16 RV Essentials for Setting Up Your New Trailer or Motorhome

Derrek Sigler
by Derrek Sigler
With the winter RV shows in full swing, more and more people are going out and buying a new, or new-to-them, RV for the first time. Whether you’ve taken possession of the RV, or just want to get a jump start before it comes out of storage, here are some RV essentials we’d recommend for setting up your new rig.

Whether due to the economy rebounding, or people just deciding to live for the moment, RV sales are on the upswing again, and more people are getting out and enjoying the great outdoors. RV shows are doing brisk business and sales haven’t been this strong in years. Now that you’ve signed the papers and are the proud owners of a new, or new-to-you RV, the next step is setting it up and having everything you need for when you take it out of storage, pack it up and set out on adventure. We’ve put together a checklist of RV essentials to set up your new portable vacation home.


At a recent RV show, we asked the sales manager what was the first thing she’d recommend a new, first-time RV owner buy to get his/her RV ready to go camping. Her answer was bedding. Outfitting your new RV with the proper bedding will make it feel like your home away from home. You’ll want to start with sheet sets that are made to fit the size beds your RV comes with. While it may say in your paperwork that you have queen-size beds, they are often RV-queen sized, meaning they are shorter than a standard bed.

Shop for RV Bedding

A mattress protector makes a lot of sense for your RV. Since you’re not living full-time in your RV, moisture, mildew and other elements can cause issues down the road. Replacing an RV mattress isn’t as easy or cheap as replacing the one in your bedroom, either. A mattress protector makes a lot of sense for a new RV owner and is cheap peace of mind when you’re trying to kick back, relax and doze off.

Shop for Mattress Protectors

Don’t forget comforters, too. It can get plenty cold while you’re camping and a good hypo-allergenic comforter should be on any list of RV essentials, even if you don’t have allergy issues. Luckily, they make proper-fitting comforters for your RV, too. It’s not a bad idea to have a spare comforter or blankets along, too. Sometimes the weather reports are way off, or your heater may run out of fuel. Either way, you never want to shiver yourself to sleep.

Shop for Comfortors

A great tip for the first-time RV owner, add large vacuum-style storage bags for your bedding to your RV essentials shopping list. This will keep it fresh and clean when you’re not using it and keep any critters that may get into your RV from destroying your bedding. Cheap insurance for your bedding.

Shop for Vacuum-Style Storage Bags


You’re not going to have a huge kitchen area in your new RV, but you’ll want to have all the kitchen RV essentials handy. One thing that we can share from personal experience is to get stuff for your kitchen that is easy to clean. You’re not going to have a dishwasher to power off the dirt and grease, so make it easy on yourself. Get a basic set of utensils and leave them in the RV. Silicon makes great material for RV utensils because they are heat resistant and easy to clean.

Shop for Silicone Kitchen Utensils

You’ll need a few pots and pans. Again, go with something easy to clean. A camping tip for you, if you have a pan that got a little nasty and you’re not looking forward to scrubbing it to get it cleaned up, put in some soap and water and put it on the stove to boil. Let it go for a little bit and it’ll come clean with minimal effort.

Shop for RV Cookware

You don’t want regular plates and bowls banging around your RV when you are on the road. High on our RV essentials checklist are melamine plates and bowls. These are made of a plastic resin and are very durable. They are easy to clean up and won’t crack, chip or shatter while riding down the road in your cupboard. There are lots of options and colors, too, to help you pick your style.

Shop for Melamine Dishes

Don’t forget to get silverware, too. You can always get plastic, disposable silverware and paper plates, but that creates extra waste. It’s just easier and cheaper in the long run to have proper silverware and wash it to be reused.

Shop for Flatware Packages

Another tip for you: add plastic containers to your RV essentials shopping list. Use these to store your silverware and utensils when not in use. We also store things like salt, sugar, pepper and other food-type items inside plastic totes to keep them fresh, dry and away from those pesky critters. Big Zip-lock style bags work well, too. You should also keep a small bottle of dish detergent, and some rags and sponges handy for cleanup. There are lots of things we take for granted as being in our kitchens at home.

Shop for Plastic Containers


Most new RVs come equipped with a bathroom of some sort. You need to stock that as well before you head off on your first adventure. Just like with bedding, you need to have some towels in your RV and leave them there. Nothing fancy is really needed, just good basic towels.

Shop for Towel Sets

If you use the showers available at some campgrounds, here’s a tip – shower slippers! These are basically rubber sandals that don’t cost much and are well worth keeping your feet away from whatever might be growing in the bottom of a public shower. Definitely worthy of being considered RV essentials.

Shop for Shower Slippers

You’ll also need RV-friendly, rapid-dissolving toilet paper. This way you’re not going to clog up your RV’s plumbing, and it will make doing a pump-out a much easier job. And don’t worry. Just because it says “Rapid Dissolving,” you’re still going to have time to get the job done, regardless of what some comedians say.

Shop for RV-Specific Toilet Tissue

It’s not a bad idea to stock your RV with some anti-bacterial hand soap, hand sanitizer, shampoo and conditioner, and a spare toothbrush and toothpaste. Better safe than sorry.

Other RV Essentials

You’ll have a few essential items that you should never leave on a camping trip without. Insect repellent is very important, especially with all of the insect-born illnesses we have these days. Have more than one on hand, so you never run out.

Shop for Insect Repellent

Thermacell appliances work great at keeping the biting buggers away, too. Their lanterns are great for your RV because they work as a great light source for around the camp site. Get several and have plenty of refill packs on hand, and you’ll have a mosquito-free campsite to enjoy.

Shop for Thermacell Products

No list of RV essentials is complete without flashlights. You can always get a couple of decent flashlights, but with the cost of small, LED flashlights being so low, it’s a great idea to buy a bunch of them and just have them on hand throughout your new RV. That way you always have one handy.

Shop for LED Flashlights

You also need a basic tool kit. Things break, sure, but there are tools that help make setting up camp and easier task. A hammer and a level will come in pretty handy for sure. You don’t need an expansive too kit, just a few things. Getting a kit that fits into a compact case is a good idea too, as it saves space and keeps everything where you need it.

Shop for Tool Kits

Will there be other things you find you need? Sure. You’ll figure it out as you go and streamline things a bit. Don’t forget your clothes, and food, but beyond that, if you have a camper stocked up with these RV essentials, you should be ready for the adventure that awaits you.

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