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  • Stocking Your RV

    So, you've made the plunge and purchased that RV 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 RV is in the driveway and you're ready to load up and hit the trail. But what stuff to takeā€•and how much? Try holding your very first RV trip right in your own front yard. Your goal: not to go inside the house for the entire weekend. If you do have to go inside for anything, add that item to your master list before you make your first road trip.

    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, 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:

    • Electrical connections:
    • The electrical cord connector to access incoming power from the RV park or campground.
    • An extension cord, in case you are unable to park close enough to the power source.
    • Any power or voltage adapters you might need.
    • Water:
    • Two lengths of fresh water hose fitted with the necessary connectors. You should use only white hoses for drinking water. Do not use green garden hoses, as they are not certified safe for drinking water.
    • A water pressure regulator, since the water pressure varies between RV parks. Excess water pressure can damage the plumbing in your RV, so a regulator is a must.
    • An in-line water filter for your RV's water supply is strongly suggested. This adds an extra purification and filtration step to your water, and can eliminate the need for bottled water.
    • Sewage:
    • Stock a full sewage disposal kit including the proper hoses, fittings, flushing connections, a sewer ring, rubber gloves, a sewer hose support to use while draining the black water tank, and any sewage tank additives called for in the manual for your RV's septic system.
    • A length of green garden hose and a tank-cleaning wand to clean the sewage holding tanks.
    • 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

    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:

    • Wooden leveling blocks
    • Wheel chocks
    • Tools for the stabilizing jacks
    • A stick-on bubble level

    Basic 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
    • Propane tanks for the RV kitchen stove (if necessary)
    • Barbecue grill (propane or charcoal)
    • Barbecue fuel (wood, charcoal, or propane)
    • Campfire wood
    • Wind screen for the barbecue
    • Flashlight(s)
    • Self-powered radio
    • Fire extinguisher
    • Multiple-outlet cord (surge protector type)
    • Folding chairs
    • Folding table for outside
    • Large plastic trash bags
    • Trash can
    • Smaller plastic trash bags
    • Lightweight and heavy-duty rope for tie-downs, clotheslines, etc.
    • Selection of bungee cords in a variety of lengths and sizes
    • Matches or long butane lighter made for lighting fires and burners
    • Well-stocked first-aid kit (top up the contents before each trip)
    • A small handheld vacuum cleaner
    • Bug spray
    • Ant traps and repellant
    • Doormat outside the RV
    • Electric fan
    • Coolers and freezable inserts
    • Cell phones
    • Reading material
    • Sewing kit
    • Camera and extra memory cards

    Personal Items

    Although you've probably got the luxury of a bathroom in your RV, 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
    • Shampoo
    • Deodorant
    • Hand lotion
    • 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
    • Denture 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 barbecue or one provided by the campground for most of the cooking, augmented with the RV stove 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, says hot for a long time, enabling you to cook baked potatoes, carrots, or parsnips. 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
    • Serving utensils
    • Paper towels
    • Can opener (take two)
    • Stovetop or electric coffee pot
    • Baking soda
    • Bottle opener
    • Paper plate holders
    • Ladle
    • Tongs
    • Sponges
    • Scrub pads
    • Corkscrew
    • Steamer for Dutch oven
    • Plastic dishpan and drainer
    • Cutting board
    • Coffee scoop
    • Pot holders
    • Oven and barbecue mitt
    • Coffee filters
    • Aluminum foil
    • Ziplock plastic bags
    • Trash bags
    • Dish soap
    • Tablecloth
    • 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.

    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 (not in the bathroom) 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
    • Extra pillowcases
    • 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 fuses
    • Extra light bulbs
    • Electrical tape
    • Plumbing tape
    • Duct tape
    • Tire repair kit
    • Wrench set
    • Small hammer
    • Multipurpose knife or tool
    • Screwdrivers
    • Socket set
    • Jumper cables
    • Aluminum hydraulic floor jack
    • Wrench for hitch bolts
    • Small can of WD-40
    • Various nuts, bolts, connectors, etc.

    Camping Extras

    In case you plan to stop someplace besides a regular RV park, you might like to have these extra items on board:

    • Gasoline-powered generator
    • Approved and properly stowed gas cans with fuel for generator
    • Pneumatic tool and attachments

    Additional Resources

    Camping World carries 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.