Well, What Now? So, you've
made the plunge and purchased that Camper you've been dreaming of. You've
stayed up late, talking about all the places you want to see, the
side trips you want to make, the rolling and rambling lifestyle
of an RV owner. Now the Camper is in the driveway and you're ready to
load up and hit the trail. But what stuff do you pack, and how much?
Power, Water, and Sewage: the Big Three
Without the convenience of fresh water, electricity, and sewage
lines, an RV is not much more than a large tin tent with a bed.
Access to drinking water, toilet facilities (unless you have a toilet
in your RV), and electricity makes all the difference in your RV
adventure. Be sure to check for the proper tubing and other items
for these three utilities each time you prepare for an RV trip:
An properly rated extension cord (see RV manual for details),
in case you are unable to park close enough to the power source.
Any power or voltage adapters you might need.
A white fresh water hose fitted with the necessary connectors.
A water pressure regulator, since the water pressure varies
between RV parks. It's rare to experience this, but since excess
water pressure can damage the plumbing in your RV, a regulator
is a good safety precaution.
An in-line water filter for your RV's water supply is strongly
suggested. Unless you're traveling in Mexico, it's very rare
to have any problems with municipal water supplies. This simply
adds an extra purification and filtration step to your water,
and can eliminate the need for bottled water.
Stock a full sewage disposal kit including the proper hoses,
fittings, flushing connections, rubber gloves, a sewer hose
support to use while draining the black or grey water tank,
and any sewage tank additives called for in the manual for your
RV's septic system if your RV is equipped with one.
A length of hose and a tank-cleaning wand to clean the sewage
holding tanks, again if your RV has one. Equipment and sanitizer
for the sewage hoses and fittings, if you prefer to sanitize
them before you stow them away.
Rapid-disintegration toilet paper designed for use in an
RV. Getting Level and Stable
Arrival Once you get to the RV pad at the campground
or other parking area, you'll want to make sure the vehicle is level
and stabilized. Here are a few items that will help balance things
out and keep them that way:
A bubble level (if you're extremely concerned about being
Basic camping supplies.
Camping Supplies Now you should be ready to
unpack. Here is a list of some basic camping supplies you'll want
to have on board for a short or long RV camping trip:
A gas or battery-powered camping lantern.
Multiple-outlet cord (surge protector type).
Folding table for outside.
Large plastic trash bags.
Smaller plastic trash bags.
Lightweight and heavy-duty rope for tie-downs, clotheslines,
Selection of bungee cords in a variety of lengths and sizes.
Matches or long butane lighter made for lighting fires and
Well-stocked first-aid kit (top up the contents before each
A small handheld vacuum cleaner.
Ant traps and repellant.
Doormat outside the RV.
Personal Items Although you may have the luxury
of a toilet in your RV (if equipped), you'll still need to bring
along the same basic personal hygiene items as you do when you're
camping outside: Hand and bath soap.
Insect repellent for skin.
Hydrogen peroxide or isopropyl alcohol for bites and scrapes.
Sunscreen and sun block.
Tissues and wet wipes.
Toothbrush and toothpaste.
Contact lens case and cleaner.
Combs and hairbrushes.
Kitchen Items This list will depend on what
you prefer to eat and drink, and how you like to cook. If you're
planning to use your own grill or one provided by the campground
for most of the cooking, augmented with the RV stovetop, microwave,
or an outdoor camp stove, then you might want to carry fewer kitchen
items. If you plan to use a skillet or frying pan on the campfire
or in the coals, refrain from using any pans with a nonstick coating,
as these can become toxic when exposed to high heat. Cast iron is
the preferred material for these cooking methods. Paper or
reusable plastic plates and cups are preferred over glassware, stoneware,
pottery, or china, both for the reduced weight and for the safety
factor. Glassware and pottery can cause severe injuries if they
are broken in the sink, on the ground, or by falling from a shelf.
A Word About Cooking Fuel Scrap lumber
makes great bonfire wood but should not be used as cooking fuel.
Lumber is treated with chemicals to retard warping, fire, mildew,
and other damage. If it is used for cooking, the chemicals can contaminate
the food. Campfire or fireplace wood can be purchased at most grocery
stores, especially in the winter. If you live where it gets cold
in winter, you can buy oak wood to take camping. Oak makes outdoor
cooking taste great and, as an added bonus, stays hot for a long
time, enabling you to cook baked potatoes, carrots, parsnips, or
the partridge you brought along (see Camping Supplies above). Just
don't forget the butter! .
If you plan to go all-out with
your RV recipes, then you'll need more in the way of kitchen gear.
Here's a list to start with:
Lightweight frying pan (not a nonstick surface).
Cast iron skillet.
Cast iron Dutch oven.
Saucepans and covers.
Paper or reusable plastic plates.
Plastic cups and glasses.
Measuring cups and spoons.
Steak or paring knives.
Butcher or chopping knife.
Large wooden spoons.
Can opener (take two).
Stovetop or electric coffee pot.
Paper plate holders.
Steamer for Dutch oven.
Plastic dishpan and drainer.
Oven and barbecue mitt.
Ziplock plastic bags.
Beer or soda can cozies to keep them cold.
Sleeping in the Comfort of Home Most folks with
an RV sleep as they do at home, using blankets and bedding rather
than sleeping bags. Others, because they use their beds as lounging
areas while driving, will keep a basic cover over the mattress and
use sleeping bags at night.
Towels and Linens
Purchase each person towels of their own color so you can tell them
apart. If towels are hung to dry in the sun or other dry place immediately
after use, they can be reused for at least a couple of showers before
laundering. Here's a list for both types of sleeping, as well as
various other linens and towels:
Blanket, comforter, and sheets for bed.
Sleeping bags for each person, if preferred.
Pillow for each person.
Two to four washcloths per person.
Two bath towels per person.
Two hand towels per person.
Beach towels .
RV Maintenance and Safety Take a well-stocked
toolbox with you on each trip. Sort through it to make sure that
everything is there before you leave. Nothing is worse than to be
broken down on the road, reach for the toolbox, and discover that
the exact tool you need is at home, sitting on the workbench.
Here's a list of basics to remember:
Extra light bulbs.
Tire repair kit.
Jan Hammer (if you're traveling to Miami)
Multipurpose knife or tool.
Wrench for hitch bolts.
Small can of WD-40.
Various nuts, bolts, connectors, etc.
Camping Extras In case you plan to stop someplace
aside from a regular RV park, you might like to have these extra
items on board:
Small gasoline-powered generator (if your RV doesn't have
Approved and properly stowed gas cans with fuel for generator.
Additional Resources Camping World or your local
Walmart carry just about everything you'll need to make your RV
camping trip fun, clean, and easy.
Space Saver Storage Bags make packing, both outbound and
coming home, a cinch. You can just toss in the bulky clothes,
bedding, and towels and then remove the air, compacting everything
down to almost nothing. The bags don't even need a vacuum to
work their magic.