I have wanted to write posts about RV gadgets for a while. There are so many I find useful in my RV life. Many you’d probably expect while some may be surprising. Some items come with high price tags. So much so, I still haven’t purchased all the items on my list (like a tire pressure monitoring system for the trailer). But—good news—many useful RV gadgets are perfect for the budget-conscious traveler. These are my current favorite, most-used RV gadgets under $10.
Note: these are the most used gadgets under $10. That means they are in use or I use them daily. I have another list of must-have gadgets under $10. But that list is items not used daily. Stay tuned for that list in a future post.
Single-Cup Coffee Maker
In my sticks-and-bricks life, I owned two coffee pots. A regular-sized Mr. Coffee for home and a small Mr. Coffee for my office at work. You’d think, being budget-conscious, that I would’ve brought one of those with me. But here’s the thing: I’m hard on glass. And those pots are made of thin glass. I’m not a careful enough person to take care of breakable things.
Add to that the knowledge that RVers already have challenges with things breaking in a rig rocking and rolling down highways and dirt roads. There was just no way I was bringing a glass carafe with me.
I never even considered it.
However, I didn’t donate the coffee pot to charity until after the trip down the Alaska Highway because I thought I’d be able to make coffee in my van. Fail. You can read about it here.
I found the perfect individual coffee cup maker for $10. Someone told me that one of the dollar stores had them for $5 but I never found that deal. I found a $10 deal. And the one-cup size is perfect because it’s compact for my tiny kitchen and it means I never waste coffee.
I don’t use coffee pods because of how terrible they are on the environment (9 billion were sold last year and most end up in landfills), but it came with a reusable filter. Most do, I think. Not only is that better for our planet, it’s better for you too. When you use the reusable filter, you choose your favorite brand and flavor of coffee.
I tried to find the exact one I have, but the closest one is this one-cup maker from Black and Decker. This one is a bit more than $10, but it comes with a bonus travel mug. If you want one for under $10, keep your eye out at bargain places like Walmart and dollar stores. You’ll find one.
Water Pressure Regulator
Remember my dramatic water pressure story? Then you’ll know exactly why a water pressure regulator is a must-have RV gadget. It’s an inexpensive gadget that can save you hundreds on a repair bill by preventing too much pressure from breaking important parts of your rig.
Before I got on the road, I watched tons of RV-related vlogs and read tons of RV life blogs. Everyone swore by museum putty and Command strips.
I only half agree. Museum putty hasn’t been the perfect tool that I expected. I’ve hung not-heavy things with it only to find the thing on the floor a day or a week later. Even a business card started drooping down the wall after a few months. For me, museum putty is not a must-have. But it is inexpensive so I keep a small package. Just in case.
Command strips, on the other hand, have been fantastic. They are a must-have. I’ve used them for everything from hanging stuff to securing hooks (also Command brand), from keeping the few decorative knick-knacks I brought in place to hanging my tissue box. The trick is to get the right sized strip for the job. The packaging tells you the weight it can hold.
My trailer has two sinks. One in the bathroom. One in the kitchen. The trailer didn’t have anything protecting the bathroom drain. And the drain in the kitchen came with the same strainer most of us are familiar with, the kind found in sticks-and-bricks kitchens.
But I didn’t like that strainer. In my logic, no food bits should go down the RV drain. Being heavier than water, it means they would sink to the bottom of the gray tank. And stay. And get gross. Stinky. And who knows what else.
With the traditional strainer, you have to angle it or remove it to let water get by. If you rest it in fully, it often will stop, thinking you are trying to fill the sink with water. And the strainer at an angle or removed means, bits and pieces sneak by.
My solution. Get rid of the strainer that came with the sink and replace it with a mesh screen. I bought a pack with multiple sizes. One lives in the kitchen sink. One lives in the bathroom sink. The other I keep as extra. And it came in handy when I was staying with a friend. I bathed Solstice in my friend’s bathtub and used the mesh screen to prevent tons of dog hair from clogging her drain.
Currently, I have three sprays bottles filled with three products for three different purposes.
- Before life on the road, I had long hair. But a new life deserved new hair. I call it my road hair. It’s short. Short hair, I discovered, comes with a side effect. Bedhead! Never had bedhead with long hair. When I first left Alaska, it was dyed bright red. On our trip down the Alaska Highway, in the mornings, my sister called me Heat Miser. I wish I could say she was wrong. Solution for Heat Miser hair? A bottle filled with water. A few pumps calms it right down.
- The manufacture of the composting toilet recommends a spritz of vinegar after urinating. I’ll be honest I’m not sure the reason. I just do it.
- Remember the mold issue on my mattress? To kill it, I sprayed bleach. Although readers taught me that I needed to add water to the mixture so it wasn’t so damaging on the fibers. I’ve since repeated the procedure in an attempt to make sure the mold stays away.
You might not think spray bottles worthy of a list like this. But the reason I added them to the list is because I never owned a spray bottle in my sticks-and-bricks. Or, at least, not an empty one that you put stuff into. Obviously, I had spray bottles with glass cleaner, laundry stain remover, etc. And, obviously, I have the same in the RV. But I never had a need for empty spray bottles in my house. And now I have a need for three.
This is one of the surprising ones. I kind of stumbled on multiple ways to use canned air. I brought a can with me because I had it in my sticks-and-bricks to keep dust off the computer keyboard. In my house, that was its primary use. Though on occasion, I would use it to blow dust build-up from the fan and vent of the television and VCR.
In my RV life, I still use it for the computer keyboard and vents where dust builds. In the small space of an RV, it builds much faster than in a home. I use it for the television, the space heater as well as vents outside the rig like the water heater, microwave and refrigerator.
But it’s also quite handy when I clean. Window tracks, for example. My windows tracks are lined with fabric-y stuff. It feels like velvet. A traditional cleaning method of cleaner and a paper towel can’t grab the bits and pieces. Even in the non-fabric tracks, I just can’t get the paper towel down in them. The pressure from a blast with the canned air gets pet hair, dust, dead bugs and other icky bits right out of those tight and deep spaces.
The name cracks me up. Bed suspenders. It just sounds funny. But it is a perfect description of a handy little gadget. They keep your bed sheets in place.
They are ideal for sheets that are a too big or too small. And would be great for people who toss and turn when they sleep.
For sheets that are too big, the suspenders pull the bottom sheet tight so it doesn’t bunch up. For a sheet that’s too small, the suspenders keep it from popping off in the night.
I fall into the former category. Although Oliver calls my two beds the “twin bed option.” It’s deceptive. The beds are not twin beds. A twin bed measures 39 inches wide and the Oliver bed is 30 inches wide. That means an Oliver “twin” is 25% more narrow than a traditional twin. Add to that the funky corner because of the molded fiberglass and you have a bed that screams for the need of bed suspenders.
Before picking up my rig, I learned that beds smaller than the twin are called bunk-size. I ordered bunk-size sheets for my bed but still found the sheets a tad big. So, the bed suspenders provided the perfect solution for a good night’s sleep on a taut fitted sheet.
A word of caution. Bed suspenders are made of elastic and metal. Be careful the metal doesn’t cause harm. My mattress sits on fiberglass which can be damaged if it gets scratched. You, too, may need to place something in between your mattress and whatever it sits on. Similarly, when I was having the moisture issue, the metal created a rust stain on the mattress. Now, I put a washcloth under each suspender so it doesn’t directly touch the mattress.
Two hairy pets. One tiny space. No further explanation needed. Lint rollers are a must.
There are so many pluses to owning a molded fiberglass trailer. But it comes with challenges as well. One of those is the shape. Inside the trailer, there are limited flat surfaces making it hard, for example, to find a place to hang a paper towel holder. (I’m going to do a post in a few weeks on 5-minute hacks and my solution to this problem will be revealed.)
Nowhere is the curve of the rig more pronounced than inside the overhead cabinets. While they are deep, large and tall items don’t fit well in the space. At the front of the cabinet, I can stack two cans without a problem. But those same stacked cans will not fit at the back of the cabinet.
I found baskets to be the best option. They are short enough to reach the back wall. Then I can stack more stuff on top to the shape of the cabinet. The big bonus with baskets is they lessen the shake-rattle-and-roll on travel days. It’s nice to find your can of soup exactly where you left it instead of all the way down next to the spices.
Some of you might prefer the space you gain by choosing a basket without a handle. As a shorter person, the handle helps me get a good grip when I need to take the basket out because the cabinets are overhead. This is particularly true for the baskets filled with cans because those can be a little heavy so the leverage helps.
The larger baskets are perfect for cans. In my trailer, the larger baskets only fit in my pantry and above my kitchen. They are too large for cabinets above the beds and above the dining table. For pet treats, spices and microwave popcorn, the medium baskets are perfect. Each trailer is different so be sure to measure before you buy. And keep your receipt just in case you need to exchange.
Bonus idea: I’ve seen photos of RVers who organize their refrigerators using these or similar plastic baskets.
More bonus ideas: I use a medium-sized basket for all my scarves in one of my clothes cabinets. And another one in the closet with my gloves and hats for those chilly morning walks. Finally, you might remember seeing several I hung (with Command hooks, by the way) on the inside of my bathroom door in the post on taking an RV shower.
So, there you have it. My nine must have RV gadgets under $10. As always, I’d love to know your secret weapons. Do you have any budget-friendly must-have RV gadgets? If you don’t have any, what do you think about the list I shared?
Links to Referenced SSL Blog Posts Above:
- My Trailer’s Tow Vehicle: Introducing Violet
- How to Install a Water Pressure Regulator
- Big Dog, Small Tub: Bathing Solstice in an RV Shower
- How to Grow Mold in 30 Days: A Cautionary Tale
- 6 Tips to Taking an RV Shower
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Please note I would not recommend products or services I haven’t tried and loved myself.