Essential items to pack on your RV trip south
Everything you’ll need for a successful snowbird trip in one handy checklist.
What is in your belly? I mean what do you keep in the storage compartment of your RV? I am sure this says a lot about what kind of RVer you are. It might even say something about who you are.
Before I put anything in the storage cubby, the first thing I did was cut a walk-off mat to fit the storage area as floor protection.
Here is a list of what I keep in the storage compartment of my trailer:
Chocks made of 4x4 blocks of wood: I had some of those plastic triangle chocks. When I pulled ahead, they ended up in small pieces. Now I use chocks of wood exclusively. I have some shorter ones about 30 centimetres (12 inches) long and some longer ones about a metre (40 inches) long. Both are cut at 45-degree angles and work well for adjusting the level of the trailer. I keep a couple of metre-long (40-inch) 2x4s also for less dramatic adjustments.
Dietz and Coleman lanterns: My all-time favourite lantern is the Dietz No. 80 Hurricane Lantern purchased from Lee Valley for $30. It is advertised to burn 26 hours on one tank of lamp oil. I like the gentle ample light to play cards by if you’re at the table past dark. When we need to light our campsite like a football stadium, we use the Coleman lantern.
Water hoses: Now that we have an RV with a back wash system for cleaning our wastewater tank, I pack two 17-metre (55-foot) hoses. One is reserved for freshwater; one is reserved for rinsing the wastewater tank. I drain each hose carefully after using them, connect the ends of each hose to itself, roll them up and tie them with the pigtail elastic.
Extension cords: In addition to the 30-amp cord that came with the trailer, I have an extra 15-metre (50-foot) matching cord. I keep a regular 110-V 30-metre (100-foot) cord for when we stay at the farm in Saskatchewan.
Bin for fuel: One large plastic bin is reserved for lamp fuel, naphtha for the Coleman and disposable propane cylinders.
Window wash bucket: This is a commercial-style rectangular bucket on wheels designed specifically for window washers. I bought it from a commercial janitor supplier, the same place I bought the squeegee and synthetic lamb’s wool cover to wash windows. There is an extension pole in there too to help reach the high windows.
Cleaning chemicals and supplies: While you are at the janitor’s supply store, pick up a litre (one quart) each of concentrated neutral cleaner, window wash and degreaser, and three spray bottles. While you are there, treat yourself to a decent broom, dustpan and a small-version industrial microfibre mop. Buy two mop heads. As soon as you get home, print and place specific labels and clear mixing instructions on each spray bottle. Every time I park, I wash the windows. Before we pull out, we sweep the floor, give it a quick spray with the pine-scented neutral cleaner and wipe the floor with the microfibre mop. The degreaser is perfect for cleaning up the Camp Chef Denali after a weekend of grilled meats and pancake breakfasts.
Coleman stove: My kids bought me a brand-new old-style Coleman two-burner stove that runs on naphtha. It is one of the few that still works well at -20 C (-4 F).
Axe, poker and bellows: I keep dad’s old axe head on a fresh hickory handle in my storage compartment, along with a wrought-iron poker. I have his bellows from the wood stove that he heated his house with for 20 years. For me, camping without fire really is not camping.
Folding stools: Two folding red stools function as steps, portable coffee tables and footstools.
Chairs: Our dog loves his folding chair. We have a selection of chairs: our personal favourites and some for small children and guests.
Propane torch: I keep a self-lighting propane torch because sometimes you just want fire with no fuss.
Charcoal chimney lighter: A chimney-style briquette lighter requires one sheet of newspaper to light a load of charcoal or briquettes.
Lodge camp grill (Hibachi): There are times when I want a charcoal-grilled steak. Nothing finishes the crust on a T-bone like red-hot charcoal. This is a small, but heavy, cast-iron grill perfect for grilling steaks for four.
Screw-type dog tether: Maybe you have seen my Gordon setter run? This tether ensures any runs he goes on are approved. The tether allows me to tie the dog up without using a tree.
Grease: A small tub of grease rests in the belly storage. I lubricate the hitch ball and bars every two or three trips.
Disposable examination (vinyl) gloves: I use these for applying and removing grease and for sewer dump duty.
Sewer drain elbow: I keep the elbow on the same side as the dump pull handle for easy access.
Carpenter's level: A small carpenter's level is within reach to help me set up my trailer to sit evenly.
Tongue lock: As soon as the trailer is set, the lock goes on the tongue.
Wheel wrench: I have never needed to use this on the road and hope I never need to.
Storage was one of the key things we looked for in an RV. Now you know why. You can tell from this list that we take a pile of stuff along. We use all of it (except the last item on the list). Things in the belly that we do not use two seasons in a row get the heave-ho. The right tools and equipment will enhance your camping enjoyment and provide for safe operation of the RV.