It was difficult parting with our stuff and it took several garage sales, donation runs, and a trip to the dump to finally pare it down enough that it would fit into our 10×20′ storage unit. After narrowing our possessions down to the important junk, I mean glorious items that were important, we traveled across the country to pick up our travel trailer. We could only take what would fit into our Armada and a small carrier we strapped to the roof rack. Yes it was a great feeling having almost no worldly possessions and every time we had to cram everything back into the car to hit the road again we cursed how much we had brought. Then the magical moment happened when we did the walk through of our new home to travel the country in. Reality quickly set in when we realized we now had to
purchase all the numerous items that a travel trailer has to have, like a water hose and a sewer hose. Everyone who is on the road has these essentials and each person has an opinion as to which brand or type is the best. This article isn’t about the stuff that everyone has to buy to get on the road. It’s about the things we feel are essential for our travels and every item on this list is something we don’t know how we would get by without. Each has a story behind how we came to know we needed it or how many times I was grateful to have it, but these are the things that allow us to achieve our dream of seeing every state in America.
When we moved from Texas back to Nevada we purchased a set of Cobra walkie talkies, we were disappointed with them because they didn’t work the way we expected them to. We had rented a box truck to pile all of our stuff into and Sarah drove the car with all the kids while I drove the truck. Since we were going to be split up for the entire trip we decided to get something to talk together to pass the time and more importantly to let each other know when we needed to stop. Well the darn things didn’t work at all and we only heard static for the entire trip. Of course I figured out afterwards that the truck had overhead storage that caused interference on the devices causing them not to work. Since it wasn’t the walkie talkies fault we kept them and didn’t use them much till we hit the road again. Now we use them every time we have to back into a camp site. One night, at 3 AM, I was awakened by a couple yelling back and forth to each other as they tried to back their huge 5th wheel into a narrow space with a tree, in the dark. After putting something decent on I went out and offered them the use of our Cobras (to allow the rest of the camp to sleep). Since I was up and watching I actually ended up helping the guy back in their rig, and it was at that moment I realized how lucky we were to still have them. If your rig is longer than 25′ and you have someone with you then I would recommend getting a set. Now if you park something that long by yourself you get my respect because I can’t even imagine being able to accomplish that!
2 COBRA MicroTalk CX115A 16-Mile 22-Channel FRS/GMRS 2-Way Walkie Talkie Radios
Air Compressor and Battery Starter
We went back and forth between getting a generator or going solar. Either would cost some serious money, add setup time and weight, not to mention taking up space. We need a way to charge our devices when not hooked up to power. I have an air compressor back in storage, but it didn’t make the cut and I don’t regret it because it would have been too heavy. Problem is I have to fill the tires regularly on both the car and our trailer. These were two problems that I debated as we traveled from Ohio to Washington and then California to Texas. The worst was when we visited Joshua Tree National Park. After a few days of dry camping the battery died on our camera with no way to charge it. Of course that was when a rare photo opportunity presented itself in the form of a Great Horned Owl perching right above our camp! Well I was set to just buy a generator and then just keep filling the tires at gas stations (even though this can be quite difficult with a travel trailer) when I stumbled onto a battery jumper/air compressor that could charge my electronics and inflate our tires! Both problems solved with one machine and the thing weighs less than 20 pounds! I hope I never have to use the battery jumper or the work light on it, but in an emergency I could see them coming in handy. I am just happy to be able to easily fill our tires and when we are dry camping I will be able to charge our camera!
PowerStation PSX-3 18Ah Jumpstarter with Air Compressor and DC Outlet and USB Port – New Model 2013
I have the PSX1004, but I think that is the old model and this is the only one available now.
Super Slide Stabilizer Bars
Having kids in a travel trailer can sometimes feel like you’re in an earthquake zone and we should know since we lived in one! I debated getting some slide stabilizer bars, but once again wasn’t looking to add setup or weight to our routine. Well I wish someone would have informed me about this product sooner because I started to notice two soft spots on our floor. I was talking with another full timer about it who has a friend that repairs trailers with this problem all the time. The super slides are heavy and with only two bars holding them in the air they can wear through the floor causing major damage! I immediately purchased a set and noticed that the trailer doesn’t sway or rock when people move around in it. Set up is easy, but we had to add a fail safe into our moving day routine, check before pulling the slide in, because I don’t want to find out how much damage pulling the slide in with the bars under would cause. Someone asked me about the wardrobe slide and if I was going to get a stabilizer for it. At this time I am not going to because we don’t get in it and it only sticks out a small amount, but if anyone else has had problems with their wardrobe slide please let me know.
Here are the ones that we purchase, but please note that you will need to measure the distance from your slide to the ground in order to purchase the right size bars
(2) RV Camper Motor Home Trailer SlideOut Adjustable Stabilizer Jack Stands /28″
We come from the desert and humidity isn’t something that we are used to dealing with. In our research we kept finding people talking about it and how it can cause major damage to travel trailers, but it took getting to a rainy area for us to see first hand what can happen. I thought that the roof was leaking on our brand new travel trailer, but it looked great up top when I did my regular roof inspection. We have learned that propane puts moister into the air and if you are in an area that is already humid then be prepared for some water condensation (nothing dries). We used towels to wipe up the water and kept a close eye on trouble spots to make sure we didn’t get the dreaded mold anywhere, but it was a lot of work and the wet towels just ended up in the laundry. So we looked at our options and we found a small dehumidifier that didn’t have to be refilled. Now we just plug it in if we have vents open or the ac running and leave it the rest of the time in our wardrobe slide. I like it so much I am contemplating getting a second one for our pantry, but the one works so good it has been working fine on its own to keep the moisture levels down in the whole trailer.
New and Improved Eva-dry E-333 Renewable Mini Dehumidifier
Laptop in Addition to a Smart Phone
Now this particular item was something we researched for hours and hours before we left Nevada. The smart phone we purchased was cheap and a basic get the job done phone which we mainly needed for maps. People who are really into computers could spend hours discussing which is the best and I might get some flack from a few computer wizards on my choice, but this is the machine we decided to buy. We knew we would only buy one and we wanted it to be able to do a lot of work, be durable, plus be able to play games. So off to the stores to look at them we went, then back to the internet to look at more. Over and over again we did this til’ we had it down to two choices. I wanted something with a graphics card in addition to the standard on board card in order to do some video editing. The screen size was important too because we knew we would watch movies on it. In the end the Acer we bought won because it had all of the afore mentioned plus a battery that lasts 12 hours. Now the battery only lasts about six when you are actually using it unless you put it in battery saver mode, but it still was a way better battery than some of the competition. This machine is our work horse and we have been happy with everything about it except Windows 10, which has major issues running old games. We are definitely old school when it comes to gaming and it was a disappointment that many of our older games won’t work, but one of our favorite games, Caesar 3, works and you can’t have everything you want, can you? Besides this machine has served us well, didn’t break our bank account, and Windows 10 is on all the new machines!
Acer Aspire E 15, 7th Gen Intel Core i7, GeForce 940MX, 15.6″ Full HD, 8GB DDR4, 256GB SSD, Win 10, E5-575G-75MD
This is the model we settled on an Acer Aspire E15 with a GeForce 940MX graphics card.
Depending on what you plan to do this computer might not be what you want to buy, but we sure love it. We use it for finding camp grounds and things to do in an area, the kids do school work on it, we use it to work, and to write (all our articles plus I am working on a book). Of course it also gets plenty of use playing games!
Hydration Backpacks for the Entire Family
Normally we don’t spend very much money on what we would consider luxury items, but after discussing it several times we decided to slap down some money on hydration packs. Name brand packs were really expensive and we wanted to buy five packs so that each one of us could carry our own water. We settled on two different brands because Outdoor Products makes a youth pack that is only 1 litter of water for our youngest. His pack is probably the best backpack since it has extra pockets and we get comments on how cute he looks with it on everywhere we go (as a note his water bladder lid is the hardest to get on perfect so that it doesn’t leak and this is our only complaint with his pack). The next size up for the older kids work great for water, but don’t have much extra space for snacks. I am glad we got them this size though because they run out of water sometimes and have to fill up at a fountain, so if we had gotten them smaller packs it would be an all the time hassle instead of every once in a while hassle. Sarah’s pack carries the same amount of water as the older kids packs, but has tons of pockets and storage. My pack has the most storage, the larges water capacity, and is surprisingly comfortable even fully loaded up. If we are going on a picnic or to a zoo, we sometimes just load this pack up with food and bottles of water for me to lug around. Best part is the camera lens and accessories can fit in it, plus we put hand sanitizer and a first aid kit in it so we always have these items. I don’t know how we would have completed some of the longer hikes we have been on without these packs and I have never regretted buying them, even if it does mean I have to clean them! (If you would like to know how we manage this just let me know and I will put up a post about our process). Yes from the top of a mountain in Glacier to deep in the Earth at Carlsbad Caverns these packs have been great. The only place we don’t take the packs is to the beach because we all know that sand gets into everything!
Well there are six products we love and use regularly. If you do go ahead and buy one of them or if you already have one let us know your thoughts by commenting on this article. We hope you like this glimpse into the great gear we use as we travel to every state in America. Yes we left behind some stuff and had to get more, but in the end it is all just stuff. Our experiences are more important and this gear helps us to get some amazing experiences out of our adventure. If there is something that you can’t live without or that you think we would love to have, please feel free to share.
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