In the process of loading up our RV for our maiden voyage in our brand new rig, my husband watched me meticulously making trips out the back door of our home and disappear up the stairs into the fifth wheel. In hand, I carried boxes, and baskets, blankets and a lot of things that were classified as RV must-haves, ‘because, you never know.’ He told me that I, “had too much stuff.”

I questioned him, as if he hadn’t seen what I had donated, gifted, posted, had porch-picked up, or sold at my yard sale after our family had made the decision to begin the process of traveling full-time (well, mostly). “Too much stuff.”

By some accounts, he was definitely right. After a month out of state, I soon realized that a lot of what I had considered essential before, really wasn’t. Perhaps I had brought along too many, as in the case of bath towels. Or maybe it didn’t jive with the changing ways of our newfound lifestyle, like an excess of physical book copies. Their abundance occupied precious storage space.

Finding out what we needed was less difficult than discovering what we didn’t and I would be lying if I didn’t say that it’s been an ever evolving process. Obviously, I still have a mile long wish list of items that I think would make our lives easier and provide convenience–I think that’s true for whatever your dwelling may be. However, here are ten things that we’ve deemed as ‘well worth it’ purchases that have made sense for our life on the road during the last 6 months:

must-have wagon

1. Foldable Wagon

This has been an absolute lifesaver when it comes to laundry day. While we don’t have the luxury of a washer and dryer inside of our rig, we’ve been fortunate to scope out parks that do have laundromat services on-site. Kept within our outdoor storage space, this wagon easily folds into our outdoor space when not in use. It’s a great way to haul laundry back and forth from our site to the mat—but it will also work for trash or for kids that don’t feel like walking.

It’s one of those invaluable RV must-haves that is versatile enough for multiple tasks.

A few other laundry essentials that make the chore easier are an abundance of quarters, a coin bag (I prefer an old cosmetic bag), and a lightweight laundry detergent. Lately,  I’ve been loving this concentrated detergent from Seventh Generation.

must-have printer

2. Compact Printer

I missed being able to quickly print out important documents or forms and worksheet activities to aid my daughter’s homeschooling curriculum. Although a bit pricey, this smart printer from HP is undoubtedly perfect for RV life. It is compact, lightweight, and sleek. Best of all, it’s wireless capabilities allow me to easily print pages directly from my smartphone, laptop, or my husband’s desktop.

must-have diffuser

3. Mini-Humidifier/Diffuser

We’ve been in Arizona for the last couple of months and it is dry. D.R.Y. Always on the hunt for products that are dual purpose, this Better Homes and Gardens aromatherapy diffuser provides both a bit of moisture in the air and with the use of essential oils, it also aids in covering up odors in our tiny home. I loved the design and it sets perfectly on our kitchen countertop and comes equipped with an automatic shut off feature.

tool kit

4. Tool kit

This was given to me as a gift prior to purchasing our RV, but I felt like it would come in handy. I wasn’t wrong. Between projects and assuring that our rig is level upon arriving at a new site, a small bag like this kit from Walmart is perfect for living in an RV. Easily stored, the bag also serves as a catch all for items like batteries, tape, command hooks, super glues, etc. It’s an RV must-have to hold all of your other RV must-haves.


5. Flour Sack Towels

Traveling with two kids and a cat means that messes and spills are inevitable. If you’re not familiar, let me introduce you to the flour sack towel. I bought a pack of these affordable towels from Wal-Mart, and tye-dyed them to hide any stains (although that is optional, of course). Made out of cotton, they were a staple in our home and now they’re RV must-haves. I use them in place of paper towels to clean, wipe up accidents, as bathroom hand towels, and to dry our dishes. When we move spots, they also act as great packing material around breakables.


6. “Important Stuff Binder”

If you can fit a file cabinet with you on the road, more power to you. We do not have that kind of storage. I wanted a way to keep all of our families important paperwork in one spot that was easily accessible in the event of an emergency. Thus, the “important paperwork” binder was born and implemented. Each member of our family has a pocket folder that is filed with copies of their medical insurance information, social security cards, and birth certificates. Our binder also houses tax documents and trailer information for easy reference. It would be a good idea to keep this information secure in a safe, but for now, this works for us.

mattress topper

7. Memory Foam Mattress

It’s true what you have heard. RV mattresses are notoriously uncomfortable. While I would love to upgrade to an entirely new mattress, we’re also on a budget. I settled for the next best thing–removing our inexpensive mattress pad from our home’s queen size mattress and cutting it to fit the shortened queen in our RV bedroom. Even the less expensive versions, provide a huge difference in providing a better night’s sleep.


8. Boards & Cinder Blocks

Instead of splurging on stabilizing jacks, we took a trip to our local hardware store. In an effort to minimize the rocking in our rig, we found that a couple of cinder blocks and sturdy boards do essentially the same thing. When we move, we’re able to throw them in the back of our truck and go. The boards can also act as make-shift wheel chocks to prevent rolling movement by your camper’s wheels.

step stool

9. Step-Stool

I am short and a lot of the cabinets in our travel trailer are high. Struggling to reach things in our upper cabinets was a struggle and a headache. So, I bought a step-stool. This one Cosco brand step-stool checked off all of my criteria, aside from being what I would deem as stylish. It folds, is durable, and is lightweight-making it perfect for living in our RV. I’m able to clean our AC and vent fans and filters, as well as reach the upper half of our rig during my painting renovation projects.


10. Dr. Bronner’s Castille Soap

I am always on the lookout for things that serve multiple purposes and let me tell you, Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castille Soap does virtually everything, which is why I keep a bottle on hand. The bottle boasts that it is over 18 uses and I’ve personally used it as a body wash, shampoo, dish soap, and as an all purpose cleaner when I found that I had run out of the kind that I generally use. My personal favorite scent is Hemp-Rose.

Once again, it’s one of those RV must-haves that saves a ton of space because it can take the place of multiple other cleaners.

Even if one of your reasons for a nomadic lifestyle is to have less stuff, there are still must haves when it comes to living in an RV. This list compiles ten things that have been approved for use in our personal space. Of course, that is going to look different for everyone. It takes some time to figure out what works best for your particular situation in an effort to functionalize the necessities of everyday life while also making your space a comfortable place to call home on wheels.

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