In our small time being travel trailer owners we have realized (like many others) that it is not just a travel trailer, to us, it is our home on wheels!
We have put in a LOT of money to make everything perfect and since we have done this, it is about time I share our tips and tricks for what it is we love to have and use on our camper. Now, DISCLAIMER we have not been to a ton of parks like many other experienced RVers and we have encountered i’m sure only the beginning of our minor hiccups with the camper, therefore, this is our tentative list!
NUMERO UNO!- A Big Bag!
I know this sounds so simple but anytime you travel from your permanent house to your camper, you bring things, and vice versa! We started out with a large (i’m sure its supposed to be a storage thingy) from Christmas Tree Stores the BIG one here and this tote has been a GOD SEND for all the crap that I bring back and forth to the camper. When it is on the camper and we go somewhere we use it as a hamper and it is an easy way to bring back and forth dirty and clean laundry, pillows and blankets and whatever else I can manage to think we “need”.
NUMBER TWO! – Plastic Dishes (and cups)
Going with the Christmas Tree Shop trend, I decided instead of filling our tiny little camper trash with melamine plates and cups, that we don’t have room for, why not get some plastic dishes so that we can use the lovely sink…meant for washing dishes…and save on some cash while doing so! **This became a very bad decision because I wasn’t thinking and was doing dishes straight in the sink and letting all the scrap food slide down into the gray tank well, jokes on me because the next time we went to use the camper it STUNK and I mean BAD!!** To solve this problem we just dumped a ton of dish soap down the drain and let the water run for a while, drove back home and emptied the gray tank, problem solved! Now we have a small dish bin that can get dumped outside when the dishes have been done and this way we save on our water!
NUMBER THREE! – Grip Shelf Liners
Again with the totally unimportant but these shelf liners saved us ENORMOUSLY! As the salesman told us, yes I hear him saying it in my head all the time, “You have a house travelling down the road at 70mph, things are bound to move and shake and come out of place.” This is why the grip paper has helped so much! We keep everything on this paper and once we get to our destination things are right where we left them! I went a little overboard and totally didn’t need all the lining I got but WHATEVER to those of you judging me, it was such a great decision and I’ll be lining all the shelves in my camper now (lol). It can be found on Amazon for $9 for 60″!! That’s 5 feet of shelf grippy paper!
NUMBER FOUR! – Swiffer!
This has saved us so much time and effort. I’m sure if youre experienced with RVing or have had your travel trailer forever you know the secret with your slides BUT we didn’t know so I’ll be sharing for all the newbies like us! If you have slides on your camper it is imperative that you check the floor before putting in your slides simply because…. if you close your slide and there is a rock on the ground, yup, you guessed it! You will have a giant scrape on your beautiful flooring from the end of the flooring to where the slide stops in your camper. And its almost impossible to get rid of. In lieu of that happening, we got a swiffer (the very cheap kind) and we made a deal that when we pack up nick takes care of the outside of the camper while I take care of the inside, by the time the dishes are washed and everything is put away and cleaned he is usually done, so he knows to come in and start on the floors (he is also way better at seeing little things I didn’t see so I trust him way more with this). But having this swiffer has changed our lives…you also get to see the RIDICULOUS amount of grass and crap from campsites that gets trailed into the camper.
NUMBER FIVE! – Collapsable Dish Drying Rack
I just recently purchased this and I have to say, the cost really surprised me because its such a simple item but, trust me, it is MORE than worth it. Pre-dish rack Nick had to stand next to me drying all the dishes, which wasn’t something he wanted to do so now he can be watching tv and I can easily clean the dishes and just let them sit to dry! This is the one I have and it is the best thing ever because it fits perfectly into my side sink (that is obviously tiny in a camper).
NUMBER SIX! – Rapid Dissolving Toilet Paper
This is another– shake your head at me because this is stupid but necessary– thing. We had NO idea there was a different toilet paper you needed to use in a camper until I watched a youtube video explaining the differences of RV/Marine toilet paper in comparison to regular toilet paper (there are tons of videos). In my opinion this is the best stuff and before we had sewer pipes we would literally just pull the plug (ew, I know). Now, even though we have the sewer pipes and use them like normal people instead of savages pouring our pee everywhere, we still need to make sure we use the right stuff so it can break down and not get stuck in the blank tank throwing off the sensors. Also, a little addition to this is after watching this video we went out and bought these packets, because the thought of our camper smelling like waste disgusts me, and these packets are the absolute best! I highly recommend them! We bought them at the local walmart and they were like 12 bucks for the packet he shows in the video! (If not Amazon sells them here)
NUMBER SEVEN! – Extra Fuses
Now this one is tough for new RV owners to understand and of course, it took us the hard way to figure it out. We decided that it must have happened when we went to pick up our camper and the hookups must have been doubled up to some extent where we blew a fuse. Now, we had no idea that we had blown a fuse I just figured it was because we were plugged into a 15A plug at home instead of the 30A which is what the camper is meant to run on. In any case, only our one tv and the radio would work, no lights, no nothing else. Nick pulled the fuses and discovered that the two main fuses were blown. The MAIN fuses are the two orange-looking ones on the left side. They are 40s, to my surprise and of course because I have the worst luck in the world, this is not a common fuse you can just go to walmart and buy. We went to a few stores thinking they would have simple fuses and they didn’t, my recommendation was to go to NAPA and ask them. They had them (thank god because we had been to too many stores) and they came in a pack of 6 (also thank god). Once I was walking around all these stores looking at all the different fuses I had come to the conclusion that we should probably keep a few extras in the event that this happens again. One of the things Nick would say was an obvious must to have, well, I had no idea and now I’ll never forget!
**Many people have also told me about getting a surge protector so that this doesn’t happen again. Now listen…these surge protectors go normally for like $100, I am a college student on a very slim budget, not to mention I have bought all this other stuff on my list. Maybe someday soon I will end up getting the surge protector but we purchased the bumper to bumper warranty on our camper so if our fridge or anything goes due to a power surge, we can luckily get it fixed by our camper company.
NUMBER EIGHT! – Adapters
Going along the lines of surge protectors and power, we decided it had to be close to the top of our list to get adapters. Now, again, every camper has a different amperage that their plug comes in (was that proper english? who knows.) Our camper has a 30A plug, some sites come custom with a 30A plug-in, others sometimes only come with a 50A. When booking camping sites it is very difficult to be picky when there are such few sights available. Nick and I had no idea how packed RV sites get in the camping season because we had no idea how many people own campers until we owned one! (I guess it’s oneof those things you just never happen to notice). The adapters we purched from Walmart for about $10-15 each. This was a must for us because we go to the Thousand Islands once every year and the site we have has a 50A hookup and also, when we bring the camper home, the standard plug in a home is 15A, therefore we needed something to be able to plug into the house to get electricity and make sure the fridge is pre-cooled and all the other lovely things you have to do before you leave on a trip!
NUMBER NINE! – Leveling Blocks
This looks and seems ridiculous but when you set up your camper and your little levelers look like this:
You know you need some leveling blocks. We use these lovely orange blocks for more than just the tires. We have been at a side where even with the stabilizer all the way out, they are so close to touching but can’t touch the ground. We just set up a couple of these under the stabilizer and voila! a nice stable camper. It is a little difficult to line up the tires perfectly on these blocks, it just takes practice! But trust me, when you have an unlevel camper, you will be able to tell! Although I know it is still better than sleeping in a tent it still sucks!
NUMBER TEN! – Water Filter
This one is a must for us. We rarely visit places that have water hookups and when they do, its a luxury. We usually rely on the camping spot to offer us electricity and that’s about it! With that in mind, we need a way to have water, this is where our lovely fresh water tank comes into play! As much as we love having the fresh water tank, the water from the hose at our house isn’t always the cleanest. I swear the first time I used the water filter I pulled off the hose and there was GRASS in the filter of the thing. How does grass get inside a hose?! Whatever. So since we got the water filter we have some nice clean water coming out of our faucet to do dishes and wash hands. Although we don’t drink the water from the fresh water tank, I still think it’s important it be clean because we are doing dishes in this water. I got this water filter off Amazon and it has been the one I have seen most recommended and I also recommend it, it is very inexpensive and has like a gazillion uses on its filter!
NUMBER ELEVEN! – Clear Sewer Hose connector
I know this sounds super nasty and no one ever likes to talk about black tank maintenance but it is a must when you own a camper. Generally, the “newer” RVs (Being 5-8yrs old and newer) have a different kind of tank where before they are emptied they pressurize and almost make a (excuse my dirty reference) slushie by mixing up all the contents in the black water tank. I am fully aware how ridiculous that sounds and disgusting but honestly, it’s the best thing because everytime you flush the contents get mixed up a little more and if the toilet paper (which is Rapid Dissolving, right guys?) happens to stick to the sides, this will easily rinse it off. When emptying the black tank you want a way to know when everything has been cleaned out, this clear top allows you to (ew) watch everything being drained out and make sure when you lift the hose out of the camp’s waste station your sewer hose really is empty! And you can check to make sure everything looks as it should and everything is flowing smoothly, this is another way to just make sure nothing is going wrong in your camper without you knowing!
NUMBER TWELVE! – LED battery pack
We were lucky enough that the owners before us put up an LED light strip under the canopy! This was super amazing and we were really excited until we realized there was no hook-up for power. The people took their power supply for the lights and just left the lights and the empty connector. Long story short, we had to buy a new set of “teeth” to connect the ends of the cords, a new adapter for the power, a new remote because for some reason the old remote wouldn’t work with the new sensor and we decided to purchase this battery pack. After doing a ton of research I came across this pack which many people use, they say that it can power the lights for up to 8 hours (which is solid for a night of camping). It is rechargeable and is small enough that we command-strip it to the side of our camper! This has been a HUGE improvement and it makes us look boujee (fancy for those of you like me who had no idea what this word means) when we camp!
NUMBER THIRTEEN! – Expanding Ladder
This purchase wasn’t really a choice. From day one after buying the camper (actually negative like two days because they told us before we even owned the caper), we were told that it is imperative to clear off the tops of the slides before sliding them in so trees and leaves and other unwanted items don’t end up stuck in your pully system for the slides. This was a hard pill to swallow seeing as we either had to make room for a giant ladder (yeah, not happening) or we had to spend a zillion dollars on a collapsable ladder. This dug in the pit of my stomach for so long. Nick told me that we could just DRIVE his truck around to every slide and thats how we can clean it off, as you all must be thinking (as I was too), YEAH RIGHT! Needless to say, that never happened and I gave in during the Amazon Prime day and bought this ladder for $74. This was a deal they only had for a limited time and I figured it was much better than the full price. HOWEVER, with that said, I fully believe this is a large purchase fully worth making. This ladder easily fits into our storage area of the camper and it is so easy to use and you push a few buttons and it all collapses back down!
**EDIT — ADDITION**
I was told I had to include hand wipes for when the water tank is empty and I fully agree! And hand sanitizer and paper towels! These are all small things but clean hands when playing in the dirt mean so much and make a huge difference! So thank you A Reformed Cad!
Now for the future WANTS…
FOURTEEN – Generator
We have thought long and hard about where we will be bringing this camper and what we will be using it for and with Nick going hunting all the time and (as I mentioned before) the limited availability of camp sites around this time of the year, we have been thinking a LOT about purchasing a generator. If we don’t have electricity, we camp off of the battery ONLY! Nick’s dad has a giant one, the loud ones you always hear the neighbors turning on in the middle of a storm, well, those aren’t allowed (I don’t think) at a campground. Even if they were I don’t think I would want to be those people who have the loud generator. We have done plenty of research and I think we would be purchasing the Harbor Freight Predator 3500. This specific generator has had plenty of videos posted about it and plenty of reviews. Nice and quiet and many reasons it can beat its competitors and for the price we think it could really be worth it.
FIFTEEN – Camping Chairs
Another WANT is some really nice camping chairs. Since we have been putting all of our money into our needs (and okay, some of my wants), we don’t have much extra money laying around lately until we begin to increase the savings accounts again. I have heard from so many people and tons of them that I watch on YouTube (Keep Your Daydream, The Family Fulfillment Project, and more!) that a comfy camping chair is a must! If anyone has any recommendations please let me know!
If you have made it through this entire blog post, kudos to you and thank you!
Thank you for taking your time to learn with me, and I hope this helped more people get off on the right foot because we were helplessly clueless when we began! I’ll keep sharing our adventures as we learn you can learn with us!
Until next time,