Planning on Living the Full Time RV Life? Here’s What You’ll Need

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Back when we were getting ready to start full timing and move into an RV, we thought we had it all figured out.  We were going to sell all of our items, buy a truck, buy an RV and hit the road.  Seems simple right?  Well, unfortunately, getting out on the road and living full time in an RV is not as simple as that so we have decided to compile a list of all of the items we needed before hitting the road.

Upgrades for the truck

After we bought the truck and knew how much weight it was going to pull, we set out to buy the perfect RV.  Once that decision was made all we needed to do was hitch up the truck and pull it home so we could get going on our adventure.  Well, our truck didn’t come with a hitch, but luckily a friend of ours had one that she gave us so we drove on down to the RV dealership to pick up our rig.  There was only one issue, it wasn’t the right size ball and it couldn’t hold the weight that we needed to be able to pull.  So we ran out and picked up a tri-ball hitch that could support our weight and rushed back to the dealership.  We hitched up the truck and were ready to roll out and one of their employees made us aware that we were dipping extremely low to the ground and that he suggested we take it straight home and not take it anywhere.  Well, we knew that wasn’t going to happen, but luckily we only had about 50 miles in total to go to get to San Marcos where it was going to stay for three months.

So the next thing we needed to get was a weight distribution hitch with sway bars.  The mechanic at the RV dealership suggested we got with the Equal-i-zer hitch which has turned out to be one of the best purchases we’ve made thus far.  By itself, it helped raise our towing plane much closer to being level, but we were still dipping down more than we wanted to be.  Because it was putting a lot of weight on our rear axles and rear tires, we were told we should get better suspension installed on the truck.

We were referred to a local body shop that works closely with the Ford dealership that we bought our truck from and they recommended we go with one of the Roadmaster Active Suspension kits.  Once we got these added to our back end, when combined with the new hitch we had installed, we are able to pull our RV much more safely and securely.  We still have a bit of a dip when we are at full load, but it’s nowhere near what it used to be and we are far more comfortable.

Of course, anyone who drives should have one of these, but when you live your life on the road it becomes a necessity and that is an air compressor!  We currently are using the Wilmar 12v Air Compressor which we keep in the back of our truck at all times.  The only real downsides to this model is that it is 12v and has about 9 feet of cord available which meant we had to pick up an extension cord to be able to get to our trailer tires.  It’s easy to prevent a blow out from under-inflated tires so this is a must for all full timers!

If you’re hauling things in the bed of your truck, you’ll want to get some tow straps in order to keep things from blowing out or shuffling around while you’re barreling down the road.  Most people can get by with a lower strength rating unless you’re using them to tie down heavier objects such as dirt bikes or ATVs.  We recommend getting a 4 pack, but you’ll definitely want at least two to create an X over your load.  

We also purchased new tires for the truck that were able to handle more weight than what the stock tires were able to.  We ended up going with the Hankook Dynapro 265/60R18 114T tires.  They are a little bit on the economical side, but still give us 50,000 miles as well as giving us the extra weight capacity to haul our rig without worry.

Upgrades for the RV

So we’re all upgraded on the truck, we’re able to tow much more safely, so let’s get out there and hit the road!  Well, while you can do that, there are some additional items that we needed in order to turn the RV from just a place we live, to our home.  Some of these are upgrades to the free equipment that you get when you buy a new RV and others are things that just make life easier or more pleasant along the way.

Water equipment

One of the first things you want to do is buy a water filtration system.  We went with one of those in-line hose filters such as the ones that Camco puts out.  While they are good, they aren’t perfect by any means.  Since they are carbon based they don’t filter out some of the more dangerous chemicals such as arsenic, but they are good when you start until you can build a much better system.  On top of the in-line filter system, we also picked up a Brita Slim Water Pitcher for all of our drinking water.  Again this is carbon based and is probably not much more than redundant since it’s already filtered, but for our drinking water, we figured it can’t hurt.

On top of the water filtration systems, you’ll want to pick up a better and longer drinking hose.  Any hose that is specifically marked as for drinking purposes should work, but you’ll want to have at least 40 to 50 feet of it in total, even if you have to combine hoses.  We’ve stayed at places where the 40 feet of drinking host was put to the test and it was stretched out to the point where it wasn’t even on the ground.  Speaking of hoses, you’ll want a regular garden hose as well, especially for flushing out the black tank.  For this, we highly recommend a collapsable garden hose of at least 40 feet in length.  Since it collapses, longer may even be better.  Finally, you’ll want to pick up a drinking friendly hose splitter.  Most campgrounds we have stayed at have only had one water hookup and it’s annoying to have to unhook your drinking water every time you have to use the garden hose.

You’ll also want to look into getting a water pressure regulator that is rated for your RV.  Campgrounds can vary wildly in the pressure that comes out of the water pump and if you put too much pressure on your pipes, you can develop leaks or worse, blow outs.  Imagine coming home and finding water running along the floor!  We have one of the cheaper ones but it does also limit water flow so we are looking at picking up an adjustable water pressure regulator in the near future!

The last thing we’ve picked up so far is an extendable brush with hose hookup for washing the outside of our RV.  It’s not something that you need to get going down the road, but it is something that you’ll want to have for long term care and maintenance as your rig will get dirty!  

Tank accessories

Everyone’s favorite topic when it comes to living the full-time RV life is the black tank discussion.  It’s a bit surprising how common this topic actually comes up when you’re surrounded by fellow RVers!  We have a few “must-haves” that we’ve added to our arsenal along the way.  

You will want to get a sewer hose support system.  Sometimes your sewer hose will actually connect uphill. The support system helps keep things flowing downhill as best as they can and keeps water from backing up into your hose.  We also recommend replacing the original hose that you get with the RV (if you got one) with a much tougher hose.  We bought one of the Rhino ones when we first started full timing and it only lasted us about 3 months, but it developed a crack which we believe may have been a mowing incident.  Since then we have gone with the Dominator line of hoses and they appear to be holding up quite well.  We recommend a bare minimum of 20 feet of hose, but eventually, you’ll want to get up to 40 feet as we’ve been in situations where we’ve used it all.

Our favorite way of camping is often where we have the most space, the least amount of people, and unfortunately, that means, the least amount of amenities.  Often times, this includes not having any sewer connection to hook into.  Because of that, we went ahead and picked up a portable holding tank.  We recommend getting one at least as big as your gray water tank, but if you can’t, get one at least 30 gallons, otherwise, you’ll be making multiple trips back and forth when you’ve filled up your tanks.

If you don’t have a flush system built into your black tank, you’ll have to get a sewer wand in order to clean out your black tank. The only real tip we can give with this is to make sure you don’t turn it on full blast when you go to use it until you know how it’s going to react.  Use your imagination there!  On the same topic of cleaning the tank, you’ll want to pick up some tank pods that help break down everything that goes in there.  We tend to pick up a package of Bio Pak when we run out, but we’ve found that they generally all kind of work the same.  It also goes without saying that you’ll want some gloves, and a lot of them!

Stabilization accessories

Living full time in a travel trailer is similar to being on a boat.  Every little step sends a shockwave through the entire rig and causes people to get sea sick.  We are still combating this problem but we have gotten things much more stable than when we first moved in.

The first set of equipment we bought were some leveling pads to put underneath our scissor jacks and tongue jack.  While they don’t do much to help with the actual stabilization of things, they do help keep things on a level playing field and some places now actually require them.  Another piece that has helped quite a bit were our starter RV wheel chocks.  We call them our starter chocks because we plan on upgrading to better ones in the future, but they have made such a difference that we haven’t pulled the trigger on it just yet.

Next, we bought some cinder blocks and some stabilizers which have made the biggest difference of all of the equipment we’ve had thus far.  When the stabilizers are in, the RV becomes much easier to walk around in without making the other person sick or causing things to roll off of the counters.  We had also picked up one of the Universal RV Stabilizers, which appeared to be great, but we accidentally broke it shortly after buying it by leaving it under the bumper and raising the tongue jack… whoops!  We do plan on purchasing two more of them in the near future.

Electrical accessories

One thing we never thought about until we started seeing horror stories in Facebook groups was a surge protector for our power cord.  It makes sense when you think about it and with Aaron’s tech background it was kind of surprising that even he didn’t think about it.  While the surge benefits are obvious, the best part about the one we picked up is that we can see what kind of power issues may be waiting for us before we even plug in.  One of the campsites we stayed at offered 50 amp service, but the connection was broken and our LED display let us know that.  Luckily we were prepared for that because we had picked up a 50 amp -> 30 amp adapter.  You won’t need this if you’re in a 30 amp rig, but there have been many times we’ve been able to stay at 30 amp sites because of this adapter.  Just make sure you know what all of your equipment draws in terms of power so you don’t pop the breaker!

Miscellaneous accessories

We recently just picked up some bumper hatch end caps for the back of our RV and they are absolutely incredible.  With them, we can now store 20 feet of our sewer hose in our back bumper where it stays until we absolutely need it.  While you don’t need these to get going down the road, we highly recommend them as they are relatively inexpensive and are worth every penny.

We also picked up hitch locks for both the hitch on our truck and trailer.  The hitch lock for the truck replaces the standard pin that holds the hitch in place.  Now you need a key in order to pull the pin and remove the hitch from the truck giving us an extra layer of security.  We also added a lock for the hitch on the trailer that prevents someone from just pulling up their truck and taking off with our home.  Nothing would be worse than to come home only to find out your rig and all of your belongings are long gone!

Outdoor equipment

None of the outdoor equipment we have picked up is absolutely necessary, but when you live in an RV, you tend to spend a lot of time outside enjoying the open air.  Because of that, we have a few recommendations when it comes to outdoor equipment.

What goes better with camping than a good grill?  Before we left, we cooked constantly on our grill and so it was a no brainer that we would get one when we started full timing.  We ended up going with one of the Coleman portable grills and it has been fantastic.  One of the things we want to get for it is the griddle piece so that we can have one side with for grilling vegan burgers and corn and the other side for vegetables.

We work outside whenever we can and the weather is cooperating.  Because of that, we wanted to pick up chairs that were comfortable to sit in long term, but also provided some protection from the sun.  We ended up picking up this two pack of shaded canopy zero gravity chairs from Camping World, and it is one of the best purchases we’ve made.  The only kind of downside we’ve found with these is that the cupholder doesn’t sit level and isn’t the biggest, but it’ll hold most normal sized cups without issue, but it does not hold our RTIC cups.

At the end of the night we like to kick back and relax in front of a fire whenever we aren’t swamped with our daily lives and activities.  While we’ve found that about half of the campgrounds we’ve visited have fire pits, the other half do not.  So we tote around our own portable fire pit for the times that we need it.  We have found that some places that do not have fire pits also do not allow wood fires, so we’ve contemplated trading ours in for a gas fire pit.

Keep in mind that this is not an extensive list and there are a lot of little things you’ll want to pick up like sink filters, but we were a bit shocked by how much we needed to get before we hit the road.  Did we forget something?  Let us know in the comments!


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2 Comments

  1. Tami Walker September 16, 2017 at 10:43 AM #

    A must have for me is a portable ice maker. Buying ice gets expensive and my freezer doesn’t have the room for ice trays.

    • Aaron
      Aaron September 16, 2017 at 6:52 PM #

      We’ve seen a lot of people talk about those. Luckily for us we don’t keep too much in our freezer so we are able to keep an ice tray in there.

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