We did not spend one night in our Airstream before we started living in it full time — crazy, right? In the months that led up to our departure date, we scoured the interwebs to determine what things were needed to live and travel in an Airstream. Most items we purchased were hits; some were misses. After six weeks on the road, we’ve realized what’s important, what’s not, and what falls somewhere in between.
The following lists are what work for us in our life in our 2017 27FB International Signature. I have not included anything to do with the towing aspect including tow vehicle, mirrors, back-up camera, hitch, sway control, etc. I’m not posting links of where to find the products as that would take a looooong time, but if you want more info about something, let me know.
You Definitely, 100%, Need These Things:
- Sewer Hose Kit
- 30 Amp Power Cord (included with new Airstream)
- Hose for Fresh Water Only (included with new Airstream)
- Tire Chocks
- Bubble Levels
- RV Toilet Paper
- Tank Treatment Toilet Drop-Ins
- Hitch Ball Lube
- Disposable Gloves (for Dumping)
The above items will allow you to be fully hooked up, level, not roll away, and avoid poo issues (clogged black tank, stinky toilet, nasty hands) — so, the important stuff.
May Not Need Yet but Definitely Will Some Day:
- Sewer Hose Extension
- Sewer Hose Support
- Hose to Flush Black Tank
- 50 Amp to 30 Amp Adaptor
When I say some day, I mean some day soon. We lived without these items for a few days, but all but the sewer hose extension were purchased within the first week. The sewer hookup where we are currently staying is at the back of the site, so our original 15′ hose didn’t reach; therefore, we needed an extension. The hose support allows gravity to do it’s job when you empty the gray and black tanks. The hose to flush the black tank is used every time we empty it to get all of the ‘stuff’ washed off the sides of the tank. And the adaptor is used when only 50 Amp service is available, which happened at the first place we stayed.
Don’t NEED, but Should Strongly Consider:
- Hitch Lock
- Propane Tank Lock
- RV Surge Protector
- Tire Pressure Monitoring System
- LP Tank Monitoring System
- Water Filter
If we lived in a perfect world, you wouldn’t need the first two items — but we don’t, so you may want to consider them. The surge protector is a pricy item, but what’s even pricier is if you hook up to a bad pedestal and it fries the electrical items in your Airstream. The tire pressure monitoring system is also a little pricy. If you don’t want to invest in it at this time, do make sure to purchase a tire pressure gauge and check the tires before every trip. There’s a lot of weight on those tires and they need to be topped off often, especially if they’re sitting in the sun. The LP tank monitoring system is so you know how much propane you have left. Some people may like to chance it, but we want to make sure we don’t run out on a night with below-freezing temps. For us, the water filter falls under necessity, but doesn’t for everyone. We don’t drink the water out of the faucets, but we do use it to shower, wash our hands, and wash the dishes, so we want the water to be clean. We hook the filter up at the spigot-end of the hose so that only filtered water runs through our hose. The dehumidifier is a must if you’ll be spending time anywhere that has some humidity. We also use DampRid to cut the moisture when we’re not able to run the dehumidifier.
Don’t Need, but Make Life Easier:
- Wet/Dry Vac
- Small Air Compressor
- Security Cables and Locks
- Assorted Bungees and Straps
- Assorted Baskets and Bins
- Assorted Mounting Tape/Hooks (Velcro, 3M, Scotch)
- Museum Putty
- Magnetic Knife Holder
- Magnetic Spice Tins
Some people will never use a generator — it all depends on what type of Airstreamer you are. They are expensive, so do not buy one until you need it. We use the (small) wet/dry vac to vacuum out the truck (often) and seal things into Space Bags. We have a small air compressor that we use to fill our tires. Security cables and locks are important if you want to lock up your generator or surge protector or whatnot. They aren’t that expensive and they don’t take up a lot of room, so you can have them on hand if the need arises. The next four items are all about organization and securing things. For instance, we have our generator and gas can strapped in in the bed of our truck so they don’t slide around when we travel. We’ve used various (removable) hooks throughout the trailer, velcro to hold rugs in place, (removable) 3M tape to hang things on the wall, and museum putty to keep light things on the counter in place. And baskets — so many baskets! For office supplies and toiletries and basically anywhere a basket fits. The last two items get items out of the kitchen drawers/cabinets and into an otherwise dead space. We mounted the knife holder above our stove (though I’d recommend mounting it so the knife handles are up which would prevent the knifes from sliding down while undertow) and have the spice tins stuck on the vent hood.
So, that’s it — the important stuff, anyways! Of course, there’s still the camping stuff (propane grill, chairs, cooler, etc.) and the hiking stuff (backpacks, boots, headlamps, etc.) and the appliances (coffee maker, InstantPot, travel iron, etc.) and work-related stuff (printer and Gator Case for the iMac), but those are individual choices only you can make.
UPDATE 4/20/21: Don’t get too stressed about having all of the right supplies and gear from day 1. Some RVers swear by some products, while others have no need for them. You’ll figure it out as you go. We purchased many things at the beginning of our Airstream life based on what others have said are essential items — and we’ve given many things away because we never used them. A heated hose, gravity chairs, X chocks? Nope, nope, and nope. We’ve found that we’re usually close enough to somewhere to buy what we need when the need arises. A lot of campgrounds and RV parks carry basic supplies. Of course, a place like Camping World (which can be super overpriced), should have what you need. Also check Walmarts, Ace Hardwares, or other local hardware/building supply stores. And RV dealerships. While there may be a bit of a markup, if you’re in a pinch, many RV dealerships sells supplies and possibly, parts.