When a recreational vehicle on its ownisn't exactly a necessity, accessories fall fairly low on a list of needs. Items that can help with RV maintenance are likely worth keeping, but go much beyond and you will learn the hard way what’s useful or worthless. Here's a quick list of items that shouldn't come anywhere near your rolling dream home.
RV TOILET PAPER
You need toilet paper that dissolves easily and doesn't take up space in a sewage tank. But most conventional toilet paper willfare just fine in an RV, Russ and Tina DeMaris tells Camping World. If you have doubts, take a jar, fill it with water, put a few sheets of paper in and shake. If it starts to dissolve after shaking, you're good. That's no small deal, as Walmart sells 24 rolls of Scott quick-dissolving paper for $24, but parts with 30 rolls of regular Scott for less than $20.
SOLAR POWERED FOOTLIGHTS
Buying clearance garden lights for $2 apiece likely isn't the best way to light a path out of an RV, says Emily Rohrer at Heartland RVs. One of her sets never worked at all, while the others deteriorated within six months.
SOLAR POWER IN GENERAL
Solar equipment for an RV not only costs hundreds to thousands of dollars, but likely isn't going to work how you hope. “A solar system isn’t going to allow you to camp off-grid in the same way you do at an RV park with full hookups,” RV Miles says. Appliances and air conditioning are a huge power drain and won't work as intended. For staying the occasional night in a Walmart parking lot, carry an extra RV battery instead.
COMBO WASHER AND DRYER
There are a whole lot ofcombination washer/dryers for RVs, but they cost more than $1,000 for appliances with half the voltage of machines at home. Laundromats may seem like a hassle, but you'll finish laundry there in half the time.
RV AWNING MAT
It is what it claims to be: A $41.50mat you put beneath an awning and RV stairs to keep from tracking dirt inside. It's basically like staking down a very flat tent that covers only a portion of the space you'll be tromping around on — and yet another thing to worry about when breaking camp. A good doormat works just as well and requires far less space and maintenance.
COUNTERTOP ICE MAKER
Not only is this yet another thing you're going to have to winterize, but it's going to take up a lot of precious counter space. Unless you're the designated margarita station at your favorite RV park,save yourself the $150 and either invest in bags of ice or stick with trays.
Kelly and Michael Barnett of RV There Yet Chronicles bought two headsets so they could communicate when hitching up and unhitching their trailer. They weren't all that much of an upgrade from the system they were already using: “I guess we prefer the old tried and true method of yelling at each other to get the job done," Kelly Barnett tells Heartland RVs.
There are entire companies built around selling televisions designed for outdoor use. They'll also charge thousands for the privilege, which can come as a bit of a shock to people who can rig up outdoor TVs for hundreds or less. You don't really need an outdoor TV for an RV at all, so don't buy if you aren't confident you'll use it regularly.
You're going to want a vacuum of some sort, since no mat will keep all dirt out of an RV. But even a $30 stick vacuum takes up a decent amount of real estate. RV Favorites suggests asmall handheld vacuum: the Black and Decker Pivot is $70 but takes up less space and does a better job in tight spaces.
Want to level your RV, retract your awning, monitor your waste tanks, move your slide-outs, and turn on the air conditioning, all from your phone? A whole lot of new RVs come with the Lippert Components OneControl installed, but it's still very much a luxury item. If you're hooking up an RV with this system, you aren't roughing it.
Outdoor throw pillows can add a nice hint of color and flair, but also take up precious room. In many cases, you're already sleeping in a bed that doubles as a dinette or couch. Adding throw pillows at $29 a pairis only going to clutter your minimalist RV existence.
They aren't the most costly item out there, starting at $14 at Home Depot, nor do they take up a whole lot of space. But if you're staking down an awning, you already have line available for hanging damp towels or clothes. You don't need to cut off shower or kitchenette space just to air out laundry.
Glamper Life says they're worth the splurge, but they are just that: a splurge. Even a cheap mattress can run you $188 or more, and it's worthwhile only if you have a bed that remains a bed for longer periods. If your RV's bed space doubles as other furniture and you aren't using it as a residence, it's best to use what you've got.
Small tools can be a sore subject. “A 3-inch long wrench won’t give you the torque you need to tighten something,” RV Miles says. “A miniature hatchet can hardly cut a carrot, much less split a log.” Space may be at a premium in an RV, but tools aren't somewhere you want to skimp. Instead of going small, consider multipurpose tools and adjustable wrenches.
A decreasing amount of RVs actually have ovens, which don't tend to work very well while also making a small living space incredibly hot. Some RVs come equipped with microwave ovens, and users often bring along a multipurpose item such as an Instant Pot ($60 to $100 on Amazon) to handle pressure cooking, slow cooking, rice cooking, and steaming. You can't bake cookies in it, but were you going to do that in the RV anyway?
This might seem like a good idea, especially during the winter, but RV covers can trap moisture and cause a lot of damage to a vehicle's exterior. Canopies and shelters start at $422 on eCanopy.
On paper, discount RV clubs such as Passport America, Good Sam, Happy Camper, and Thousand Trails seem like fine ideas. But if you're new to RV life and don't know where you like to go or what you like to do, you're locking yourself into a yearlong membership good only at certain campsites a few months out of the year. While the National Parks Service Senior Pass isn't the deal it once was, $80 for a lifelong membership for those age 62 or older is still a fine deal.
WOOD BURNING CAMP STOVE AND USB CHARGER
You're only so “off the grid.” Spending $150 on a camp stove that turns the energy you create burning sticks into power for a smartphone is not only unnecessary, but an insult to backpackers who actually use such stoves to trek into areas RVs wouldn't dare.
Does RV stereo equipment look familiar? That's because it's basically car stereo equipment with some weather-specific functions. If you wouldn't hook up your car with a tricked-out stereo or your living room with a home theater, you don't need to invest in an RV stereo with a NOAA band for $300.
The upside: more prep space at your grill. The downside: lugging around a 6-pound, $71 table. Either get a grill with more prep space or sidle up to the camp table and tell everyone to make themselves scarce until dinner is done.
Inexpensive hoses end up being really costly in the long run — especially those used to dump waste. “Cheap hoses are the worst RV accessories and often crack easily when you accidentally step on them, so buy a hose that can be identified as more durable,”RV Favorites says. A 20-foot hose that fits in your RV's rear bumper and has a transparent view piece for checking flow should work just fine at$36.50 on Amazon.
They're cute, they're on theme, and they're $20. So why are your RV towels worthless? Well, dish towels in general don't tend to be the most absorbent, rendering them little other than décor in RVs. Microfiber towels are $11.50 for 24 at Walmart and may not have cute little trailers or sayings on them, but will clean a lot with little effort.