RV organization is a challenge for the best of us! We are accustomed to having our favorite things around us but downsizing into a smaller space like and RV or tiny house has us making decisions about our beloved stuff! These 7 simple RV organization strategies for tiny living can help us keep our stuff but in a more organized ‘tiny' way!
7 Simple Strategies for Tiny Living
Strategies for Books
Moving into an RV or tiny house means most likely you will need to rethink your love of books. Not rethink your love of reading them but having them stored in your living space.
My favorite all -time gift has been an e-reader. I am an avid reader and book lover. At first thinking about reading on an e-reader make my skin crawl. Before we were full-timers I had so many books and bookcases! But wanting to travel and still have books made me embrace an e-reader for my new lifestyle.
There are a couple of choices out there, and I have tried most of them.
- You can have a tablet and download a NOOK or KINDLE app and read on your tablet
- You can buy a NOOK if you like to buy your books from Barnes and Noble.
- You can buy a KINDLE if you like to shop at AMAZON.
Things to consider when choosing an e-reader:
- Where will you be reading?
- Outside in full sun like at the beach or the pool? Choose one that has an e-ink display so that you can read without glare.
- In bed at night? Choose one that has a back-light, so you can read without disturbing your partner.
- Both NOOK and KINDLE have e-readers with the above features, so shop carefully and decide what is best for you!
Don’t give up your library card if you are going to live in your RV full-time!
If you like to use the library, you don’t have to give this option up just because you're traveling in your RV. Check out this website OVERDRIVE.com to see if your library is a partner with them. If not, find a library in an area that does and try to get a library card there. This is a digital borrowing library for e-readers! This will save you tons of money on buying books if you can access this. It’s just like when you would drive to the library, go inside, browse, check out and read for 3 weeks and return it! Only so much easier! If you haven’t tried using a digital library yet…you are missing out!
The digital library has its own app called LIBBY for borrowing from the digital library. This may be a solution for many people who don’t want an individual e-reader but want to read on their tablets.
Strategies for Paper
When you live in an RV, paper is your enemy. Paper piles up and the traditional way of filing paper away is not going to work. But we still we have paper and need a strategy to keep it tamed.
I do print and produce paper in my RV. I work remotely for my office, so some things are just easier printed out, consumed and then thrown away. I keep a small shredder to discard important paper properly, and if I make a huge paper mess, I pile it together and take it to an office supply store or UPS store and let them shred it.
Instead of traditional filing in folders and in a filing cabinet, I use an app on my phone called Tiny Scanner PDF to take pictures of documents and receipts. This app changes the pictures into PDFs and lets me file them away in my cloud storage choice. I use three types of cloud storage: My favorite is Dropbox and has all of our personal life neatly in files just like in a filing cabinet. I also have OneDrive for work and Google Drive for my blog. You don’t need three….just choose one and set it up with the same labels as you would your home filing cabinet. This way it will ready to store all your scans in a way you are used to filing paper.
If you need something more than the Tiny Scanner App for document management, finding a nice compact scanner for those times you need more volume scanning can be a good choice. You will need 3 Compact Office machines to make your home (RV) office work better in a tiny space.
Strategies for Luggage
Even though we live in an RV and travel everywhere….there are times we need luggage to fly for business or take a vacation away from our RV.
Typically, luggage is bulky and large, especially if you have a matching set. So when we went full-time, I sold our pretty matching set and bought LL Bean duffel bags. I have used them every time I fly and love them! When I am done with them they fold up into their own little pouch and store in a cabinet in my RV.
The part I don’t like is not having roller wheels for easy rolling through the airport. The duffel bags hold a lot! However, that ability makes them heavy when you carry them! But for the purpose of which I bought them: compact, easy to store and sturdy – they are a great find for luggage.
Strategies for RV Kitchen Organization
RV/tiny kitchens are the place where most of the storage difficulty arises. If you like to cook, you are used to having all the cool tools at your fingertips. RV kitchen storage can really make you earn your organizational stripes. Not only are your cabinets limited so is your refrigerator space since most RV & tiny house refrigerators are smaller than the ones from our larger counterparts.
A couple of strategies for RV kitchen organization are:
- Buy or use multi-use appliances: Instant pot, for example, replaces a slow cooker, rice cooker, pressure cooker, and steamer.
- Buy or use nesting pots & pans
- Buy or use collapsible plastic ware: colanders, measuring cups, bowls
- See this article for the 10 Must-Have items for your RV Kitchen.
- Weekly Meal plan – this eliminates problems with pantry/fridge storage because you only buy and eat what you have for the meal plan. See this article on strategies for Cooking for Two in Your RV.
Strategies for Purging Often
One tip that we do regularly is…purge. If we haven’t touched it in the last six months and it isn’t seasonal….it finds a new home. If it’s seasonal, the rule is a year. If I haven’t used it during the season it was appropriate for it finds a new home, too!
If you buy something new….make sure to take something out! This will save you the problem of being overweight in your RV.
Keeping stuff in your tiny space only leads to disorganization and clutter. I am amazed at just how many things you can lose in so little square feet. We have lived in our RV for two years, and I am still reorganizing when it makes sense and labeling things, so I don’t have to pull out everything when I can’t find something.
I have a goal to accomplish this year: I want to have enough space to put away everything in cabinets when we pull out on travel day. I want to stop using the bed as a travel day storage unit! While our rig is generously sized, you know what they say about filling it up.
Strategies for Photo storage
We all love taking pictures. We can take SO MANY photos with a digital camera. It gets out of control quickly without a strategy.
Most of us with smartphones have an app that syncs with our gallery of recently taken pictures and stores them in the cloud. If you are not already doing this…stop right now – go check your phone and figure out how to make this happen with your type of smartphone. This is an important step to not losing all your photos if you lose your phone or it breaks.
Once our photos are safely secured in the cloud or on our laptops (backed up to a cloud or 2nd hard drive) then what do we do with them? Back in my house, I would scrapbook all of our photos into photo albums for us to enjoy whenever we wanted. But now that our space is limited what can I do with my pictures?
There are a variety of cloud options to choose from for your photos. Google Photos & Apple & Forever are a couple of popular ones. I scanned all of my photo albums and have them stored in a photo storage account at Forever. You can read about my decision to use Forever as my cloud storage HERE.
I can view my albums whenever I like and share them with my children. I can continue to scrapbook digitally and make books for my children and grandchildren and for me if I want to have a physical copy of our adventures. These photo books are much easier to store than the photo albums we remember of yesteryear.
If you like to display your photos, one option for tiny living is a digital picture frame that takes up a small space but rotates photos to display and can be changed up when you want to see current things.
Strategies for Tools
When you RV or live in a tiny house you need tools! But often the people passionate about tools act the same way that people act when they are passionate about shoes! This is a fight most often had and not won in every RV family. (I have personal experience with this!)
When packing your tools for RVing:
- Limit yourself to one to two tool bags that will fit where you have space.
- Sort through your current tools and eliminate duplicates.
- Buy the necessary RV specific tools – see this article for the best RV specific tools
- When sorting your tools, make sure you only pack necessary tools for repairing your home on wheels. If you have any specialty tools, consider selling or storing them for now and buying one if you need it while traveling.
If you choose to store your tools in a storage unit just in case you need them, please keep in mind that the cost of the storage unit could become your new tool budget to replace those you may need later. Also, if you need a tool on the road and it’s in your storage unit…what have you accomplished? 😊
The shoe conundrum will be explored in another post! 😊
This concludes some tips on downsizing your life without giving up your favorite things!
What ways have you worked your favorite must-have things into your tiny living space? Please comment below and let us know! Others would love to have ideas from those who have made it work.