While living in the RV, we’ve learned a lot about how to maximize our time and our enjoyment on the road. We wish we had the benefit of someone slipping us a few tips before we hit the pavement, but we had to learn them for ourselves, sometimes the hard way. So, we thought we’d pay it forward and give y’all some tips on how we manage to live in such a small space and not go completely crazy. We broke it down into some very important categories: Food, Adventure, and the Nitty Gritty. Hopefully, you’ll see why, and how, we traded space and stuff for better adventure and travel.
Tips For Small Space Living
We’ve all heard horror stories about housing in big cities like one bedroom apartments with five roommates and a sixth in the bathroom. More and more frequently, people are paying to live in crawl spaces and walk-in closets. If they’re lucky, they get enough room for a bed and a coffeepot. It sounds crazy because it absolutely is crazy and a little extreme. We are adventurous small space dwellers, but we aren’t living in someone’s closet — we are RV dwellers! Specifically, we’re in a Sprinter RV, and we’ve been living in all 110 sq. ft. of it full-time while adventuring and working across the Western U.S.
Limit single-use items
With very few exceptions, most of us have RVs that are smaller than the homes we live in on a daily basis. The most noticeable impact from the decreased space is storage. We found the best way to handle a smaller living space with smaller storage capacity was to use things that have multiple uses. For example, a bottle of wine can double as a pretty usable rolling pin. Get creative with how you can use items in different ways, and save your space for other things.
Buy in bulk to avoid the bulk
No, we’re not suggesting that you go out and buy 65 rolls of RV-safe toilet paper that will last you and all of your RV friends until the end of time. We’re actually suggesting that you buy items that have minimal packaging and don’t take up unnecessary space (notice a theme here?). Instead of purchasing that bag of pre-cut broccoli or a plastic tub of salad mix, find the bulk bins at your grocery store and purchase only what you’ll need. You’ll make less trash, and you’ll save space in your cooler or refrigerator that you can fill with other things that you’ll enjoy. We suggest filling that extra space you just made with really great local craft beer!
Use good ol’ fashioned paper maps
You won’t hear us say that our smart phones haven’t changed our lives in lots of positive ways, but we’ll never deny the classic paper map as our #1 route-planning and navigational tool. When using a “real” map, we never have to worry about “how many bars do you have,” drained batteries, or zooming a screen in or out with your fingers. We love to scribble notes, circle points of interest, highlight our routes, and see large areas to help with the route ahead of us. You won’t see us leaving our iPhones at home, but you’ll never see us travel without a stack of paper maps close at hand. Sure, they might take up a little more space than your iPhone, but that’s space we’re willing to give up!
Know (and acknowledge) your limits
This is a HUGE one, folks. We all know that if we don’t know how to jump a motorcycle, we’re not going to try any Evel Knievel stunts. The same logic applies to life in your RV. If you know that you hate cooking at home, you’re probably not going to want to cook in your RV. If that’s the case, acknowledge it and build your plans with that in mind and bring pre-cooked food along, or know the local food scene. Part of the fun of an RV is exploring new places and new things, so we’ll never suggest not trying to push your boundaries. We’re all about trying to have fun, and a huge piece of that is knowing (and acknowledging) what you’re capable of and what you’re willing to do. Doing so will make your travels and adventures much more enjoyable.
Be that guy who wears socks with sandals
If you already are this guy, then you are doing it right. How exactly does this play in to small space living? This guy didn’t bring more gear than he needed. He’s comfortable, practical, and knows his brand of choice has a lifetime guarantee s and can get them replaced for free! (Freebie tip right there!) Being the adventurous types ourselves, we do empathize with wanting to go on an outdoor gear spending spree, but we don’t have room for that. Do some research on the gear you buy and make sure it fits your lifestyle. Will you be in warmer or cooler weather? Do you really need hiking boots, walking boots, sandals, lightweight hiking boots, running sneakers, and trail sneakers when you just plan on doing a lot of fishing?
#3 Nitty Gritty
Everything Has a Process
This category is dedicated to the non-romantic side of RV life. Chores. Boring, boring chores. We still have them, and we still hate them. Keeping our RV neat and tidy is a never-ending project. We’ve come to realize, however, that the tiniest mess looks gigantic in 100 sq. ft. So instead of letting the clutter get out of control, we like to keep up with it by putting stuff away after we use it, wiping things down after we cook, rinsing dishes pretty quickly after use, and having the bed made after we wake up. The process of keeping up with the chores helps to keep us mobile and spontaneous. We can pick up and move along in case of bad weather, emergency bathroom breaks, or word of an amazing hike up the road.
The topic everyone wants to know about, but is too afraid of the answers. Bathroom time is always a private and valuable time. Life is no different in an RV. To make bathroom time less daunting, we are fully equipped with a shower, chemical toilet, running hot water, soap and toilet paper. We personally prefer to use organic and environmentally safe biodegradable soap, shampoo, and toothpaste. That being said, our shower is a little small and we’ve probably used it twice. Hot water is a protected resource, and the rule on the chem toilet is: “You use it, you clean it.” Needless to say, we prefer the great outdoors for most of our bath time. It’s quick, easy, relatively painless and usually comes with a million-dollar-view which we don’t mind at all. Usually we are seeking out a remote lake or river to camp near, but there is also an abundance of showers/bathrooms to be found in the great outdoors. Most campgrounds, truck stops, adventure gear outfitters, rafting companies, fly fishing shops, gyms, and RV parks are all equipped with beautiful facilities for the road-weary. Usually for a small fee you can turn up the hot water and enjoy your bathroom time.
Life in a small space, especially one on wheels, is a never-ending adventure. We like to think of our RV as a porch and our house as the great outdoors. Cheesy, yes, but we’re making memories to last a lifetime. I hope we’ve given a little insight and some quality tips for you adventure seekers and travelers out there. Of course, we haven’t discussed everything, but we’re glad to share a few ideas of how to get started.
Do you have any tips for small space living? Let us know in the comments!