A place for everything…
We have discovered the one all-important guiding principle that more than anything determines the success or failure of an RV trip…
There needs to be a place for everything and everything should be in its place.
When we first began our RV travels, we took everything. Sometimes two of everything. Both Jennifer and I were so paranoid that we left something behind that we overcompensated.
Biggest Rookie Mistake for RVers
Our little 24 foot Class B RV looked like a scene out of that Hoarders reality TV show. You know, the one where people live in houses so cluttered that they had to make tunnels to move between the piles of junk.
We took too much food, too many clothes, too many folding chairs, too many pots, pans, and utensils. I had tools of every size and shape, fishing stuff, two bicycles, snorkeling gear, beach towels, workout bags, a pile of books, and all my computer, video, and camera gear.
We were bloated.
It didn't take long to realize that we were overcompensating for our lack of RV experience by overpacking.
It took forever to load the RV for a trip and even longer to haul everything out when we returned home.
How to Unclutter Your RV
Here's our advice on how to unclutter your RV from our experiences.
We now take two plates, two cups, two glasses (plastic), and, for the rare occasions when you may have a guest, some paper plates. Same with utensils, which are supplemented by some plastic spoons, forks, and knives. You don't need place settings for six.
As far as pots and pans, we bring one of each. We bring a small electric frying pan for cooking bacon and pancakes and a George Forman grill. We have a very small charcoal grill we sometimes pack in the storage area at the back. I have a small coffee maker.
For more practical tips, check out this article: How Do I Organize an RV Kitchen? Super Practical Answers.
The staples are pretty basic. Some olive oil, a jar of peanut butter, jam, bread, granola, yogurt, butter, crackers, cheese, meat, some fruit, and some snacks.
We eat a lot of salads. Jennifer will pre-pack the fixings in a zip lock bag at home and bring them.
We take no more than a three-day supply of food. It's easy and fun to shop locally on the road, getting fresh fruits and veggies. And we do eat out at local restaurants a lot. There is no better way to know an area than to eat where the locals do.
We take along a couple of jugs of water to refill our reusable water bottles. Then buy more on the road as needed.
We permanently keep jackets, sweats, and one good outfit in the wardrobe closet. We bring sandals, hiking boots and a presentable pair of slip ons. Jennifer also brings house slippers.
We have both come to really appreciate the small little packing cubes called eBags. Click that link to see Jennifer demo them. We each bring two, mine is blue, Jen's is red. We easily can get a five-day supply of all the clothes we need in them.
Hygiene and Shower Items
We permanently leave soap, bathroom supplies, hairbrushes, toothbrushes, and the like in the bathroom. A surprising amount fits in that pull-out drawer.
Organized Obie has these great organizers that attach to the wall to store bath items and much more. I also have a small knapsack that has extra soap and shampoo and a pair of flip flops that I carry when using a shower at a campground bathhouse. Jennifer has a tote bag with her stuff for campgrounds.
We make our coach bed up into a king bed each night and put a four-inch mattress topper on it that we picked up at Bed, Bath & Beyond. It is more comfortable than our Sleep Number bed at home.
On top of that, we put on the RV Superbag. Click that link and you'll see Jennifer demonstrate it. It has a summer side, a winter side, and luxuriously comfortable sheets that attach inside by Velcro. It's expensive. But we have found it incredibly comfortable and worth the storage space it requires.
We make up the bed each night and then put it away after we wake up. We like having the back area as a sofa/lounging area during the day.
I carry one small toolbox. In it are screwdrivers, pliers, a small hatchet that can double as a hammer, duct take, a tube of sealant, a small bottle of Gorilla glue, scissors, a good pocketknife and probably some other little odds and ends.
I keep the water hoses (two rolls of 25-foot white hose), electric hook up cables (two 25-foot lengths), a 50 to 30 amp adapter, a 25 foot 15-amp extension cord , a pair of gloves, and my water filter in a large plastic storage bin I got at Lowes.
Also in the back are some of those Lego-like leveling blocks, a fishing pole and small plastic tackle box, a ground cover for the patio area outside the sliding door, a small fold-up table, and our favorite camping chairs.
Computer and Photo Gear
I have a page that lists all the tech equipment I use to do these blog reports and videos and you can click here if you're interested in the details.
But basically, my still and video cameras, wireless microphones, and their respective chargers and accessories all go in one large bag.
I have a backpack for my computer gear that fits atop the bag in the same place. I bring several very small, collapsible tripods.
In a small storage drawer, I have flashlights, extra fuses, a small screwdriver with the square head used for most of the screws in my RV, a small pair of walkie-talkie two-way radios, pens, maps, and little things.
Extra Tips on How to Unclutter Your RV
So that's what we take with us. We leave as much as possible inside the coach when we're home so we don't have to keep loading and reloading the same things.
Instead of a pile of books, we read them from Kindle on the iPad.
We only take the bicycles when we know we'll be doing a lot of cycling. Snorkel gear stays home unless we absolutely know we will be snorkeling.
Just because we could use it doesn't meet the test we have set up for what to bring and what to leave: Take only what you are sure you will need. If in doubt, leave it home.
Something else that is important that, if not adhered to, can really clutter up your RV: Don't buy a lot of souvenirs while on the road. If you must, consider shipping such purchases to your home. If that's not possible, make sure you have room for them to be stored away out of sight.
Immediately Put Things Away When Done
When we are traveling, we have a rule that we both stick to religiously. When we are finished using it, we put it away.
We always put it in the same place. I can't over-emphasize the importance of that.
I bought a bunch of stick-on hooks that I have affixed to various walls around the coach. We use them for sweatshirts, hats and the like. At night, we each have one hook that we use to hang the clothing we'll put on the next morning.
Everything has a place, and everything goes in that place and that place only.
Organizational experts say that you should go through your home closet every year. Anything you haven't used in the last six months should be discarded. When it comes to an RV, anything you didn't use on your past trip should probably not be brought along on the next one.
That's our system, what works for us. I suppose it's a reflection of our personality. Neither one of us can stand clutter. And with hundreds of trips under our belts, things are very streamlined.
I'd love to hear how you have uncluttered your RV. Use the comments below to share.
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