I am an avid RV enthusiast who understands that my life and my safety depend on the condition of my coach's equipment.
Once people buy a travel trailer, camper or motor home and have used it for awhile, they begin to realize that there are items they wish they had thought to include when making their purchase.
Few people realize that no matter how nice, big or costly a coach is, there is always going to be something that would make it safer, easier to use or more comfortable.
Sometimes owners can add after market items that fulfill some of these desires, but often what you saw is what you got! This is why I have always advised people who are RV shopping to take their time and think carefully before making a final buying decision.
My husband and I used to be cross country truckers, so when we purchased our first motor home, we made sure that it had an engine brake.
The purpose of this piece of equipment is to use the engine rather than the brakes to slow a coach down on steep grades.
Not all motor homes come equipped with an engine brake, but people who driven in mountainous terrain quickly learn how important it is to have this equipment. It literally can save lives.
The only type of recreational vehicle that can have this amenity are motor homes, and they cannot be added as an after market item. They mostly are found on diesel coaches.
While dual-pane windows are not a “must have” they definitely are a “nice-to-have” because they make traveling in an RV more comfortable.
This is because they
- help to keep the internal temperature even,
- reduce noise levels inside of a coach and
- eliminate the need to cover windows with insulation in extreme weather.
Due to the way these windows are structured, you cannot install them in a unit that does not already come with them.
However, the good news is that you can choose to buy a coach that already has them. What You Need to Know About RV Thermal Windows provides more information about them.
If you are considering purchasing an RV that has them, you really should read this article first.
A Complete Set of Quality Awnings
Having high quality RV awnings is more important than most people realize because they are more durable than standard awnings, are built better and therefore are easier and safer to use.
The best (and most costly) awnings are those that are wrapped in metal when closed. This covering keeps them from blowing open during travel and thus is a major safety feature.
However, only the most costly RVs such as Beavers and Country Coaches come with them.
Many RVs do not come with a full set of awnings. People who buy them are always sorry later that they did so, because they have to do without the protections that awnings offer.
Slide Rooms With Attached Storage Bins
Earlier versions of slide rooms were not designed with ease of owner accessibility to basement storage bins.
Later models all have this feature, but people who did not purchase units with it, really wish they had!
It is not fun to try and crawl under a slide in order to reach a storage bin. Trying to do so can result in back, arm and neck injuries. Thus, having slides with attached bins is very desirable.
A Larger Bathroom Sink and Counter
By nature, most RV bathroom sinks are small and have only limited counter space.
This presents a number of problems for travelers, especially when the sink is located directly beneath the medicine chest because if there is only minimal counter space, every time people need something from the cabinet, they have to step back to open it in order to retrieve the item they seek.
Another problem with this setup is that it is almost impossible to protect the caulking around the sink and backsplash from water. Eventually it deteriorates and may cause mold, mildew and water damage that can be expensive to repair.
Small bathroom sinks that have limited counter space are one of the most common gripes for RV owners, so when buying, it pays to examine this issue carefully.
A Comfortable Bed
Most recreational vehicles come with thin, cheap mattresses that sit directly on a wood platform.
These make sleeping uncomfortable and can lead to neck and back problems.
Fortunately, replacing them with a comfortable quality sleep system is the easiest thing people can do.
Getting a good night’s sleep can make all the difference for travelers, so buying a new mattress can be well worth the money. Just make sure that it fits the support system and is not too heavy.
More Storage Space
One of the things RV owners complain most about is the lack of storage space in their units.
However, some units are more well designed than others, so one way to deal with this issue is to pay attention to this issue when buying.
Although it is impossible to change the design of a travel unit, there are many things people can do to make better use of the space they have. How to Make Your RV More Livable shows you how to do this, so it is well worth reading.
It’s important to remember that when you travel or live in a recreational vehicle, you simply cannot keep everything on board. It is when people try to do this that they start complaining about space limitations.
A friend of mine once said that every time she buys something to put into her RV, she gets rid of something else. That’s a good philosophy to have when it comes to storage space!
A Washing Machine
Those who travel for weeks or months at a time know how messy and inconvenient dirty laundry can be.
The fortunate ones have washer/dryer combination units already installed in their units. Most others wish they had them!
- Having this type of equipment on board saves travelers time, money and effort.
- Not having it means paying out between $10 and $40 per week, wasting hours of time sitting in a Laundromat and having to lug clothes back and forth to wash them.
It also means having smelly laundry sitting in the RV and damp clothes hanging around your coach.
Your family of four goes for a swim and returns late in the day. The campground does not permit you to hang clothes outside of your unit. So, you have four towels and four bathing suits hanging in your coach. If you have a washer/dryer you eliminate this problem!
How to Install and Use an RV Washer/Dryer Combo gives you more information about this topic, but the bottom line is that unless your unit comes with a washer/dryer unit or is already plumbed for it you cannot install one!
A Water Filtration System
These days it’s very important to use an RV water filter when you travel in a recreational vehicle.
- Some coaches come with them already installed, but if you are handy, you can install one yourself.
- If you don't want to do that you can buy one that you simply attach to your water hose each time you set up camp.
The difference between the two types is that the first one is permanent, only filter the water that you ingest and is more expensive.
The second one is less costly but filters all of the water you use, which means it needs to be replaced more often.
My husband and I have used both types, but prefer the permanent style because it requires much less work and in the long run is much less costly to own. There are several different brands available, but we prefer the Culligan because of it's durability, reasonable price ease of use.
As with all systems of these types, the filters need to be replaced regularly in order to function properly.
Other methods such as using the Brita type of filtering system or bottled water take up too much space in an RV.
Since the chemicals used in water vary from place to place, having a filtering system makes it less likely that travelers will get sick and more likely that the water they are drinking will have a good taste to it.
It's also important to note that not all campground owners are careful about sanitizing their systems, so having a good water filter can keep you from getting sick.
Wish Lists Vary
There are all sorts of things RVers feel they’d like to have in their coaches, and not all wish lists are the same.
However, the products and equipment items mentioned here are typical of the items many owners wish they had.
If you are RV shopping, make sure you include them with your “must have” items. You’ll be glad you did!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2017 Sondra Rochelle
Sondra Rochelle (author) from USA on November 16, 2017:
I have an entire article about RV washer/dryer combos that you really should let him read. Don't know how they would work out for a boat though, but worth taking a look. Check my profile...can't remember the name of the article right now lol!
Mary Wickison from USA on November 16, 2017:
I find your articles so interesting but not in relation to RV traveling.
My husband and I hope to buy a sailboat and so many of the problems are the same. Maximizing usable space, beds, bathroom setup.
I was particularly interested to read about the washer/dryer as this is something my husband and I have discussed. He can't see the advantages of having one! Your example of wet towels and the amount of extra dampness this is going to put in an RV has just been mentioned to him. : )
I'm sure this article will help many people make better choices from the outset.