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  • Shelly Tschupp

Must Have supplies to Go RVing for the First Time in your New RV!

Updated: Sep 18, 2023

The basic necessities list for those who just purchased a new RV and want to go RVing!
Congratulations on buying your RV! Here is what you need to go RVing for the first time!

So you just bought or are looking to buy an RV, and want to start using it but you are not sure what your 'Must Have Supplies' are that you need to Go RVing for the First Time in your new RV! As an avid RV'r we can absolutely relate. Those first few trips is where you work out many of 'your' needs, and it's such an exciting time, you want to go and just have fun. This should not feel like a job, so let's demystify the basic necessities list and help you get out there having fun!

To use your RV you definitely need a few things that don't normally come with the RV you just purchased, these are the most basic list of necessities for camping in a full hookup site:

  • The Basic list (links to product examples can be found on Amazon here) Scroll down for more details on these items and some helpful RV tips about each!

    • Electricity: Electric cord, Power plug tester (with optional surge protector)

    • Water to drink and for hygene: bring drinking water (bottle/pitcher etc), for the camper you need a water filter, spigot pressure regulator, 'fresh water/potable drinking' rated water hose.

    • For dumping your waste: a garden water hose (in a different color than the fresh water hose), a sewer dump hose, a sewer hose ground support, a garden spray nozzle to rinse out the sewer hose only, disposable rubber gloves. We never mix our sewer equipment with our non sewer equipment.

    • For setup: Chocks & Leveling Blocks, even if your RV has auto-levelers!

    • For basic comfort: 1st aid kit, single ply toilet paper & bath essentials/towels, bedding, Clothing, food, kitchen items to cook & eat with utensils/pots/pans/soaps, and garbage bags

    • If towing with a diesel bring extra DEF additive.

Here you will find the same list as above with helpful tips added and product's I have bought and used (none are sponsored), and why I like them. Be sure to read the manufacturer manuals that came with your RV to make sure the products you buy are the correct one's for your specific RV type/model! Know that this is the basic necessities list.

  1. Electricity: to connect to electricity you will need to plug in an RV Extension Cord (sized for your RV, normally 30 or 50 amps) into a Campsite Electrical pedestal (aka Shore Power). Before plugging in though you need to test the pedestal for faults using a 'power plug tester', if the pedestal is faulty it can send high voltage to the RV, that could electrify the exterior, which could shock or injure you, or blow out the fuses in your electrical panel, so this is must do every single time you get to a campsite. Even the most expensive campsites can experience issues with their electric pedestals. Camco sells many RV extension cords and have a great reputation. You need at least 25 feet of cord, we carry 2 cords for a total of 50 feet because we have found that the best spot for the RV at some campsites (most level, prettiest spot, etc) can be farther than 25 ft. You should also consider buying a tester that has a surge protector in it if your RV does not already have a Surge Protection device installed. For our pedestal tester and surge protection we use the Power Watchdog 50 AMP made by Hughes Transformers, this unit tests the pedestal in 4 seconds, prevents surges of both high and low power, cuts power off to the RV if it detects any issues, and allows us to track our power usage on a phone app. In the future we hope to add Solar and batteries so knowing how much power we will need in different weather scenarios is important. I track it in an excel spreadsheet at the end of each trip before we disconnect it. After we disconnect we lose the data. For each of these items you can find many different products at different price points, so be sure to shop around and get the items you like the most with great reviews!

  2. Water: you have options, bring water or use the campsite water... most RVr's do a bit of both.. they bring bottled water to drink and use the Campsite water for showers, washing dishes, toilet etc. We do this because we do not know if the water at the Campsite tastes good or if it has contaminants. RV's usually have a water tank that you can fill that up if you are going somewhere where there is no water hook up. Some RVr's say to never travel with them full, others say it's fine to do so. Do keep in mind that any time water is stagnant bacteria will grow, so you will need to use a filter with your tank water to make it safe for drinking. While generally Campsite provided water is probably safe to drink in most of the USA why chance it? We always use a good filtration system ourselves. The basic filtration many vacation RVr's use is a single water filter that attaches between your incoming fresh water hose and your rig such as the Camco Tastepure. This provides some filtration at a very reasonable price, and lasts for about 3 months. That said, I would not drink it unless I know for sure that campsite had good water. If you fall in love with RVing you may want to opt for a more expensive 3 stage Water filter system with virus guard and .2 Micron filtration, that gets out pretty much everything, highly rated brands include: ClearSource & Blu Tech. They are expensive however the cost is somewhat offset by not having to buy bottled water. You will also need at least 2 different color water hoses: one must be rated for 'drinking/potable water' to connect to the campsite water spigot and another hose in a different color solely to use to flush out your black and gray tanks. Hoses can take up a lot of space, many RV's swear by the reasonably priced Zero-G hose as it is lightweight and flattens making it easier to pack, plus the manufacturer confirms that all of their Zero-G hoses are rated for drinking/potable water even if they do not label it as such. We use 3 hoses ourselves, one is just an extra hose we connect to a spigot splitter for easy access to rinsing items, strictly a personal preference since most RV's include outside water connectors and provide a short hose and sprayer. You also really need a water pressure regulator connected at the spigot as it prevents you from inadvertently hooking up to water with higher pressures than your RV's water system can handle, you certainly do not want to burst the PEX water line and flood your RV! This one linked above is adjustable allowing us to increase/decrease the water pressure to take a decent shower.

  3. Leveling & Parking your RV: when parking you want to make sure the RV doesn't move around or start rolling after you disconnect. Chocks are placed behind the tires to stop any rolling, this brand has easy carry handles which I love. Leveling the RV is important, some Gas/Electric refrigerators will not cool properly if it is not level. Plus it feels really weird to walk on an uneven surface. Leveling blocks even though many sites will be 'mostly' level; these blocks make up the difference for you. Many types are available, even some cut up 12x12 inch wood planks from the hardware store work. We use these stackable blocks because the handles make it easy to carry them around.

  4. Tank waste dumping: you will need to dump your holding tanks at some point during or at the end of your trip. Rv's come with at least two tanks, a Black tank for toilet waste and a Gray tank for sink/shower waste. To connect your water tanks to the dump station at the campsite you need an RV Sewer hose kit, Sewer hose support, disposable Gloves (because this is dirty work), the garden hose you bought for this and a garden spray nozzle to spray out the sewer hose after emptying.

  5. First aid kit, always better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it!

  6. Toilet Paper: is important for personal hygiene, and you need the type that will break down quickly to reduce clogging in your pipes, tank & sewer hose. Single ply toilet paper works (Single ply is Septic Safe... meaning it breaks down quickly and is less likely to clog your pipes & sewer hose). So the truth is... you do not need to buy expensive 'RV' labeled toilet paper, nothing has been done to make it any different than any basic boring single ply. I do avoid toilet paper that has added moisturizers to make it extra soft as those chemicals could affect how it dissolves and I worry it might cling to the sides.

  7. Toilet Septic Tank Treatment: since what goes into a toilet smells bad so you will definitely want to add a toilet treatment to reduce those odors. ,Many brands are very popular and work well. We have tried several high rated brands with no noticeable difference between them, this is one: Camco TST Max. Be sure to follow the package instructions, be sure to add 5 gallons of water into the Black tank before using the toilet. If you fill up your toilet that is about 1 gallon of water, we do that an flush it in 5 times. If you do not start off with some water in the tank... the bad stuff might stick to it, mounding up over a short period making what is called a 'Poop Pyramid'. That can build until it starts coming up the toilet pipe... we prefer to avoid this! Can or should I put this same septic treatment in my gray tank? You don't have to but if it starts to stink you can use a product like this: Camco TST Gray Water odor. The gray tank will stink if you put grease and food down your kitchen sink. To avoid this we wipe the dishes with a paper towel first, then use the Dawn Platinum Powerwash Spray to clean the dishes, saving water on dishwashing and the tanks don't fill as fast. We follow a best practice of flushing our black tank first, then use the water in the gray tank to help flush out the Sewer hose.

  8. Whatever you need to tow or drive your RV to wherever you are going. Is your RV a drivable or towable? If you are towing and using a diesel truck be sure that you have enough DEF for the trip. Walmart generally has the best price for individual jugs of DEF. Know if your travel plans will you get there in one day, or if will you need to find a place to stay overnight. If you are towing for the first time you should make sure you have reviewed the manufacturers instructions for their products that are within your RV and tow vehicle, and its very helpful to watch some videos specific to your equipment on Youtube on connecting everything so that you are comfortable with the steps, and know how to do a 'pull tug' to make sure you are truly connected before starting your drive. The last thing you want is for RV to disconnect as you drive off.

  9. First trip Shakedown! Many new RVr's will do what is called a 'shakedown' trip, which is a local vacation to test everything and get to know their RV. Staying local allows you to go home and get things for the camper based on your preferences. If possible, when buying a new RV stay overnight at the Dealership, turn everything on, open every drawer/door, see if there are any issues so that you can have them addressed before driving home. We did both, we stayed at the dealer overnight, and then when we got home booked a week at a local campsite. I used that time to fill it up with things from home, I bought a few nice to haves too! I took extra's from my kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, garage and bought what I needed.. We used everything, cooked every possible way, that helped us when we took our first trip away so we spent more time having fun and less time running back & forth to the local stores . We also watched many how to videos to learn what we were doing.

  10. Bring whatever you need to enjoy your trip: food, ice, clothes, bedding sheets, pillows, towels, soap/shampoo, hair dryer, makeup, cleaning supplies, paper towels, utensils, plates, cookware, food storage, chairs etc. Think about where you are going, the weather, and what you're going to want to do while you are there. Is it a beach day or maybe hiking up a mountain trail, are you wanting to grill vs Microwave cooking vs stovetop cooking ... or maybe you want to eat out at the local restaurants.. while your RV likely came with at least two cooking methods (stove top & microwave are the most common) you might want to do other types of cooking. Do you need to fill your propane tanks? If you are hoping to light a cozy campfire be sure to check both the Campgrounds rules & State rules, many do not allow you transport firewood across state lines due to bug infestations, some do not allow wood campfires at all so know before you go.

One very important item to have is a great nights sleep:

RV companies install only the most basic of mattresses because they have no idea what you want. Most RVr's find it so uncomfortable they quickly replace the stock mattress with something that is better suited to their needs. When considering replacing the mattress measure the one in the RV first, some RV's have shorter mattresses to save space. Some RV's need the mattress to fold up for the slide to close, etc. If yours is not a short bed or a folding bed you can replace it with any mattress you can fit through the door. You may want to just add a mattress topper.. You can even add a Sleep Number Mattress or Airpedic Mattress with adjustable firmness on each side, you only need the mattress, not the base, and you just need an outlet for the pump when you set it up. Best of all once that bed is inflated it won't lose it's air after you unplug the pump and/or the RV. If you are traveling up into the mountains you may need to readjust the air due to the change in pressure. If you do have a short mattress there are many mattress companies that make the shorter RV mattresses and at differing price points from as low $300 on Amazon. Be sure to measure the height of the mattress you have and see if there are any obstructions to going with a thicker mattress like a side table. Know if you prefer a softer, medium or firm mattress, if you are not sure go to your local mattress store and test out a few. Or, go to a Sleep Number store and get your number, the lower the number the softer the mattress. A few companies that sell shorter mattresses include:

Packing Tip: since space is always a consideration we use our hamper bags to bring clothing back and forth for the trip, not our luggage because I would have to find a place to store it.

This is the list of what we needed to get started, as we traveled more we bought many more things, but that's another article for another time. I hope sharing what we did helps you on your own journey of discovery in the wonderful world of RVing!

Note: none of the links are sponsored however they may be affiliated links which pay me back a tiny amount if you buy something which helps pay for the cost of this blog, however it doesn't cost you more!

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