Updated: Jan 18
Shopping for your new travel trailer or RV can be daunting. On top of all of the initial expenses, there are a TON of necessities you need to purchase before and shortly after you purchase your rig. I’m sure there’s plenty of things that could be added or taken away from this list, but these are the things I have found absolutely essential in my first few months living in my Airstream. All the products listed in this post are what I personally use and stand by the quality of. Disclaimer: if you purchase any of the Amazon items through my links, I get a small kickback - and I thank you for using them! 😊
1. Sewer Kit & Sewer Hose Support
10' Valterra sewer hose kit: https://amzn.to/3KBvA1j
15' Valterra sewer hose kit: https://amzn.to/3kClZNi
Camco sewer hose support: https://amzn.to/3P5nHVw
You’re going to need to purchase a sewer kit that comes with a hose and an elbow adapter. I got a 15' hose, but you can get a 10' and always buy extensions if needed. You’re also going to want to buy a support system for it if you have a sewer hookup where you’re staying. Most RV parks require this and it just helps to get the water where it needs to go, versus just sitting stagnant on the ground if you leave your gray tank valve open.
2. Fresh Water Hose
25' Zero-G Fresh Water Hose: https://amzn.to/38SRD6y
50' Zero-G Fresh Water Hose: https://amzn.to/3s9Gjd6
I love this hose because it can fold up into whatever shape you need. I’ve been using mine for almost 3 months and haven’t had any leaks or issues as far as that goes. You can certainly buy a shorter one than me, but my 50' is very useful when the spigot is far away.
3. Garden Hose
Zero-G 25' Garden hose: https://amzn.to/3kBozD5
Zero-G 50' garden hose: https://amzn.to/38NNjoY
You’re also going to need a hose specifically to rinse your sewer hose and flush your black tank. Mine is black so I don’t ever mix it up with my fresh water hose, which is blue!
4. In-line Water Filter
Waterdrop In-line water filter: https://amzn.to/379O9vQ
You definitely want an in-line water filter, which will filter out any sediments in the campground water that could damage your plumbing and improve the taste of your water by reducing chlorine and contaminants. I use a zero water filter for my drinking water.
5. Water Pressure Regulator
RVMATE water pressure regulator: https://amzn.to/3KGQYlY
Airstreams actually already have a water pressure regulator built in. Do I have an external one as well? Yes. It’s just for added protection to my investment and peace of mind. Although it’s not necessary for Airstreams, I can’t speak for any other brand of travel trailer or RV. Tons of resources say this is an absolute must, so I’m adding this one to the essentials list for good measure.
6. Surge Protector
30 amp Surge Guard surge protector: https://amzn.to/38JECMv
50 amp Surge Guard surge protector: https://amzn.to/3KDnntp
You should definitely purchase a surge protector. I can't imagine if I lost all of my appliances in my new Airstream due to an electrical issue. Mine is a 30 amp EMS system. It provides total protection from faulty park power and electrical issues inside the RV. Surge Guard is a good brand cause it has a lifetime warranty that I’ve heard is honored very well if anything happens.
7. Weight Distribution Hitch
Weigh Safe Hitch: https://www.weigh-safe.com/product/true-tow-weight-distribution-hitch/
*Use code "nomadicsarah15" at checkout for 15% off!*
If you're towing a trailer, you need a good weight distribution hitch. I have the Weigh Safe True Tow hitch and love that thing. It comes with an app that calculates your distributed tongue weight for you. Then you adjust the hitch to your desired DTW and you can tow with the peace of mind knowing your weight is safely distributed.
8. Brake Controller
CURT Echo Brake Controller: https://amzn.to/37WfT7P
You're also going to need a brake controller if you're towing. I have a CURT Echo, which just plugs into your 7 way and is controlled via bluetooth by an app on your phone. You can raise and lower the brake sensitivity through the app or manually apply the brakes if needed.
9. Tire Pressure Gauge or TPMS
JACO tire pressure gauge: https://amzn.to/3Fs10Xf
TST Tire Pressure Monitoring System: https://amzn.to/3MOwSHT
Before you tow, you're going to want to check your trailers tire pressure, so a tire pressure gauge is a necessity. You could also invest in a good tire pressure monitoring system, which I have yet to do, but it's on my shopping list.
10. Air Compressor
Helteko air compressor: https://amzn.to/3jXMZGQ
If your RV/trailer tires are below the recommended PSI, you should have an air compressor to inflate them. Mine plugs into my vehicle for power, so the only annoyance is having to move my vehicle for the cord to reach. If you have a portable power station, this wouldn't be an issue. (Also on my shopping list!)
11. Torque Wrench
Instation Torque Wrench: https://amzn.to/3OThwDH
It's easy for a travel trailer lug nuts to gradually loosen due to the amount of stress constantly put on the wheels when towing and turning, which could potentially lead to a blow out. Torquing the lug nuts before you tow can reduce the possibility of this happening. My torque wrench can be set to 110-pound-feet and comes with a 21 mm socket, which is standard for most modern Airstreams.
Camp Setup Essentials
12. Leveling Blocks
Homeon Wheels Leveling Blocks: https://amzn.to/3s9TwT9
Leveling your trailer is important because of accurate tank readings, minimizes stress on the trailer, some fridges don’t function properly, and really just for comfort. Who want to shower, cook, or sleep at an angle? Not me.
13. Wheel Chocks
AFA Tooling Wheel Chocks: https://amzn.to/3vG8kLq
Don't forget to chock your wheels so your rig doesn't roll! I've never forgotten this step. 😉
14. Jack Pads
Permanent RV Snap Pads (10% off): https://www.rvsnappad.com/discount/SARAH61386
Camco Flex Pads: https://amzn.to/3FsGKES
When you stay at a campground or RV park, most places require you to put pads underneath your stabilizer jacks so you don't damage the surface you're parked on. I started with ones that you have to place on the ground before lowering your jacks, but recently upgraded to RV Snappads. They are permanent jack pads that remove the hassle of having to place the pads yourself. Now I can just lower those babies and I'm good to go!
15. Drill Bit for Stabilizer Jacks
Hamilton Bowes Bit: https://amzn.to/3Faax4Z
With your drill of choice, you can get a bit for raising and lowering your stabilizer jacks. Although 19mm is standard, make sure you double check by measuring and get the correct size for your rig!
16. Anti Theft Kit for Trailers
LCGP Trailer Hitch lock: https://amzn.to/3FoPrzU
If you're camping on public land and leave your trailer to go for a hike, run errands, etc, anyone could hitch up and drive away with your trailer. So always throw a lock on there before you head out.
17. Basic Tools
Black & Decker Drill: https://amzn.to/3kKx7rz
Milwaukee Screwdriver: https://amzn.to/386FRFM
Milwaukee Vice grips: https://amzn.to/3LV5DeK
Empire Level (fits in toolbox): https://amzn.to/3LRIlGz
I keep my tools inside because I need constant access to them. The basic tools I have needed so far are a drill, torque wrench, vice grips, screwdriver, pliers, level, and scissors. That list keeps growing longer the more situations I run into. But that’s just what I’ve needed so far!
18. Drinking Water Filter
7 cup Zero Water Filter (pictured): https://amzn.to/39B7tmK
12 cup Zero Water Filter: https://amzn.to/3KIvjd3
20 cup Zero Water Filter: https://amzn.to/3FgC7O8
I've been using Zero Water for YEARS. I'm a water snob and this water tastes amazing. I used to have a large countertop one, but downsized to this one when I moved into the airstream due to the limited space. Plus, I never create plastic water bottle waste.
19. RV Toilet Paper
4 pack: https://amzn.to/3LH3q6D
8 pack: https://amzn.to/38OuUZ7
The most important bathroom necessity is going to be an RV safe toilet paper! There is something called the toilet paper test where you can put your fav TP in a jar of water and see how well it dissolves? I don't know the specifics, but I'm not picky, so I decided to just get the stuff that’s labeled RV safe.
20. Tank Deodorizer
Walex black tank deodorizer: https://amzn.to/3kAhKlh
I didn't have these in the beginning.. And I have a GREAT sense of smell. That wasn't fun. I absolutely love these pods! Super easy, no mess, and I no longer smell a thing.
OXO Squeegee: https://amzn.to/37gaAQc
For the shower, a squeegee is going to be your best friend! I can’t tell you how uneven my shower floor is, and how much water pools in certain areas. So I always squeegee every corner of the shower when I'm finished!
22. Moisture Absorbers
Vacplus Moisture Absorbers: https://amzn.to/3kAN6IH
Having some sort of moisture control system in your trailer or RV is extremely important to prevent mold. I place these moisture absorbers throughout the Airstream and can see them fill up with water after a couple months. So I know they're doing their job and it's time to order more!
LAOVER Dehumidifier: https://amzn.to/3vFg6Fe
Adding a dehumidifier to your supply of moisture absorbers isn't a bad idea at all. The only thing to keep in mind is it has to be plugged in to run. Mine works off my inverter if I'm not hooked up to electricity. You can also buy a device that displays the humidity percentage in your rig, so you can keep an eye on that level and decide when to use it.
24. Mattress Ventilation Pad
DEN-DRY Mattress Underlay: https://amzn.to/3Fh1jnp
This pad allows the underside of your mattress to breathe, versus sitting directly on top of plywood. (Terrible design IMO - Airstream!) I ordered mine custom sized from airstream supply company. Honestly, shipping took forever, it still came in two pieces, and I had to trim it, which was super difficult! So I threw in a link to an amazon alternative that works just as well and will ship a lot faster.
25. Fly Swatter
Fancy telescopic fly swatter: https://amzn.to/392NTzz
Or just go to the dollar store...
I can’t tell you how many bugs I’ve got with this thing, not just flies! I’m pretty sure my front door screen isn’t sealed properly, cause there’s no way some of those critters can fit through my tiny screens!! But this thing creates some distance between you and the unwanted house guest when you squash it. And you WILL have unwanted house guests.
Regular Household Essentials
Lastly, you will need all of your basic necessities such as towels, bedding, cookware, dinnerware, etc. This can get deep, so I'm going to leave it at that.
I hope you found this blog post and accompanying video useful! Try not to stress, I know it's a lot just to get started. Take it one step at a time and start buying these things long before you purchase your RV if possible! That way you'll feel more prepared and less overwhelmed when the time comes to go get your new baby.