Every beginner RV’er has one burning question: “What do I need?!” Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s not an Insta-pot (don’t have one), the latest shelving system, or a bike rack made out of PVC pipe. The things you need are basic, require no creativity or visits to your Pinterest boards, and they are laid out for you below. You are welcome. Now go get started traveling!
1. Water jugs- You need them! Because having them makes your life BETTER! If you drink and use the jug water for cooking and washing you can stay parked in a site that provides no water for LONGER! Do you understand what this means? No? Let me elaborate then. First you need to know that when you have no water connections you only have the water in your 80-100 gallon RV water tank(Joe and I argue about the precise capacity of this tank, I say 80, he says 100 and both of us are too lazy to actually look into this, so we just argue about it. We call it flirting). This is all the water you have for 5 people to drink, bath with, cook with, wash dishes with, and flush the toilet with. And 80-100 gallons goes fast! Enter water jugs! We have 5 of them and I wish we had 10! People say that for every cigarette you don’t smoke, you add minutes to your life. Well for every time you use the jug water instead of tank water, you add minutes for your stay. You see, moving your RV means packing it all up, cleaning, pulling in the slide, hooking up the truck, pulling up levelers, making sure none of your kids get run over, driving to the dump/fill station, waiting in line (there’s ALWAYS a line), doing your thing, driving back to your site, parking that big motherfucker, and setting it all up again! I didn’t even put in the part about the exhaustion that comes from the mental preparation this takes and it somehow ends up taking a whole half day to do. Sooooooooo, anything we can do to put this off for as long as possible is an important thing. Enter water Jugs.
2. Box Wine- Box wine is perfect and nessessary for a Family RVer on SO many accounts. It is not glass and therefore no worry about it breaking in transit. It’s 4 bottles of wine in 1; how awesome is that?! Once removed from it’s box, the space it takes up shrinks with the amount it holds in that classy bag with the spout thingie it comes in. And if you need more space, just drink wine. (editor’s note: classy, sassy, or safe: choose 2)
3. Electric Heater- You might know enough about RV’ing to think this is that I am so cheap when electricity is included in your RV stay regardless of how much you use, whereas our RV heater runs on propane that I have to pay out of pocket for. But no. I must have an electric heater so when Joe is adamant about 64 being an acceptable temperature to sleep in, I can aim that bad boy right at me, and me alone while I read a book under a queen comforter and wearing sweat pants, a sweater, and fuzzy socks.
4. Hair Wrap- I know, I know; I should throw that thing away! I look like a sister wife, trying to pull off looking like a hippy when I wear it. But I LOVE it! And, it’s very important, cause you see back to that limited water thing at the top of this list, you don’t take that many showers in this lifestyle. I mean, I’m sure there are some that do, and there are some that will lie and tell you they shower frequently. But my truth is that I get two a week. For realz. So my system is this: shower, rock great bangs for a day while keeping rest of hair that I haven’t gotten around to brushing yet in a sloppy bun. Day two, still rock the bangs and finally get around to brushing my hair, but still wear it in a bun because I have 3 kids and stuff to get done. This ain’t no beauty pageant; this is real, yoga pant wearing, get shit done, life! Day 3, The hair wrap comes out, and when it does I’m actually relieved! I don’t have to have any hair AT ALL touching any part of me! I have an excuse now (my hair is too greasy to any longer be acceptable to be seen in public)! Yahoo! And that is why the hair wrap is a MUST; for Day 3…..and maybe Day 4 as well.
5. The BOB or any good/BIG stroller- I could not live without the BOB! When we first started this RV lifestyle, we questioned even bringing it. Where would we put it was the biggest question. But my stubbornness won out when I insisted that we had just bought the thing, NEW, and I was bringing it if for no other reason than I had spent so much. Now I would gladly drive with that thing sitting on my lap if I had to. On days when Joe’s working and I have all the kids it’s like having 75% of a husband with us. It holds all our crap. It picks up 2 and sometimes all 3 kids at once and takes them places (okay, maybe 90%). Everyone is happy when they don’t have to even walk to the places we go! And it has cup holders to hold Mama’s coffee, or wine depending on the time of day. (editor’s note: wine and strollers together? see previous note)
6. Sound Machine- How do you do it!? How do you keep a baby asleep with 5 people in 200sqft and no real doors?! With a sound machine. That hugely annoying imitation of a water fall sound is what keeps my sanity. It gives me my nights so I can stay up until 2 a.m. scrolling FB or watch episodes of The Office on my phone, all the while telling myself that this really is going to be the last one, and making plans for distracting Joe when he gets the ding on his phone from AT&T the next day notifying him he went over on his data plan (again), so I can erase the text before he sees it. And once in a blue moon, when the stars aline and we are actually home at Jonah’s nap time, it gives me an hour or two to cook, or teach, or read without someone stuffing their hand down my shirt.
7. Quarters- You can NEVER have enough quarters! You need them to do laundry. You no longer have those magical machines 5 feet from your bedroom. You have to actually haul all your stuff (Thank you again BOB!) to a place separate from your home then pay (with quarters) to do your laundry and then actually move clothes from the washer to a dryer in a reasonable time. So mildew smelling clothes caused by them sitting in the washer for 3 days, is a thing of the past. But clothes washing is a much more intense chore now! You have to be on your game. You first have to scout the wash room to check out the situation in there. You have to sometimes case the place to get a spot near a washer if it’s busy. You have to engage and talk to the other launders to find out what dryers actually dry the clothes, if any. You have to have all your ducks in a row. Soap-check! Bounce sheets-check! Stain Booster- Check! Quarters-Shit! So then begins the task of finding quarters. This single task can sometimes take 3 days to accomplish, while you all trip over the 2 huge laundry bags sitting in your tiny living room. And when I do finally find a place that will give me quarters, I always say the same thing, “I’ll take $10 worth please.” Doing our laundry typically costs around $15 each time. I always ask for $10 in quarters. I cannot explain this behavior. So mid wash, I am out hustling for quarters again, but this time with wet clothes depending on me and glares of waiting launders staring me down. If you ever come across one of those change machines, get as many quarters as you can! You can NEVER have enough quarters!
8. Good Hand Soap-There is not much time for a full timer with 3 kids to slip away to the spa, get your nails done, or even get a haircut. And we’ve already talked about that showering thing. What I do have time for, on a good day, is to wash my hands. Yep, that’s it. So you better make it GOOD! I use Meyers Rosemary, and for that minute it takes me to wash I imagine I’m being massaged with hot stones while my feet are bathed in a tub rose petals and my cuticles are shaped to perfection, and then someone opens the door and tells me they have to poop.
9. Dish Towels- Man I love a good rag. You use them for every task! Washing dishes, drying dishes, cleaning up spills, napkins, wiping off counters. You need lots and lots of them, especially with 3 kids and Darby! When I’m down to my last dish towel, that’s when laundry is at def-con level 1 (editor’s note: the lower the def-con level, the higher the chance of nuclear winter, or, in this case, something much worse). Must be done now. Get your ass up and go find some quarters; we are no longer playing around! That’s what I want in my stocking this Christmas; more dish towels. In Estes Park we went to a once annual, huge, weekend long craft show with artists from all over the country offering their makings and guess what I bought? Dish towels. But the cool kind that button onto your oven. So…. Anyways, they are very important to me and I probably spend too much time thinking about them.
10.Google- Thank the good lord for Google! Never in our lives has the omnipotent Google been more important! Because when you are on the road, in new places, and doing new things you will need to look up things like: “How to remove ticks from belly buttons” and “Do alligators live in ________ lake” and “What repels skunks.” And these are all VERY important things to know when you are in the moment (moment of panic). And so I salute you and thank you Google! We could not do this without you!