Don’t break the bank when setting up your camper! Get ready for your first camping trip on a budget with these tips and camper accessories you won’t want to miss.
Setting up an RV or camper can be expensive and overwhelming. What accessories do you need, and where is the best place to buy them? Discount stores can be an excellent place to start your search for those much-needed items for your new camper.
Camp Smarter, Save Money
You’ve bought a new recreational vehicle (RV) but need to know what you need. Many times, people will overload their new motorhome with unnecessary items. Although stocking a new camper is similar to furnishing a new home, there are some essential things to remember.
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Avoid Heavy Items
When considering dishes, pans, and glasses for your camping meals, be mindful of how heavy they are. Melamine plates and bowls are lighter in weight than pottery and glass. Of course, paper products will lessen your load. However, it is not a green alternative.
Instead of suitcases, opt for lightweight plastic bins or packing cubes for clothes and shoes. Large zipper plastic bags can help you stay organized in smaller travel trailers. Even if you’re camping solo, you may need more space.
How Can You Save Money on RV Accessories?
There are several ways to stock a new camper without breaking the bank. Consider these options:
- Discount Stores (Ollies, Big Lots)
- Close-out Stores (Bargain Hunt)
- Second-hand Stores (Goodwill, Salvation Army)
- Yard Sales
- Specialty Catalogs
- Online Stores (Amazon)
- Shop Your Own Home
Shopping your own home for RV camping supplies is the perfect way to save money. We all have extra linens stuffed in closets, such as towels, sheets, and bedding.
When you gather things from your primary residence for your RV or fifth wheel, not only are you furnishing your recreational vehicle, you will be decluttering in the process. It’s a win/win situation!
Towels, Linens, and More
- Kitchen Towels
- Dish Cloths – I love Swedish dishcloths and they are reusable and biodegradable
- Pot Holders
- Washcloths – quick dry and perfect for camping
- Bath Towels – 2 pack, quick dry and they come in 4 sizes
- Hand Towels
- Bath Mat
- Throw Rugs
- Throw Pillows
While stocking your camper with linens, follow a theme or color scheme. This theme can carry over from your living space to your bedroom.
Many of these items are available at the discount options mentioned above. If you’re not on a tight budget, department stores will have everything you need.
If you’re looking for camping-themed RV accessories, browse your nearby Camping World, they have everything you need and want.
- Air Fryer
- Electric Skillet
- Hot Plate
- Coffee Maker
- Digital Clock with Thermometer
- Hair Dryer
- Curling Iron
An air fryer will do many cooking tasks for you. Cooking outdoors can be fun while providing more room inside the camper. (See more about outdoor living below.)
Because kitchen storage may be challenging, many people will set up an entire kitchen under their RV awning to save room indoors.
You may already have an outdoor kitchen on your motorhome or travel trailer. These usually come with a microwave, sink, and a small refrigerator.
What RV Supplies Do You Need in Your Tool Kit?
Yes, tools are a necessity for your motorhome. Again, shopping at discount tool stores such as Harbor Freight will save you time and money.
High-dollar tools are optional. Don’t forget, if an inexpensive screwdriver can drive a screw; it’s the tool for the job!
Recommended Hand Tools
- Drill or Impact Driver
- Phillips Screwdriver
- Flathead Screwdriver
- Pliers, Regular and Needlenose
- Socket Set
Random RV Supplies
Under the “don’t leave home without it” category, you may find yourself wishing you had these simple items:
Because much of your time camping will be spent outdoors, these items will make you more comfortable. Cooking outside is a favorite pastime for many outdoor enthusiasts. Look for compact and lighter options than you would use for your home.
Must-Have RV Parts
- Sewer Hose
- Water Hose
- Cheap Hose Dedicated for Flushing Tanks
- RV Surge Protector
- New Mattress
- Honey Wagon, AKA Portable RV Tote
The dealer will supply only a few items when you purchase a new camper, RV, Fifth Wheel, or Travel Trailer. One of the first items you need on your list is a hose to empty your holding tanks.
Generally, the one included with your purchase will be unusually short and not reach your hookup. The honey wagon, a.k.a. RV tote, will only be used if you do not have full hookups at your site.
RV resorts will have all of your amenities included in your camping fee. If you prefer a more rustic experience, state parks are a great alternative, although they rarely have full hookups at your site.
If you plan an extended stay and your holding tanks get full, the honey wagon connects to your tow vehicle, allowing you to haul the waste to the dump station.
You can get many drinking water hoses, but your best bet is a lightweight hose rated for drinking. Knowing these things going in will save you a lot of money.
Should you plan to plug in your RV at home, you may need to buy an extra 50 or 30-amp power cord to get the required length.
These extension cords come with a regular 110 plug. Ideally, if you plan to run the air conditioner while parked at home, you will need a dedicated breaker for your camper.
Most recreational vehicles come with a “premium” mattress. Don’t let that term fool you for one minute. There are no box springs, so your comfort depends on the quality of this so-called premium mattress.
The mattress may get you through the first season. If you choose to replace it, you will probably need a “short” queen. One way around buying an expensive custom mattress is to buy a memory foam mattress.
Why memory foam? Because you can trim it down to size using an electric knife or a long serrated knife.
Outdoor RV Accessories
- Tablecloths – elastic fitted so they won’t blow away
- Pet Accessories
- Leaf Blower
- Fire Poker
- Canopy, Screen Tent
Decor is definitely up to interpretation. If you walk around any campground, you will get so many ideas when you check out the “set up” of your neighbors’.
Another way to add color to your campsite is with tablecloths for your picnic table and the outdoor cook table supplied by many campgrounds.
Pet accessories range from beds, bowls, fencing, and more.
Having room for a leaf blower will save you a lot of time sweeping outdoors.
A canopy will offer shade when there are no trees nearby. Using a screen tent will allow you to watch beautiful sunsets without fighting off mosquitoes. If the screen tent is large enough to place over your picnic table, you will enjoy comfortable meals.
RV’s have limited storage inside and out. You will need to use this space to your advantage strategically.
The outdoor storage, sometimes called “the basement,” may go the entire width of your rig. If this is the case, consider under-bed storage containers. These containers are shallow and long, acting like a big drawer you can pull out to access. Items to store in a container like this would be grilling accessories (mentioned above).
A second tote may hold tools and such. You could use a similar tote to keep your water hoses, power, or extension cords.
Mesh laundry bags with drawstrings will help corral kids’ toys and more. Small plastic shoe boxes work great for solar lights.
Under-bed storage will be better organized by using totes with or without lids. Using individual totes for sheets, towels, and dirty laundry will ensure everything stays in place as you travel down the road.
After the first season, consider reevaluating your storage options when you see what is and isn’t working.
- Kitchen Sink
- Dinette to Daybed
- TV Upgrade
- Air Conditioner
- Adding Shelving
- Painting the Interior
An RV accessory list would only be complete with a discussion of camper modifications. Your home away from home needs to reflect your style and comfort.
Camper manufacturers try to keep costs down to make your adventures more affordable. Consider these ideas whether you do modifications early on or down the road.
Bamboo shades for camper windows allow for privacy and add a decorative touch.
Image Credit: Place of My Taste – DIY Bamboo Shades for a Camper
Replacing the standard kitchen sink and faucet will make the struggle of washing dishes more pleasant.
Renovating your camper kitchen can be done. Check out this before and after!
Image Credit: Love Create Celebrate – RV Kitchen Remodel
If your recreational vehicle doesn’t have a sofa, consider lowering the dinette table permanently to have a makeshift daybed for lounging.
Although you may not have room for larger TVs, you may want to upgrade to a smart TV if you have internet access and prefer to stream your favorite channels.
If you don’t have ductwork, add a rotating A/C vent to change the air’s direction, making the ceiling unit quieter.
Often, storage can be a challenge in the bedroom. Adding temporary, no-drill shelving in one or both of the wardrobe areas will give you more room for tops, bottoms, pajamas, etc.
If your camper has too many wood tones, grab some paint and a paintbrush to update a few walls or cabinets.
An RV should be comfortable and make you smile every time you enter.
This article originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks.
Gail Wilson is the author and mastermind behind My Repurposed Life. She is obsessed with finding potential in unexpected places and believes that with a little hard work and imagination, any old thing can be made useful again, including herself! Gail reinvented herself during a midlife crisis and has found purpose again. Gail will guide you step by step with each tutorial as she hopes you will find new ideas for old things and pick up a few tools along the way.