A few of our RV must-haves to make your nomadic lifestyle much easier.
So you’re planning to live a nomadic lifestyle and you’ve scoured Youtube and other websites for what gadgets you absolutely must have while you’re on the road and they’re all pretty damn expensive. Well, here’s a spoiler alert for you: 99% of those things are pretty useless and you’ll probably regret buying them real soon. Things like an Instapot that cost $60 for the lazy RV-lifer who doesn’t like to cook are pretty darn useless when it comes to actually living in an RV or van. We’re here to let you in on a few little secrets about living in an RV, the things you’ll definitely need, and how to save money on things you definitely don’t need (like an Instapot, don’t buy that thing).
Here are ten things you’ll definitely want for living on the road:
#1. A six-in-one screwdriver, $3.98:
Listen, I have a lot of tools that I’ve used for completing our RV renovation but not one single tool that is as handy as a six-in-one screwdriver. Sure, you can spend $500 on a pack of heavy-duty tools from Lowe’s (yep, I did that), but you will probably use 3/5 of those tools often and the rest will just sit there + you don’t want to bring a bunch of power tools on the road. The six-in-one screwdriver is the most useful tool and it will cost you under $10 to buy. Seriously, buy a six-in-one, especially if you are planning to renovate an RV, but even if you’re not fully renovating, you will use this puppy often and it is so worth it to have.
Here is the six-in-one screwdriver I own, she’s my baby and I love her.
#2. Outdoor camping mat, $25-$100 (if you’re real fancy):
Wherever we go camping we immediately drop our outdoor camping mat, it provides much-needed space outside of your tiny rolling home and it allows you to create a living, cooking, yoga, exercise space wherever you go. RVs are notoriously hot, so escaping that heat to spend time outside is 100% necessary. You don’t even need a nice one! Ours came with our RV and it’s definitely not our style, but does style really matter when you’re laying down a mat outside? No way, comfort over style, baby.
However, for style-sake, here’s a cute, affordable outdoor mat I found online so that you don’t have to suffer outside by looking at your ugly brown mat.
#3. Folding stool, for the short-people out there, $18:
Here’s a story for you, I’m 5'0" and when we were renovating our RV I left my step stool outside. Somebody stole it. I suffered until I bought a new one. End of story. No, but seriously I use this stool for everything. RV storage is high up! The lights are way up there! Even accessing your cooking utensils can be a challenge and you really don’t want to step on your RV furniture all the time, you can break it like that (yep, again, personal anecdote). You can buy one of these at pretty much any camping or hardware store and it folds up for easy storage. This might not be a must-have for everybody, but definitely get one if you’re under 5'5" and/or if you like to have super awesome useful stuff around.
#4. A toilet, no for real, this is a thing you should definitely have, $127–$1000 (if you want a compostable toilet it’s gonna be expensive):
Storytime again: when we renovated our RV we decided to save the most expensive things for last — we wanted a Nature’s Head Composting Toilet because we would be living in our RV full time. However, the first time we took our RV out we decided to take it out before we finished the plumbing + bought our toilet. Holy shit (literally), was that a mistake. When you are living or traveling in an RV for long periods of time and you are on a budget you will quickly learn that you’re not always going to be staying in idyllic camping spots. Once, we slept next to a graveyard — imagine the guilt peeing near a graveyard because you didn’t install a toilet.
You might think that it’s a good idea to travel before finishing your plumbing or installing a toilet, it’s not. Seriously, install a toilet before you go out or you’ll have a lot of weird bathroom experiences.
#5. Trash bucket with a lid, $3.48:
This might seem dumb but when you’re traveling with pets and staying in one location for a period of time you will want a trash bucket with a lid. You need to follow the leave-no-trace principle, and you definitely do not want animal waste stinking up your RV. Also, food waste, etc. There are trash cans everywhere you go, but if you’re stopping in the woods for a while you must have a trash bucket with a lid. Trust us, you won’t regret it.
#6. Quick-drying towels & rags, $12.95:
We learned really quickly that you will use more towels than you thought, especially when traveling with pets, and you really don’t want to have a bunch of cotton towels drying in your RV creating humidity and mildew-odor. So do yourself a favor and buy a few quick-drying towels, and also rags so that you don’t have to use paper towels because they create trash and are terrible for the environment.
#7. A great, well-seasoned and oiled, cast-iron skillet, $22.99:
Our hobbies don’t really cost money, we like to be outside, hang out with our dogs, hike, read, and camp. However, the one thing that really concerned us about living on the road was dialing down our kitchen. We love to cook, bake, and generally spend time in the kitchen. We dialed down our kitchen a lot, and I really mean a lot. We’re now down to one large cast-iron skillet and two small cast-iron skillets (one is a grill skillet), however, we could honestly dial it down even more and just use our large skillet + a pot. I don’t know what we’d do without our skillet, honestly, we cook, bake, and roast in it. We prepare almost every meal in it, we couldn’t eat without it!
This is probably my number one must-have kitchen staple. Not an Instapot, you don’t need an Instapot, it’ll use up your battery power and important wattage. You can save money, time, and energy (literally) with purchasing a dope, large, cast-iron skillet.
Here’s the one that we own (and use every day).
#8. Here’s where it gets expensive, solar-panels, up to $1000:
If you’re going to live in an RV you should definitely have solar, especially if you are boondocking (living off-grid). Your RV battery will last about three days off-grid if you are conserving energy. This means no appliances and very little use of your electricity. After three days you’ll need to charge your battery. If you want to live off-grid and affordably you have to invest in solar. How much solar you need depends on how much energy you use.
Here’s a great solar calculator to calculate your solar needs! You can purchase your solar from Go Solar as well.
#9. Optional (but necessary if you’re living on the road) WeBoost, $500:
So, this one is completely optional but if you are working from the road and permanently living in your RV you’ll need internet. WeBoost works as a signal booster for your cellular coverage + you can turn your phone into a mobile hotspot in order to work from the road. Being a writer, starting a Youtube channel, or having a work from home position where you need to make money from the road, you’ll definitely need this.
Now, you can use the “free WiFi” that RV parks and campgrounds sometimes offer but it’s not reliable, and if you want to travel on the cheap, you’ll want your own coverage. Also, it really helps when you’re lost with no cell service.
You can buy WeBoost here.
#10. A fan or tiny portable a/c, $16 — $20.
RVs are hot — I have stated this multiple times now. They are very, very hot, especially in summer. You are going to want a fan, you’re not going to want to run your generator/electricity all night so investing in a portable a/c or USB charged fan is a must-must. You’ll sleep better, and if you own an old RV (like me), you can use it while you drive to cool down. Trust me on this one, you’re going to want to invest in a decent RV van to cool you (and your pets) down in the hot, hot heat.
Well, now you know our ten RV must-haves, we can’t recommend these ten things enough, especially if you don’t want to break the bank on your travels. Stay tuned for a follow up on things that you definitely do not need! We look forward to seeing you on the road!