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Whether you’re a seasoned RV veteran or a newbie RVer, there are some travel trailer must-haves everyone needs when heading out on a road trip.
If you’re not prepared with a few key essentials, you could face a slew of different problems on your RV camping adventure.
If this is your first RV, let this serve as a checklist of everything you’ll need for your new travel trailer. From properly maintaining the RV to setting it up safely at your campsite, having the right gear is crucial.
Below we’ll share the essential travel trailer accessories you need for a successful RV trip, including items for:
- dumping your RV tanks
- leveling your rig
- getting power safely
- getting clean, fresh water
Our list of items for your camper will ensure you have everything required to maintain your RV travel trailer and handle almost any issue that arises while you’re on the road.
RV Dump & Sewer Essentials
Before your first time out in your travel trailer, you’ll need a few different RV sewer essentials to empty and maintain your grey and black tanks. Below is a list of the RV must-haves for your tanks and why you need them.
1. RV Sewer Hoses & Kit
A 10-foot RV sewer hose is a requirement for dumping your black water tank. You’ll also need a transparent 90-degree elbow adapter to see when the water from the tank is running clear after rinsing.
We carry two 10-foot sewer hoses but most often only need one. We typically use a smaller 2-foot sewer hose (shown above) in combination with the 10-foot hose to get a little more length when we are further from the sewer connection. This isn’t essential, but it can be a nice thing to have at a dump station!
2. RV Sidewinder
An RV hose support, also known as a ‘sidewinder,’ will allow you to set up your sewer hose so it is running downhill and keeps everything moving in the right direction through your hose.
The sidewinder will also keep your sewer hose off the ground, out of the dirt, for a cleaner campsite breakdown.
3. Black Water Rinse Hose
When you finish cleaning your tank, use a black water hose to rinse out your sewer kit and components. You can also use this hose to rinse the inside of your black water tank if you have a black water flush system.
- 5/8-inch diameter hose
- Heavy-duty design for rinsing black tank and clean sewer hose
You’ll see orange RV hoses that are marketed as black water hoses. They are orange, so you don’t make the mistake of confusing this hose with your other RV hoses. We use an old drinking water hose and mark it with colored tape to avoid mixing them up.
4. Waterproof Gloves
Gloves protect your hands from contamination when dumping your black water tank and storing your sewer hoses.
We try to be green by using reusable waterproof gloves such as the ones above, but you can also use disposable gloves when dealing with you’re dumping your RV black tank.
5. Holding Tank Treatment
There are holding tank treatments for both the grey and the black tank. Black tank treatment is a must-have for RVing, while grey tank treatment isn’t always necessary to keep your tank smelling fresh.
There are many different black tank treatments available for RVs. We recommend avoiding enzyme treatments since they can create a “sludge” that coats your sensors and renders them useless. We have used this black tank treatment and this grey tank treatment in our RVs. There are also options available for making your own!
6. RV Toilet Paper
RV toilet paper is designed to break down in your black water tank so you can avoid clogs and paper covering your sensors. We always use the Scott RV toilet paper brand and have never had clogging issues in our RVs or when we lived on a boat.
You can also do your own ‘shake experiment’ to test your favorite toilet paper brands. Check out this video on how to test your toilet paper.
RV Fresh Water Accessories
Getting water on the road requires a few RV and camper must-haves to ensure you can put clean water into your water tank or run water straight into your RV plumbing system. Below are the RV necessities for fresh water access.
7. Water Pressure Regulator
When connecting to water sources using your city water connection, you want to control the pressure of water flowing into your RV.
RV campgrounds often have water pressure set to a level higher than your RV can handle. The regulator will help you prevent stress on your plumbing components and leaks in your RV.
PRO TIP: Water pressure around 40 PSI will give you good water flow for a shower and at the kitchen sink without causing damage to your RV.
8. Inline Water Filter
An inline water filter is inserted between your water source and your RV water tank or plumbing system. The filter is essential for eliminating heavy metals, chlorine, odors, and other things you don’t want in your water.
There are many options for RV water filtering, including some pricier systems that new RVers may not be ready to invest in yet.
If you’re a beginner RVer, we like the water filter above from Clear2o that filters to one micron. Most of the popular inline filters only filter to around 20 microns.
The Clear2o option will filter out much smaller sediment and is a great affordable water filter to get you on the road with clean water in your tanks.
9. RV Fresh Water Hose
Drinking water hoses are made specifically to fill your RV water tank and connect to RV water sources. These water hoses are safe for carrying drinking and other water to your RV. They are BPA, phthalate, and lead-free.
PRO TIP: Make sure you choose a hose long enough to reach from your RV water intake to the water source. For most RV rig sizes, a 20-foot hose is sufficient. We like to carry a smaller 5 or 10-foot hose for short connections and the rare occasion when you the water hookup is inconveniently located.
10. 90-Degree Elbow
Lastly, you’ll need a 90-degree elbow to connect to your water intake. The elbow will prevent a bend in your water hose that occurs when you join the water hose directly to your water intake.
The fitting will prevent wear and damage to your hose or water intake over time.
RV Power Accessories
These essentials are related to getting power to your RV and using power inside your RV.
11. Surge Protector
When connecting your RV to power, you won’t always know the quality of the power source. This must-have RV gadget is the best way to protect your rig and its electronics by preventing damage from electrical power surges.
There are many options when it comes to surge protectors. We previously used the portable version above in our motorhome, but we now use a hardwired surge protector (also above) in our travel trailer.
Both surge protectors are good options – it’s just a difference of hardwiring the surge protector into your system or connecting it each time you plug-in. If you have a small space to store your power accessories you may want to consider the hardwired option.
12. Power Adapter (Dog Bone)
Whether connecting to power at a campground or a residential home, you might need a power adapter. Homes usually run on a 15 amp connection. If you have a 30 amp RV, you’ll need a 30-15 amp adapter to connect to power.
You could find your campground spot doesn’t have the connection your RV requires. If you have a 50 amp RV, you might need to adapt to a 30 amp connection. 30 amp RVs might also need to adapt to a 50 amp.
PRO TIP: Dog bones are also handy in RV parks if you get an error on the peddle stool for your power connection. You can quickly adapt up or down to use the other connection until you have someone look at it or solve the issue.
13. Heavy-Duty Extension Cord
An extension cord will allow you to extend the reach of your power cable. It is necessary for moochdocking at a family or friend’s house or setting up your RV to plug into your home power grid.
We recommend purchasing a heavy-duty extension cord that is also water-resistant. These also come in handy for powering tools or other camping gear outdoors.
14. Small Inverter (Optional)
Although not a true RV essential, a small inverter is a good investment if you plan to do any dry camping (camping without power hookups).
Many large inverters are a component of permanently installed off-grid systems with solar panels, but to get your RV on the road, let’s look at a small inverter that can run a fan or other electronic item with a low-power draw. This is a small investment that is perfect for RV life.
- Car charger inverter adapter (DC to AC power)
- Includes 4.2A dual USB charging ports and two AC outlets
A small inverter that plugs into a 12-volt port will help you during an overnight in a Walmart parking lot or another short stay without a power connection.
PRO TIP: Choose a pure sine wave inverter if you plan to charge a laptop. Other inverters can permanently damage a computer.
RV Leveling & Securing
Each time you park your RV, you’ll need to level it front to back and side to side. You’ll want to do this for comfort, and your RV fridge needs to be level to operate correctly. Slideouts should also be level to evenly distribute the weight and avoid putting strain on specific components.
With towable RVs, you also need to secure and stabilize the trailer.
Below are the best rv accessories for leveling, securing, and stabilizing your RV.
15. Trailer Wheel Chocks
These are must-haves for towable RVs (travel trailer or fifth-wheel). Wheel chocks keep your trailer secure when it’s not connected to the tow vehicle.
We have both a plastic and rubber set of wheel chocks.
The rubber set above is more heavy-duty and superior, in our opinion. They give us a better sense of security than similar plastic chocks, especially on steeper inclines and in wet weather.
16. Leveling System
Is your RV level? You’ll need some form of a level to confirm which way to level your rig. The primary way to do this is to walk inside and place a small level at different ends of the RV to see which ends and sides need to go up. There are also mobile apps that feature a digital leveler.
Some trailers and motorhomes will have level reading and even self-leveling built-in. If your RV doesn’t have leveling built-in, a popular system to install is the LevelMatePro.
This system is installed in the RV and works through an app on your phone. It will tell you how many inches you need to raise your RV and on which side.
17. Anderson Levelers & Leveling Blocks
There are different RV leveler options. We have both Andersen levelers and Lynx Block levelers.
Andersens are typically the easiest levelers to use. Just drive up on the leveler until the RV reaches the desired height (see above image). Lynx Blocks provide about a 1-inch lift each and require stacking the blocks to get the height you need.
As full-time RVers, we like to carry both types of levelers to have options and be prepared. Also, the space between our trailer tires isn’t wide enough to fit a second Andersen leveler, so be aware of this issue if your tires are close together.
PRO TIP: You can also use leveling blocks under your jack pads when needed. We’ve also used these blocks to raise the truck for maintenance and increase the height when leveling the trailer front to back. If you’re a full-time RVer, we recommend two packs of ten blocks (especially if you boondock often).
18. RV Stabilizing Accessories & Jack Pads
For towable RVs, you will need jack pads for your stabilizers (such as the set below). These pads will keep them from sinking into the soft ground and provide an extra cushion on hard surfaces.
A popular RV item on the market called SnapPads actually attach to the stabilizer. This means you don’t have to unpack the pads and insert them under the stabilizers each time you camp. Snap Pads are made for certain makes and models travel trail and fifth-wheel stabilizers. You can check the Snap Pad site to see if they support your RV model.
Although you can hand-crank your RV scissor jacks, a drill adapter and a cordless drill will save you time and effort in lowering and raising your jacks. Some trailers have built-in mechanics to move your jacks up and down, which will not require a drill or drill adapter.
READ NEXT: For more details on setting up a travel trailer, check out our article Travel Trailer Campsite Setup and Checklist.
RV Tire Pressure
Before your first camping trip, you need to understand how to monitor your RV tire pressure and your tow vehicle’s tire pressure, as this is crucial to safety when traveling in an RV. Closely monitoring tire pressure will help you avoid a tire blowout and also increases the life of your tires.
We always recommend checking your tires before moving your RV. Here are some tools you can use to check and manage tire pressure.
19. Tire Pressure Gauge or TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System)
A tire pressure gauge or tire pressure monitoring system will allow you to quickly check your tire pressure on your RV from your campsite.
A tire pressure gauge is an easy, affordable way to check the pressure. However, a TPMS is a great way to monitor tire pressure and temperature before traveling and while on the road. These require a little more investment and installation but are worth the time and money to set up.
New RV owners who plan on covering a lot of miles will save a lot of time and worry by upgrading to one of these systems.
PRO TIP: For interior tires on dually trucks and motorhomes, you may need to install valve stem extenders to make checking and adjusting tire pressure easier.
20. Air Compressor
An air compressor is convenient for maintaining your tire pressure in your towable RV or towing vehicle. Even large motorhomes can benefit due to the high PSI of this portable inflater.
An air compressor is also a good idea for safety in your RV, especially in rural areas where it could be difficult to find one. You can run an air compressor by connecting it to your vehicle battery or (sometimes) the house battery of your RV.
We recommend the above air compressor because it allows you to inflate to 120 PSI, making it suitable for trucks and large motorhomes.
RV Hitch for Travel Trailers
If your RV is a travel trailer, you’ll need a hitch to attach it to your tow vehicle.
21. Weight Distribution Hitch
A weight distribution hitch is the best option for towing a travel trailer safely and efficiently. These hitches distribute the weight of the trailer evenly across the towing vehicle’s axles. This reduces the strain on the rear axle and improves stability on the road.
Weight distribution hitches will improve the handling of the trailer and can even increase fuel efficiency. If you RV full-time or plan to put a lot of miles on your trailer, we highly recommend one of these hitches.
If you have a smaller travel trailer (under 5,000 lbs), you may be able to get away with a weight-carrying hitch. These are less expensive but are not as easy to tow.
RV Safety Accessories
You need a few crucial items for safety when traveling in your RV. Below are some recommendations to ensure you and your family travel safely when you’re on the road.
22. Emergency Roadside Kit
This must-have RV accessory is crucial if you have a tire blowout, an issue with your tow vehicle, or any other problem while riding down the road on travel days. These kits often include:
- Jumper cables
- Tow straps
- Safety triangles
- First aid kit
- Bungee cords
PRO TIP: You can probably put this kit together yourself, or just purchase a couple of individual items you’re missing to create a kit. Remember to make sure you have a spare tire!
23. Fire Extinguisher
Most travel trailers will come with at least one fire extinguisher installed.
However, we like to have another one (or two) in other locations in the trailer. We purchase the below small fire extinguisher cans and usually keep one by the bed. These are great since they are small and store easily.
PRO TIP: You might also want to spring for a “fireball” fire extinguisher that automatically deploys when there is a fire.
Other RVing Must-Haves
Here are a few other camping accessories we thought were must-haves. Although they aren’t crucial to getting on the road, we thought these were worth including.
24. Insect Screens
Insect screens for your exterior vents, including the water heater, fridge, and furnace, will keep pesky bugs from making nests in them.
These are an affordable way to keep the bugs out and are easy to install.
25. Screen Door Cross Bar
Most RVs have a screen door that locks into the main camper door. However, when the screen door is used separately, there’s no way to control the door from the inside.
A screen door cross bar solves this problem and is easy to install.
BONUS: This bar doubles as a drying bar for hanging kitchen or bath towels.
RVing Travel Trailer Must-Haves You Need
From leveling your RV to monitoring your tire pressure, we’ve covered all the tools and camper equipment you need to keep your travel trailer maintained and safe while on the road.
While there are other RV accessories that will make your life easier and more comfortable, the essentials above are everything you’ll need to start RVing in your travel trailer.
Follow the guidelines above, and you’ll have your travel trailer outfitted and ready for travel in just a short time!
Need a full guide to outfit your RV?
For more on essential RV gear, including kitchenware, RV gadgets, and campsite setup items – view our complete guide.
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