in it now. I stayed in it for 3 months, Nov-Jan, in 2010 when I got my divorce. It was in Brooksville, but it sure was windy and cold in Florida that Winter. You are so right about the collapsible ladder - I saw one of those when a fellow came to work on my roof. Everybody could use one. Happy RVing!!

    • profile image

      jenkay518 2 years ago

      Would you believe I opened all your bookmarks, and I have put the Ice maker, and the burner on my wish list - and I want them now!!

    • Brite-Ideas profile image

      Barbara Tremblay Cipak 2 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      the outdoor fan to blow the bugs away is a good idea! my brother and his wife recently invested in a very large trailer (they're currently across the country with it as we speak) - and they've really stocked it up with useful items - that fan would make a good gift idea :)

    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      gottaloveit2,

      I have dreamed of owning an RV. Now I know what to do and what not to do. Thanks for sharing your wisdom.

      And as for your hub.

      I love this hub. And here are the reasons why:

      1. This is an excellent piece of writing. Honestly, it is amazing.

      2, I loved every word.

      3. Graphics, superb.

      4. This hub was helpful, informative and very interesting.

      5. Voted Up and all of the choices.

      6. I loved your topic of this hub.

      You are certainly a gifted writer. Keep the great hubs coming.

      Sincerely,

      Kenneth Avery, Hamilton, Alabama

    • Ponderize profile image

      Ponderize 2 years ago from California

      I have always been curious about a holiday in an RV - looks like a lot of work! But very rewarding.

    • profile image

      Jeanie Hutto 2 years ago

      Little Red Campfire is great. We have one and absolutely adore it. My husband made his own leveling blocks and locking chocks. We recently ordered a folding ladder and can't wait for it to arrive. We love to go camping in our 30' OutBack Travel Trailer. Camping is so much fun and mos of the fellow campers are friendly. Glad you are having fun in your RV.

    • April Gallup profile image

      April Gallup 2 years ago from Southern California

      What an awesome article! I found it on pinterest and created a hubpages account just to comment :)

      We rv 99% of our time in the hot Arizona summers so one thing I can say has been invaluable for us to have is a crock pot! Being able to set it and forget it and NOT heat up the rv by cooking with the stove or oven is a godsend when it's 115 degrees outside. And having a hearty meal after being on the Colorado river all day is necessary, since we usually just snack all day... And now that I know there's such thing as a portable ice maker, life changing!!!

      Again, thanks for the great article.

    • poetryman6969 profile image

      poetryman6969 2 years ago

      I don't like memory foam either. Good tips!

    • profile image

      Kat 20 months ago

      Getting ready to go RVing is really no different than moving into a new home. There are simply some things you need and others that are what we think we need.

      We've been full time RVers for over 12 years and there are definitely some things on this list that are a must. The only thing I disagree with and that is a personal first-hand experience choice is the type of raised sewer support. We prefer something different because of this support doesn't always stay up especially in a wind. We throw ours out and have watched other RVers do the same thing.

      The wheel locking chocks are great and do cut down on the movement of the rig. And leveling blocks are a must have.

    • profile image

      John 18 months ago

      we have been camping in every type camper since 1967and continue to do so now. You are right on most of the items you listed.you failed to note one very important item , you always need a very good water pressure regulator preset at 40-50psi

    • profile image

      Richard Sharp 18 months ago

      Wonderful article, the round shop fans work wonderful to ward off these Virginia bugs too.

    • profile image

      Maureen 16 months ago

      Hi there, you have some cool gadgets! Never heard of a portable ice maker. I have a question. Do you have any toilet tips. I feel like no matter what I do my ShadowCruiser bathroom ends up stinky!! Please let me know if you have any magic tips!

    • profile image

      Linda 13 months ago

      Love our ice maker. Also have a collapsible pub table and folding chairs which stores under the bed. One more handy thing we use every time we camp is a screen room - easy to put up and take down. Nice for out door sitting especially in the evening. Maureen go to Wal mart - to the RV section- they have special little packets of orange scented dissolvable which go straight in the holding tank. We use them all the time. They truly work even in the hottest weather.

    • profile image

      Helen 11 months ago

      Maureen,

      If you have the availability of dumping at home (overflow pipe in yard), dump sewage at campsite. Then partially fill blackwater tank with water and head home. The sloshing loosens things up. When you get home, dump again. Then put bottle of toilet treatment and just a little water back in tank. Hope this helps!

    • profile image

      Heather 10 months ago

      Thanks for all the great information!!!

    • profile image

      Lorri 9 months ago

      Wow! We just bought a 25 ft travel trailer after years of tenting and a pop up. In the past year we have purchased every item you had listed except the ice maker( maybe soon! ). Some things we figured out in our own, like the induction cooker and comfy chairs! Some things we have added that you don't have on the list-a portable tank for emptying the black/grey tank mid camping trip, a 7-gallon fresh water container for quick rinses or drinks. This sits on the sturdy 6-ft resin folding table that we have next to the camper with a large clear tote that holds napkins, paper good, cutlery, etc, so we don't have to go in and out of the camper. A large camp rug is a necessity to keep the dirt out. Our dogs appreciate that! We will learn as we go along but your article is a great source for all campers! Thanks for the links for purchasing!

    • profile image

      Robin 3 months ago

      Moving towards getting my Travel Trailer. ..I'm down sizing and I'm so excited! Ready for full time Rving. I figure by April I'll be ready. Learning all I can and this helps.

    • profile image

      Debi Harmel 4 weeks ago

      My husband and I are looking into RV life. Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

    • profile image

      Kaz 2 weeks ago

      I just bought my first "RV," in the form of a 41' 11" fifth wheel that I intend to live in full time. Eeek! I know that I have no idea what I'm doing or what I've gotten myself in to, even tho this has been on my bucket list all my life. I haven't even taken possession of the rig yet (that'll happen in a few weeks). I'm still looking for a place to park it....

      Thank you for the article, the list, and the links! Much peace of mind gained from it! And much has been bookmarked, lol. The links and info are up to date. And I've seen a lot of these products in use when I've driven through some RV parks - now I know what they are!

      Thank you, and best wishes to you and yours!

      Kaz & Jamie, with pups Boh, Chorizo, and Shea

      New Mexico, USA

      April 11, 2017

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