While we were preparing for full time RV life, my husband and I did a lot of research to prepare ourselves for this major life change. Thankfully, there is Pinterest, and Youtube and Google! Seriously though, there were so many informative blogposts and videos from people who had been full time RVers and their tips were super helpful to us as we planned and prepared. I am glad that we had some advice to help us along, and this list is a combination of the things we bought based on that advice and the things we have bought along the way when we figured out that we needed it. So, here are my 5 Must Have Items for Full Time RV Life:
1. Berkey Water Filter
If you have been on the road very long, you will find out that your water source is ever-changing, so you never know what you’re going to get. Drinking out of the tap in the RV is not something we wanted to do in most cases. If you have kids, you probably already know that disposible water bottles can be a source of frustration – plastic water bottles everywhere usuallly half-full and nobody knows which bottle is theirs! Not to mention the effect on the environment. And where do we store this huge case of water – in an RV, space is at a premium.
My husband Matt stumbled across the Berkey Water System while researching RV living and was very impressed. This water-filtering system is awesome! Pour your gross water into the top, it is gravity fed through the charcoal filters, and then the wonderful, clean water comes out the tap. Our Berkey fits on the counter, right by the sink, and surprisingly, the rubber bottom keeps it from sliding around while we drive down the road. Honestly, I would recommend a Berkey for anyone, RVer or not.(and no, I do not get paid for promoting Berkey products, but maybe I should consider selling them because I love them) For a more technical description, check out their website:https://myberkeywaterusa.com/
2. Tankless Water Heater
Again with the water, I know. When we first moved into our motorhome, we had a 6 gallon water heater. I bet you can imagine how wonderful our shower time was. It wasn’t. It was difficult for 1 person to take a hot/warm shower, much less 7! So my husband found this awesome little tankless hot water heater.
It was tricky to figure out how to regulate the heat at first, it would fluctuate between hot and cold, it was super frustrating. We found a tip from a forum online that suggested setting the temperature and then using only the hot water in the shower. For example, I set my shower at 104 degrees and it is perfect, we set it to about 110-115 for doing dishes. Guess what? The water heater will heat water for up to 20 minutes. If, by some chance, a person takes a shower for longer than 20 minutes, all they have to do is turn the water off and back on again and it will start heating the water.
3. Blackout shades/curtains
If you have ever boondocked, or camped somewhere with bright lights, you have discovered that blackout curtains/shades are a dream come true!
Our motorhome is a 2007, and the window coverings had frankly seen better days. I liked the idea behind their design, there were 3 options: 1. push up for full sunlight and to enjoy the view outside, 2. Pull the sheer shades to block out some of the glare, 3. Pull the opaque shades to block most of the light. After years of use, these shades stopped working, the strings broke inside, or they would partially work. I had at one point read a tutorial on restringing the blinds, and it sort-of-worked temporarily. They broke again and we ended up tying some burlap string around the blinds to look outside, and then untying it to drop the shades at night. As you can imagine, it was not pretty. I have failed to mention the not-so-wonderful built-in valences and that is because they were very ugly.
I honestly would have loved to remove the window coverings when we first bought the RV, but it just wasn’t in the budget. When we first priced out replacing our shades with a similar model from RV stores or online, we discovered that they were quite expensive. When we finally jumped in and remodeled our RV, we found these wonderful blackout shades from Home Depot! No strings, completely blackout, and much more affordable! We may or may not add curtains, something to add a little color and to block out that tiny stream of light that peaks in the side of the shades.
Back in the bunk area, we opted for black out curtains. We thought maybe the kids would roll into the shades and destroy them. The curtains do the job and they look pretty, tied with a strip of fabric.
4. Norwex Towels
A wonderfully generous relative gifted us a full set of Norwex bath towels, cleaning towels, and washcloths when we first set off on the RV full-time adventure. I didn’t even know we needed these until we had them! Norwex towels are microbial, and I don’t know the details about how that works, but they don’t get that musty smell, and they dry super-fast, and they are super-lightweight. The lightweight part is wonderful for the bath towels – we have towels for 7 people hanging in our teeny-tiny bathroom and most of those are hanging on the door! If these were regular bathtowels, not only would they take forever to dry, giving our bathroom a lovely musty smell, they would weigh down the tiny bathroom door.
I also really love the Norwex cleaning towels. I don’t have room to store a mop or an abundance of cleaning supplies. The cleaning towels are great for cleaning the windows and mirrors, dusting, or mopping.
5. Plenty of Hoses and Electrical Cords
Unless you are planning on staying at RV parks 100% of the time, you will need a large supply of quality hoses and electrical cords. Honestly, I don’t know much about what Matt is doing when he is outside getting us all hooked up, (I am thankful that he is willing to do all that outside stuff, he’s awesome) so I am going to let him recommend what to get in this area.
Hi guys, for electric I recomend at least 100ft of cord. Make sure to get a 50amp or 30amp extension cord instead of regular extesion cords which will burn up after time. Menards has 50 & 30 amp extension cords at a nice price. I have a 50amp so I use a 50amp extension but I also have a 30amp because it’s less expensive. Make sure you have all the connections to convert from 50 – 30 – 110! I also use a surge protector (after that one time I plugged into a 50amp at one location and fried out our microwave, game device, and other things).
For fresh water I always buy drinking water hoses and I recomend you keep at least 100ft on board. I also use a regulator 50-55psi at the water spigot. This protects your water lines and pump from high pressure and I’ve noticed that our on demand Girard hot water heater regulates better this way!
For sewer hoses, don’t go cheap, get the best and you will be glad you did. Especially if you’re a full timer. I like the Rino brand. I keep several sizes handy and plenty of different connectors.
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