The more we do this and live this life, the more we learn. We learn, our needs change, technology changes, and new cool things come out all the time. We don’t buy the latest and greatest, and we prefer to live simply, so maybe this list is a bit lower-tech than you’re expecting. But here are 10 of our current favorite RV doodads, in no particular order:
This stuff is amazing. It has no smell or added perfumes, it’s a simple powder that deodorizes holding tanks. We use this in our black tank, but we also add it to the gray tanks on occasion, if we notice any kind of odor. It works within a few hours, and lasts a long time. Now that we have a healthy colony of bacteria taking care of our black tank, we only ever notice a smell when the tank is full. We probably only add Happy Campers to our black tank every other or every third time we empty the tank.
These are great because they can be used on many different kinds of surfaces, and they’re very durable. I love full-sized magic erasers, too, but they’re a little too much eraser if I want to scrub something icky like a toilet. So in the RV, one-half of one of these sheets is the perfect size to make the sink shine, then wipe down the bathroom sink and shower, and scrub the toilet.
Do you ever notice that your galley tank smells worse than your black tank when it’s full? Or maybe not worse, but just… icky? It’s probably because there are bits of food that have made their way down into your gray tank, which is a different decomposition reaction than what goes on in your black tank. It’s old, wet food, and it’s going to smell worse the older and wetter it gets. A strainer will keep small bits of food from going down the drain, which prevents gray tank odors, and also prolongs the life of your gray tank, by preventing future blockages.
This might be for people who never worry about power use, but since we’ve always got shore power, we use our tea kettle at least twice a day. It boils water quickly, which is great for tea, but it’s also great when cooking and you need a splash of water to deglaze the pan, or to thin out a sauce. We even store this in a secure spot with some water in it on travel days, partly to save water, and partly for easy re-heating when we park. For backup on rare days with propane and no electric, we have our little vintage cornflower kettle.
We’ve had this for over 2 years now, and we love it. We’ve changed the batteries a couple times since then, but it’s mostly hassle-free. When the face cracked and started to deteriorate, the company sent us a replacement made of a newer more durable material than our lock’s face plate, and it’s been great ever since. We have keys in case the batteries ever fail, but for the most part, we can come and go without our keys, and if anyone ever needs to get into our rig and check on kitties when we’re not there, we can give them the code.
We use ours every day! We use it to make beans, soups, baked sweet potatoes, “nomato” sauce (recipe forthcoming!), and just about anything that requires a medium-sized saucepan or larger for sauteeing, boiling, steaming, or slow cooking. We loved our 3-quart so much that we bought a 6-quart to use with an air fryer lid, and think that the space these take up are worth every inch, because of how often we use them.
A water pressure regulator is a must whenever we’re hooked up to city water. RV plumbing is much better than it used to be, but still quite sensitive, and it only takes one spike in pressure to cause a leak that could take weeks or months to notice. David has had plenty of calls from clients with water leaks because of this exact situation. Regulators are an inexpensive way to save yourself hundreds or thousands of dollars in water damage and headaches!
We use these everywhere! We like that we can move things around if we find a better location or decide to rearrange something. They won’t damage most surfaces (although we’ve found they do take the fake wood finish off the cabinets and trim, if left long enough!), and there are a ton of different styles of hooks, caddies, and shelves. When there isn’t a lot of floor or counter space, you must think vertically. We use Velcro for sticking remote controls to the wall, too! (3M Command velcro works for this, but we prefer the Hyper Tough brand, which we can only find at Walmart in the same section as the Command hooks and strips.)
9. Wrap-Around Carpets for RV Steps
No matter what we do, we’re always tracking sand in the house. RV life is just sandy! We have a mat on the ground, but adding carpet to the steps not only prevents a little less sand from coming inside, but it also gives a lot more traction on wet days than bare steps alone. We bought one stair cover to try it out, and wore through it in a year, but liked it so much that we replaced it with carpets for all 3 steps, and this has been a great upgrade.
Cats are great, but cat boxes complicate RV life with cats. We’ve talked about our RV litter box setup in the past, but the Litter Genie is worth talking about again. This stores the cats’ deposits without smelling, and is easy to empty without actually interacting with the used litter. With 4 cats, we probably empty ours every 3 days, but a single-cat household could probably go two weeks between changing.