Standard Camping Journal:
Polaroid Snap Touch Camera link at bottom of this article.
It’s fun to document your travels, and can prove to be a useful reference in the future. I record mileage, the place I stayed, the site number of the spot I camped in, modification to my trailer or tow vehicle, and general notes about my trips and camping goals.
I’ve included my link for a basic camping journal that is basic and easy. However, that’s not what I use because I enjoy taking my journal to the next level, more like a scrap book. I use a hard cover sketch book with blank pages. Using my Polaroid Snap Touch camera to print photos from my cell phone, or photos I've taken with the Polaroid, I Modge Podge the photos into the sketch book and write my captions. Then I Modge Podge the entire page to protect photos and keep them in place. Though this is more time consuming than simply jotting notes in a regular journal, it’s satisfying and fun for me. Click on these links to see the resources I use:
Hard Cover Sketch Book:
The first time I took my new travel trailer to a campground near the ocean, I was in a site that left my RV step so high, it wasn’t safe to step down to the ground. I had some lumber with me, and used one piece for an unsteady step. I was nervous one of us was going to twist an ankle because of the set-up. As soon as I got home, I purchased the step you will see when you click on this link.
This step doubles as a side table for me at night, when I’m watching a movie or reading in bed.
Take note: you have two options when you purchase this step. You can purchase the fixed height step, or the adjustable leg height step. The adjustable option is great for sites that aren’t flat – the leg height on one side can be higher that the leg height on the other side.
One thing I really like about this step is that it folds down to 3” so it doesn’t take up very much space in my storage compartment.
One small step for mankind, one safe step for all campers!
Tire Lock Door Mat
NoTrax Rubber Mat
Your door mat is a matter of personal preference. Some people prefer large rugs that match the color scheme or their RV, which is visually pleasing. I don’t want to deal with anything carpeted because dog hair sticks to it, I can’t just hose it off and be on my way, and I don’t want to deal with some oversized item difficult for me to handle and that take up a lot of room, either in my RV storage compartment or in my tow vehicle.
After experimenting with several options, I have settled on a rubber mat that dries off quickly when I hose it off – or it can be easily shaken to knock off dirt – and it can be rolled up and take up a small amount of space in my RV storage compartment.
I have chosen function over form – this mat isn’t cute, but it works to keep dirt and debris out of my RV and it’s easy for me. Dog hair doesn’t stick to it.
A similar option is the tire lock mat. This is what I use at my cabin and it works beautifully for snow, dirt, pine needles – everything! This mat will hold up for a long time, and can also be rolled up. The trade off is weight and space: it is a bit heavier than the rubber mat, and take up more space when rolled up. Another positive aspect of this choice is, it can be spray painted to match your RV.
My Mom wanted a clean travel trailer, so I was trained to keep as much dirt out as possible, and clean that floor every day. If you feel the same way, one of these mats might be your best bet at the door. You can always have something cute where you set up your chairs.
I don’t know about the molded shower shelf in your RV, but it is impossible to set a bottle of shampoo on mine without it falling off the moment I move. Even with travel size shampoo and conditioner, they constantly fall off, and then I have to be a contortionist to bend over in that small shower stall to grab them.
A light-weight shower caddy hung on the shower wall is the solution. I like this one because it uses suction cups – no drilling, no damage, no sticky gunk from double sided tape if I ever want to use something different. This one has good drainage, and a grooved face so you can hang your scrub or other items from it.
I still use smaller size products so there isn’t too much weight hanging in the caddy.
I feel better when I am in organized spaces. This is a small detail, but it makes every shower more enjoyable.
I have to credit the people on the different camping fb sites for this recommendation. The heater in my RV works well, and runs on propane. But it is loud when it kicks on; it frequently wakes me up when it kicks on. One person told me they refer to theirs as, “the dragon under the bed” – that’s where our furnace vents are.
The other issue is how cold it can get the moment the heater shuts off. In cold weather, it can be a challenge to regulate the temperature. The furnace runs on propane, but needs electricity to start. So, I noticed several people reaching out for help when their furnaces weren’t working properly; their batteries were running low, or they were running out of propane.
The overwhelming feedback from the groups was to get a ceramic heater. When you have full hookups, the ceramic portable heater is an easy way to maintain the right heat level, without burning your propane. I am so happy with this purchase! Much more quiet and consistent heat is an ambiance bonus! It keeps my Dachshund happy too.
Tip: I turn off the heater when I use my blow dryer so I don't flip a breaker. You probably should do same when you use your microwave.
Now, I only use my RV furnace and burn propane when I am bookdocking.
The heater listed in this direct link also has a tip-over safety feature. No matter which one you get, make sure it has that. Here’s another important safety tip: don’t plug your heater into a strip with several outlets because those strips can melt when used with portable heaters and become a major safety issue. Only plug your heater directly into a receptacle on the wall of your RV.
Pictured: this is my set up installed by my RV guy.
PVC 90 Degree Elbow Joint
If you winterize your RV so your pipes and tanks don’t freeze and crack, you will need to know where the low point drains are for your RV: look underneath your RV for two capped pvc pipes – one might be red pvc and one might be blue, identified as hot and cold lines appropriately. You will pull the caps off those lines to drain all the water out of your system. Be sure to put the caps back on.
This task is not a big deal, but at night or in the rain, getting under your RV with pliers to pull those caps is not very fun. It is much easier if you install valves so you can easily open and close the low point drains.
Tip: My RV maintenance guy used an elbow joint so the valves don’t extend too far downward. You need to cap one end of the valve.
BEFORE YOU PURCHASE: verify the size of your low point drains so you can purchase the valves and joints that fit your system. I provided these links to make research and purchase easier, but these links might not be the right fit for your RV.
Battery Operated CO Alarm
Combination CO/LP Detector Battery Operated
What happened to me is exactly what happens to so many, and it is uncanny: the alarm on the hard wired CO alarm is bound to happen when you are trying to sleep! It is so damn annoying and can be hard to figure out; is there really a safety issue, or is your RV battery running low?
I did what so many others have done: disconnect the alarm in my RV, cap off the wires, and use a battery operated unit that isn’t wired into your main system. I’m seeing more and more people recommending the carbin monoxide and explosive gas alert combination, so I am providing direct links for both. Click below:
Space in an RV is limited and it can be challenging to know what to pack for various locations and situations. I’m making this recommendation directly from my personal experience: I can’t stand being cold! However, I like to be out in all kinds of weather and locations.
From snow shoeing to camping at the ocean, I’ve been so glad I had my 3-in-1 jacket! I use all three options regularly, and it’s great to know I can grab this when packing and have several bases covered.
My goal is to go camping more frequently, and having basic items in the RV so I don’t have to think about packing so much every time makes that goal more easily achievable. Keep this jacket in your RV.
Personal comfort is important for adventurers and the right gear directly leads to our outing satisfaction level.
Clam Pop Up Screened In Tent 12x12, No Floor - start here, check different sellers for size, stock availability and best price:
Quick Set Up Tent with Floor
I got hooked on a quick set up screened in tent when I was raising two puppies: one of them was allergic, like me, to mosquito bites, and I wanted to protect her. Ticks on the Northern California coastline are a serious problem, so spraying the ground and then setting up a tent with a floor was the perfect way to protect my pups, while having a perfect space to relax and play.
One of the girl’s systems gave out at 17 years old, and, as I write this, her Chiweenie sister is 19 years old! The Clam is great in the rain, so I can take her out for potty break with protection from rain. (She is fine in the snow, but she hates the rain).
You can purchase wall flaps for your Clam Pop up and they come in a variety of sizes.
If you want something heavier duty with a floor, I’ve provided the link for a quick set up tent.
These products are easy to set up by yourself: both set up in 5 minutes or less!
For van campers, these types of products can go a long way toward extending your personal space and comfort level. Combined with a portable/foldable dog fence at the zip door, you can set up the perfect scene for you and your dog(s).
Running a holiday sale or weekly special? Definitely promote it here to get customers excited about getting a sweet deal.
Mini Kuerig Coffee Maker
Stove Top Espresso Maker
Some of you probably have mixed feelings about this suggestion, and I don’t blame you. I’ve been anti-Kuerig since they came out because of the one-use plastic containers. I never thought I’d get one.
I’ve been using an old school camp coffee pot on my stove since I got my RV. I like how I can see the percolating coffee in the glass knob of the lid; it reminds me of the coffee pot my parents had when I was little. But you know what I don’t like when I’m camping? Dealing with those coffee grounds! It’s a mess. And when I stay in a place for just one night, I don’t want a lot of clean up before I break camp.
And then I was looking at a photo from a gal who redecorated her RV kitchen and there it was on her counter: a Kuerig. It was a forehead slap moment for me. The kitchen in my RV is small, so I was happy to learn Kuerig has a mini version. Bam! Easy, clean, and fast: and now that I have it, I can’t help it – I love it! This machine is one of my guilty pleasures.
When I’m bookdocking I use a stove top expresso maker. The grounds are easier to deal with than the stove top percolator because they are packed down.
Whatever you choose, make it a good morning with a delicious cup of coffee!
A few years back there was an article in, “Trailer Life” magazine asking people which item in their travel trailer they could not go without. Crock Pot was a popular answer, and it made perfect sense to me.
When I’m camping, I like to spend hours on the beach, or hours on my kayak on beautiful little lakes, or hours hiking. I use my Crock Pot at home on a regular basis, and I realized that having a Crock Pot in my RV is wise for the exact same reasons: short meal preparation in the morning results in coming back after an outing to the smells and warmth of a delicious meal. The clean up is easy.
Another advantage of the Crock Pot is left overs. It’s so convenient to have good food for at least two days and maybe more.
The link below is for the smaller sized Crock Pot, but if you have more counter space in your RV kitchen than I do, and if you travel with your family, then a larger size might be a better choice for you.
2-in-1 Stick Vacuum with Handle and Shorty Vacuum
No matter how frequently I sweep, I never feel like sweeping alone is enough to keep my RV floor as clean as I like it to be. But sweeping is quick and easy for a once over.
I have a slide out on my RV, so sweeping off the top of the slide out before I retract it is part of my standard camp break down process. The angle broom works great for that. You can also get an awning for your slide out, but I don’t have one of those. It doesn’t take long to sweep off the slide out.
I always feel better when I use the Dust Buster to vacuum the dinette seats and the floor. The Dust Buster doesn’t take up much space and it’s great for getting into corners and all around the toilet. The one on this link holds a terrific charge and I think it has pretty good power.
For me, the small space required for storage is worth the trade-off of not having a long handle to deal with, but some of you might prefer a handled vacuum so you don’t have to bend over. That’s why I also included the link for the 2-in-1 Vacuum.
I was interested to read comments from some of the people in the fb camping groups who use a security camera when they cover their RVs for the winter. Even there, in their yards, they find it beneficial to monitor conditions inside the RV (without having to take the cover off), including any possible animal activity.
Although we aren’t supposed to leave animals in our travel trailers at RV parks, if you had to for some reason, a security camera would be a nifty way to keep an eye on them until you get back.
Oh yes, of course there is the main purpose, security watch because of the two-leggeds up to no good.
Squeeguee and Scrubber with Extendable Handle:
Keeping our windows and exterior walls clean is easier with the right tools.
I like the extendable handle on this model.
I bought a step ladder for sweeping off the top of my little slide out. (I use an angle broom for that). It also became the shelf I keep by my RV door. I always need to set things down on it so I can unlock the door. It’s also where I hang the dog leashes. It’s a handy shelf for things that need to go back out to my vehicle.
This size ladder is easy to store inside my RV when I travel: I lay it on the bed.
This set comes with two leveling chocks and two regular chocks to be used on the other side of the tire.
In some situations, trying to drive up on the square leveling blocks can be a challenge. For example, here in my yard where people were going to camp overnight in their C class, the driver kept spinning out on my gravel and had to keep pulling forward and backing up to try and get it right. Even if you set the blocks right in front of, or in back of, the tire, it can be difficult for some reason.
You can also use leveling blocks under your jacks, if you are leveling a travel trailer. I have done this many times. However, I have read comments in the camping fb groups, that some people do not advise this approach.
And then I saw these Easy Level Chocks – quick solution! Because the angle of the product is circular, like your tire, it is very easy to pull forward or back up on them. You can achieve ½” – 4” of lift, depending on how far you pull up on the leveling block.
Park on the leveling chock.
Set your ebrake.
Chock the tire on the side opposite the leveling chock.
I am all about getting set up as quickly as possible. Even though using the hand crank handle for my RV jacks is not a big deal, I prefer using a cordless drill: using the socket that fits my jacks, extending or retracting the jacks is a zip with a cordless drill. This is a tip I got from my Dad.
I find it’s useful to have a cordless drill in my storage compartment for anything that might come up. This kit includes several useful tools.
Hot Water Heater Anode Rod
Socket for Hot Water Heater Anode Rod
The first time I pulled the anode rod from my RV hot water heater, I immediately went to my dealer concerned that something had gone wrong. That’s when I learned about the anode rod: it corrodes to protect your hot water heater.
If you winterize your RV, you will need the socket that fits the anode rod in your RV. First, you relieve the pressure in your lines by disconnecting from the water source and opening your faucets. Pull the caps off your low point drains to drain more water.
Then you pull the anode rod and blow air through your system to clear them of water. You can watch videos about this on YouTube: I have not yet had to do this, because it doesn’t typically freeze where I store my RV.
BEFORE YOU PURCHASE: verify the length of your RV anode rod and the thread count. Measure the head to ensure you purchase the right socket size.
Electric Blanket 50x60 Inch
Auto Electric Blanket with Cigarette Lighter Adapter
If you are against electric blankets, that's okay, ignore this article. I am including it because of the number of women I've seen post about using one to warm up their beds, especially if they want to run their heaters on low, or turn them off.
I included the link for the cigarette lighter adapter option because I've seen the van and car campers use them. This is a good item to keep in your vehicle in winter as a safety measure. Recently a woman got lost and stuck in the snow near where I live. She spent more than two night in her car and all she had to keep her warm was the floor mats! We were all surprised she didn't die.
Click on link below to see style I purchased. I was a passenger in a car that got in a horrendous accident. It left me with a life-long hip injury. This mattress topper lets me sleep through the night without waking up in pain every time I roll over.
Women’s Northface Backpack
I keep my backpack stocked with the right gear for the type of hiking I enjoy, and in my tow vehicle. It's one less thing I have to pack when I'm ready for adventure. you can get online for the list of items you should always carry with you if you are a hiker. This is a nice pack.
Yeti Camino Carryall
I don't stress about keeping the refrigerator cold in my RV when I'm driving to my destination. I freeze certain foods ahead of time and put them in a regular cooler. For non-frozen, but keep 'em cold items, I put them in my Yeti. Once I get to my camping location, I plug in and turn on the refrigerator. This is a simple system that has always worked out good for me. This Carryall style is perfect to keep in my tow vehicle for when we go out and about.
To drive with the propane on or off is a matter of personal preference. If you search camping fb groups, you'll find some people have strong feelings both ways. I am not comfortable driving with the propane open, and with my system, I've never had to.
I am impressed with Yeti coolers: when I pack them as suggested, it's unbelievable how long ice and cold packs last. I have additional styles on my boon-docking page.