RV Vacations For Dummies
Book image
Explore Book Buy On Amazon
Although an RV campter usually comes fully furnished and ready to go from the manufacturer, you’ll probably want to pick up a few practical tools and gadgets. You can usually find these items at camping-supply stores or sometimes at the small convenience stores at campgrounds.

Marching into a specialty store and buying only what’s on the shopping list can be difficult. As you look around, murmuring “Gee, look at that!” or “I didn’t know there was an item like this,” you start dropping objects into your shopping cart — thinking you must have them.

Picking up a basic hand-tools kit and an inexpensive auto-tool kit is a practical way to start. Small jobs can be done easily with the right tools.

Most RVs arrive with a short sewer hose and sometimes (but not always) a water hose. The first time you hook up, you’ll notice that both are too short to be useful in many campgrounds, so the next items on your shopping list are new, longer sewer and water hoses. Look for a 15- to 20-foot sewer hose made up of smaller sections that twist-lock together and a threaded coupling device that enables you to secure the hose to the campground’s sewer connection. You want a 25- to 50-foot labeled for potable-water hose, that is approved for drinking water use. Don’t use a hose that’s intended for watering the garden or washing the car. Consider using a water-pressure regulator to protect interior pipes.

If you have a big, new motor home with plenty of air conditioning, your ideal electrical hookup is 50 amps, but many older campgrounds offer nothing higher than 30 amps, and some state parks only have a maximum of 20 amps. You’ll have a clue right away at the campsite if your plug doesn’t fit the receptacle in the electrical box. What you want are adapters that convert 50-amp to 30-amp service and 30-amp to 20-amp service. To use a 20-amp outlet with your 50-amp system, plug the 50-to-30-amp connector into your main electric shore line, plug the 30-to-20-amp connector into the 50-to-30-amp connector, and then plug everything into the 20-amp outlet — or just look for a 50-amp to 20-amp connector. When you use an adapter, you can no longer run all your electrical appliances, so load management is a must. Many modern motor homes are equipped with an automatic energy management system that dumps loads for you when you’re running on 20- or 30-amp service.

At the campsite, you want your RV to be level for sleeping comfort and for keeping the refrigerator level — a must. Although many new motor homes come equipped with automatic hydraulic levelers installed under the body, older RVs may require the use of manual levelers, which can be anything from a couple of pieces of board for each tire to a commercially produced wood or plastic device. Make sure to evaluate a leveler carefully before buying it. Some of the plastic ones may not hold the weight of your RV; some stack-up versions are hard to maneuver the vehicle across. A spirit level (one of those little things with moving bubbles inside) laid on a countertop inside the RV lets you see how level the RV is at the campsite.

For TV lovers, a 50-foot length of antenna cable with male connectors on each end keeps everyone happy when the campground offers cable TV hookup. Also bring a female/male adapter because some campgrounds are so equipped.

In your cabinets, shelf liner in a ridged pattern helps keep items from sliding while the vehicle is moving; match the color to your countertop or wood tone, if you want. Tension rods of various lengths are useful for installing across your refrigerator or cabinet shelves to keep the items contained within from shifting. I find bubble packaging (an item that I usually get free in shipping boxes) to be a godsend for packing glassware and dishes.

Finally, two all-purpose items are a heavy-duty extension cord for outdoor use and duct tape, the wide silver-backed tape (called gaffer’s tape in the film industry) that can hold just about anything together until you can get to a repair shop. On my first RV trip, I carelessly left a roof vent open while picnicking near a Colorado lake during a heavy wind. I even wondered about a white plastic object that I saw cartwheeling down the hill . . . until a rain shower came up and rain started coming in. A hasty retrieval of the plastic vent cover, a trip up the back ladder to the roof of the RV, and most of a roll of duct tape repaired the damage and kept out the rain.

How to furnish your RV

Manufacturers furnish the typical Type A or Type C motor home at the factory with these built-in features: a kitchen counter and cabinets; a cooktop (with or without gas oven); a refrigerator/freezer; a dinette or free-standing table and chairs; a sofa or easy chair; a double or queen-size bed or short king; wardrobe and drawer storage; a bathroom with toilet, sink, and shower; air conditioning; a furnace; a TV set; and a microwave or combination convection/microwave oven. Some new motorhomes are all electric on the appliances. The driver and front passenger seats (pilot and co-pilot seats) often swivel to face the living area, adding two more comfortable seats to the arrangement.

dining area in an RV Swivel seats can help with mealtime in the RV. © Baloncici / Shutterstock.com

Depending on the vehicle size and the manufacturer, if you order a new RV it may be optioned to include swivel and/or reclining chair, an oven, a microwave or convection oven, a second TV set in the bedroom, a shallow tub with shower head above, a washer/dryer combination, an icemaker, a pullout pantry with wire or wooden shelving, a desk/dressing table combination in the bedroom, and a pull-up table adjacent to the sofa or swivel chair adding uses to the living space. Travel trailers and fifth-wheels contain all these items except the driver and navigator chairs. RV floor plans vary regarding the arrangement of living spaces and the amount of storage available.

The clever design of RV interiors incorporates more furnishings than you’d expect, though you may want to add decorations. I like to add flowers and pots of herbs for color, small rugs on top of carpeting or wood floors, colored baskets for decoration and storage in the kitchen/dining area, and additional cushions for color and comfort on the sofa and the bed. In built-in niches around the cabinets, I added handmade wooden carvings to decorate the wood cupboards I picked up on my travels and used glue to affix them permanently; they look factory installed. Books and magazines brighten a tabletop and offer a diversion to occasional bad weather, but you will want to stow them (and any plants or cut flowers) safely before hitting the road.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

Dennis C. Brewer has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business from Michigan Technological University and is the author of several books. As a self-described traveler and snowbird, Dennis is a lifelong camping and RV enthusiast. He and his wife, Penny, visited 43 states in their Fleetwood Class A Motorhome so far.

This article can be found in the category: