Moving into an RV or other small space can be intimidating. The obvious solution to tiny living is to have less stuff. But, that’s not very helpful for this article, is it? Let’s focus on real solutions that can help you organize your lifestyle when on the road. This, my friend, is how tiny living hacks for RV life can elevate your adventures.
You don’t need to toss your stuff out! Read on and find clever ideas for how to improve the available space in your RV, no matter how small the space.
My Experience Living in Tiny Homes
Having lived for years in an RV, I have first-hand experience organizing small spaces, and smaller spaces. We’re talking tiny living.
I have lived in a camper van, a 23-foot travel trailer, and now a 40-foot motorhome. No matter the living area, we seem to fill it up. Then we always find ways to improve on how we organize our living space.
So no matter your floor plan, I’m confident some of our best tiny living tips will help you make the most of your RV living.
And if you’re like us, working on the road, you may also be interested to find inspiration for designing a great RV office space.
How to Save Space in an RV
Now I know that I started this article by saying we’re not focused on tossing things out. But, please allow me to make one quick suggestion. Purge duplicate items.
Purge Duplicate Items
Many RVers have a “one in, one out” policy. This allows them to manage the total amount of stuff they own and keep in their RV.
It not only helps reduce clutter, but also keeps your total RV weight under control. Trust me, weight creep is real!
So go ahead and treat yourself to that shiny new espresso maker. Because ahh yes, there is nothing quite like enjoying fresh brew on a brisk morning outdoors. But, before you depart on your next road trip, remove the other coffee makers in your RV. Be honest, how many do you have stashed away in there?
Beyond limiting and managing your accumulation, you can work smarter, not harder. The following space-saving ideas will help you utilize your available space as efficiently as possible.
Related Reading: Best Coffee Maker for RV Living
Anything and everything that can nest, should nest. From plates, dishes and cups, to storage containers and dog bowls, use all available vertical space. You can store five bowls in the same space it takes for one, if they nest well.
This will create amazing space savings. Choose wisely and pick food storage containers that nest into a compact unit to suit a tiny lifestyle.
Vacuum Seal and Compression Bags
Vacuum seal bags are especially helpful if you have bulky stuff you don’t use often. Sometimes referred to as “space bags,” these compression bags save space by removing air from both the bag and its contents.
Everything gets squished down as small as possible and the amount of storage you need is reduced significantly.
I prefer using simple compression travel bags that don’t actually require a vacuum. You just roll the bag and the air is pushed out of a one-way seal.
We store extra blankets, winter coats, and ski gear in these compression bags. This stuff usually only comes out during the cold of winter, but we really like to have it when we need it.
It’s easier to justify keeping these items thanks to compression bags that enable us to reduce the amount of storage space used.
Any time you cannot make efficient use of the amount of vertical space you have, add a shelf.
We use free-standing, moveable shelves in our kitchen cabinets and under the kitchen sink. This way, we can stack dinner plates on the shelf, and store all of our cups below.
By using the shelf, we effectively double the amount of available storage area. Simple wire shelves do the trick. They’re particularly handy because it’s easy to move them to a new location if needed.
Under Bed Storage
Whether or not you have empty space under your bed, using low-height storage boxes with lids are a nice option to help maximize available storage space.
These stylish, fabric-sided boxes look nice and create organized use of otherwise unusable space. Perhaps you have a gap of space under your couch or under a chair where these would fit perfectly.
We use hooks for everything! And we have all kinds of hooks for different applications throughout the motorhome. For general use, we like the 3M Command hooks that can easily be removed without damaging our RV walls.
A more specialty item, we found hooks that are tailored made for hanging hats. They work so well that the hats stay put even on bumpy drive days. They can also be used to hang light bags with smaller strings as well as lanyards.
And over-the-door hooks can create space on the inside of cabinets, or make a coat rack on the back of a door.
I highly recommend a collapsible storage ottoman. This is such a versatile multi-use item, it can be used as a seat, a footrest, a coffee table, and a good storage space. This is a real game changer in many tiny spaces.
This versatile ottoman has storage space inside and is padded on top, which makes it useful as an extra chair. It also folds flat for storage when needed. An all around great idea for RV living.
In small spaces, the goal is to utilize any and every blank space you can, like under a dinette bench seat. We have a full-time RV friend who even has a couch with storage inside. Basically, leave no blank space empty.
Space-saving strategies may be the first hero of tiny living, but they’re nothing without organization. Everything must have a place.
Without extreme organization, you will go crazy searching for the simplest of things in your small space. Below are some of our favorite tried-and-true organization strategies and products.
Clear Plastic Containers
Clear plastic containers in various shapes and sizes can help keep similar things together, while also making it easy to see what’s in the bin. We keep cleaning supplies in one, office supplies in another, and all our spices in a small one.
We use clear plastic bins we purchased from the Container Store and have not been disappointed. They can help you subdivide larger storage spaces, which maximizes what you can fit in, without losing efficiency.
These ingenious little pieces of plastic make it easy to find what you need, and they also allow you to pack the spaces a little fuller than without them.
We use them in our drawers to separate socks, undies, swimsuits, etc. They’re cheap and easy to install. Plus, I love keeping the drawers tidy and organized. I always know where are things are located and it’s easier to keep the space clean. And cleanliness is another key aspect of being able to enjoy tiny home living.
We have been using drawer dividers for years and they’re a great RV accessory.
If your tiny space also has tiny storage spaces, then drawer organizers can be beneficial to better organize a cabinet or drawer. You may think there’s no need to purchase a tray to hold things that can easily go straight into the drawer. The benefit is keeping things organized.
That makes it easier to find and a lot simpler to keep the drawers clean. Cleanliness and tidiness make life in a tiny home more enjoyable.
We use drawer organizers in our bathroom medicine cabinet. They keep items organized so it’s easy to find what we’re looking for. As a bonus, the trays also prevent things from shifting or falling during travel.
Stacking Storage Crates
If you’re lucky enough to have a larger space for storage of bulkier items, consider purchasing a set of durable plastic storage boxes. Look for crates that are collapsible that you can also stack sturdily for good use of vertical space.
Also, we prefer square or rectangle shapes with straight-edge walls for maximum utilization of the space. Beware of round storage containers, rounded edges, or angled side walls, they all eat up your storage space.
Additional Recommendations for Tiny Living
Last but not least, here are a few less common tiny living hacks I’ve personally witnessed other RVers doing.
Once you start spending time with all your stuff in your small space, you’ll bump up against the pain points and maybe come up with some unique hacks of your own.
Know that it’s okay to feel into your space and what rises as important to you. You don’t have to get it perfect before you even move in. We all have different priorities and unique ways of accommodating them.
I hope you enjoy this grab bag of ideas to help get you started with creative solutions of your own.
We don’t have this yet, but many of our full-time RV friends have a hanging fruit basket. Notice this lands square in the center of our tip to optimize the use of vertical space.
Similar models come as a true fruit hammock. Either way, prices are generally pretty reasonable and this is a great use of vacant wall space or under-cabinet space. Plus, no one needs oranges rolling all over the countertop causing chaos.
We met one RVer who uses a lazy susan inside her fridge. This portable food carousel allows her to utilize the full depth of her fridge. We typically just forget about the stuff in the back until it rots.
But her idea is much better, so try a lazy susan in your fridge. May the cheese in the back of your fridge never be forgotten again.
Swap your laundry basket for a laundry bag. We’re always looking for things that collapse and store away small when not in use. Find a laundry bag that can also hang on the back of a door as yet another space-saving strategy. Win, win.
And don’t stop at the laundry bin, look for soft-sided collapsible options for anything you can, from coolers to storage crates.
A shampoo bar is about the same size as a regular bar of body soap. One bar lasts for approximately 80 shampoos. That’s equivalent to using nearly three bottles of liquid shampoo.
Needless to say, using shampoo bars are not only a great space-saving idea, but also good for the planet.
Another outdoor enthusiast writer at TREKKN uses Viori rice-based shampoo and conditioner bars. Although it takes a bit of time getting used to using bars instead of liquid, this is an amazing brand. It smells incredible.
And, there is essentially zero waste. Check the packaging in the picture below. Both shampoo and conditioner are wrapped in paper instead of a large plastic bottle.
One suggestion I have for you is to shut off the shower while combing the conditioner through your hair. So while you’re saving space in your RV, you’re also saving water. Another win-win tiny living tip.
In case it’s helpful and you’re interested in learning more about shampoo bars, Byrdie compares a list of other shampoo bar brands. Consider trying one of their recommendations.
This is another swap we haven’t made yet, but so many RVers swear by Turkish towels instead of traditional bath towels. Not only do Turkish towels dry much faster than regular bath towels, they also take up much less space.
Whether they’re hanging on a hook or being stored in a cabinet, they’re less bulky. If you have a lot of people in your small space, the savings across many towels could really add up.
They are a great value.
Unleash Tiny Living Hacks on Your Cozy RV Space
We hope these tiny living hacks have you feeling armed and ready to tackle your tiny space. A little bit of strategy and organization will go a long way toward creating a peaceful experience in a small space.
We tried not to buy more stuff to move into an RV, but truthfully some of these storage and organization tools improved our ability to utilize space more efficiently.
Best wishes for your tiny lifestyle adventure with these helpful hacks to get you on track!
Kristen Bates lives & works from her RV, primarily boondocking off-grid. She owns and operates a women-led travel company, Legit Trips. Kristen loves to explore new places and inspire others to do the same. If she’s not typing away on her laptop, she’s off on an adventure- hiking, biking, or SUP boarding. You can follow her RV adventures @PerpetualMoves and learn more about her travel company at LegitTrips.com.