Gear to Help You Be Better Prepared for the Unexpected on RV Trips
Emergency kits and helpful supplies for potential issues.

By: Diego Bianco

RV travelers seem to have a skill of acting as MacGyver in times of need – using our Swiss Army Knife for every basic repair, camping, or survival need. We become travel experts by researching terms and by learning from others. I couldn’t be as good as I am today without YouTube, the Winnebago Solis Facebook group, and the Winnebago GoLife blog, where I learn and enjoy sharing my knowledge.

For anyone new to RVing who has mastered the basics but is wondering how to be even better prepared, I’m sharing my top travel packing lists. These include essentials and practical solutions for my trips with the Winnebago Solis. I'm excited to help you acquire a preventive mindset and ensure a more carefree travel experience.

Remember: Look, Inspect, and Repair Before Hitting the Road

I suggest running these two essential inspections before departure and a quick inspection at every gas stop.

1. The Standard Bumper-to-Bumper Inspection

  • Check the basics before departure, including tires, brake pads, light fixtures, and windshield wipers. (Learn more about checking your RV’s tires here.)
  • Conduct an engine inspection where you look at the battery, check the oil change date, fluids, belts, and hoses.
  • Check the cassette door is locked (if traveling with a cassette toilet), inspect for loose license plates, and all other accessories you have added on to the exterior of your RV such as a bike rack, tire mount, ladder, extra storage, A/C unit, solar panels, antennas, etc. 
  • In general terms, check the exterior of your RV for the unusual and always consider safety first. (Read this article for more RV safety checks!)

2. The Not-So-Common Underbelly Inspection

Give yourself a double thumbs up before leaving for an RV trip by running a deep inspection of the entire motorhome from underneath before leaving. 

  • Check for signs of rodents. 
  • Check if anything is damaged or loose. 
  • Tighten all necessary loose bolts in these main areas: the water tank, waste valve, battery mount, generator, exhaust pipes, etc. 
  • Check for oil, fluid, water, and propane leaks. (I also like to do this at every stop.)

Also, be sure you are up-to-date with all your RV maintenance tasks! Check this list to make sure you aren't missing any important steps. 

What to Pack to Be Prepared for the Unexpected as an RVer

The following lists are focused on preparing for unexpected travel scenarios. Having the right gear and information on hand will help you take on quick fixes, accidents, and unexpected extended stays. Plus, you can also help other travelers and your generosity will be very much appreciated. (Read how I try to inspire others during my RV travels in this article).

Be sure to package important information in labeled containers with well-sealing lids or in zippered bags. This will allow easy access and peace of mind during stressful times.

If you are a beginner at RV life, learn more about what you need for setting out as a first-time RVer here.

Important Information to Have on Hand

This will be different from person to person, but I always have a separate small travel wallet with important information, business cards, and membership cards for easy access during my trips. I use it to get gas or go hiking. If I lose my phone, I have my essentials in that wallet. If I lose my wallet, I also have Apple Pay, and I take a picture of the cards and keep them on my phone as well. 

Helpful membership and business cards:

  • Insurance & Roadside Assistance
  • Accident Lawyer (don’t forget your dash and backup camera!)
  • Health Insurance, Important Prescriptions, Allergy Information, and Blood Type
  • State and National Parks Cards (these get used the most in my wallet!)
  • RV Park Memberships & Reservation Information
  • RV Repair Technicians & Mobile Mechanics
  • Information for car washes & oil changes
  • Other personalized services that apply to you

Did you know Winnebago RV Insurance, powered by FCIS Insurance, offers a discount to GoLife Perks members? You can also get discounts on RV camping memberships and go-to RVer gear. Learn more.

When it comes to financials, here is what has worked best for me:

  • Cash & Coins: I like to keep cash on me while traveling for emergencies, but I have also purchased a wooden welcome home bear and other cash-only items while traveling. You never know, you may be happy to have cash on hand so you can end up getting a wooden bear like me. I also have about 40 quarters in case I need a basic car wash or air station that only takes coins.
  • Travel Credit Card: Besides my regular credit cards, I also have a designated travel credit card that I use for gas stations and some travel expenses ONLY. This makes it easier to monitor in case of fraudulent activities or in case I lose it.
  • Gas Card: If you travel a lot, you may just want a gas card. The savings add up.
  • Personal Checks: I take a few checks in case I lose my wallet, my credit cards don’t work, or when, strategically, I need 48 hours to pay that hefty repair bill.

Bonus Tip: Regardless of whether you need the service, putting a car alarm sticker on your RV will make thieves think twice! I have found this works well.

Health & Safety Emergencies/Concerns 

This list is to cover emergencies and health-related issues. This can be endless based on personal needs; however, I chose these items for me and to help others during difficult times.

  • First-Aid Emergency Kit: I have specific items for hiking, trail running, cycling, etc. Know your health situation, potential emergencies you may encounter, and create your kit based on your personal needs. I suggest adding alcohol and hydrogen peroxide in small travel-size bottles for cleaning wounds. 
  • Medicines and Creams: I have a little of everything from ointments, insect repellent, sunscreen, and hand sanitizer to my essential medicine. 
  • Smelling Salts: If you go hiking and face fitness fatigue up there in the mountains like me, I use smelling salts for a safe boost. These have saved me in 14,000+ altitude situations.
  • First-Aid Nutrition: Salt sticks, pickle juice, hard candy, gum, and other nutritional items help for quick recovery. Don’t forget to stay hydrated when out exploring also!
  • Wildlife & Intruder Protection: If safety from bears and other wildlife or ill-intentioned humans is a concern, you may want to bring a form of protection. Some RVers travel with a gun or other weapon for safety (just be sure to know the laws in the areas you will be traveling in!). However, if the main concern is wildlife, these items can really help:
    • Long-range broomstick: I love wildlife, but sometimes it can get too close for comfort. A long-range broomstick can help gently push animals away. 
    • Bear spray: Choose a good long-range spray. I take it for my runs or hiking in bear populated areas.
    • Whistle: Coyotes, aggressive dogs, and other wildlife dislike loud noises in most cases, and a whistle can startle them. I spend a lot of time in the back of my van, with my grills or bikes, and I have seen bears and coyotes nearby. I have used my whistle and they leave as soon as they hear it. You may also want to invest in a dog horn or battery-operated defense horn device which can emit a high-pitched sound and help stop animal attacks.

Supplies for RV Emergencies & Unexpected Camping Needs

Minor RV emergencies related to accidents, flat tires, mechanical problems, and incidents inside the van can often be dealt with if you have the right tools on hand. I recommend using containers with lids or zippered bags to group small items of the toolkits below.

Pro Tip: I strategically place labels in the van storage doors to guide me to where I keep most of my things, including the toolkits below. I also have a few labels on the front with van specs, such as the total vehicle height that I always forget, emergency communications, roadside assistance numbers, and emergency contact information in case of an accident.

  • Emergency Stop Supplies: Items in my kit include a reflective vest, knee pads, gloves, headlamp, flat-tire repair kit, universal lug wrench or impact drill, hydraulic jack, three road triangle reflectors or orange emergency cones, 12-hour safety lightstick (ChemLights), 30-minute road flares, powerful work light with a clamp or stand, flashlight, portable air pump, tire pressure gauge, battery jump starter, long jumper cables, traction boards, recovery tow rope, leveling blocks, two-wheel chocks, safety hammer, ice scraper,  and a snow brush.
  • General Tools: I have a good-sized tool kit with my favorite tools suitable for the Winnebago Solis. I suggest you add a drill, Swiss Army Knife, pliers, good scissors, short and long screwdrivers, a sharp knife, and pipe cutters. Also take the electrical and plumbing tools of your choice, plus a container of different-sized screws and nails for different purposes.
  • Electrical Toolkit: Essentials include extra fuses, electrical tape, an electrical outlet tester, a few replacement bulbs, batteries, one extension cord, and finally, your 30-amp power cord and amp adapters.
  • Plumbing Toolkit: In my case, I went to the hardware store and got a few replacement parts, such as Quad port fittings, connectors, caps, two extra PVC pipes, and a short piece of water hose. Plus, I got some hose clamps, adapters, and plumbing tape. I also have the easy-slip sewer hose kit, swivel fittings, and sidewinder hose support.
  • Propane (LP) Kit: I have my leak detector and the adapters for my outdoor grill. I also carry small LP cylinders for my outdoor burner. 
  • Infrared Temperature Gun: Use this to check brake pad temperatures during summer.
  • Fire Extinguisher: My Winnebago Solis came with one. Just make sure you know how to use it and check the expiration date.
  • Fire Blankets: If something goes wrong with my extinguisher, I have two fire blankets, knowing they effectively extinguish fire quickly.
  • Adhesives: I have super glue, nail glue, and silicone sealant.
  • Hooks & Misc: I have a variety of magnetic and adhesive hooks for all occasions, straps, magnets, zip ties.
  • Tapes: Waterproof patch seal tape, eternal-bond tape, duct tape, electrical black and color tapes, plumbing tape, double tape, Velcro tape, and scotch tape.
  • WD-40 and liquid wrench: I never leave without these two. They are self-explanatory and useful for many things. 
  • Peppermint oil rodent repellent spray bottle: Regardless of where I park, especially in a state or national park with hot temperatures, I spray around the van to avoid critters getting near.
  • Glue traps/boards: If you know you have visitors, and you can’t control some insects, these sticky panels work well.
  • Axe and/or multi-tool camping hammer: You never know when you will need to cut wood or have need for a hammer. I usually need this very often, so I keep it “secured” in my ladder outside.  
  • Multi-tool folding plier: Most of my work does not use robust tools, and I often use my multi-tool folding plier.  
  • Extra straps: I always run out of straps. It is either an obsession or a problem of mine. Tow straps or recovery rope is also good to have on hand.
  • Two 5-gallon water containers and additional water bottles: Having extra water is always a must for me.
  • Public bathroom survival kit: This is great to have for using the bathroom in gas stations, parks, or portable toilets. My bag has a small handle, and it contains an additional small bag for my phone and keys, a small flashlight with a handle, a few wipes, a few paper towels to clean the toilet, and half a roll of toilet paper. I have travel-size spray bottles with repellent, toilet cleaner, citrus spray for foul odors, hand soap, hand sanitizer, and two small trash bags, just in case. 
  • Hidden Key Holder: When taking your RV keys with you on adventures, be sure to put them in a secure zippered pocket. However, a hidden heavy-duty magnetic key holder box outside your RV can be a huge relief if you lose your keys. I highly recommend this option.

Helpful Electronic Gadgets 

One of my favorite things to do is check for the latest gadgets, and I am constantly improving my RV life based on the new toys available. I try to take a mixture of battery-operated and rechargeable gadgets and use them accordingly.

  • Basic Electronics: Some of my go-to items are inverters, extra indoor and outdoor USB or rechargeable lights, battery replacements, a few small flashlights in strategic locations on the van, an oil diffuser, rechargeable odorless insect trap, night light, and extra cords.
  • Portable Power Bank: I have a solar panel power bank to run my computer and other gadgets.
  • Wireless or Wired Screen Navigation: If your RV doesn’t include a large screen, I recommend you get a second Apple Play screen. This is a fantastic solution to watch where you are going without using your phone. 
  • GPS Navigator: This is a life saver for long hiking trips. I also have a Garmin Watch to document my hiking, upload it, and have it for friends to follow me on Strava.
    • Tip: Share your locations with relatives or friends for additional safety. I even take my phone when swimming in some areas with my swim buoy.
  • Phone Holder & Extra Battery: These are a help to have on hand. 
  • Headlamp and Flashlights: Battery-operated and rechargeable are ideal.
  • Additional Cameras: I have installed an outdoor camera to know who is coming from a distance.
  • Starlink and/or WeBoost: If internet access is important, having gear to make it more reliable is key. (See more tips for setting up an off-grid office while RVing.)
  • Weather station: Of course you can also use your phone, but if you are a fanatic about the weather, this is a very cool gadget. 
  • Rechargeable 12-Volt Fan: I have two fans when it gets too hot at night.
  • Portable A/C unit: This is an expensive investment, but having a portable A/C unit is a game changer. These portable units are getting better every year.
  • Battery-Operated Cooler: This is one of the best investments I have made. I can have an extra cooler and freezer running off-grid with exchangeable batteries for four days. Then, I recharge one battery at a time.
  • Rechargeable Cleaning Vacuum: This is a must for me, and it makes me so happy to have the van clean inside even when off-grid.
  • Battery-Operated Outdoor Shower: If you are like me, I try to keep my bathroom clean and use it as little as possible. The outdoor shower rocks.
  • Helful Cooking Gear: If you like to cook, here is a list of kitchen gadgets RVers enjoy. My electric grill and small blender are top gear items for me.

Based on my experience, no matter how thoroughly you prepare for a trip, something unexpected always pops up, and you can’t control every little detail. Nevertheless, you learn and strive to do better on your next adventure. 

I hope you can gather some ideas from this article and craft your own toolkits. And remember, if you have any fresh insights to share or feel I've missed something crucial, please use the comment section to enlighten and educate us based on your experiences.


Comments on this post are moderated, so they will not appear instantly. All relevant questions and helpful notes are welcome! If you have a service inquiry or question related to your RV, please reach out to the customer care team directly using the phone numbers or contact form on this page .

User commented on July 4, 2024 7:14 PM
Great read! My wife & I will be renting a RV down in Argentina ( northern part) for about 3-4 weeks and this is some great advice I think we’ll try to use and implement on our voyage. Thanks again for taking the time for great valuable information.