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Organizing your RV in the New Year: 7 Tips and Tricks to Maximize Space
New Year, New You! Well..... more like New Year, Same You with some lofty goals to make it a healthy and efficient 2022! I started out the new year with a very exciting purchase... a new RV! We LOVED our little 17 foot travel trailer, but it was time to stretch out a bit and get a little more space! I'll be taking you on a tour of the new rig soon, but for now, I wanted to share some ways we keep tidy and orderly in a small space in case organization is one of your resolutions! It's great timing to be very intentional about how we set up each room of the RV to maximize the space and minimize the clutter.
1. Take Inventory. Then do it again. Even if you're not living in your RV full-time, living minimally is the ticket to a successfully organized rig. Before you allow an item in your space, ask yourself the question--- do you NEED it? (Sadly, this is a different question than "Do you like looking at this item because it's cute?") This question should be asked all the time as your needs change. Things we thought we desperately needed when we started this full-time RV journey have since been purged and donated along the way. As your family changes and your travel style evolves, you'll realize that less really is more. Organizing your space is exponentially easier when the stuff you want goes away and the stuff you need gets placed into a permanent place in your home. Quick litmus test: When is the last time you needed this item? Was it recently? Nah? Get rid of it.
2. One in, One Out. If you've followed this blog for a while, you're familiar with our rule which is shared by many RV families: One in, One out. If you buy a folding camping chair that's on great sale and comfier than your old rusting one....... Guess what? The old uncomfy rusty one needs to GO! I know it's still usable. I know it might come in handy if your cousin and her four kids meet up with you later next summer at that one park near her home and maybe you'll use it. Just purge. Give yourself permission to take control of your space and the quality of the items you allow in your space. Go ahead.... get the good one of whatever it is! Buy the new cookie sheet that isn't warped! Buy the new drill bits that are shiny and new! THEN GET RID OF THE DUPLICATES! Just do it. (Hey, you! How many toothbrushes do you have? If the answer isn't ONE.... please re-read the above.)
3. Dual Purpose Items, Please! Not every item has multiple purposes, of course, but we love when a plan comes together and the items we lug around the country with us can perform more than one function. Our big mason jars in the kitchen, for example, are serving dishes for when we have company, drinking glasses, smoothie storage, flower vases, and occasionally the container for laundry quarters! I think back to my big house with a cabinet that was specifically for all my flower vases..... mind-blowing. (I had at least a dozen.) Multi-purpose items that can double function for storage when not in use are key to maximizing your small space.
4. Customize your nooks and crannies! RV manufacturers do their best to design spaces that fit most families, but you know your needs the best! Don't be afraid to re-engineer 'dead' space, add shelving to large open spaces that would be better suited to compartments, or remove compartments if you need open space!
Compartments for folding chairs, drying racks, and bins in passthrough storage
5. Think Vertical! With counter space at a premium in any RV style, it pays off to think vertically! How can you use a blank wall for a pocket organizer, or the back of the door for a hanging shoe rack? This is a style I would have probably never embraced in my sticks and bricks home, but has become a reality of tiny RV living. We've mounted objects like our TV sound bar, dehumidifier, cable box, pet temperature monitor, and other items to keep them off the counters and floors and organized in their spot.
6. Travel Day = Well Oiled Machine. I'd highly recommend optimizing the organization in your rig for travel day. What would be your perfect scenario for where everything goes while you're driving down the road? It's taken some practice, (and some patience from my partner!) but at this point without exception every single thing we own has a very specific place for when we travel. My instinct was to throw things in a drawer to deal with them at a later time when I'm rushed for time and trying to hook up and drive. The truth is.... junk drawers just don't work in such a minimalist environment. Each pin for the sway bars, each kitchen countertop gadget, and each item that is usually free standing on the floor has a set travel position. There is never a question when we arrive where our belongings live, but more importantly, there is never an item that gets tossed around the RV as a projectile if we didn't anticipate the travel day routine. This advice is the most boring, and the hardest to stick to, but I'd urge you to look around your space for an object that has multiple places it lives. If your remote control is sometimes in the cupholder, and sometimes in the cushion, and sometimes in a drawer.... change your system. Change your life.
7. Tidy Every Day. In my old home, I had tricks to help me avoid this! I could put dishes in the dishwasher and throw my clothes in the laundry room and shove clutter into closets and not have to see any of it when it was time to go to bed. RV living is much more.... in your face. If you aren't sweeping the sand and dirt and grass out of your RV every single day, it becomes quickly unmanageable! Dishes in the sink from one day to the next not only invite crawly things, but also.... most RV travelers don't have dinner service for 24 onboard-- you'll need those cereal bowls soon! Tiny living means that every inch is on display and likely needed as functional space at all times. Having your surfaces tidied once a day is an easy way to de-stress your life. My partner and I have devised a system that just kind of evolved.....before bed, he washes the dishes and puts them out to dry while I clear away items from the counter and do the laundry management from the day. Any electronics, remote controls, empty cans, dog leashes, whatever-- it all gets put into its place so the next day can start in a functional space.
How do you feel about your RV organization? There are so many items you can purchase to help you give every single item in your home a tidy place. Do you have any favorites? Do you take a different approach? Do you find yourself thinking, "Listen, Type A Lady! That seems like overkill and our system works just fine!" We'd love to hear what works for you down in the comments! Please consider subscribing in the green box below so you never miss a post!