Before we embarked on our road life, we did as much research as we could to try to prepare for the unpredictable journey ahead. Certain items popped-up on everyone’s suggested “must haves”, such as voltage adapters, hose connectors, and a water filter. Other essential camper items made the list, and we dutifully armed ourselves accordingly. We are now a year and a half in, and there are some lesser-mentioned items that we have found to be crucial to happy road living. These aren’t the typical things that would make the list, nor are they even necessarily camper-related. They are cheap little items that aren’t intuitively thought of as “camper necessities”, but they have come to form our starter list of unconventional essentials for road life:
Velcro tethers in all shapes and sizes have been incredibly useful in leashing items in place while cruisin’ down the road. Baskets of assorted items get tethered to the leg of our dinette table, preventing them from tipping over and dumping everything onto the floor. A particular problem we had, nearly every time we made a hard left turn, was the shuddering crash we heard when the oven door would fly open, casting all of our baking sheets onto the floor. Miraculously, nothing ever broke or got dented, but since our camper oven was not built with any safeguards preventing this (why the heck not?!?), tethering the door to the stove rack while in motion became our s.o.p. The straps don’t need to be anything fancy- we have found a ton at countless dollar stores and you can buy them cheaply in bulk through sites like Amazon.
Rolls of Quarters
Not one of the articles we read mentioned this as something to have in ready supply when you hit the road. It quickly presented itself as an essential currency as soon as we took to the road for any number of things like tolls to vending machines, but most importantly, laundry! Many campgrounds have change machines, or office staff armed with quarters to trade, but not all. Having a small stockpile of quarters is always useful, and never gets unused. (FYI- one roll is $10 worth).
Plastic Shower Curtain Liners
This is another great dollar store investment. They are cheap, durable, and even decorative. Shower curtain liners are great as a strong picnic tablecloth, drop cloth for maintenance or projects, and an emergency tarp when leaks happen. Late one night during a downpour, we discovered that we had lost the cover to our AC unit, resulting in an instant waterfall over our kitchenette. Tarps are great- but they are expensive and bulky, a pain to dry, and are nearly impossible to fold back into the bags they are packaged in. Depending on your camper size and storage situation, tarps are not a part of everyone’s supply arsenal. Plastic shower curtain liners, on the other hand, are super compact, relatively durable, easier to dry off, and very cheap. In our waterfall crisis, this little household item was a lifesaver, serving as a tarp (weighted down with water jugs), and saved us from a flooded camper. We have several in reserve and double-up when needed for extra thickness.
One issue that we hadn’t anticipated was how much moisture and condensation there will be inside the camper- especially our small truck camper. Two adults alone create a lot of moisture simply by exhaling. We combat this by always sleeping with our side windows cracked, even in winter temps. Let’s also not forget that large portions of the country are naturally muggy and humid. The biggest aid in fighting moisture and indoor condensation has been charcoal dehumidifiers. We keep them in our cabinets, behind our headboard, in the pantry, and in countless other nooks and crannies. While they are slightly bulky, especially when trying to stock-up a reserve stash, they are easy to find and cheap, as the Dollar Tree chain carries them for a mere $1.00. They are essentially plastic containers with a breathable mesh top and small charcoal beads that absorb the moisture. The beads disappear as they get used-up. It is time to replace the filter when all the beads are gone and the bottom is filled with water. We have seen camp stores selling the exact same products with an 800% mark-up at $7.95. There is no difference between the ones sold for $8 by a camp store and the cheapo ones from your local Dollar Tree. Cheap, simple, and essential to protect against water damage and prolong the life and cleanliness of your camper.
Command hooks have become an essential construction tool in our camper. Not only did we use these to build a shelving unit in our closet, but adding hooks around the camper adds storage space, and is also how we hang all our wall decor. We have a mix of generic brands and Command Hooks, and do prefer the slightly more expensive Command Hook brand, as we have found that they are more durable. We also like that the Command Hooks have sticky tabs that are designed to be easily removed without leaving any residue on your wall or stripping the paint.
Before we hit the road, we took advantage of an Amazon flash sale and stocked-up on clothing pods of various sizes. With such tight quarters, space for things has to be maximized. The clothing pods allow us to roll and organize our clothing in a very concise fashion. We labeled our pods by category, “t-shirts”, “socks”, “sweaters”, etc… to make searching for items quick and efficient. Their lightweight and pliable structure has also helped increase our storage space, as they act like pillows that can be shoved into unused gaps. For example, on each side of our bed we have a window with a protruding window frame, and we discovered that the gap of space between the camper ceiling and our window frame was the perfect size to sandwich some of our clothing pods, creating extra “shelving space”.
Shower Curtain Rod
About 1 year into road life, we were invited to a wedding and found ourselves suddenly in need of buying some fancy new threads. Our “roll and stuff” clothing pod system wasn’t going to work for our “fancy” outfits, and we were now the proud owners of bulky garment bags with nowhere to store them. It occurred to us that we already used the bottom of our bathtub as storage space, so why not just treat it fully like the closet it had become. We bought a suspension shower rod and placed this into the top of the shower, giving us space to hang the garment bags and other items that had been accumulating. As it is a suspension rod, it took some trial and error to get it to stay up, especially while moving. Our fix was to place extra Command Hook sticky strips underneath either end of the rod. This helped to secure the rod in place and served as a braking system, preventing the rod from sliding down the wall. Not wanting to drill any holes into our shower, we like the suspension rod system as a quick and easy way to add storage, while also being able to remove it quickly for shower mode.