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What are the 7 Must-Haves for Your First RV Trip?

| Updated Dec 22, 2023

You’re burning to hit the road on your first RV trip. Here’s what you need to pack before you get going.

Jennifer and I took our first RV trip a long time ago, but I still remember feeling a bit intimidated about what we needed for our inaugural trip. 

I can relate to the temptation to overpack. But you will quickly realize you don’t have room for it all. So here are the most important items to bring and what to do before that first RV trip. 

First thing on the list, make a list!

Like a visit to the supermarket, it helps to write down what you need before you go. And like the store, if you don’t take this extra step, you’ll likely forget something that will get you kicking yourself later.

What are the 7 Must-Haves for Your First RV Trip?

The most stressful part of preparing for your first RV trip is figuring out what you need to buy beforehand. Unlike everyday household items, you need to order these items in advance and plan ahead.

No need to go overboard and buy everything a veteran RV traveler uses. However, there are a few essential items you need to buy to get started for that first RV trip.

If you buy something through our links, we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. It helps keep our lights on so we can continue to provide helpful resources for RVers. Read our full affiliate disclosure here.

5 Emergency Roadside Kit & Products for Your RV

1 – Emergency Road Kit

You don’t drive a car off a lot without insurance. So you don’t want to drive your large RV on a trip without the means to protect it in the event something goes wrong.

Flat tires can happen, among other things, that could render your RV undriveable. When you’re pulled over on the side of the road or stranded while camping, you need an emergency road kit

This kit is often sold bundled together for easy purchasing. Or you can opt to buy the items separately to save a little bit of money. Or check out the items listed in this article on survival tools and gadgets.

The kit has safety equipment such as a first aid kit, jumper cables, a flashlight, and reflective emergency triangles so other cars see your RV up ahead as they approach.

Other items you should include in the kit are a tire pressure gauge and duct tape. If you’re aiming to brave any kind of off-road terrain or not, it’s still important to have a spare tire.

And if a bundled kit doesn’t include a fire extinguisher, you should bring one of your own.

Everyone wants to have a safe and enjoyable trip when they venture out in their RV. But we all know — or should know — that accidents happen.

Best Drinking Water Hose for your rv

2 – The Hoses

There are two hoses you need to buy for your first RV trip. One is for your drinking water (which you’ll want to sanitize), and the other is for the sewer. 

Don’t worry, you won’t confuse the two. The drinking water hose looks like a regular garden hose.

The sewer kit is a wider expanding hose, and wider for a reason, for filling and flushing the tanks. Both are affordable items. Your RV probably came with the sewer hose. It's worth buying an extension for it.

toilet paper for rv black tank

3 – Toilet paper

Toilet paper might have been the first thing on your mind given the rush to buy at the beginning of the pandemic. It does seem obvious for your first RV trip but there is actually special toilet paper made specifically for RVs. 

The difference is that RV toilet paper is biodegradable, to dissolve quickly in your septic tank. If you don’t use this special toilet paper, you will have a harder time draining it through the sewer kit hose I mentioned earlier.

BONUS: CLICK HERE for important info on RV toilet paper and black tank sensors

What are the 7 Must-Haves for Your First RV Trip? 1

4 – Collapsible Water Container

When on your first RV trip, the last thing you want to worry about is running out of fresh water. An item that would help is a refillable water bottle to keep in your RV.

It stores five gallons of water to add to your freshwater tank when out boondocking and running low on water. A spigot makes it easy to tap for drinking. 

It also saves space by being collapsible. You’ll learn after your first trip that any space saved is a commodity!

What are the 7 Must-Haves for Your First RV Trip? 2

5 – Surge protector and adapters

For your first RV trip, it can be frustrating if issues arise with using electricity. To ensure this goes smoothly you will need an RV surge protector and adapters. 

These will give you the freedom to plug in if a campground, for example, has a different connection than you.

Our RV has a surge protector built-in. If yours doesn't, I recommend you get one to go between the power cord and the pedestal. In older campgrounds, there are a lot of pedestals with bad connections that can damage your RV's electrical system and your appliances.

We can recommend the Southwire Surge Guard, model 34930.

When you plug in the other end of the cord to the shore connector on the RV, lock it in place. With ours, it's a turn to the right. We also have a locking wheel on the plug to make it even more secure. See this video for an example.

6 – Only the Essential Household Items

What are the 7 Must-Haves for Your First RV Trip? 3

There are many everyday household items to bring. The nice thing is that we already own them. But not all checklists are alike. A lot of what we bring depends on our individual preferences.

I advise that before your trip, go through a normal day and make your own specific list. Pay attention to all the things you use and take for granted on a daily basis. You’ll soon put together a full list of items you’ll end up using regularly on your first RV trip. 

An obvious example is when you brush your teeth, you’ll make a note to pack a toothbrush and toothpaste. Also for bathing, the towels, soap, and shampoo you use.

Less obvious, though, is when cooking a meal, there are certain utensils you use more than others. 

Also, remember to bring garbage bags. You use plates and silverware when you eat, but it’s up to you whether you want to use disposables when traveling (which saves space). Every year we get better and better at packing.

What are the 7 Must-Haves for Your First RV Trip? 4

7 – The Right Linens and Clothes

You don’t want to remember your first RV trip as an uncomfortable one. 

Be sure to include what you need to sleep comfortably. Sheets and pillows are a given. The most important part of an RV just may be the bed. That's why we have come up with the three best RV bedding solutions that we think will give you a great night's sleep! 

But what will be the temperature at night where you’re going? This answer will determine what kind of blankets and how many you will need to bring. 

The clothes you pack also depend on what kind of weather you’ll be experiencing. What kind of activities are you planning on doing? Or more importantly, what kind of activities might you do? 

The beauty of RV travel is the opportunity for spontaneity. You wouldn’t want to find yourself on your first RV trip without a bathing suit or hiking clothes when you wanted to participate.

And speaking of comfort, never underestimate that comfy camping chair for each person on the trip. You can check out our 3 Favorite Camping Chairs.

Plan Your Next Adventure to Coastal Maine

By popular demand, we announce the publication of the latest in our library of RV travel guides – a 7-Day Adventure Guide to Coastal Maine.

What are the 7 Must-Haves for Your First RV Trip? 5

With its dramatic rocky coastline, enchanting fishing towns, and windswept sandy beaches, Coastal Maine is a destination that should be on every RVers’ bucket list. 

We call these guides “7 days,” but they really are seven stops. They’re meant to be experienced at your own pace, a couple of days at one stop, a week at another, however long you want.

We have carefully curated this 66-page digital guide (not a printed book) so you can take in all Coastal Maine has to offer. We give you the routes to drive, the spot to stop, the places to eat, and the museums, excursions, hikes and adventures we think you will enjoy the most.

For an RVer, Coastal Maine has it all: stunning landscapes, short drives between stops, spacious campsites, that perfect small city and nature mixed with a seemingly endless variety of things to see and explore.

Mike Wendland

Published on 2023-12-19

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

21 Responses to “What are the 7 Must-Haves for Your First RV Trip?”

December 22, 2023at9:01 am, RENE SICOTTE said:

Talking about “water hose” for drinking water use you should not use regular garden hose but one which made with less dangerous product. They are Marked as “Drinking Water Use” very often get the inside of it is White and some real difference between so you will not mixe and get sick because you use the garden hose to clean your black and/or grey water system. Keep those 2 hoses separated from each other so you will not contaminate the Drinking Water one, “wash your hands before if you have to manipulate your drinking water one”…:-)


December 22, 2023at9:29 am, Team RV Lifestyle said:

Thanks for adding this to the conversation, Rene! Team RV Lifestyle


May 27, 2022at2:11 pm, Nancy Einheuser said:

Comment: I love the first item was “make a list “, that will be your base list that you will continue to tweak by trip/season/destination. Something I found very helpful is another list at the end of each trip. I make note of anything we forgot or may wish to add, have run out of or getting low on. It doesn’t take long to recognize you may be over packing, so finding items with more than one use is great, and things you can manage without. Pull the unused items off and use at home or put in storage. Someone once posted something like; “If your at a campground, & your in need of something, your likely not the first one on the hunt, so check out the camp store, or local dollar store.”


May 29, 2022at2:50 pm, Team RV Lifestyle said:

Hi Nancy – a list at the end of the trip is a great idea! Thanks for sharing- Team RV Lifestyle


May 27, 2022at10:00 am, Bill Azzarello said:

I was just wondering what year and model RV is pictured at the top of this article?
Thanks for all of your information.


May 27, 2022at3:26 pm, Don Satow said:

Looks like a Wingamm. [Link deleted]


May 26, 2022at9:26 am, Bruce Sdunek said:

One of the comments mentioned engine oil. I carry a gallon of the correct oil. If your rig has a Diesel engine (mine does) carry a jug of DEF. I also carry a jug of windshield washer solvent.
A water pressure regulator was not mentioned. I had leak problems at an RV park which I blame on excessive water pressure. No problems since I started using one. Finally, keeping a list is a great idea.


May 27, 2022at12:45 pm, Team RV Lifestyle said:

All excellent tips. Thank you for adding to the list. Team RV Lifestyle


May 26, 2022at8:36 am, jeannie kruidenier said:

One thing I have found to be invaluable is I cook and freeze meals at home before I leave. This way I don’t have to take spices, other ingredients, etc and waste time cooking. I have great meals frozen, i.e. baked cod, blackened salmon, pasta, turkey burgers, chicken tenders, even chicken piccata, etc.. Then I pick up bagged salads and I have a terrific meal! I thaw a meal out during the day and put in pan with foil over it till it heats up. For a month trip I can take about 20 meals, stack easy in zip freezer bags. I usually try some local food out anyway- so this is perfect. PS. I am a single woman- makes it a little easier:)


May 27, 2022at12:45 pm, Team RV Lifestyle said:

That sounds both delicious and a wonderful way to prepare! Thanks for sharing – Team RV Lifestyle


December 11, 2021at3:37 pm, sharon jones said:

Just because you live in luxury rv do you really think that most people reading this can afford almost $300 for 3 sheets?? They dont even furnish the flat, just the fitted! Crazy. Also almost $300 for the superbag? How do u think most people retired on their SS can afford these? Please come back down to our level and tell us about something that people can afford please.


May 28, 2022at5:18 pm, Russell Rigsby said:

Good for you, Ms. Jones. It’s always important to remember that these sort of blogs and articles are heavily sponsored and the RV industry can often carry with it a premium that is unrealistic for the average RV vacationer. I, too, do not believe in the penthouse on wheels approach and I certainly wouldn’t spend $300 for sheets for our RV.

We actually find excellent bargains by shopping for days to weeks until we locate our essentials at a real bargain. We do our best to settle upon just the right blend of quality and cost that suits our needs while at the same time acknowledging that there are indeed folks who consider money no object regarding their RV or outfitting it.

So the first item of import that doesn’t require a list is frugality because RV vacationing is a pastime intended to escape conventional life for an environment of simplicity within the reality of financial restraints such that enjoyment itself is maximized rather than one’s credit cards.


May 29, 2022at7:15 pm, Team RV Lifestyle said:

Mr. Rigsby (and Ms. Jones) – We really appreciate your comments and agree $300 is a LOT for sheets. But Mike and Jen gave other options, too. The Aurora, for instance, were much less expensive even though they can be custom ordered to fit the sometimes odd size of a RV mattress. We do take exception, however, that Mike and Jen’s articles are “heavily subsidized by the RV industry.” That is simply not true. The purpose of this article is to help people just starting out determine what they absolutely need in their new RV. The items listed are all just general categories, so of course you can do your own shopping to meet your needs and budget. The linked story on bed sheets focused on how sheets can be hard for some RVers to find because RV mattress sizes do not always fit traditional mattress sheets found at traditional stores. Certainly a reader does NOT need to go this route to buy sheets. The link is just there for those who are interested. But thank you for sharing your thoughts and we DO agree that camping is – at its very best- designed to be an escape from everyday life. Happy Trails! Team RV Lifestyle


September 28, 2021at1:44 pm, Rudy Hiebert said:

From experience, my additional suggestions revolve around mechanical info: 1.) one extra quart of engine oil; 2.) extra anifreeze-coolant for the engine; 3.) tire pressure gauge along with a small air compressor. 4.) windshield washer fluid if the trip is longer than couple days, ie. bugs and frost.


December 20, 2023at7:25 am, Eric M said:

100% correct…TPMS is crucial too


June 05, 2021at8:38 am, 9 Helpful RV Camping Tips For Beginners - 2boomersandababy said:

[…] But once you start to fill cabinets and space, that room quickly gets filled if you are not careful. Not only will you want to keep your items organized, but you should also consider only bringing what you really need for your first road trip. We did a whole post on the Must-Haves for your first trip — check it out! […]


March 18, 2021at8:58 pm, Amy Delpiere said:

When we bought our new travel trailer a few years ago, we upgraded our chairs. The new zero gravity chairs with a little clip-on cup holder have been priceless.


March 17, 2021at11:55 pm, Bill said:

If you are an amateurs’ photographer don’t forget the camera and all of the accessories for it. A tripod for the long shots and a small tripod for the selfies. I us a camera, not my phone.


March 16, 2021at9:01 pm, Hubert said:

Chairs? I love my rocking chairs from Camping World. I have a pair of those gravity chairs too.


March 16, 2021at12:27 pm, Doug said:

Develop a comprehensive categorized list and keep it on your computer. Add and subtract things each year as needed. Keep duplicates of many things so you can leave one in the RV to minimize packing. Don’t forget to add essential tasks to do at home before each trip. We’ve camped for 46 years and still review the list before every trip.


March 16, 2021at8:25 am, Sue Sitko said:

We bought our first camper trailer last year, and my husband wisely brought along an electric lap blanket for me. I generally start to get cold quicker than he does in the late afternoons when we’re enjoying sitting outside at our site with cocktails, and we plug it into an external outlet. It keeps the chill off!
We also use the large storage space under our bed to store cold-weather and rain clothes, in vacuum-sealed bags. Extra coats, rain jackets/ponchos, hats, gloves, even a pair of quilted coveralls–we just keep them there permanently. We often head out early to go wildlife watching, and it can often be REALLY cold, those coveralls come in handy.
This last trip, I grabbed my single-serve Keurig for my one cuppa morning joe, it’s so much easier than stovetop drip coffee, and I’ll use that whenever we’re hooked up. It’s made a huge difference in cleanup, as I don’t have messy grounds and multiple pieces to wash.
Lastly, I am a knitter, and always keep a project or two in the trailer to work on during down time, that I can pick up and easily finish, like dishcloths and slippers, which come in handy for the trailer!


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