Living the RV life is becoming increasingly popular in the United States. Individuals and couples of all ages are packing up and living out of their RV thanks for the ever more popular remote opportunities that this pandemic resulted. This may not be the easiest thing to do for everyone, which is why I had to put together these tips to give you some ideas to make the RV lifestyle as easy and fun as possible!
About Your RV
When you go to buy your RV, one of the things you want to think about is the layout. If you will be living in your camper full time, then you want to be sure to find an RV that suits your lifestyle and your needs.
Here are some things I found you can look for to make your living space feel most like a home.
Size doesn’t matter but layout does. Bigger is not necessarily better and will not necessarily feel bigger. You need to find a trailer that has everything so you have the space you need. You do not want to feel cramped.
One thing you can look for is a rig with a slide. These are typically designed so that they enlarge the living room while you are stationary but they are closed during travel.
Think about your “must haves” and the things you can live without. Do you need to be able to walk on both sides of our bed? Do you really want a bathroom right by the bed? Decide what you absolutely need and what you can live without.
Decide whether you want a motorhome, a larger 5th wheel or a simple tow-behind trailer. Keep in mind the type of vehicle you will be towing with and whether or not you want to deal with attaching/detaching your home all the time.
If you are living in a RV that is tied into the grid, that is wonderful. You will have endless electricity. But, if you are boondocking out in the boonies, then you will need to come up with some sort of power solution like a portable generator or solar power of some kind. Here are some ideas to help you with off-grid living.
- Many RVs come with a generator built-in, but if not, buy a quality generator. Consider if you have tools that will also be used that require higher draw of power because that might be requiring you to have a more powerful generator.
- Buy a battery charger to charge to the battery faster when your generator is on this will help the battery charge quicker.
- Buy LED lights to reduce your power consumption if your RV is not already equipped with these.
- Get solar panels to help save on running the generator. The panels will help to keep your batteries charged and if you get an inverter installed, you can use your power devices without the annoying noise of the generator. Solar panels are not expensive anymore, the most expensive part of this setup will be the batteries. Get help from an experienced solar consultant.
Water: Fresh, Black, and Gray
It is important to understand the different water tanks in your RV.
Fresh Water: Fresh water tanks vary in size and are used for showering, drinking, making coffee, cooking and doing dishes.
- Wipe your plates clean first then use small amounts of soap for your dirty dishes then rinse.
- Skip the daily or bi-daily showers and use navy showers
- Buy water containers or bladders to be able to fill for backup when needed
Black Water: This is one of the biggest pain points when it comes to living in a camper. Black water is anything that comes down from the toilet. Some helpful tips for dealing with black water include:
- Try peeing outside during the daylight hours to save you a lot of space in your black water tank.
- Be mindful of the amount of toilet paper you use to reduce the risk of having a clog develop at the valve. Or, use a small garbage can to throw the toilet paper in.
- When you’re out and about there are many opportunities to use a public restroom which will prevent your black water tank from filling up quickly.
- Be sure that your black water tank is actually emptying when you dump it.
- Fill the tank up before dumping it. It’s actually better to just dump it when it’s full that way there is no stink and that also helps your tank stay clean.
- Be aware that the sensor may get blocked, so you will need to rely on your personal experience. Toilets do “burp” when they get full.
- Flush out the black water tank and toilet at the dump station.
Grey Water: This includes anything from the shower, bathroom sink or kitchen sink. If you aren’t careful, your grey water will fill up much more quickly than your black water. Here are our tips for keeping your grey water tank as empty as possible.
Surprising or not, on most public lands actually is legal to let the gray water out. You need to check the actual area if you are legal to do it so, many has its own rules. If you are, please use natural soaps only and no strong chemicals. You have to also continuously let it flow as you are using it though, so it won’t stink. Gray water gets stinky fast if you collect it in the gray water tank and you only letting it out every few days. Don’t do that.
If there is no way to let the gray water out, you will just have to learn to use as little water as possible and you have the option to get your shower at a gym or a truck stop.
In The Kitchen
Cooking: Cooking your own food may not matter to you as such as it does to others. But for many RVers, it is essential. Here are our tips to make cooking and food preparation in your RV much easier.
- Keep meals simple. You should also pick meals with relatively few ingredients.
- Cook in bulk. For example, cook the entire 1-pound package of meat rather than half of it. For breakfast, you can use sausage or beef, potatoes and eggs, and cook the meat and potatoes in bulk. The next morning, half of the work is already done.
- Prep vegetables in bulk and put them in plastic containers in the fridge. Vegetables store quite a while so they rarely go to waste.
- Use a BBQ because there is usually less cleanup.
- Use an outdoor cooking stove to avoid too much mess and keep the heat out of the trailer in the summer.
- Invest in a pressure cooker. It cooks fast.
- Use a french press for coffee as no electricity is required and the product tastes just as great.
Dishware: If you love cooking and spending time in the kitchen, then it may be hard to live without your favorite appliances and dishes. Ideally, you want to keep the RV tidy and have as little in it as possible, which means giving up many of your favorite kitchen appliances. Here is what you can do to ensure you have what you need while also having realistic expectations.
- Have one set of dishes for each person, which includes big plates, small plates, bowls, wine glasses, mugs, silverware.
- Only include the things you use daily or weekly in the RV such coffee maker, salad bowls or mixers, can opener, measuring cup and anything else you frequently use. If you come across stuff you are not using, then you can get rid of it.
- Think twice before including glass dishes because the RV shakes on the road, things will break.
Food Storage: When living off grid it’s a great idea to have some sort of food storage. In the RV, it’s really hard to do this at all as the space is so minimal, but these tips for storing food, and staying organized, will come in handy when you can’t run out to the grocery store to restock.
- Keep everything organized in bins and organize them by spices, cans, things you use daily, snack storage and more. Choose bins that are aesthetically pleasing so that it feels more like a home than a RV.
- Canning is your friend and you will love it because you don’t need a freezer or fridge to store your food! Look into canning because it is definitely worth it, especially if you have access to free or low-cost produce.
- If you live in a small space bulk buying is in the past. You won’t have much space to store it. You want to make sure animals don’t smell and get into your food, store it in a secure box or cabinets.
With space in a RV being limited, it is important to stay organized. This helps keep the place tidy and you can quickly find what you need.
Try to put things in an intuitive place. Think about the flow of your lifestyle throughout the trailer and make sure items you use daily are easily accessible, and in a convenient location. Put kitchen-related items right by the kitchen. Put things you use outside right by the door. Don’t be afraid to change the location of things a couple of times. What matters is having things where you need them.
Shop for organization tools after analyzing the trailer. Rather than buying a bunch of bins and knick knacks before organizing your trailer, organize first and then go buy what you need to finish the job.
Bins are your friend, use them often. Almost every cabinets should have a bin in it. This is extremely helpful for taller cupboards when you can’t reach the back of them! All the food can go in bins which makes it easy to find what you need.
Clean up as you go, which is extremely important when living in small spaces. Clean up dishes immediately after eating, make the bed after getting up, put away clothes after wearing them, and put the laptops and chargers away so that they don’t add clutter.
Look online for organization stuff and ideas on how to organize your RV.
Clothing & Closet Space: When you live in a small space, you really need to pick over your wardrobe with a fine-toothed comb. If you’re accustomed to having your own 200 sq ft closet, you have a lot of work to do. It is time to get creative!
Be honest with yourself and think about what you actually wear during any given week. If you’re like most people, you only wear about 10% of your clothing in any given week, month or year. Try as hard as you can to only pack that 10% and put the rest in storage.
Don’t plan on going to dinner with the queen. You aren’t living that kind of lifestyle, so you can put those types of clothing in storage. If you really need to go get your nice clothing, you can go get it.
Pack according to the season. If it’s winter, you don’t need tank tops, shorts, dresses, or anything of that sort. If you have the space or are living in your trailer solo, you may be able to pack your seasonal clothing into bins under your bed. Basically, if you don’t Iar it, don’t make it accessible!
- Have warm clothing because these items are quality and critical to have on hand.
- Have a laundry bag that is easily accessible
- Keep laundry supplies in the car
Redefine your definition of clean. Unless you are getting filthy on a daily basis from head to toe, see if you can’t get away with wearing the same clothes at least a couple days in a row.
Keeping the Trailer Clean: Somehow, when you’re living in a RV, things get dirty quickly. You notice every detail when your home is small and too much dirt can make a place look unorganized and messy, so it is important to be clean.
Sweep daily with a compact broom. It folds up nicely to store it in the closet.
Wipe down all surfaces with a microfiber towel. A general rule of thumb is to try to clean dry, otherwise you just make mud.
Have a lot of rags on hand for cleaning up after dinner, and to wipe off random marks off the trailer walls and doors.
Have a small vacuum on board so as soon as there are any spills, you are ready to clean it up ASAP. You will need electricity for this or at least a generator to plug it into.
Leave your shoes at the door to reduce the dirt in your trailer.
Have a dirt-collecting doormat at the entrance to your trailer or RV deck. If you’re going to Iar your shoes in the trailer, at least knock the dust off of them first.
Where you sleep needs to be comfortable, to make sure you get good sleep. It also matters that the inside of a trailer is a comfortable temperature, and this will vary according to the climate you are in.
Sleep: I don’t care who you are… sleep is important. When you’re living in a RV, things can get tense at times due to the lack of space and also the weather will affect it. If it is windy it will rock you, if it is rainy it will be loud.
Buy a quality mattress, making sure to check the mattress dimensions in your trailer. Some trailers have shorter mattresses that need to be special ordered to fit.
Turn the heater down at night so you don’t have to listen to the sound of the heater kicking on. Just don’t turn it completely off so that your pipes don’t freeze in winter.
Have dark sheets to help hide some of the grit and grime.
Make your bed daily to make the trailer seem cleaner which will help keep you in a good mood.
Keeping Warm: When you are boondocking in a colder climate, there are some things you can do to winterize your RV while you’re living in it.
Use heat tape and try wrapping your hoses which should prevent them from freezing.
Insulate your carport with fiberglass and high density foam to keep the inside of the carport 20-30 degrees warmer than the outside.
Keep your heater at 50 degrees minimum which helps keep things from freezing.
Keep cupboards open that would normally hide things like plumbing and water tanks. You need all the heat you can get so be sure to leave all appropriate cupboards open so that the heat can infiltrate the area.
Remember to air out your trailer or you will have a lot of moisture accumulation. You can use heat to dry out your trailer a little bit but you also need proper air circulation for this to work..
Additional Tips to Consider
RV Protection: If you are planning on living in your camper trailer long-term in one place, then it could be a great idea to give it a little bit of climate protection. Dry rot in the front is not uncommon RVs are prone to leaks. To protect your RV, you can:
- Buy a portable RV garage which is much more sturdy than the average carport.
- Build a small shed or pole barn for your RV. If you’re able to get your hand on some reclaimed materials, or maybe you already have a pole barn available, then you’re good to go.
- Caulk the outside of your RV, especially if you have purchased your RV second-hand. It is a good idea to go along the seams of the outside of the trailer with caulk to help seal up the RV and prevent leakages.
Outside Your RV: If you’re living in your RV long-term, it may be a good idea to give some thought to the outside of your RV.
- Build a deck for your RV. Your deck can double as a frame for a portable RV garage or you can build just a simple, stand-alone deck. By having a deck, you have a place to set the garbage, kick off your shoes, put a doormat, etc.
- Have a quality doormat to keep all the first outdoors.
- Have a couple of camping chairs for a place to sit outdoors, especially for when guests come by.
- Have a place to store propane, water, and other outdoor stuff. Having a portable RV garage really helps with this because you can keep your stuff within some walls rather than just having it all piled outside of our RV.
Thanks for reading!
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