How to Make Your RV More Livable

Updated on May 18, 2019
TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

I have traveled extensively throughout the US for many years and enjoy helping people to make the most of their RV vacations.

If you want to make your RV more livable, you need to learn the best methods for using the space in it because no matter how big or small it is, you will never feel that there is enough room for you and your belongings if you don't do this!

Most RVers will agree that if they could find ways to increase the storage and living areas in their campers, travel trailers and motorhomes, they’d definitely would take advantage of them.

However, overloading a coach, regardless of its size, is never a good idea. Thus it's important to understand that it is what you do with your travel unit that makes the difference in how comfortable you will be when using it.

Below are some ideas that can help.

Advice that will help RVers be more comfortable when they are using their travel units.
Advice that will help RVers be more comfortable when they are using their travel units. | Source

Limit Possessions

The best way to make your RV more livable is to limit the number of things you keep in it. If you overload, you find that you don't have room to put everything and, before long, your coach looks like a claustrophobic garbage dump.

Here are a few good rules of thumb for people who want to enjoy living and traveling in their coaches:

  • take only what you need when you vacation,
  • carry items that have multiple uses,
  • avoid unnecessary gadgets and
  • eliminate one item for every new item you buy.

Take Only What You Need

There are literally thousands of things people can buy for RV travel use, but in truth, you really don’t need most of them.

If you pack according to the type of vacation you plan to take, you can reduce your load significantly.

For example, if going to a warm climate for a few weeks, you won’t need heavy coats, boots or hats, but if traveling to Alaska, you’ll definitely need to take such items with you.

If you keep the size of your coach, where you will be going, what type of weather conditions you’ll be facing and the types of activities you expect to do in mind, it will be easy to stick to the basics.

However, you always will have to pack basic tools, linens, household goods and cleaning items regardless of your vacation plans. Avoid duplication of these items, and you’ll be fine.

Take Advantage of Multiple Use Items

One of the best ways to save space is to outfit a recreational vehicle with multiple use items.

Doing this takes a keen eye and a creative mind but really helps to cut down on the number of items people need to have in their coaches.

For example, one under cabinet coffee pot can do take the place of several pots when cooking if you use it simply to boil water and keep it warm. I use mine to make instant mashed potatoes, hot drinks, Jello and even for making hot cereal. It’s a ready source of hot water that you can even use for making instant soups and similar dishes.

I have one that is manufactured by Black and Decker in my motor home that does all of the above-mentioned things and more. The more I use it, the more ideas I come up with for it. The good news is that it doesn’t take up any cabinet, counter or cupboard space in my galley.

If you can find one appliance or one tool that will do the job of two, you save space but still have what you need!

Great Space Saving Ideas

Avoid the Gadget Trap

Even the most experienced RVers sometimes fall into the trap of feeling that they need to carry certain tools “just in case something might happen”.

For example, some carry air compressors with them because they worry about getting flat tires. These are heavy, bulky tools that really aren’t necessary because people usually have roadside assistance policies such as the one offered by Good Sam Club that pays for tire changes and towing.

Obviously it’s important to keep certain items on board, but since storage space and weight are limited, travelers need to weight the value of having rarely used or duplicate items on board against the problems doing so might create.

Buy a Wider RV

If you don't already own an RV or are thinking of trading in the one you have, the best way for you to increase living space is either to buy a wide-body travel unit or one that has slides.

  • The average RV width is 96 inches, but it can go as high as 102 inches.
  • If you buy the widest coach, an extra 6 inches may not seem like much, but if a unit is 35 feet long a true wide-body coach will add an extra 17.5 feet to the living area.

There are many benefits to buying a wide body, but the problem is that they are hard to find.

If you buy a coach with slide rooms, you should be aware that while they do provide more area when a coach is parked, they also take up huge amounts of interior space when it is in motion. In fact, when slides are closed, they barely leave enough room for walking, and they can also block access to certain areas of the coach.

If you want to increase living area by purchasing either type of coach, you'll have to decide whether the increased living space while stationary is worth sacrificing travel comfort while you're on the move.

Buy an RV That Has Basement Storage

Units that come with extra storage areas located beneath the main living area of a coach are a must for people who want to expand their living spaces. This is where you can pack items such as tools, hoses, electrical wires, fishing gear, lawn chairs, cleaning products and other bulky products that would take up too much room inside of the coach.

Using crates and large plastic containers keeps things organized, and if you find a unit that has basement slide-out trays, access to these items becomes much easier. In some situations, you can add slide-out trays if your unit does not come with them. They are well worth having!

An example of a wide body RV that is decorated in light colors.
An example of a wide body RV that is decorated in light colors. | Source

Buy an RV Decorated In Light Colors

A travel units that is decorated with light colors will seem more spacious than the exact same model that is done in darker colors.

It's an optical illusion, but it makes a huge psychological difference for travelers because they "feel" like they have more room!

Eliminate "Fat” Furniture

Many units come with multiple sofas and at least one overstuffed chair or a chair with an ottoman.

Opting for one thin, sleek sofa (rather than keeping one or two overstuffed ones) and eliminating the overstuffed chair and replacing it with a sleek recliner chair with no ottoman will make much more room without sacrificing comfort.

Sofa sleepers made especially for use in RVs also have built-in storage areas that are great to use for bulky articles such as toilet paper, water bottles and similar items. If you can find one with a slide out drawer rather than a lift up seat, all the better because this is much more convenient.

It is always a mistake to replace an RV sofa with a household sofa because they are too deep, don't convert to beds and don’t have extra storage areas.

Another way to make more room is to replace an eating booth with a table and chair set. While this will make your living area bigger, it can also reduce storage space because many booths have built in areas beneath the seats that can hold many items. Also, booths can convert to beds, so you would lose that option by switching, which may be a problem if you travel with more than two people.

Choose Furniture With Built-in Storage

Sofas are not the only furniture items that have built-in storage. Well-designed eating booths and beds provide this amenity as well. While it's true that booths take up more space than tables and chairs, they also provide extra storage.

Upholstering booths in thinner materials (such as vinyl and thinner padding) can still provide the storage option while at the same time adding a bit more space to a coach.

This sofa converts to a bed and also has pull out storage beneath the seat.
This sofa converts to a bed and also has pull out storage beneath the seat. | Source

Opt for Hard Flooring

RV manufacturers used to install plush, light-colored carpets in coaches, but people found them difficult and time consuming to keep clean. Although they provide a certain amount of warmth in a coach, they also make it look smaller.

These days, many people are tearing out their carpets and replacing them with vinyl or laminate floors which are easier to care for and make coach interiors appear larger. A Review of the Most Popular RV Floor Coverings explains more about this option.

If you want the look of carpet, you can always add area rugs, which will still provide the benefits of hard flooring while making the interior of your unit more homey.

Eliminate Fancy Window Treatments

Day/night shades, heavy curtains and thick valances all make RVs seem smaller.

  • If you get rid of them and replace them with thinner products such as glossy aluminum mini blinds, you get the same benefits along with products that are easier to care for.
  • If you redo the valances with smooth, shiny fabrics or materials, you'll get a sleek, clean look that will really open your coach up.

A big benefit of doing this is that materials such as these are durable and easy to keep clean. They also look great!

Using lidded, plastic, stacking containers such as those sold by Gladware is the best way to store dry foods.
Using lidded, plastic, stacking containers such as those sold by Gladware is the best way to store dry foods. | Source

Use Space Savers

The products you use to help you organize your closets, drawers and refrigerator are extremely important because they can double your internal storage areas.

For example, my husband and I use plastic baskets of all sizes.

  • Big ones, such as laundry baskets, go into basement storage areas.
  • Medium-sized baskets fit into drawers and closets and hold underwear, socks and T-shirts.
  • Small ones are great for medicine cabinets because they keep small items from falling over and spilling.

We also use Gladware lidded plastic containers to hold dry food products because they protect the food, stack easily and avoid spillage. They are also good for holding other items such as office products, sewing items and even dryer sheets! I have tried other brands but they simply are not as durable as Gladware. The containers I have I have used literally for years!

Use Your RV Living Area Wisely

It's very easy to let the lack of living space overwhelm you when RVing, but you can avoid this problem simply by following the advice in this article.

When you give yourself some breathing space, you find that you are living better when you travel and enjoying your vacations more.

Do you think the advice in this article will help you to enjoy your RV vacations more?

See results

© 2017 Sondra Rochelle

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