RVs provide nearly all the comforts of home while you are traveling, and you can generally bring along high-quality, reusable supplies to avoid creating a bunch of trash from single-use items. However, sometimes the convenience of dollar store stuff is unbeatable.
I’ll admit, even though my boyfriend and I try to stick to quality long-lasting gear, we do occasionally turn to dollar store items that make full-time life on the road in an RV a whole lot easier. Plus, you can’t beat the prices! So, let’s dive in.
Here are my top 20 dollar store items for your RV:
1. Plastic Cutlery
If you dry camp or boondock in your RV, water is a precious commodity. Silverware can pile up fast with bigger groups in the RV, and you won’t want to drain your water tank by washing cutlery over and over. Plus, then you have to spend less time washing dishes and can spend more time enjoying your trip.
Personally, I use a plastic spoon whenever I make one particular cheesy rice dish, because the cheese is nearly impossible to get off my metal spoons and I have to use a ton of water to scrub it off. So, I have a stash of plastic spoons that I use specifically when I eat that one dish. I’ve also pulled out a plastic spoon when I needed to stir paint and for various other projects.
2. Paper or Plastic Plates, Bowls, and Cups
Again, major water- and time-saver, especially for group meals or messy foods. You can always recycle these after use, or use paper products as a fire starter.
Dollar stores even have some cute and fun options so you can create a theme or sip out of fancy cocktail “glasses.” You can also use these items for craft projects, games, and so on.
3. Dustpan and Broom
Dirt and dust always finds its way into RVs, no matter how carefully you wipe your feet. I probably sweep out our bus at least a couple times each week, and sometimes daily if we are in a dusty or sandy area.
A small dustpan and broom set is easy to tuck away since space is also at a premium in RVs, and it makes such a difference to not have to walk around on grit and sand all day.
4. Rainy Day Activities
It’s always a good idea to have some analog activities onboard the RV. Then you can pull them out when the kids are bored on the drive, if it rains and everyone is stuck inside, if there’s no cell service, etc. etc. Dollar stores usually have a pretty big selection of toys, puzzles, markers, coloring books, bubbles, and games – plenty of inexpensive ways to stay occupied for kids and adults alike.
They also generally sell novels, which, although they aren’t going to be on the current bestseller list, can be good vacation reads. Dollar store books are especially nice because you don’t have to worry about them getting wet or damaged or having to return them to the library on a specific day.
5. Travel-Size Toiletry Bottles
These little bottles are convenient for packing all kinds of things. You can use them for actual toiletries so you don’t have to take up too much space in a minuscule RV shower with giant shampoo bottles, but you can also use them to pack condiments, sunscreen, paint or other craft supplies, spices, and so on and so forth.
Also read: 22 Dollar Tree Camping Essentials
6. Duct Tape
Duct tape can fix virtually anything, from a leak in your RV roof to a blister from hiking. It’s an excellent idea to have a roll of duct tape specifically for your RV. It might just save your vacation! You can even choose pretty colors and patterns. Heck, one of your vacation activities could be a duct tape clothing design competition!
Lighters are always useful, especially the long-stem ones. You can easily start a campfire, light your gas stove if the pilot light goes out, fire up the BBQ, and so on.
We have a Jetboil that we use to boil water for coffee and make ramen, and unfortunately the built-in lighter function stopped working after a few months. We eventually got it repaired, but in the meantime we had to use a lighter to fire it up – gotta have coffee.
8. Plastic Storage Bags
These come in handy for all sorts of things. You can pack up games and activities, store dirty or damp laundry, keep electronics dry and safe, use them to pack clothing efficiently, etc.
I use bags like these to keep my sketchpad and other art materials safe from humidity, which can be hard to control in an RV.
9. First Aid Supplies
Unfortunately, injuries and illnesses can happen even on vacation, so it’s wise to have the basics with you. Dollar stores carry travel sized first aid supplies like bandaids and antiseptic cream as well as medicines like Advil and cough syrup. It’s always better to be over-prepared and not use your first aid stash than to have an accident occur and have no supplies on hand.
10. Trash Bags
If you boondock or dry camp, you will need to pack out all of your trash. RV garbage cans are often small, so it’s convenient to have large trash bags available where you can compile all your smaller bags and seal the smell away.
Trash bags also come in handy for many other applications. For instance, we use them to empty the solids bin of our composting toilet. We’ve also hung a trash bag from our rearview mirror while boondocking deep in the desert – don’t try that with bears around though!
11. Paper Towels
Chances are, something will spill, leak, or otherwise create a mess in your RV. While it’s more ideal to use a machine washable rag, that isn’t always practical while traveling, so paper towels are super handy. They can also be used as napkins, and used paper towels make great fire starters.
12. Hand Sanitizer
Hand sanitizer is always a good idea these days, and it can be particularly helpful in an RV. If you are dry camping and need to save water, you can sanitize your hands rather than washing them every time. Even if you are staying in a campground and using their bathroom, there’s no guarantee that there will be soap or hand sanitizer provided.
13. Dish Soap
Although you can greatly reduce dishwashing by using paper plates and plastic utensils, you will still most likely need to wash pots and pans and other cooking utensils. A travel sized dish soap is perfect for RV use.
Dish soap can also be used to wash stains out of clothes in a pinch or get grease off your hands if you need to poke around in the engine.
14. Plastic Food Containers
These plastic containers are super handy for packing food and storing leftovers. You can pack dry ingredients like pasta or rice from home or you can prep meals in advance to cut down on cooking duties while on vacation.
These containers can also be used to pack non-food items, like colored pencils, game pieces, and other easily lost bits and bobs. Or, you can use them for pet food and water, and then easily pop a lid on to prevent spills while driving.
15. Aluminum Foil
Aluminum foil is another dishwashing prevention method, since you can line baking pans with foil and then voila, the pan is still clean afterwards. You can also use foil to cook on a campfire or on a questionably clean campground grill. Almost anything is delicious when you wrap it in foil and toss it into some hot campfire coals to cook.
16. Dishcloth or Oven Mitt
Especially when you are cooking on a open fire or grilling, things get sooty and charred, which can ruin your nice oven mitts from home. With a few dish towels or oven mitts from the dollar store, you can grill out to your hearts content without worrying about ruining nice mitts.
17. Produce Hammock or Basket
Storage space is always tight in an RV, especially if you are packing for a big family on an extended trip. A produce hammock or basket allows you to keep your onions and apples from rolling all over the place and provides some convenient additional storage without cluttering your counter.
For almost two years, we kept our bananas piled into our kitchen utensil bin and our avocados in our saucepan, which was not ideal. We finally got a cheap basket that was designed to hang over a door and modified it to screw straight onto our wall. It has been a super convenient upgrade.
18. Velcro Ties
Things are always rattling around in an RV, and velcro strips are a perfect solution. You can use multiple strips together to secure large things or single strips to keep small things neat and tidy. We got a pack of about 200 and we use them for everything – tying our curtains, keeping charging cables coiled tidily, holding our table legs together to prevent rattling when they are stowed away…the list goes on.
19. Fly Swatter
Nothing will drive you insane faster than a fly trapped in your RV that buzzes around your face all night long. Take the sucker out with a handy dandy fly swatter.
We did not have screens on our windows for over two years, and after adding them, I don’t even know how we survived. There were always flies or bees or mosquitos or some other kind of flying pestilence invading our space and it was awful. Even with the screens, the occasional fly still sneaks in when the door is open, so the fly swatter maintains its usefulness.
20. Fan Mister
If you are camping somewhere warm and don’t have an air conditioner in your RV, you need a different way to stay cool. This fan mister was seriously the only thing that kept me alive when we spent last summer in Boulder, CO and it was over 90 degrees for a month straight. These are also nice to have even if you are lounging by a lake and need to cool off but don’t want to fully immerse yourself.
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Cat is originally from Seattle, WA but has traveled around the US and Canada full-time in a self-converted school bus with her boyfriend Aaron since April of 2018. She enjoys rock climbing, paddleboarding, hiking, and generally being outdoors!