1. Tire Pressure Monitoring Sensor (TPMS)
One of the most common problems we hear about on the road are tires blowing out. We’ve even spoken with some people who have had a tire blow out and didn’t even notice until they were told by others driving by! Driving with a tire that’s burst can do some serious damage, so we’d rather know as soon as possible if something’s going awry with our tires. Busted tires can be caused by having either too much or too little pressure or by them overheating. We do tow very conservatively to prevent overheating (we don’t tow over 60mph - yes, very conservative here), but we still like to know the pressures of each tire without checking each one individually. A TPMS gives some serious peace of mind when you’re hauling your house down the highway. All you have to do is glance at the screen from the drivers or passengers seat and it tells you the pressures and temps of each tire without you having to wonder or stop to check on them. It’ll also sound an alarm at a preset-by-you limit if the pressure or temperature gets too high or low.
2. Space Heater (if RVing in cold weather)
We bought an inexpensive ceramic space heater at Wal-Mart (Comfort Zone brand). There are a few different types of space heaters such as convection, ceramic fan-forced heaters, radiation & infrared heaters, and micathermic panel heaters. We didn’t do a whole lot of research here to choose which type we got. Our criteria was simply that it heat our space (220 sq ft) and that it had the safety mechanism where it would turn off if flipped on its side. We have been so surprised at how well this small unit heats our entire Airstream! We usually use it in addition to our propane furnace, but it helps to decrease the amount of propane we use to keep it a comfortable temperature inside. We also bought a miniature space heater we had planned to put in our hall closet to ensure the fresh water inlet and black tank flush valve didn’t freeze (since those are right up against the outdoor elements) but that heater stopped working after only a couple minutes of use. So now, we just open the door to the closet to let the warm air circulate which seems to have worked so far!
3. Weight Distribution Hitch
There are many versions and names of these, some are called sway bars, others stabilizer bars, but whatever you call them we think you need one in order to tow safely! We have the Equal-i-zer weight distribution hitch on our truck, which we’ve been very happy with. It essentially swings these steel arms from the hitch on the truck to the frame of the Airstream. This equally distributes the weight of the trailer on all axles of the truck, making the trailer follow the truck better and also decreasing the impact of winds or feeling like you’re being blown off the road by a passing 18-wheeler (prevents the tail from wagging the dog as they say) . We also notice it decreases the bouncing that happens when you hit a bump (such as when going onto a bridge). Without the stabilizer bars on the Airstream we get stuck in the momentum of the truck bobbing then the Airstream bobbing which takes a while to settle down. With the bars in place, it feels like there’s hardly a trailer there at all!
The weight distribution hitch does take a good amount of time to set up and to get the trailer level. And after that, each time you hitch up, you must swing the bars to attach them to the trailer frame. The process of getting the bars on is not the easiest or least labor intensive with the Equal-i-zer hitch. But once you learn that it’s easier to slide them on before the hitch ball is fully in the trailer hitch or when your truck and trailer are at certain angles, it becomes just another part of hitching up. We hardly ever tow without these buggers now!
For those who have seen the Earth from space, and for the hundreds and perhaps thousands more who will, the experience most certainly changes your perspective. The things that we share in our world are far more valuable than those which divide us.
4. Berkey Water Filter
When you’re RVing around the country, you’re getting water from many sources. It’s no secret that city and even well water can have issues and many times the population is unaware of these until it’s reached very unsafe levels. After researching the EWG Tap Water Database (www.ewg.org/tapwater/) and hearing about the various chemicals, carcinogens, bacteria, and viruses that can be present in city water, we decided to invest in a quality water filter. The Berkey was the best we could find! We settled on the travel Berkey, which holds 1.5 gallons of water and is the perfect size to sit on our Airstream countertop. Berkeys have large charcoal filters that go in the top compartment that water flows through slowly (2.75 gallons per hour) to fill the bottom compartment. This gravity-filtration and large charcoal filters are part of the efficacy of Berkeys since the molecules you’re trying to rid the water of have more time and surface area to bond and leave the water. It’s slower but more effective than the more common pressurized filtration devices. You can get optional fluoride filters that go in the bottom compartment for water to flow through after it exits the charcoal filters (you can find info on fluoride here: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/154164.php). Adding the fluoride filters slightly slows the flow of filtration so you may have to wait a little longer to get your filtered water than if you only had the charcoal filters.
One of the biggest pros to the Berkey in my opinion are those large charcoal filters last so long! You won’t be replacing them all the time (the fluoride ones do need to be replaced every 6 months) because they have a 6,000 gallon lifespan - this should last you years! If you’re wondering how to keep track of when you’ve used that many gallons, they make it easy! Simply put a few drops of red food dye in your water to be filtered and if it comes out clear, you’re in the clear. And an added perk is if you’re one of the people who can taste water, I assure you you will taste quite a difference in your Berkey water!
5. Industrial Strength Velcro
This stuff is a game changer. The industrial-strength velcro holds strong! I’ve used it to hang decorative pieces, a full length mirror, and plan to use it to keep a lot of our countertop items stable while moving. Stay tuned for how that works, but if it does it will save us a lot of time in packing up and setting up! This versatile stuff just comes in super handy when RVing full-time.
6. Surge Protector
When we run into people who have just started RVing, they often were not told they needed this important piece of gear. We had neighbors our first month in full-timing who had electrical problems and were surveying the damage done to the electrical sensor and any electronics in their camper from it. When you know a bad thunderstorm is coming when you’re in a house, typically you unplug your computers or any important electronics to protect them. Well, when you’re moving around to different electrical sources constantly you’re bound to come across a problem or two along the way. Make sure you have a surge protector which plugs into the electrical source and hooks straight into your RV power cord. It should have lights on it that gives you information on the state of your electrical connection. We always plug this in first thing when we get to a site so we can ask for a different one and move before we’ve setup if there’s an issue.
7. Instant Pot Pressure Cooker
I know so many people say this, but I love my instant pot! I have the duo plus mini (I think it’s 3 qts) since it’s the most convenient size for a small space. Sometimes it’s a bit smaller than I’d like, but most of the time it’s perfect for Nick and I. I love that you can saute, cook rice, “slow” cook chili, cook chicken from frozen, and a ton more all with the same device. Multi-use is the name of the game when you have a small kitchen, and there’s nothing I’ve found that does that better than the Instant Pot.
8. Cordless Dyson Vacuum Cleaner (We have the V8 Animal)
Nick and I were going back and forth about the necessity of a vacuum cleaner in the Airstream before we got on the road. We though a broom and a swiffer would do the trick. Let me just say a good, quick, compact vacuum cleaner will make your life so much easier in a camper! Small floors are quick to clean, but they are also very quick to get dirty. I vacuum our floor at the very least once a day and that’s with us doing our best to always take our shoes off. I love that the Dyson is compact and cordless and has many different attachments for cleaning hard to reach areas. It’s certainly a bit pricier, but it’s so ideal for this lifestyle it was an expense we were willing to pay (especially since we got it on sale at where else but Costco)! We love us some Costco deals :)
9. Cell Phone Boosters (We have a WeBoost and Netgear MIMO)
The WeBoost is a cell phone signal booster built for truckers and now widely used by RVers. There are many different options and configurations you can buy with either directional or nondirectional antennas. We bought the omnidirectional Drive 4g-X for just under $500. And honestly, we probably waited too long before buying this sucker. It is a game changer!! There’s a bit of a learning curve to figure out where to place the antenna, receiver, and candy bar as the call it, but once you get this down you can greatly improve your cell signal. There have been times we were driving through the middle of nowhere in Wyoming with unusable internet that I turned our WeBoost and had quick data speeds we could use for working.
Before we had the WeBoost, we only had a Netgear MIMO directional antenna for our Verizon hotspot. This is a wonderful little booster, but it does not boost cell signal for your phone. It physically plugs into compatible hotspots and then you move the antenna around (since it’s directional) to find where the signal is coming from to give it the biggest boost. This antenna works wonderfully, and we still use it even after having the weboost! Because they work differently, sometimes the weboost won’t quite cut it and we bust the MIMO out and have solid connectivity.
Side note: we utilized Technomadia’s expertise when selecting our boosters, and I recommend you check them out as well (www.rvmobileinternet.com) for your own research. They are an absolute wealth of knowledge! We did end up paying the subscription fee to have access to more info which we found to be quite worth the cost.
10. Kindle e-reader
We’ve really enjoyed reading more since we’ve been on the road. We tend to alternate between remote, nature-oriented spots and cities. When we’re in a more natural area, reading often feels more right than a netflix show. In our first year of RVing, we accumulated a good amount of physical books. We visited a huge used book store in Jacksonville and from there just kept either buying or being given books. We decided to cut the clutter this caused, we would get a Kindle paperwhite e-reader. We each have one now and we love them! We keep them by our bedside, bring them in the truck for long drives, and they’re light enough to throw in your purse or backpack and hardly even notice they’re there. Much more practical (although I will admit sometimes less satisfying to hold) in a small space than “real” books!