I am an RV enthusiast with more than 50 years of experience owning, driving, traveling and living in recreational vehicles.
Let's face it: RVs do not have a lot of living space. Some are smaller and some are more well designed, but regardless of size, an owner who does not use the space he has efficiently is eventually going to feel claustrophobic.
This usually happens because owners become lured into thinking that their travel units are small apartments. This leads to overloading them to the point where possessions take over space that is meant for living.
Once the problem reaches this point, people feel they can no longer function normally in their recreational vehicles. When this happens many sell their units and give up RVing for good.
However, before taking such a drastic step, individuals should find ways to deal with the problem because this can save them a huge amount of money and give them the opportunity to enjoy RV vacations again.
Resolving the Problem
Maximizing the space in an RV may seem as though it can be easily to do, but it is not as simple to do as some might think.
- You can't just toss everything out because you will need many of the items you keep on board in order to be comfortable.
- On the other hand, if you keep all of them, the problem will continue, and you will become increasingly unhappy.
Finding middle ground is the answer but knowing what that is can be very difficult.
Below are some things to consider that may resolve the problem.
If you've owned your RV for a while, you likely have found that over time you have added increasing numbers of things to it.
Even though you may have downsized in the past, it may be time to do so again.
You may not want to do this, but it’s a good way to deal with RV space limitations.
The attached video has some great ideas you may want to consider.
If your coach has basement storage, excess items there.
If you are living full time in an RV, you can also rent a storage unit that is located close to your campsite to do the same job.
You may also (if permitted to do so) buy a small storage building to keep on your site.
Always put daily use items out of site immediately after using them to make your living area seem larger than it actually is.
Use Storage Containers
I learned a long time ago that using plastic storage containers that are all the same size, can stack, are clear, are unbreakable and don't weigh much are an RV traveler's best friend.
I like the ones made by Gladware because they are so sturdy. I've had mine for years and use them for everything from storing dry foods and sewing items to small tools.
Their uses really are unlimited, and they are the perfect storage item because if they fall out of a closet, they don't break, they can be refrigerated or frozen, and they let you see what is in them.
Use Storage Baskets
Other good choices are plastic baskets of various sizes. I use small, square ones and long narrow ones in my medicine cabinet, medium sized ones in my pantry for canned goods, and sometimes the medium ones in my refrigerator as well.
No matter the size, all of these containers are easy to keep clean, inexpensive to buy and are great for organizing items while providing easy access.
Use Large Plastic Bins
You can also use large, lidded plastic bins for basement storage of items such as sporting equipment, chemicals, and cleaners.
They don’t cost much but are extremely durable. I also like the fact that they provide protection against rain and flooding in an RV basement.
These items serve a variety of purposes and do a good job of storing and protecting things. They certainly are worth considering if you wish to do a better job of organizing and using the interior space in your coach.
Install a Washer/Dryer Combo
If your unit is plumbed for a washer/dryer combination unit, you should install one because having the use of an appliance like this goes a long way towards saving space and reducing clutter.
Many people think they take up too much space, but the truth is that keeping dirty clothes bags and damp towels hanging around an RV takes up room and makes a coach smell bad.
How to Install and Use an RV Washer Dryer Combo provides good information about these units that can help you to decide if having one will work for you.
Pack and Load More Efficiently
How to Load and Pack Your RV for Safety and Comfort provides important information that can help you to prepare your coach for travel and eliminate clutter.
How to Make Your RV More Livable is another article you should read because it is loaded with advice about properly allocating space.
The bottom line here is that you understand that you must limit the number of items you keep on board and use the ones you travel with judiciously..
You should also use space saving products such as the ones listed below.
Dishes can waste a lot of space and also add a good deal of weight to a coach. This doesn't mean you can't keep them on board, but it does mean that you should avoid heavy bulky and breakable types such as stoneware.
Instead, you should use Corelle which is made by Corningware. You can buy an inexpensive service for six but only take a service for four with you. Then you will find that you have a set of dishes that weigh less, take up much less room, won't break, and will serve most of your needs.
We have used the same set of Corelle for as long as we've been on the road and just love it. They look great, are easy to handle and are really durable. I love that you can stack all but the cups in one corner of one upper closet, thus leaving room for other items.
You can always supplement with paper and plastic if need be because these items are easily replaceable and are great to use when you entertain guests.
The point here is that while every RVer needs to keep dishes on board, they shouldn't overdo!
Here are some other good products that are inexpensive and save space.
Use Cabinet and Refrigerator Bars
Years ago my large pill container fell out of our RV refrigerator when my husband and I stopped in a rest area to have lunch. The contents went everywhere, and it took me hours to pick them up, sort them and put them back.
I swore after that that I would never have that problem again, so I began doing some research.
Like many RVers, I didn’t know that there was a product on the market that could keep things like this from happening.
Until I found the fix, this problem was continually creating messes and sometimes damaging my coach’s cabinets, upholstery, and flooring.
Once I discovered refrigerator bars, my problems were over.
Refrigerator bars come in packs of three, are extremely sturdy, are expandable, and are the best way to keep refrigerated food in place while traveling.
The ones I have always used are manufactured by Camco. This was the first company that produced them, but now there are others as well. Mine have held up beautifully for years, so I stick with this brand.
They are extremely easy to use because they are adjustable and have rubber tips on the ends.
You simply adjust them to the correct width and slide them into place. No RVer should ever travel without them!
No matter which brand you buy, one package of three is not quite enough, so buy two sets to make sure your refrigerated food supply is well protected.
While it’s possible to use short curtain rods for this job, they are not nearly as sturdy, bend easily and will rust over time. You won’t see these problems with Camco refrigerator bars.
This company also produces cabinet bars which essentially serve the same purpose. They come in brown or white and can be used to keep items you store in the kitchen or bathroom cabinets in place.
This is important because using them allows you to stack things higher so that you can have more room for the items you need to carry with you.
Buy a Small, Folding Step Stool
Many years ago my husband and I came across the EZ Foldz Step Stool. It is likely the handiest thing one can have when traveling. It was the first one of its type that we had ever seen, and we still use it today.
Now there are similar designs of step stools available, and although I have not personally seen any of them (didn't need to, I don't need another step stool), I'm sure any of them would do the same job.
There are also many styles of small step stools on the market, but this one folds up flat, is unbelievably stable and sturdy and serves many purposes. These things make it perfect for RV use.
- I use it to put my feet on when we’re on the move.
- My husband uses it to stand on when he’s washing our RV windows or to sit on when he is using items from our basement bins.
- It’s great to stand on to reach upper kitchen shelves, too.
I honestly don’t know what I’d do without it.
After using it for a while during RV trips, we decided to buy this product to use at home. We quickly found that it is just as handy there as it is in our motor home.
This is another product we give as gifts to our loved ones because we know it is safe for them to use and also very easy to handle and store.
You can actually hang it on a wall hook or slide it in beside a cabinet in the kitchen for easy access.
Some step stools are large, heavy and awkward to handle, but not this one. As a person who suffers from Arthritis, I always prefer to buy products that are smaller and lighter, and my EZ Folding Step Stool meets those requirements.
Install RV Cargo Trays
Another space saver is an aftermarket addition most people can purchase for their coaches that really helps with organization issues.
We added the one made for RVs that is produced by Stromberg Carlson that has made all the difference for us in controlling what we take as well as being able to access the items easily.
There are a number of brands and types out there, but it is important to make sure that you get the one that is the right size and weight for your coach and is also strong enough to hold the items you wish to use it for.
We researched for some time before buying this particular tray because we wanted to make sure it suited our needs. Not all brands are the same, so if you decide to buy a cargo tray, choose carefully.
This one was a bit pricey, but we feel it was worth every penny.
Free Up Your Space and Enjoy
You should remember that when you're on the road, your recreational vehicle is your home. You spend a good deal of time in it and need to choose what you carry with you carefully.
There is no reason to avoid keeping items on board that enhance your RV travel experiences, but there also is no reason to overload your coach with items you really don't need and probably won't use.
The space saving ideas and products I have discussed here have helped my husband and me to avoid feeling claustrophobic and have saved us a lot of time and work.
They have made the quality of our RV trips better and will do the same for you if you give them a try. The trick is to maximize the living area in your RV without sacrificing comfort.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2017 Sondra Rochelle
Sondra Rochelle (author) from USA on December 03, 2017:
Kari Pulsen: Thanks. Even though it's too late for them, you may have friends or other relatives who RV who would like to have some of these things. Thanks for stopping by.
Kari Poulsen from Ohio on December 02, 2017:
These are great ideas! I wish I had read this while my parents were still rving. :)
Sondra Rochelle (author) from USA on November 21, 2017:
Hi Shyron, I only know that as an RVer myself, I love having these items! Nice to see you again. Thanks for stopping by.
Shyron E Shenko from Texas on November 21, 2017:
Hello Sondra, some neat ideas for RVers.
Blessings my friend