Security is an important issue, both when out on the road and when your travel trailer is in storage – even if you store it at your house. I always put a standard Master Lock on the coupler of my travel trailer, and then a concerning trend started in Northern California after the devastating wild fires: criminals used right angle grinders to cut locks and steal people’s travel trailers right out of their driveways!
I live in the mountains, so I keep my travel trailer in storage in town for a variety of reasons: 1) if there is a fire, I don’t want to tow it during evacuation; I have another vehicle to tow 2) I store it at an RV park, so when I want to stay in town for social outings, it’s quick to set up my home away from home 3) there aren’t any messy trees with sap and leaves and pine needles at the storage unit. The RV area is fenced, and monitored by the people who run the RV park. However, I feel better knowing I have a good lock on my coupler.
When I’m camping, I am usually out and about exploring the area. While my travel trailer is at the campsite and I am away, I feel better knowing I have a decent lock on the coupler. Click on this direct affiliate link to get more information.
There are three locksmiths in my family. Each of them agree: if someone wants to break in or steal, they will find a way to do it. The key is to make them move on to the place that looks like it will be quicker and easier. With this in mind, the visual of security might be enough to make them move on. A good couple hook on your travel trailer is important and a wheel chock lock is also a good idea. I am not a person who lives in fear, otherwise I wouldn’t do many of the things I do. However, I do like to have a plan and play it safe. If you want to add an additional level of security to your set up, these wheel chock locks might be a good idea.
Click on the direct affiliate link below to increase the security on your travel trailer investment.
RV locks are not of the highest quality. Another issue is, another person’s key might work on your door. RV door locks can also be a hassle. I learned about these keyless door locks from other people in camping facebook groups. They like not dealing with a key, and having a higher quality lock on the door.
If you don’t want to purchase a different lock set up, it is recommended you have a locksmith re-key your original lock as soon as you purchase your RV.
There are several different types of lock styles to choose from. Click on the direct affiliate link below to see one option and that will make it easy for you to research the preferred style for your travel trailer.
Again, when you purchase an RV, you are faced with possibility someone else’s key might fit your storage compartment. Plus, they aren’t that tough. For some reason, I had trouble with my locks getting stuck or jamming for some reason. I also found out about these locks from other people on the camping facebook groups.
Wow, what an education I got when I read about the electrical issues we might encounter when we plug into RV park posts, and how those issues might blow out the equipment in our RV’s! I had no idea. I got lucky because I ran for two years before I purchased this surge protector. I like this one because it has lights to tell you what the issue is, if there is one. This is the direct affiliate link for the 30 amp because that's what I have. Click on the link and then do a search if you need the 50 amp. This is a portable surge protector. I feel comfortable in most RV parks leaving it plugged in when I am out and about. There was only one time I noticed someone sketchy in the park, and I took it inside when I left. You can also purchase a hard-wired surge protector that isn't so easy to steal. I don't know how to install those, so be sure to read reviews and watch YouTube installation videos to learn more. One thing seems certain: we should all have one of these to protect the investment we made in our RV’s.
Before I go on a trip, I like to plug my travel trailer into my house (using an extension cord) so the batteries are charged fully when I leave. I like to give everything the once-over before a trip, have use of the lights, and get packed. You might also make use of this adapter at some RV Parks. I have a 30 amp, but if you need a 50 amp, just click on this link and that option will be easy to find. Keep this adapter in your storage compartment, not at home, because you never know when you might need it.
The chlorine taste or just weird taste of water at various locations isn’t pleasant to drink. A water filter on your line can make a big difference, and you can then drink good-tasting water from the tap in your RV. I like to filter water before I run it through my trailer system. This link is for a basic filter that attaches to the faucet and then to your white fresh water hose. There are arrows on the filter to indicate water flow direction. For first use, you flush the filter before attaching it to your trailer. Watch the video for more information.
The Flexible Hose Protector allows easy hose attachment without the stress and wear that comes from twisting and bending. Click on this affiliate link to purchase both in one package.
Note the color of the fresh water hose: it is white so you never get it mixed up with another hose and maintain optimum cleanliness for use at your fresh water connection. Do not store this hose with the equipment used for your grey and black water tank dump. When I break camp, I first detach this hose from my trailer and the park faucet, and set it on the picnic bench to drain. Then I coil it, and put it, ends down in bottom of a five-gallon bucket. That bucket tucks snugly in my RV bathroom for travel. The water filter and flexible hose protector all store together in this same bucket to keep everything clean and handy when I set up camp.
This is a 25’ flexible orange hose. The bright color makes it easy to designate as your all-purpose hose, especially for the black water flush connection on your RV. Before buying, check the outside wall of your RV to verify you have a connection for the black tank flush. If you have this option, and you don't yet have a designated all purpose hose for this, you should get one.
I flush my black tank as part of my camp break down process every time. Yes, every time. It's worth it to me to prevent the build up of gunk I don't want to think about, and keep my toilet system working properly.
Click on this direct affiliate link to see the video with all the quality specs on this hose. I store this hose in the same compartment with my tank dump accessories.
Safety first! It’s important to chock your tires when you park, to prevent unintended movement. When you click on this affiliate link, you will see these chocks are yellow – which I like because they match my yellow leveling blocks. But, if you prefer black, that option will also come up easily once you are on this site. These are basic chocks. If you want chocks that also help you quickly level your RV, see the chocks I’ve listed on the RV NICE TO HAVE page.
Park. Chock. Have Fun!
You can back up on, or pull forward onto, leveling blocks to level your RV. You place them on the low side of the parking area to lift that side of your RV. You can arrange them in such a way to ramp up on them (set 1 block, then 2, then 3 - however high that side of your rig needs to be). You can also use these blocks under your jacks and hitch lift, so you don’t have to extend your equipment to its fullest length. In some cases, you will need to use blocks under your jacks if there is such a slope, the jack can’t reach the ground, even when fully extended. I like things to match, so this link is for yellow stacking blocks that match my chocks, but you can also purchase black blocks. These blocks stack like Legos, so there is some stability when stacked (unlike using blocks of lumber), and they store neatly in your storage compartment. This is the direct affiliate link for a ten pack.
This is important! RV toilet paper is made specifically to break down in your RV black tank. Regular toilet paper can cause problems in your system because it doesn’t break down quickly and can cause blockages. Only use RV toilet paper, keep your system clean, and you shouldn’t have any issues.
Click on the direct affiliate link below and stock up at home so you are always ready to go...you can take that both ways. ;)
If you are a van camper/dweller, this is a good item for you too. It doesn't take up so much space in a portable toilet and if you are using biodegradable toilet bags, this paper will break down more quickly.
Even if you have full hook-ups, don’t leave your black tank open to the RV park dump. Why? This can cause the smell of the main dump to come up the hose into your RV. Also, this may cause gunk to build up on the bottom of your black tank. Instead, flush some clean water into your black tank and put in some black tank treatment. It’s okay to let the tank fill to half way or more before you dump it. When I break camp, I leave the black tank valve open to the dump and flush clean water through the system until the water runs clear (see the clear elbow attachment – next item on this page; it allows you to see the water flowing into the dump station). This process cleans the tank and the hose. You can also attach a hose to the black tank flush connection on the outside of your RV (if you have this option). Then I close the valve and flush more clean water into the black tank and add some black tank treatment; while driving, this water will slosh around and further clean the sides and bottom of the black tank. (Note: if it is winter and below freezing temps, don’t do this.) By following this process, I’ve never had an issue with the smell or function of my black tank.
This attachment is the method for ensuring you have run enough water through your black tank and the hose to the dump station to clear the system of waste. As you flush the system, you can see the material being dumped and see when the water runs clean. Some might not agree with me, but I consider this accessory to be a MUST HAVE.
In addition to being able to see when the water is running clear through the hose, this elbow makes it easier to securely attach your dump hose to the dump station receptacle. I have frequently seen people in RV parks struggling with that connection, and sometimes even creating a mess on the area around the opening, because they haven't securely attached the dump hose. Don't be that person!
Click on the direct affiliate link below to ensure you have a secure connection to the dump station and to make it easier to know when your system has flushed clear.
The downward angle of the sewer hose is important for waste flow to the dump station, and for being able to flush the hose clear of any waste. If the hose lies flat in any section, waste can build up in that spot and potentially block the flow of material. Use a sewer hose support to maintain a hose angle that will allow waste to freely flow through the hose, and for clean water to freely flush and clear all waste from the hose when you break camp.
Click on the direct affiliate link below to see the option I have. It works well with my travel trailer. If you have a C or A Class RV, click on the prompt to input your vehicle type, because the height at the start of the support can vary.
It's these types of accessories that can make your RV life much easier, because it's more fun when everything is working right.
I will not touch the black tank valve or dump hose and attachments without wearing disposable gloves. I keep the box of gloves in the bin with the sewer hose equipment. Even though I’ve dumped my tank many times, I still feel nervous every time I do it. You never know what is going to happen out on the road, and having disposable gloves on hand is a good idea.
One more point: I don't get the cheapest gloves available because I don't want them to tear easily when I am using them. Also, my skin doesn't like latex, so this is the type that works best for me. Once you click on this affiliate link, you can easily find gloves with latex and powder, if you don't mind those aspects.
I've been camping when a newbie doesn't have disposable gloves and it's great to be able to offer them.
My lack of information led to a mistake that has, no doubt, shortened the life of my RV batteries. My travel trailer did not come with a battery cut off switch. I don’t remember the dealer tech telling me I should disconnect the negative wire to the batteries when the trailer wasn’t being used. As a result, for three years, every time my trailer was in storage, the batteries went dead due to the draw from little things in the trailer. Every time I went out, I’d hook the electrical cord to my tow vehicle to life the electric hitch, and then proceed with my set-up process.
One of the best parts of being in the facebook groups related to camping and RV’s is how much I learn. It was in the RPod group I learned how hard it is on the batteries to let them die out, and that I should have been disconnecting them when in storage. I also learned that many install a battery cut-off switch if their RV didn’t come with one, so that’s what I will do. Disconnecting the wires is a hassle, and not something I feel like doing
when I am eager to get out of the RV storage area and be on my way. The battery cut-off switch is an easy install and a time saver.
Travel Trailer Cover:
RV Tire Covers
Many people prioritize covering their RV in the winter. For me, it’s the opposite. I protect my travel trailer from the sun. I’ve heard mixed reviews about keeping an RV covered in the winter versus putting it under a carport type structure due to water being trapped and creating mold and other problems. Big winds are another potential issue if you don’t get a cover that fits your RV correctly: if it moves around too much, it will cause unwanted wear on your RV. Because I live where it snows, I store my travel trailer in the valley where the weather is more mild, and I often stay there in the RV park for social outings or escape big storms. In that case, I don’t want to have to deal with taking the cover on and off. In the summer, it’s easy: when I know I am planning to use my trailer, I take a tall ladder in my truck and remove the cover a couple of days ahead of time.
At the RV storage, I’ve seen what happens when covers don’t have a snug fit and proper tie downs. They rip to shreds and beat against the RV. I have an RPod, so I am providing the link for the type I have. It’s held up beautifully for three years, and the tie downs are easy and effective. If you need a different type of cover, you can easily see an assortment once you click on this link.
Like the RV cover, it’s important to protect your tires from the sun and different weather conditions. Sun can break down the rubber on your tires, causes them to wear early. My trailer is single axle, so I am providing a link for a set of two covers. If you have a double axle rig, you can easily access options after clicking on this link. I like grey tire covers because my RV cover is grey and – even in storage – I like things to look good and clean. Tire covers also come in white and black options.
Of course, it’s easier if someone helps you put the cover on. However, I am often dealing with it by myself, so this is my system:
1. Lay the cover out in the parking area or driveway, with the top side down (inside up).
2. Use two different colored small plastic clamps to indicate which end goes to the front of the RV, and which end goes to the back of the RV. You do this so you don’t forget which end is which when you are up on the ladder, ready to set the cover down on the roof.
3. Take the clamp off and roll the front end of the cover to the middle of the cover – reattach the clamp on top of the roll.
4. Take the clamp off and roll the back end of the cover to the middle of the cover – reattach the clamp on top of the roll.
5. Now you have a decision to make: which side of the RV will you climb? Facing the RV, if you climb a ladder on the right side, you will pick up the cover so the front end is in your left hand. If you climb a ladder on the left side, pick up the front end in your right hand.
6. Climb the ladder and set the cover down in the middle of the roof. Next you will either unroll the back end or the front end (take those clamps off), and then unroll the other end. I am short and use a broom handle to lift the cover over the antenna and air conditioner.
7. Once you have unrolled both ends, you toss the tie downs underneath the RV to attach to the opposite side.
8. Depending on how neurotic you are, and how much time you have, you will circle your RV 2-200 times to double check you’ve attached everything properly. ;) LOL
If you have an easier system (other than having someone else do it for you) please email me and let me know!
I carry three 5 gallon buckets with me when I camp, and use all three of them constantly. When the weather is nice, instead of using my tiny RV kitchen sink to do dishes, I set up buckets on the picnic table and use one for washing and one for rinsing. I keep one outside by the RV door for recycling. I keep my fresh water hose and water filter in a bucket inside when I am traveling (this keeps any water in the hose from coming out in my trailer or storage compartment). I could go on, and I bet, many of you have a multitude of examples too. That’s why this item is on the MUST HAVE list!
Click on the direct link below and put it in your bucket!
I was surprised to learn the tires that come on many RV’s are nicknamed, “China Bombs,” because they are of such poor quality they frequently explode on the road. Some people recommend the first thing you should upgrade is the tires. In reading feedback on the RV facebook groups, the most commonly recommended tires (that I saw) are Goodyear Endurance tires. Depending on the type of RV you have, you might choose to stay with the factory size tires, or get a tire 1” larger for additional lift. For example, I purchased the Hood River addition of the RPod 180 because I plan on some off road adventures and want that additional clearance. By adding a 1” larger size tire, it gives me a little bit more height.
Quality tires are always important, but I think they are especially important if you, like me, have a single axle travel trailer. I originally wanted tandem axles in case I had a blow out, but one of the benefits of the RPods is their light weight, and a tandem axle would be over-kill and drive the price up. So, I went with single axle and upgraded tires.
Click on the direct affiliate link below to see the tire most recommended in the RPod camper group.
Here's to safe travels!
I flat out would not tow without sway bars. They are easy to put on and take off, and they provide extra safety and towing confidence. I consulted with my dealer when I purchased my travel trailer to get his recommendation on the best sway bar for my set up. This link will get you started looking a sway bar options, studying the specs, and choosing the set that is best for you.
I have a heavier duty set-up than the one you will see on the link below, but I wanted to start your research with a reasonably price option, and then you can go from there.
Okay, I'll admit it: an electric power jack really isn't a "must have". It's actually a fantastic "nice to have". If you enjoy cranking that travel trailer hitch handle up and down, up and down, ignore this article and this product.
I didn't like cranking that handle up and down. Getting ready to leave, or breaking down camp, the key for me is to make it as quick and easy as possible.
Hooking up my trailer is sometimes a bit stressful for me. The luxury of an electric jack makes it easier. The one I have also has a light on it. I am a fan of Bulldog products (that's the brand I purchased) and that's what you'll see when you click on my affiliate link below.
When I was young, camping with my parents in our Shasta trailer were some of the best times of my life. I hold dear those memories.
In the photo above, you see my Dad's conservative towing set up. When we all grew tired of getting the boat on and off the top of the van, he used his truck driver's license to get a special tag for towing the boat behind the trailer. That's right - van, trailer, boat! He made a sign for the back of the boat so people passing would realize they would be passing three vehicles.
When I purchased my first travel trailer, I didn't tell my parents. I just showed up with it to surprise them. When my Mom came out to see it, she cried, she was so happy for me and proud of me. I got talked into a trailer that was too big for my pickup, and it was a relief to sell it. These days I tow an RPod 180 and it is perfect for me and my little dogs.
When I joined a few fb camping groups, I noticed the same questions were asked repeatedly when people were faced with their first RV purchase. I am a leadership trainer, so sharing knowledge and resources is what I do in my career. Sharing RV information and resources is no different for me: it's all about helping people. Some of what I've included here, I learned from my parents. Much of it I've learned from people in the fb groups. I appreciate how supportive people are!
Please be sure to check out the RV NICE TO HAVE page on this website, once you have covered your MUST HAVEs! Happy trails and safe travels to you!