Before we hit the road to travel through Mexico and Central America in our RV for a year, we only guessed at what we’d need to have aboard. And truthfully, it was all about pretty curtains and the right paint color. But after 9 months, three countries, and over 5K miles of travel, we’ve come up with our list of “Must Have” Travel items that make RV life a whole lot easier.
By the way…This page may contain affiliate links, which means I earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you purchase from them. It helps support me so I can keep doing what I love and sharing it with all of you, and keeps you from seeing tons of annoying ads. Buying is never required, but if you’re looking for something that I have listed on my site, it helps us both!
Coleman Mosquito Tent
When we decided to take a year off and travel through Mexico and Central America, we knew we’d encounter hostile natives…aka, the mosquito, the no-see-ums, and everything else that flies! This tent has saved us from many miserable nights of scratching ourselves to death. It sets up in 30 seconds. I think we even timed ourselves once. What isn’t it good for? A windy surf beach! But at least we gave a lot of people a good laugh as we chased it down the beach.
Zero Gravity Lounge Chair Set
His and hers…or as far as my son is concerned, his and his! Easy to fold up for storage (in our RV shower) and the perfect place to lounge for happy hour, when we’re not in the hammocks, that is. At least these have drink holders!
Fox Outfitters Neolite Camping Hammock
Easy to stow. Easy to hang. And easy to wash after you hang in under a tree and birds poop all over it! We have two of these and they’re our favorite place to hang out at camp. We’re traveling and sleeping in an RV, but this could easily be a backpackers best-nights-sleep! It almost makes me want to sleep outside…almost!
Coleman Propane Grill
The best part about this grill? It’s easy to transport and set up anywhere, and grill plates and griddle plates can be switched out. The bad part? If you store it in your back rack and go over a bunch of washboard roads, like into the Great Sand Dunes in Colorado, the grill plates will slide out along the highway. Somehow I don’t think this is a problem with the item itself. We use this thing everywhere and there’s no need to set up a table. And yes you can buy replacement grill plates at Amazon!
Coleman RoadTrip Swaptop Cast Iron
It’s pretty great that the Coleman grill above has replaceable plates. For one, you can swap between grilling an griddling. And if you lose your plates off the back of your RV (like mentioned above), you can replace them! NOTE! This includes only ONE piece. If both of yours fall out along the highway, you might want to order two. We learned this one the hard way.
Coleman 2-Burner Gas Stove
Cooking outside is one of my favorite parts about camping. And even though we have a full kitchen inside our RV, I prefer to be outside cooking on this thing. Just about ever camper I know has one. I can remember my dad cooking on ours back in the early 70’s. It is an essential part of our outdoor kitchen! Between this and our Coleman grill, we can cook anything under the sun. It has easy to control gauges and side panels that keep the wind away while cooking. Ours has more of the “used for 50 years” look to it. I’d almost forgotten they are green. I guess that means it gets used so often it’s filthy, but still cooking up a storm!
I know, I know…you can’t go anywhere without hearing how someone is loving their Instant Pot! It’s like the “Get it Gadget” of the year. You’re probably thinking it’s just another thing you’ll buy and throw to the back of your cupboard, never to be seen again!
Well, let me tell you! There’s basically nothing you can’t do in this thing, well, except maybe laundry! Hmm…I wonder if anyone has tried it?
To use it, basically all you have to do is go to Pinterest and type in “Instant Pot Recipes” and you’ll a lifetime of meal planning for less than 30 minutes each! And that is why it was my #1 purchased item to bring along during our year-long RV trip.
Here’s my collection of favorites here.
Dash Electric Kettle
Every. Single. Day! That is how often I use this! Water for my French press, tea, pasta, ramen… you name it! And when camping…RV, tent or otherwise, it can be hooked up to any power source, including our Goal Zero. Coffee’s on in minutes!
Ninja Blender/Food Processor
I know…this is not your typical “camping” item. And if you’re out for a weekend getaway, surely leave it behind. But, if you’re traveling for a length of time….say a year, in an RV, in far-off places, this thing is the bomb! We (unfortunately) decided NOT to bring it with us on our trip, thinking it was overkill. Big mistake! Luckily, we camped next to friends that were smart enough to being theirs, and I’m now the annoying neighbor that is borrowing it everyday. I Make hummus, pie crusts, soups…and of course homemade Irish Cream. Because who doesn’t do that when they’re camping? It will even run off electricity coming out of a palm tree!
Lifetime High Performance Cooler
Feel free to dish out some dough on a Yeti if you like, but we prefer to use the extra cash saved on our Lifetime cooler for our trip. This thing does the same job at less than half the cost. We have a frig inside our RV, but like all RV refrigerators, they crap out at some point. Or, in our case, a few times. Luckily, we had this cooler to toss all our cold stuff into while we replaced the frig panel we were smart enough to buy ahead. And it’s perfect for all the extra beers Gregg wants to keep cold, but won’t fit in the frig.
Hydro Flask Coffee Flask
The perfect travel mug for wherever you go! Besides being the perfect size, it keeps your drinks super hot or super cold and the LID DOESN’T LEAK! That by itself makes it the best to-go mug we’ve ever had!
Hydro Flask Rocks Glass
Typically, we like stackable water cups in the RV. I mean, storage space is everything. So, get yourself a good plastic set & then buy one of these for each family member. Odds are, your plastic ones will never get used and this will be your go-to cup for everything…even wine!
Nesting Bowl Set
Why I never bought this when I lived in a house, I’ll never know. I bought these as a space-saver in our RV and can’t tell you how amazing it is to have all the extra space. Yes, I live in an RV. I get excited easily! But seriously, the big, bulky glass bowls have got to go! These are a gift to those looking to de-clutter their lives.
Plastic Sealable Food Container Set
If you’re traveling in any kind of camper where you’re storing food, do yourself a favor and buy a few sets of these. Besides being great for cereal, you can use them for pasta, rice, sugar, flour, pancake mix, beans…and about a 100 other things. The best part is they store nicely in any cupboard and keep things sealed tight…in case you park under a tree full on ants that decide to invade every square inch of your RV. Or is that just me?
Fire HD 8 Tablet
Do I even need to tell you how amazing and important these are? Especially for travel! I’m a paper book lover through and through, but I’ve fallen in love with my Kindle. My only regret is that I didn’t buy 3 of them before leaving the country for a year. My family and I are constantly fighting over it. At less than $100 a pop, their quite possibly the best purchase anyone can make. And if you couple it with a Amazon Prime Membership, you’ll get loads of books for free, in addition to the other 1000 reasons you should join Amazon Prime!
Laptop Lap Desk
Disclaimer: This is not the exact lap desk I purchased. I could no longer find mine, but this one has all the same features: Cushy wrist support, mouse pad, phone holder and pen holders. Whether I use my laptop in our RV, sitting on the couch, or at the ocean, camped out in my beach chair, I have this with me. No more trying the balance my computer on my sand-covered legs. Oh, and there is just enough room to set a nice glass of wine!
Wind Machine High Velocity Fan
I have a good story about this fan. I wanted to buy it before we left for our trip, sure that we’d need a fan in the RV. “No,” my husband says, “there is not enough room.” So, for months we go without. Finally, along the Eastern coast of Mexico, sleeping outside under our Coleman Mosquito tent, panting from the heat, he says, “Hmm, maybe we should get a fan!” And here we are, Wind Machine to the rescue, for our trip…and our marriage!
Towel Rack Organizer
If you have any kind of wall space in or around your RV bathroom, you need one of these! It screws flush to the wall and keeps all your towels organized and out of cabinets that you need to reserve for other things.
Flour Sack Dish Towel Set
I thought this many dish towels would be overkill. I was wrong. I need another set. Dish towels get used for everything in an RV, especially when you travel with a child that likes to use them as napkins, floor wipes, and just about anything else. They are nice and thin & I found them very easy to clean and dry on the line. They also roll up and take up far less space than regular dish towels.
Southwire Surge Guard 30A-Full Protection Portable with LCD Display
With one computer fried on week one of our trip due to a power surge, we were finally sold on buying a surge protector. An not just any surge protector. This purchase may have been one of the most important of our entire trip. We’ve camped in so many places with spotty electric, and this allowed us to test the voltage, the ground, and wiring for each spot we pulled into. When we did experience a power surge, it shut things down before all our important and expensive equipment bit the dust. It’s a chunk of change for this particular one, but read and compare. It will save you from re-buying all new laptops, tablets and other electronic devices. Money well spent!!
Bungee Cord Assortment
We’ve used these for everything from keeping food from falling our of cabinets to makeshift clotheslines on the side of our RV. Bungies (of all sizes) are a campers best friend!
A must for any RV or travel van that doesn’t have it’s own self-leveling system. Unless you’re going from state park to state park, where you might be able to find a flat surface, you’re going to need to to level out at some point. Without these you’ll be chasing everything from one end of your RV to the other as it rolls away.
Faucet Mount Water Filtration System
It is hard enough to stay hydrated. It’s even harder when you’re traveling through third world country with water that tastes like the inside of a dirty hose. Everyone has a different system to store drinking water. We prefer to fill our tanks with purified water whenever possible, but when we can’t, we appreciate having a filtration system that cleans things up a little. This works perfectly side-by-side the outside RV water filters below. There is nothing better than clean water!
RV Water Filter
Never hook up your RV hose to any water source without one of these water filters, especially if you’re traveling through Mexico and Central America. it is one of the “Must Have” items in any camper’s toolbox! And the 2-packs are the way to go. We’ve been using ours religiously for our year-long Central American road trip, and it is, by far, one of our best purchases.
Wall Document Holder- 3 Pack
The RV Homeschool must have! When you have school workbooks, art projects, even computers, these are a savior. Just like with our small home, the RV is limited on space and using wall storage is a must!
National Geographic Road Atlas
With smart phones, why do we even need a paper atlas? Well, I have a 101 reasons why, but mainly I love a real map! Google thinks it knows everything, but it has led us astray more than once, and there is just something about a real map to get you where you’re going. I picked this one up at the Great Sand Dunes in Colorado as an impulse buy, paying double the price. Do yourself a favor and pick it up here, toss it in your car and know you’ll always know just where you are.
And the MOST USED gadget of the entire trip???
Black & Decker Hand Vacuum
I originally bought this to get sand out of our sheets when being camped in our RV along the beach. But turns out, it comes in handy for so many other things: grass, dirt, crumbs, flies, ants, and bugs of all shapes, sizes and biting abilities! My sanity is only alive today because of this thing! I’ll use it until it dies and probably buy a second before that day comes, just so I’m never without it!
Now, those are the smart decisions we made! Of course, we found plenty of things we should have brought along. Live and learn I guess. Glad you can benefit from our mistakes!
The “Wish-we-Would-Have” Travel Gadgets
DeWalt Portable Power Station
Why we never purchased this, I’ll never know. I guess we thought we were loading up on too many “bells and whistles,” so it fell off our radar. Well, until we blew a tire on the side of a Mexican highway outside Mazatlan. Our two rear tires were low on air and started rubbing together, causing a blow-out. Air stations in gas stations are not always reliable, so having an option like this is crucial to the daily tire maintenance…not to mention getting you started when you have the inevitable battery issue.
Microfiber Bath Towel Set
Unless you’re going to be popping by a laundry mat everywhere you go, you’re not going to like hand-washing regular towels. They never get clean, the soap never comes all the way out, they take ages to dry, and they feel like sandpaper when they’re done. I did not know this when I brought them on our trip for the year. Washing them wasn’t fun, and therefore we had dirty towels a lot of the time. Do yourself a favor and gran a few of these.
4-Piece Hanging Storage Bags
I was looking for something exactly like these for our trip. I can think of about 10 different places where I’d use them throughout the RV. They’re super light and perfect for all those little things you can’t seem to find a home for.
Stackable Storage Bins
OMG! Where were these when I was looking for closet storage? I have a hodge podge of baskets sitting in our clothes closet, stacked on top of one another, things falling out everywhere. If only Amazon shipped to campgrounds in Guatemala. I would have ordered them. Heck, I still might!