Ten Pounds of Flour in a Five Pound Sack!
We knew when we bought a B+ Class RV that space would be at a premium. That meant we would need to be very selective with what we wanted to bring along on each trip.
Groceries always take up a lot of space, and since we tend to pick up whatever sounds good for vacation eating, the RV often overflowed with food we didn't use.
This trip, we decided to create a menu of meals and snacks and went to the store with a detailed list AFTER we shopped our pantry and fridge at home.
We also found it is a lot easier to pack the groceries directly into the RV rather than take them home first. Shopping with the RV also helps us to be more realistic with our purchases - if it doesn't fit, it can't go with us. This trip began at the grocery store with stocking up - but not too much!
We landed on seasonal packing lists as a way to control the packing sprawl, limiting items to the season we were traveling. And that works - to a point. But when we found ourselves planning a cross county trip, traveling from warm climates to cool climates, the packing list kind of went out the window. We knew we needed to find a better packing solution.
First we tested plastic bins to store things. They worked to keep things organized but the rectangular boxes took up a lot of the space in our odd sized cabinets. Then we decided to try "space bags" - you know, those plastic bags that you vacuum out the air? Well. they have a travel version you simply roll up to push the air out. They actually work pretty well fitting a lot of bulky items into a smaller package.
A comforter, bed pillows, heavy sweaters all compress to very slimmed down versions of their original sizes. That allows us to stack them in the outside compartments when they are not in use yet keep them protected from moisture, bugs, and dirt. I'll update this post after I have used them for a while and see how they work out long-term.
Update on space bags: These work well for us. I keep a second set of towels, linens and a quilt all tucked into bags. We also found that keeping our pillows in bags and storing them in the shower when traveling is a great space saver.
Aside from packing smarter and being selective about what we bring, I made a list of every available space in the RV and determined what could go where. Then I spent the better part of a day trying out my plan. The "fun" gear is tightly packed in the outside compartments along with Jim's tools and maintenance gear. I kept one small storage bay near the passenger door for things we might need inside, like small appliances or extra canned goods.
Inside, Jim built a third shelf for the wardrobe cabinet in lieu of the hanging bar. We can stack and fold a lot more clothing on shelves and it is easier to retrieve. Shoes have a metal bin in the bottom of the wardrobe cabinet. There is enough space in the medicine chest and under the sink cabinet to hold all the bathroom items and there is a small storage compartment to hold extra towels, sheets, and supplies.
The kitchen is well laid out and easily accommodates dinner service for four along with glasses, mugs, and koozies. Pots and pans fit into the cabinet under the kitchen sink along with the induction burner (cooking over an open fire is not so easy- we are pretty new at camping so this is a rough as it gets!). Mixing bowls, cutting boards, and some kitchen accouterments all fit into the same cabinet.
Food is stashed in the fridge, freezer, a pull out pantry, and three upper cabinets. Although I had my doubts, there is enough room to get two weeks worth of groceries for Jim and I in the RV.
The guitar and uke have their own little nook behind the driver's seat and the laptops, books, and scrabble set are tucked into three cabinets over the cab. Believe it or not there is also a TV and stereo system all tucked out of site. The TV is inside a narrow storage cabinet and "pops up" on a hydraulic lift when needed and it is already connected to the house stereo and either the satellite dish on the roof or cable at the campground. Like I said, this isn't exactly roughing it, but for two city kids, it is as close to camping as we would ever get!
So what is it like living in a 25' x 8' space? Well, kind of like a New York apartment. Everything you need is there and within easy reach. The only thing you don't have is excess space. We shop every week for fresh food items, and eat out a few times each trip. We spend a lot of time walking and exploring the area to manage the tight quarters, but the longer we are in the RV the more accustomed we get to the small space.
We recently spent 12 days on a trip and returned to our small apartment to do laundry and catch up on paperwork. The apartment seemed gigantic! That said, I think we have made the adjustment and are ready for a longer trip. Where shall we go next?
Update: The longest trip in the RV to date is 5 weeks. We added a cooler to fit between the front seats that acts as a table for maps and such. It also handles all of our drink items like bottled water, milk and juice. That leaves more room in the fridge.