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So many of us have done it. We buy an RV and go on a shopping spree to stock it up, buying every gizmo and gadget that is supposed to make RVing easier. Or we get so wrapped up in some feature of an RV that we overlook better models or pay too much because we thought it was a “must-have,” only to get out on the road to realize it wasn’t that important at all.
Here’s our list of the top gadgets, gear, and features that you don’t need to get out on the road.
RV Toilet Paper
RV toilet paper is the height of the problem. Sure, you should use toilet paper that easily dissolves in your black tank so that it doesn’t pile up and create a huge blockage, but charging extra for “RV” toilet paper is a total scam. Take a piece of your regular toilet paper, drop it in a jar of water, and shake for 10-15 seconds. If it breaks apart, it’s RV safe. Angel Soft and Charmin Ultra-Soft are commonly-used brands among campers.
We’re suckers for the camping gear section at Cabela’s or Bass Pro Shops, and there is some great stuff for RVers there, but be wary of the urge to buy stuff made to improve the tent-camping experience. If you’re in an RV, you don’t need most of it. Case-in-point, the yellow protective cases for eggs. You know what does a phenomenal job of protecting eggs? The crate they came in. The only reason you should buy one of these egg crates is if you need to put eggs in a cooler and want to avoid the cardboard packaging getting soaked. Other tent camping gear you don’t really need in an RV: waterproof matches, sporks, and sleeping bags.
The idea of watching TV outside by the grill sounds really cool, and it is, but it’s not a need. Many RVers we surveyed for this article said despite intentions, they don’t use there’s very much at all. The problem is that some choose their RV based on having an outdoor TV, which often forces them up into a more expensive category of RVs than they originally intended to be in. So if you want an outdoor TV (or already have one), you’ll find no shame here, but make sure you aren’t paying thousands more for an RV just because it has an outdoor TV that cost the manufacturer a couple hundred dollars. Chances are you won’t use it as much as you think you will.
We LOVE solar power and the benefits it provides homeowners and RVers alike, but like the outdoor TV, you don’t need it. Many people are disappointed at the capabilities of solar, so make sure you research it out before dropping thousands of dollars. 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. Air conditioning is nearly impossible, and running other appliances that heat or cool is very limited. If you’re just looking to spend a night or two at a Walmart from time-to-time, an extra battery is probably all you need. You can always add solar down the road, so we recommend avoiding having it installed on your new RV until you are experienced and have figured out your camping style.
Membership cards like Passport America, Good Sam, and KOA’s Value Kard can save you some cash, but there’s no need to purchase them the day you buy your RV. They are yearly memberships, so if you get a Passport America card, for instance, you might not use it for 3 months, meaning you just wasted that portion of the membership. Grab the discount cards when you are booking a campground that utilizes it, not before. That way you aren’t shelling out hundreds on several different membership programs before you figure out what kind of campgrounds you like and how you travel.
RVs are a big investment, and covering them for the off-season sounds like a great way to keep them shiny and new. RV covers can cause their own forms of damage though. They can flap in the wind, wearing the paint, and moisture that gets under them often can’t evaporate off. People report good results covering their RV for years, and they report bad results. To us, it makes a lot more sense to wax your RV a couple times a year.
Combo Washer & Dryer
Some people refuse to hit the road without a washer and dryer, and we understand why. But the combo washer/dryer units aren’t ever what you are expecting. They seem to take all day to do a single load, and you can’t have one load in the dryer while another one is in the wash like a conventional setup. The electric dryer in your home operates on 240 volt power, while RV electric dryers are operating on 120v, so they take twice as long. Don’t be afraid of a laundromat — you can get all the laundry done for a family of 4 in two hours at the laundromat, or you can spread it out over a few hours at a campground’s facilities.
There’s a reason why fewer and fewer RVs have ovens in them – people don’t use them. It sounds like a necessity, particularly for full-timers, but they just don’t work very well, and they make it hot inside the RV. Before you insist on an oven, make certain that you really need it, and that you aren’t just dreaming about some campground Thanksgiving turkey that isn’t likely to ever happen.
The main reason you shouldn’t buy a pair of hiking boots is that they are actually not great to hike in. A pair of tennis shoes or trail-runners that are light and vented are a much better choice for getting out in nature. Hiking boots are heavy, meaning you are doing a lot more work to move your legs, and the waterproof ones actually just make it hard to dry your shoes out when you step in a puddle. Ankle support from a taller boot is mostly a myth.
The thing about miniature tools is that they don’t usually do a very good job accomplishing the task they were designed for — if they can perform it at all. Your RV is complicated, big, and will have issues. There’s no reason to skimp on having normal size screwdrivers, for instance. A 3″ long wrench won’t give you the torque you need to tighten something. A miniature hatchet can hardly cut a carrot, much less split a log. Instead of small, opt for dual purpose tools to save space.
What did you buy that you felt like was a waste of money? Let us know in the comments below.