Short-List of things to get for the New RV

More Shopping to come… what’s on our Short List of things to get for the new RV now?

We have been shopping for our new Winnebago Journey a year now.   Last year at this time Christine and I decided that we not only wanted to buy an RV, but to experience the full-time RVer life style. We chronicle the decisions we make and the resources we use to make those decisions. We started with books and blogs that helped make those decisions, and those were the first items we reviewed.

What’s next now that we have the basics covered?  In our earlier posts we covered buying for the inside in Shopping List for first Camping Trip #1: Home Stuff.  Then in the next post I covered our first major upgrade – the Tire Minder tire monitoring system.  Next I discussed the basement in Buying for the RV Basement post.  This gets us to items that are important, but we could camp without them.

Short List – next 6 to 9 months

1.  Zero Gravity Reclining Chairs.  We tried my daughter’s boyfriend’s zero gravity chairs on or first camping trip and they quickly moved from short-list to “A” list.  We bought a pair of chairs  that were on sale at Camping World this last week.  They are amazingly comfortable (Camping World brand).  We looked for sturdy chairs that also had a side table to set a drink or kindle on.

2.  TOAD tow bar and base plate.  A Towed vehicle (TOAD) is our way to get around once we ‘arrive’.   Top Contender: Blue Ox.

3.  Surge protector.  With all the electronics in today’s RVs – both built-in as well as bring-along – surge protection is a must.  Both built-in as well as portable (at the pedestal) are available with price ranges from under $100 for small portable units to over $600.  Top Contender:  Built in Progressive Industries hard-wired unit.

4.  LED Lights.  This is a quick and easy way to gain more juice from your batteries by using less.  LED bulbs use about 1/8 of the power of incandescent bulbs, give off very little heat and last a long time.  This is a no brainer because it is important that we become independent of the grid for up to a week.  Top contender: M4 Products.

5.  Composting toilet.  A composting toilet will allow us to use the black tank for grey water that will help extend our visits whether it’s a camp site without full hookups or in the wild boondocking.  Top contender:  Natures Head.

6.  Screened gazebos/tent.  It’s great being outside, but we know from experience that there are times that the outside bugs are too much especially when eating.  Protection from those flies, mosquitoes, bees and other wild critters can make a more relaxing experience.  Still investigating these.

7.  MaxxVent Vent cover.  The bench seat of the dinette got wet after accidentally hitting the switch for our roof vent during a rain storm.  A vent cover is a high priority because we want fresh air in the RV.   Side windows are liable to get water blown in so if we want fresh air a covered roof vent is important to us.  We will replace both the one in the bathroom as well as the one in the dining area.

8. Faucet upgrade in the bathroom.  The standard faucet in the Journey is OK, but it’s old and ready to get replaced.

9.  UV screen/privacy shade.  Options here are inside or outside shades.  We are leaning towards inside shades where we don’t have to worry about storage of wet shades.

Short List – before we Full-Time

1.  Solar Panels – being able to live off the grid is part of our plan, and solar panel weight, prices and options are increasing almost monthly.  We’ll give this technology another year then start shopping seriously.

2. Replace the house batteries with Lithium-Ion (Lithium Iron Phosphate) batteries.  This is quicker charging, longer life batteries than the typical gel batteries in most RVs. A great combination to go with the solar panels.

3.  Portable reverse osmosis water system – fresh water is hard to find outside campgrounds. How about making fresh water from pond water?  Small units won’t break the bank even if they are not used all the time.

4.  Tire covers.  With our RV storage inside now we don’t need tire covers.  However once we are full-timing tire covers are a must to keep up the life expectancy of this investment.

5.  RV GPS.  While my android app for RVing with Google Maps will work in the short-term.  I don’t want to lose my new roof vent (or worse) because we took a route with one too many low bridges to go under.

6.  Induction cooktop.  82% efficiency for cooking while boondocking sounds like a winner to me,  the batteries last longer  and there is less reliance on propane.   Do we go portable or built-in?

Another list done!


Time to SHOP for first Camping trip

Shopping List for first Camping Trip #1: Home Stuff

Now that we have our list made – see our earlier post on Preparing for Camping – Making Lists – we have to decide what to load the RV with.  Yes, it’s time to shop for first camping trip.

Of course we want a comfortable home on the road with our RV.  Now go back to the list and decide what you need to buy and what you already have.

Choice 1 – move things between the house and the RV

As long as you are not full-timing (yet) like us, you will move some things to the RV before you head out each trip.  Such things would definitely include perishable items such as fruits and vegetables.  Other items may include pots and pans, clothing, towels and so on.  You may even want these items on a separate list, if you are a list-maker like me.  For us these include ‘big-ticket’ items such as:

  • Vitamix for our smoothies & soup
  • Cuisinart for just about everything else
  • Soda Stream
  • Personal electronics like phones, kindles, iPads, etc.
  • Chargers for those electronics (may want to buy some specifically for the RV)
  • Diesel Shoes (shoes I wear when walking around truck stops and keep handy on the RV)
  • Pots and Pans
  • Games
  • Selection of DVDs for grand kids and rainy days
  • Food
  • Seasonal clothes

Choice 2 – buy things for the RV

Now we come to the fun part… shopping.  Our RV has a king size bed, so our queen size sheets in our house simply won’t fit no matter how hard I try.  We purchased a mattress cover and 2 sets of sheets.  Since we are planning on full-timing we decided to buy things for the long-term, not just for weekend trips.  They included:

  • Batteries for the remotes, flashlights and weather station
  • Corelle Dishes (4-set that is enough for the two of us plus for serving or a guest that didn’t bring their own)
  • Storage – 2 sets of Snapware that we purchased at Costco and has a lifetime warranty – some for the kitchen, others that will be used in other areas.  We also purchased a set of shoe-box sized plastic containers that fit in the small storage cabinets in the living area. If you want a great perspective on storage options on RVs see Gone with the Wynns article and video – RV Organizing, Don’t be a Hot Mess.
  • Phone cradle since we use Google maps for our navigation and don’t want to move the cradle from car to RV
  • Sheets, mattress cover & pillows
  • Bath towels
  • Kitchen towels
  • Garbage/recycle bins for under the sink
  • Spice containers – we have plenty of spices so we opted to buy more glass containers and split the spices we most often use.
  • Consumables
    • RV Toilet paper
    • Holding tank chemicals
  • Vacuum – after our first camping trip thinking we could have 3 large dogs and just sweep things out while camping, we realized that does not work for us.  The house vacuüm is too large to use and store on the RV.  After watching many reviews and based on our own experience with Dyson we ended up finding a sale on the Dyson DC59 Digital Slim Cordless Animal Vacuum with a 20 minute vacuüm time and a quick recharge at Target.  We have yet to try it out camping – so as they say in TV Land – stay tuned!

Choice 3 – use things you have

If you have already been a camper you may already have a few things that can simply be moved to the RV.  For us they included:

  • Coleman stove & propane bottles
  • Extra toothbrushes & personal hygiene items
  • Snuggle blankets
  • Extra electronics chargers
  • Spices
  • Silverware & utensils
  • Sponges, sprayers, dish soap
  • Broom

If you made your list, it is pretty easy to decide what to

  • Move to the RV before each trip
  • What to buy and store permanently in the RV
  • What you already have and can keep in the RV

Next up ->  I’ll stay on the inside, but cover the front cab area.  Let our paths cross soon!


Preparing for camping – Making Lists

Oh crap!  Honey, I forgot the beans.

Now that we have an RV, the rest is easy right?  What should we take with us for a weekend camping trip?  If you have had any experience camping you know it’s easy to forget small and sometimes major things.  If your campsite is close to a store then you may be lucky and get those forgotten items.  But what if it’s your grandfather’s recipe for that special barbecue sauce?  Or that special bathing suit?  The answer of course is to make a list.

Making Lists

If you are going to make a list, especially a long list it helps to have some organization to it.  For camping in an RV  I mentally go from room to room – bedroom, bathroom, galley etc. thinking about what is not packed or what may already be there.

Making lists mentally are great, but when it goes beyond 5 items my brain is in overload.  If my fingers were not attached, I would probably forget half of them!  For me, paper lists get lost and forgotten.  I almost always have my phone with me now and fortunately there are apps for that.  After trying several list apps over the years I have finally settled on Wunderlist as the best solution for my needs.  The nice thing about Wunderlist is that there is a PC, Android and iPhone solution.  It even works on my Kindle Fire.  Since it is cloud based I see the same list on any device I use as long as I have Wi-Fi or cellular access to get the updates to the list.

Besides being a simple list you can have sub-lists, comments and notes for each item on the list.  This dropped my what to pack list down from well over 100 items to just over 50.  By naming the items by room I get simple categorization because Wunderlist allows for alphabetic sorting as well as a few other sort options.  For example here is my high level list without the sub-items:

Wunderlist Sublist
Wunderlist Sublist

Some of the items will expand out – such as the Galley Salad/Smoothies list item has 19 sub items (see the example to the left), so it is as simple or complicated as you want it to get.  You could also categorized some of these as permanently packed to make it easier.

Besides  being accessible on a variety of devices I have found printing the list to PDF is  helpful if I need to share the full list with someone or keep a printable copy of the original list.

Besides using Wunderlist for my what to pack list, I also use it for my bigger projects like installing solar and my next oil change.

We still forget things, but that usually because we get sidetracked or in a hurry and don’t check the list.  Then, we forget the beans!

The opinions expressed here are solely our own, and (unfortunately) we received no compensation for this blog article.

Software described: Wunderlist

Also available in the Microsoft Store, Google Play store and Apple iTunes.

 Next Up:  Putting the list to work.  What if you don’t have all the items that you put on the list?  See our list of things we purchased for that first trip, and why.