Before you start, be sure to check out our other article on outfitting your RV – outside gear. It covers everything you need to set up your new camper on the outside.
Now, it’s time to work on the inside of the camper. A lot of this gear is personal preference, just like furnishing a home. That said, I am going to cover the basics of what we have purchased for our camper to make long road trips with it work.
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Updated February 2019
The fridge is one of the most important components of making RV travel work. Not only does it keep your leftovers for the next night, it keeps those tasty adult beverages frosty, which is very important after a stressful setup in a tough back-in site.
A fridge thermometer takes the guesswork out of whether your fridge is working properly or not. We originally bought an electronic one with a large display but ended up with an old-school thermometer. Sometimes, old-school stuff just works better.
Fridge Cold Packs
One of the best purchases we made was two sets of Cooler Shock packs, one large and one medium. These packs go in your freezer for 48 hours to charge and will provide very cold ice packs for your fridge.
Here’s how we use them: We freeze them going into a trip. We toss all but one pack in the fridge to keep everything cold as we drive. The other pack goes in the freezer to cool it down. Once we get to our location, we fire up the fridge and move some of the packs into the freezer to refreeze. As the fridge starts to keep cold on its own, we transfer the remaining packs to the freezer to recharge.
The Cooler Shock packs work so well we do not use propane at all to run the fridge while driving. I know a lot of RVers out there run the propane fridge while driving/towing. We don’t. I would rather spend a little money on these freezer packs, which work great, than risk a propane fire… or spend the propane for that matter.
Refrigerator Magnetic Bottle Opener
You are gonna want to get a bottle opener for those aforementioned refreshing adult beverages. We ended up getting one from a souvenir shop in Bar Harbor, but this one is what we have at home and it works like a champ!
One of the first things you are going to want to do is outfit your kitchen with a permanent set of gear. The reason for this is simple: your time is worth more than the cost of an extra set of pots, pans, kitchen tools, etc. You don’t want to have to pack and unpack your kitchen every time you take the camper out on a trip.
The great folks from Zak Designs sent us some camper-themed plates and bowls, plus tumblers. We have used them a few times and are really impressed. We love how sturdy the plates are plus how easy to clean. The only downside is they are not microwave-safe. That said, we have other things we can put in the microwave and these are just too cool not to take with us.
This wastebasket hangs over the edge of one of the cabinet doors, which keeps it off the floor (floor space is valuable). The other advantage is supermarket plastic shopping bags fit it perfectly. We found in New England there were several campgrounds with mandatory recycling programs, so consider purchasing a second wastebasket to use for recycling.
Paper Towel Holder
Like the wastebasket, this hangs on the top of the
I think the one thing Bonnie hates more than doing laundry is drying dishes, so she bought this dish drainer. It collapses for easy storage and works fairly well.
Nesting Mixing Bowls, Measuring Cups and Spoons
Bonnie loves these nesting mixing bowls and measuring cups because they take up so little room. They are perfect for the limited amount of space in our kitchen area.
On our first big trip with the camper, we mistakenly thought we didn’t really need mixing bowls. Even though we typically are not baking, we now use these mixing bowls all the time to prepare a salad or marinade. Add in the measuring cups and spoons, strainer and colander and this set has everything you could possibly need in one small space.
Small Cutting Board and Knife Set
Our current cutting board is a bit small, so we will probably eventually upgrade to this one. Get a cutting board that you like, in whatever size you think you will need and can store easily.
This knife set is similar to a set that we have had for several years. Our camper doesn’t really have space for a knife block and I hate having knives in a drawer unless they are covered. There are bigger and there may be better sets out there, but a set of three has worked well for us so far.
To keep things from sliding around, line the shelves with your plates, etc. with this liner.
Bonnie uses bins like these in various sizes, both plastic and cloth to hold spices and dry foods, as well as other kitchen essentials, in the cabinets. It keeps them from sliding all over the place and makes the food easy to get out.
Make sure whatever you get is RV safe. The materials used in RV construction are not the same as normal house construction. We use Method cleaners and they work pretty well. You can get them at Target if you don’t shop Amazon Prime Pantry.
Some other items you will need
Basic kitchen utensil set
Flatware and drawer organizer
Pots and pans
RV Toilet Paper
You CANNOT use normal toilet paper in your camper. It will not break down and will become a problem in your black water tank. This is the stuff we use. You can often find this at Walmart (most of the time near the automotive section, but sometimes near the camping section), so if you run out on the road, you should be able to find it. Also, a lot of campgrounds carry it in their camp stores, but sometimes those are pretty pricey.
Use these tabs, along with a lot of water, to prevent odor from coming up from your black water tank.
Toilet Paper Holder
Our camper did not have a toilet paper holder by the toilet, so we bought this one and it works just fine.
Another easy way to save on counter space is a toothbrush holder. This one works well for us, though you may have to replace the adhesive after a while.
My wife uses tissues like there is no tomorrow and this holder saves on serious counter space in the bathroom. Even she initially thought this was a somewhat frivolous purchase but has come to really appreciate this little space-saving device.
We started out using cotton towels from Ikea, which have hanging loops and dry ok, but if it is a driving day or a rainy day outside and they are cooped up in the bathroom all day, they can get a bit musty
We got these microfiber towels and they are great. They dry quicker without having to be hung outside. The towels
I suggest keeping a second set of toiletries in the camper, as practical. The less you have to pack, the more time you can spend enjoying your camper.
You will need bedding appropriate to your bed. Some RV beds are custom sizes, so make sure you know your bed size before you get anything.
Having a set of sheets, pillows and a comforter ready to go for your camper definitely cuts down on the prep time for each trip. Again, your time camping is worth more than the additional expense of bedding.
If you live in an area near Ikea, you can get quality sheets and bedding for a cheap price. Remember, you want your bed in your camper to be as comfortable as possible. Otherwise, what’s the point?
Mattress and Mattress Pad
The mattress that came with our camper was awful. It was quite thin and offered no support whatsoever. So much so that we bought a mattress topper online before we finished our first weekend with it.
We found a great memory foam mattress topper on Amazon and it kept us going for two summers.
Last summer, we bought a mattress on Amazon. It was a bit of a risk since we like to try a mattress out before we buy it, but the price and the reviews convinced us.
The new mattress is great (at least for me). I like it a LOT better than the Tempur-Pedic we have at home. It is firm, but not overly so. Bonnie would love it if it were about 10% softer but, for the money, it can’t
Other Interior Gear
Heater and Fan
Propane is expensive. One of the first pieces of advice we received for our camper was to buy a small, electric space heater in lieu of using the furnace on cool nights. This one is relatively small and works like a charm.
While the AC system has a fan that can be set to always on and blowing air, it is pretty loud, so we bought a small fan to use at night or outside. It is quiet and the lowest setting makes for a nice cool breeze.
If you are going to be using the Ryobi One+ system, you might want to just get the Ryobi fan. You can operate it with a battery or an extension cord. If I were only going to get one fan, I would get the Ryobi model because of its flexibility. That said, this one is quieter and has more settings.
If you are anything like Bonnie and I, you have a plethora of things that need recharging or power. I bought this power strip as an electrical hub for the camper. Behind the TV mount in our camper is a decent-sized cabinet area with an outlet.
This power strip sits back there with chargers or cables for our iPads, iPhones, Apple Watches, drill battery, Apple TV, Fire Stick and will be home to our cell phone booster and WiFi booster once we get those installed.
The reason I like this particular power strip for all of those applications is the four USB ports, with two of them being able to charge tablets.
Amazon Fire Stick
I am an Apple guy and am typing this on an iMac. We use Apple products almost exclusively in our home. But for RVing (or travel in general), I recommend the Amazon Fire Stick as a streaming device and here is why: It allows for logging in to a WiFi system with a Web-based password. That is something my beloved Apple TV, Roku and Chromecast simply cannot do.
Your ability to actually use the stick very much depends on the WiFi at your campground (or if you are lucky enough to have an awesome unlimited data plan), but if you are thinking about streaming Netflix, etc., this is your device.
If you are an Apple person, like me, you might want to consider taking an Apple TV as well. The main reason is being able to stream content from your other Apple devices. You can also, on the fourth generation devices, load it up with games to play.
All of those electric cables, plus a dozen other things, will need tying down. Get some zip ties in various sizes and make your life less cluttered, cable-wise.
The other thing you will need (trust me on this!) is velcro straps. These get a ton of use in our camper.
Eventually, a fuse will blow on your camper and you will need to replace it. Check your electrical system to see if you need more or less of any particular fuse type, but this is a pretty good variety of fuses for your camper.
Get a bunch of these. Trust me, you will want to hang things like your keys, towels, coats, hats, etc. in different parts of your camper.
Pro Tip: Every camper is different and you are sure to find several things unique to your camper that you need on your first, second or even third time out. I suggest staying somewhat near a Wal-Mart for the first couple of trips while you work out all the kinks. Don’t worry! It gets better.
We hope you have enjoyed the lists. If you have any questions or comments on our reviews, feel free to contact us!
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We typically stay at Hilton properties, so we use the Hilton website. We can find good Hilton Honors discounts or AAA discounts for a hotel there. We make great use of our free night certificates from our Hilton Honors American Express.
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If there are no Hilton properties available, we use TripAdvisor to read reviews and book the hotel. We find we can get the best price that way.
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We use Vrbo for the times when we have rented a cabin for a weekend getaway, like this cabin in Townsend, TN, or needed to rent a house for a large family vacation. We had a great experience with them in terms of refunding deposits when COVID hit and will continue to use them.
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As a general rule, we book with Hertz for rental cars. We have had nothing but good experiences with them. Plus, we really like unlimited mileage and not worrying about crossing state lines. We have even rented from Hertz overseas in both Slovenia and Croatia.
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We have found some amazing prices booking a cruise through Cruise Direct. We have saved a lot of money on our cruises compared to what we found elsewhere, making a last-minute Bahamas cruise even cheaper.
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We highly recommend Outdoorsy for RV rentals. We rented a camper van for a week to visit Rocky Mountain National Park for the elk rut and Custer State Park for the Buffalo Round-Up and had a blast. The program was easy to use and we really enjoyed the freedom of having a camper van for that trip.
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We don’t often book tours. Typically, we like to do stuff on our own. That said, there are some experiences you just can’t have any other way. So, when we do want to book a tour, we always check Viatour first.
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We make extensive use of both Good Sam and AAA on the road. Good Sam is normally regarded as a discount card for RVers at campgrounds and Camping World but anyone can use the 5 cents off a gallon at the pump at both Pilot and Flying J.
Click here to get a Good Sam membership.
We have had AAA as long as we have been married and it has more than paid for itself in discounts at hotels, aside from the peace of mind of having roadside assistance. Add in paper maps and the ability to get an international driver’s license and it is more than worth it for any traveler out there.