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Old 07-27-2012, 11:15 AM   #1
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Questions from new owner about essential gadgets and equipment

We are absolutely new to RV's, camping, cross-country travel, etc.

Preparing to stock a new Interstate, we would appreciate information about gadgets or equipment that veteran Interstate owners have found to be essential (i.e what bedding, kitchen utensils, bath equipment, are must haves??)

We have looked through an extensive RV catalog, and the selection is mind-boggling. We would like to zero in on what is necessary and helpful.

Since extra space is at a premium, what tips can you suggest for minimizing what to carry for week-long excursions? How do you efficiently store trash cans, cleaning supplies, dirty laundry, wet towels, etc.?

We will anxiously await responses from veteran Interstate travelers.
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Old 07-27-2012, 12:10 PM   #2
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Since it's an Interstate, you probably ought to have put this in the "Sprinter and B-vans" section, but that's okay.

I'm sure other folks will have other ideas on "essentials". I will only address "outfitting" items for the Interstate, not personal items like prescriptions, food/beverages, cell phones, and clothing. I figure even a novice can figure out that much. I will say, though, if you're bringing perosnal electronics, don't forget the chargers!

And bear in mind this list makes no pretense of being complete. As you use your Interstate, you'll find yourself saying "I wish I had…" and you'll go get one before your next trip, only to say it again about something else later.

And so, in no particular order…

Road Maps. The Garmin GPS in the dashboard is nice, but it's not foolproof.

Campground Directories. Need to know where you want to go, right?

Water Filter. Even though the water at a campground is generally safe to drink, Montezuma's Revenge is unpleasant, so a Granular Activated Carbon filter attached to your inlet hose is always a good idea.

Leveling blocks. Forgot this on my first trip, and discovered that even when they say a site is level, it isn't necessarily. If the Interstate isn't level, the shower won't drain properly, and when you pump out your holding tanks, they won't completely empty.

Wheel Chocks. If you have wheels up on leveler blocks, don't rely upon the parking brake to keep them there. Chock the other wheels.

Cookware. I bought a set of small small pots and skillets that are just right for cooking meals for one or two people with no leftovers. Buy as a set, save the box, and repack them in the box when you're done with them. Helps cut down on the banging and rattling while you drive.

Dishes. Unbreakable, microwave-safe. Also stock up on paper plates.

Extra towel bar. There's only one towel bar in the wet bath. That's not enough, even for a single guy like me. An "over the cabinet" towel bar slips over the top of any cabinet drawer or locker door to hold dish towels.

Paper towel holder. Loose rolls are a pain to deal with.

Bedding. If you have the "lounge" layout with the sofa that converts to a bed, a lightweight double-bed-sized sleeping bag works better than sheets that won't really fit.

Cargo Tray or Bike Rack. You've got a trailer hitch receiver hanging off the back end, might as well use it. A hitch-mount bike rack lets you carry a couple bikes with you, very important since you don't want to unhook and repack everything just to head down to the nearest convenience store. Alternately, a hitch-mount cargo tray gives you outside storage for things like folding chairs, barbecue grills, and other things that you will use at the campground but don't need access to while you're traveling to and from the campground.

DVDs. The Wineguard omnidirectional HDTV antenna isn't bad, but there are plenty of campgrounds where you'll have no television reception to speak of. If you get rained out, having a few DVDs on hand can tide you over until you can resume your outdoor activities.

Books. Ditto.

Tools. Basic tools, namely screwdrivers, wrenches, pliers, etc. Keep it to the basics since you've got so little space to carry them. A tool bag (like an old-fashioned doctor's medical bag) is better than a hard-sided tool box. A small pipe wrench will help if you encounter a dump station with a tight-fitting plug.

Disposable rubber gloves. The macerator pump for discharging waste is nice, and you'll not make much of a mess using it, but always wear gloves when handling waste hoses anyway.

Flashlight. Should have one in every car, not just motorhomes.

Fuses. A good assortment of automotive fuses. Check the fuse panel by the battery disconnect, and the fuse panel under the driver's seat, to make sure you get the right types.

That should be enough of a start, I guess.
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Old 07-27-2012, 01:07 PM   #3
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Most of what Protagonist has listed, and:

Kitchen---We do very well with heavy 1and 2 quart saucepans from Walmart, which have glass lids with strainers in them. Add to that an inexpensive, 4 quart stockpot for bigger needs and a heavy, lidded 10" calphalon skillet which doubles as a stove top oven. Don't keep the boxes, they take up too much space. Nest them in the cainet under the counter. We have had the same set of Corelle dishes for 12 years, stored in lid organizers which hold them nicely. We use a fair amount of paper plates when dry camping, and recently those paper food holders that you can buy in bulk at Sam's club, etc. I like silicone spatulas, also silicone bowls and measuring cups, which can go in the microwave for melting butter and reheating leftovers. The container store has many lightweight and airtight storage items for spices, flours, rice, etc. We use those over the door hooks for dish towels and a garbage bag, same for a paper towel holder. Preserves that precious cabinet space.

Bathroom---we found a small, tension-rod type corner organizer for odds and ends, also use suction cup baskets for hair items, extra roll of toilet paper, etc.

A well stocked tool bag, including duck tape and a small, folding saw.

I will surely think of more, and add to this. Have fun outfitting your new Interstate.


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Old 07-27-2012, 01:17 PM   #4
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Howdy and welcome to Airforums.com, Jill!

You have come to THE place for good information on all things Airstream, including those lovely vans.

I moved you to their special forum, by the way, and I have one suggestion for you as well

Since you have purchased your vehicle, you can now go to your profile and choose the description so that folks reading your posts will know exactly what RV you have.

Enjoy your surfing here, and hey, let's see a big juicy photo of that Interstate! In fact, let's see LOTS of them!

ps: I have always thought that more is more and less is better. So while you are getting great info about what the basics are, try it without Everything you hear. You know the old saw, "If I save the whales, where will I put them?"
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Old 07-27-2012, 01:30 PM   #5
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Welcome to the forum and Air Streaming!
Most of your question has been answered but I will add one kitchen item. I have a small electric gridle that I set-up on the picnic table for breakfast. Pancakes, eggs, and bacon cook-up well and everything can be cooked at the same time. There is nothing like the smell of bacon frying in the country air on a crisp autumn morning.
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Old 07-27-2012, 02:00 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doug&maggie View Post
Kitchen---We do very well with heavy 1and 2 quart saucepans from Walmart, which have glass lids with strainers in them. Add to that an inexpensive, 4 quart stockpot for bigger needs and a heavy, lidded 10" calphalon skillet which doubles as a stove top oven. Don't keep the boxes, they take up too much space. Nest them in the cabinet under the counter.
We'll if you get something as big a a 4-quart stockpot, then keeping the boxes would be stupid. I have one 7-inch skillet just the right size for making a two-egg omelet, a one-quart saucepan, and one-and-a-half-quart pot. The Norpro Mini Pan Set. That and one spatula, a cooking spoon, and one sharp knife are the sum total of my cookware. Even boxed, it doesn't take up much space. That's all I need, given my abysmal cooking skills. Almost everything I cook comes out of a can, box, bottle, or jar, more along the lines of heat-and-eat rather than real cooking.

I plan out my menus for the trip before I ever leave home, and with the exception of my first trip where I had food left over, usually gauge it well enough that I arrive back home with almost no food left in the galley. Of all the space-occupying things you don't need, food that you won't get around to eating tops the list.

More "essentials":

Tire pressure gauge. Sprinter 3500s, and conversion vans made from them like the Interstate, do not have built-in tire pressure monitoring systems like late-model passenger cars do. A truck-type pressure gauge (push-pull dual chuck) is essential safety equipment.

Bungee cords. Like duct tape, a thousand and one uses.

Regarding what Aage said about doing without, don't scrimp on safety equipment, but for everything else he does have a point. Lay out everything you think you need, and all the cash you think you need. Then take half the stuff, and twice the cash. I forget which famous world traveler said that, but there is truth to it.

I've also gotten lots of advice about what to take and what to leave behind. So I have a rule of thumb of my own… If I am camping and find myself doing something the hard way and saying, "I really could use [_____] at a time like this," then I bring one for next time.

However, if I make two consecutive camping trips and haven't used on either trip a particular item I brought with me, it stays home for the next trip. So there have been a few things I've taken out of my Interstate as well. Again, however, I make an exception for safety equipment; that always stays in the Interstate just in case.
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Old 07-27-2012, 02:00 PM   #7
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A small, handheld vacuum, the kind with the little wand---for cleaning corners and quickly dispatching with trespassing insects.

Washable rugs, reversible is best.

And, welcome! Pardon my omission of this, was so excited to share information.


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Old 07-27-2012, 02:11 PM   #8
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Protagonist, you need to come to a Forums rally.

We know how to cook, and can teach you lots of simple things you can make for yourself.

Our stockpot is a $10 item from Walmart---very lightweight and not used often, but when ya need it, ya need it!

We also carry a small crockpot, great for beans, a meatloaf, Swiss steak, etc., when you have been driving a lot and then are parked a few days.

We don't want to make room for a trash can, so use grocery bags on a hook in the galley.

Laundry supplies are kept in a plastic bin in the bathroom. Dirty laundry in a mesh bag that keeps it from fermenting.

Maggie
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Old 07-27-2012, 02:27 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doug&maggie View Post
Protagonist, you need to come to a Forums rally.

We know how to cook, and can teach you lots of simple things you can make for yourself.
I do need to go to a Forums rally, when I can find one that I can get off from work for.

As for cooking, it's kind of you to offer, but I've had 54 years to learn that I lack the patience for it, and even less interest in learning more. For me, cooking is just a task that takes time away from doing more important things. I can do a decent crock pot stew, but since my longest trip to date has only been a week, I cook in the crock pot at home, and just take single-serving containers with me to nuke in the microwave. That way I don't have to haul the crock pot around.
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Old 07-27-2012, 03:06 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Protagonist

I do need to go to a Forums rally, when I can find one that I can get off from work for.

As for cooking, it's kind of you to offer, but I've had 54 years to learn that I lack the patience for it, and even less interest in learning more. For me, cooking is just a task that takes time away from doing more important things. I can do a decent crock pot stew, but since my longest trip to date has only been a week, I cook in the crock pot at home, and just take single-serving containers with me to nuke in the microwave. That way I don't have to haul the crock pot around.
Aaah, okay then. We're all different.

I can tell from your posts, though, that you have had enough patience to learn a lot of things, and appreciate your information even if much of it is over my intelligent but other-directed head.

Back to helping this new interstate owner, now!



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Old 07-27-2012, 04:58 PM   #11
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there are lots of lists posted on here and I went over them and printed them all off and crossed out the duplicates and then went shopping in my own kitchen for duplicates that I all ready had and then went to the store.
I also have a notebook that I take with me when ever we take a trip and write down the stuff that I needed or ran out of that needs to be replaced.
Good luck and have fun. Setting up our trailer has been one of my favorite parts.
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Old 07-27-2012, 07:21 PM   #12
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Assorted batteries, first aid kit, spare keys, jumper cables, flares, and a sense of humor.
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Old 07-27-2012, 10:35 PM   #13
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Thanks to all who have taken the time to respond. You have given us lots of great ideas that would never have occurred to us. We will make a long list of what you have mentioned, make a trial run without much of anything, and then purchase whatever was on the list that made us say, "They told us so!!"
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Old 07-27-2012, 10:43 PM   #14
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We don't have an Interstate but i have found that the Richnote app on my smartphone is a great way to make those lists of "I wish we had brought this"

that way when we get ready to go again, I can look a the list and see what we need to add.

of course some pie in the sky stuff makes the list as well..... canoe, Direct TV, etc.

but got one of my big ticket items today when I got OEM tow mirrors put on my Tundra. No more worrying about and messing with clip on mirrors.

Dana
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