Hacking Our RV Storage

Clothes and school work organized in storage cupboards inside Brittnee Proha's Heartland Cyclone.

When we first hit the road with our family of seven, we started out in a 37-foot Heartland Mallard. We quickly realized we needed a bit more space, so we transitioned to a 45-foot Heartland Cyclone. Over the past three years on the road, we’ve picked up a few tips for how to make the most of RV space and storage, no matter how much you have.

Clothes

When it comes to storing clothes for all our kids and the different seasons, we highly suggest getting vacuum saver bags. Put your off-season clothes in vacuum-sealed bags and store them under your bed––vacuuming all the extra air out compresses the clothes down so much. You’ll be shocked at how much smaller those bags get. Then, when the seasons start to change, make a ritual of getting the bags out and swapping your wardrobes, putting last season’s clean clothes into storage.

Another pro-tip, especially for full-time RVers: the RV community is filled with families, so if you need to get rid of clothing your child has outgrown, or you’re looking for a new item like a winter coat or boots, ask around your campground. We’re always able to find families to give good condition clothing to, and the community is so generous.

Food and Kitchen Appliances

Evaluate your small appliances. Keeping a few more appliances on hand may make sense––what you sacrifice in storage, you save in money by cooking at home. If you’re a part-time RVer, you may not need all the same amenities of home, in which case you can prioritize which appliances you pack. We recommend buying a second version of whatever appliance you like to use at home to keep just for the RV. So instead of packing your Instant Pot from your home kitchen, invest in a second one that lives in the RV. That way, you’ll never forget to bring it, and you don’t have to worry about moving things back and forth for shorter trips.

When it comes to organizing food, we love using see-through canisters to store basic items like flour, sugar, rice and snack items the kids can just grab. Inexpensive plastic baskets can help you organize other food items by type. You can also use baskets to organize by meal, like putting pasta, tomato sauce and shelf-stable Parmesan cheese in one place for spaghetti night. Regardless of how you organize, using baskets and containers help keep food in place when your RV is in motion, so you don’t open up your pantry or cabinets to a mess.

Toys, Crafts and Schoolwork

Staying organized is doubly important when you live in a tiny home, and kids aren’t known for being naturally neat and tidy. We converted our toy hauler garage space into a bedroom for the kids, and added cabinets for storing books, craft stuff and school supplies. Every item goes back to its designated place at the end of the day to keep our small space clean and peaceful.

Bath Supplies

Kids get dirty like nothing else, and bath items tend to be smaller and can go flying all over the place when the RV is in motion. If items fall loose in your cabinets and your cabinets pop open while you’re driving, items can get caught under slides, which can cause a lot of damage to your RV. To keep everything contained in the bathroom, we use small modular storage containers. For instance, toothbrushes and toothpaste get stored together. Shower supplies for adults and kids go in one bin. Containers come in all shapes and sizes, so you can buy something for all your storage needs, from bobby pins to washcloths to first aid items.

Decor

We love to make our RV feel as comfortable and homey as possible. We like to keep holiday decor on hand to mark the seasons. It’s important to us to celebrate and be festive, especially during the winter holidays. Since we have limited storage space, in the off-season, we keep holiday decor in a plastic tote that goes into our basement storage area, alongside extra food and a tool kit. For Christmas decorations in particular, there are ingenious storage solutions that help keep things like ornaments and wreaths from getting crushed, or that keep lights from getting tangled.

Tools

The amount of tools you take with you may differ depending on how time you spend in your RV. Because we’re full-timers, we keep a lot of tools on hand, from an air compressor to a nail gun to different saws and painting tools. At the minimum we recommend keeping a multi-bit screwdriver, hammer, duct tape, pliers, wrenches, socket wrenches, allen wrenches, zip ties and a utility knife, at a minimum. Thread seal tape can help keep your water connections from leaking. A level also comes in handy, especially when setting up at a new campsite. We keep all our tools in our basement storage in their own plastic tub to both contain them and protect them from the elements.

Organizing is a constant process.

One way we stay on top of clutter and organization is to purge material on a regular basis. Due to our large family we evaluate and purge items about every three weeks. That way, we don’t purchase or keep things we don’t need. By constantly sorting through our items, it helps us reorganize, as well as deep clean the sand and dirt that gets tracked in. But one thing we have realized in the process of living in the RV full time is that our kids don’t need a bunch of excess toys and possessions to make them happy. By going tiny, we can focus on the things that really matter: spending time together, exploring and learning about the world, and making one big memory. Everything else is just clutter.

The Proha family travels in a Heartland Cyclone 4006.