Lost or destroyed: these are things you don’t want to consider when thinking about your belongings. Unfortunately, this can be the result of failing to properly organize and secure your possessions, especially when you are in an RV.
First, there is limited space in a motorhome or toy hauler and if you don’t have a good organizational plan in place, it is probably going to quickly become cluttered. Therefore, you are likely to spend unnecessary time searching for something when you are least inclined to be doing so. Second, a motorhome travels at up to 70-mph and if your belongings aren’t secured while it’s rolling down the road, they could get knocked around and break. Worse yet, they could become dangerous projectiles during a sudden stop. Consider the following tips to organize your home on wheels to make the most of your space and keep your appliances and accessories in place.
General Organizational Tips for Efficiency
Space savers, mobile shelving, storage solutions, and drawer organizers — these innovations put a system in place that keep your belongings in place. There is something quite satisfying about efficiently using every inch of space available.
Use the Inside of Doors for Inconspicuous Storage
Hanging things on the inside of doors employs empty space that otherwise goes unused. For example, put hooks or hanging racks on the interior of your kitchen cabinet doors for utensils, potholders, dishtowels, or plastic wrap and aluminum foil. Consider using the inside of your closet or bathroom doors for hanging jackets, bathrobes, or towels.
We are big fans of Velcro. In fact, we have added it to duct tape and bungee cords as one of our “go to,” all-purpose supplies. Use Velcro to hang coiled hoses and cords to the inside of your basement hatch doors or inside the door of your cargo trailer.
Apply peel and stick Velcro to your remote controls and any set location to avoid ever having to look for them again. Use peel and stick Velcro to adhere your Apple TV box to the top of your television or entertainment shelf. We even applied this Velcro to the underneath side of our toilet seat to increase its stability. We have to replace it periodically, but it really helps.
Before coat hangers, everyone placed their clothes in drawers or on hooks. In the limited space of a motorhome, hooks can provide added hanging options that increase the amount of usable storage space. Add hooks under the cabinets over the kitchen sink for utensils or small pans, and on shelves to make use of otherwise vacant space. These can also help keep jackets, scarves, and housecoats or bathrobes off the floor without using up closet space.
Hang Baskets for Different Uses
Hanging baskets provide a quaint, space saving option. They can be used for a variety of things like grooming supplies and accessories, washcloths, shower scrubs, and shampoos, dishtowels and hand towels, fruits and vegetables, or frequently used utensils and supplies.
Employ Over the Seat Organizers
Just like in your “toad” or chase car, the back of your Captain’s chair is a great place for a seat organizer. Items that you want to keep handy while traveling, such as phone chargers, sunglasses, tissues, books or magazines, snacks or drinks should go there to keep them from rolling around on the floor and perhaps under the brake pedal. Things that you want to keep near the door like flashlights, ratchets, spare locks, and bungees could go there, as well.
Install and Use Magazine Racks
We were fortunate that our Tourmaster came equipped with several built in magazine racks. Not that we regularly read printed magazines, but they are the perfect places to stow iPads when traveling, pamphlets from RV parks, correspondences, reams of printer paper, etc. If your motorhome doesn’t already have a built-in magazine rack, they are quite easy to install.
Put Empty Altoids Tins to Work
Empty containers can be recycled and repurposed. I’ve always been a fan of the “curiously strong” Altoids mints, which means that I go through them pretty quickly, leaving the small tins to be reused for other things. Put a couple of needles, buttons, a pair of manicure scissors, and small spools of black thread to make a mini-sewing kit for impromptu repairs on the road. Use it to contain small office supplies, such as a pencil sharpener, thumbtacks, paperclips, and rubber bands. Make a small first aid kit consisting of Band-Aids, a couple of packets of aspirin, a small tube of Neosporin, etc. Or, assemble a survival kit that is small enough to pack in your pocket filled with a lighter, a Swiss army knife, a small plastic poncho, water purification tablets, a couple of Band-Aids, or whatever else you think might be necessary.
Note: Make sure to only save containers that you have a real purpose for. The restrictive space of a camper is no place to begin hoarding empty containers “just in case”.
Kitchen Hacks for Efficiency
With so many elements from utensils and dinnerware to spices and cookware, the kitchen is just begging to be better organized. Also, as we learned from experience, these many elements tend to shift quite a bit while traveling. Even if they don’t fall out during the drive, they often come pouring out when you open the doors after stopping. A good organizational system, along with a few space-saving tips help reduce these issues.
Note: Make sure that your cabinet latches are secure and consider using bungees or ties to further secure them while driving. We had one fail during a sharp turn causing several bowls to fall out and break.
Organize Your Spices
If you enjoy cooking, there is a good chance that you have accumulated an assortment of spices. We tried a couple of different methods to keep ours stable while traveling and most of them didn’t work. First, we tossed them all into a basket placed in a cabinet. This kept them from falling out, but finding what we were looking for at any given time was a challenge. Next, we arranged them on a 3-tiered stadium rack. This kept them organized and easy to use when we were stationary for long periods of time, but they quickly fell into disarray when we were driving.
There are several methods that resolve both issues. If your are a “do it yourselfer,” consider gluing ½-pint Mason jar lids to the interior of a cabinet—or even the ceiling—and then place your spices in the jars and screw them on. This keeps them enclosed and out of the way, but you might want to label them to avoid confusion in the kitchen. You could also build a beautiful dropdown spice rack under your cabinet or on a vacant wall.
An easier option is to install a series of clip-style, RV kitchen spice gripper strips to the inside of a cabinet door. These hold individual jars for easy access, absolute visibility, and secure transportation. By hunting around an RV supply store — or even eBay or Amazon — you can find all sorts of spice organizing gadgets from enclosed Lazy Susans to plastic cases to keep your oregano out of your cilantro and your chili powder separate from your cinnamon.
Secure Plates with Safe Storage Ideas
Plates and bowls nearly always shift in transit. I used to individually wrap them in a clean cloth before traveling. This actually worked well, but it added several additional steps that were unnecessary when it came time to pack or set up.
There are lots of products available to keep your dishes safe and secure while you are traveling. These include plastic plate and bowl dividers, plate stacking racks, plate cradles, and marine galley organizers. If it works on a boat, it’ll work in your motorhome.
Organize Mixing Bowls and Storage Containers
Buy one sturdy, multi-purpose set in a range of sizes to use for mixing ingredients and storing food. Make sure to get a style that “nests” one within the other to use as little space as possible.
If you don’t cook multi-ingredient dishes very often, check out collapsible bowls. When they aren’t in use, they take up the same amount of space as an average plate. Also, if you don’t often access them, place them deeper in your cabinets, behind other cookware or dinnerware that you employ more regularly.
Organize Your Pots and Pans
Although pots and pans won’t easily break, they can easily get knocked around. This is not only noisy and distracting while driving; it can also cause other kitchen items to break if a shifting pan hits them. We keep ours organized on a rack in a cabinet with other sturdy items. Another option is to hang them on hooks attached under the cabinets, the ceiling, or to a pegboard on the wall. This keeps them up, out of the way, and handy.
De-clutter the Cooking Utensils
You can also use the same hooks to hang your cooking utensils. By mounting a magnetic strip to the wall, your metal utensils will effortlessly hang to keep your RV more organized.Other options include installing racks inside the cabinet doors for your utensils, plastic wrap, and cleaning supplies or using expandable drawer organizers for spatulas, cooking and serving spoons, as well as your silverware.
Along with organizing spices, utensils, plates, and pans, racks can be added to reduce the amount of counter space you are using and make the most of the interior of your cabinets. Over the sink racks get dirty or drying dishes off the counter and out of the basins. Under the sink racks put cleaning supplies in their place and open up additional room for storage.
Tips to Set Up the Bedroom
An RV’s bedroom often provides plenty of closet and wardrobe space, until you start placing your clothes and shoes in there. We try to only keep the items that are seasonally appropriate in the bedroom and store offseason clothing in plastic bins in the basement storage space. This works well when we are stationary for several months at a time. However, when we are traveling— or staying in the Midwest when an 80-degree day is easily followed by a 40-degree one —this isn’t as convenient. Fortunately, there are several ways to maximize your space.
Extend the Closet Space
There are many methods to add to your closet space. One of our handier Tourmaster friends built a removable extra closet over a bedroom desk using some particleboard and a tension rod. If you don’t have that additional space, install a tension rod within your existing closet to enjoy a two-tiered arrangement. Adding a separate hanging wardrobe or cubbies allows for easy organization of the area and incorporating hanging shoe organizers can keep your shoes off the floor, freeing up space, and can catalog other things, as well.
Organize the Bed Area
Of course, the bed takes up the majority of the room, so it just makes sense to utilize it for additional storage. A homemade, pocketed headboard — which may or may not fit your style — can provide an easy place to stow a flashlight, your glasses, or reading material at night.
Perhaps a better option is to use a pocketed skirt around the base of the bed. This can be incorporated into the style of the bedding or hidden by it. Just make sure to leave sufficient ventilation if, like ours, your power transfer switch is located there.
Bathroom Organization Tips
Besides the kitchen, the bathroom receives the greatest benefit from a good organizational system. Fortunately, there are so many different options, in a variety of styles, found in nearly any big box store, that you can just pick the ones that work best for you.
Secure the Contents of the Medicine Cabinet
Choose a method to stabilize the items you keep in your medicine cabinets otherwise, they will come tumbling out after you travel or relocate. You could use command strips and install storage pods to the interior of the medicine cabinet doors. You could use chip clips, clothespins, or wire hangers adhered to the door or the wall to keep things like toothpaste tubes, washcloths, and hair ties secured and handy. We bought a couple of one-dollar, 2-inch drawer organizers to arrange ours.
De-clutter the Sink
Although leaving frequently used items on the vanity keeps them handy, this practice clutters up the counter with what could become projectiles while driving down the road.
Add towel racks to keep bath towels, hand towels, and washcloths out of the way. Place bins within the cabinets and put grooming appliances and products, as well as spare supplies, in them. Try to use products and appliances that have multiple purposes in order to take up as little space, as possible.
Organize the Shower
For the longest time, every time we would stop somewhere, we would have to pick up our razors, shampoos, and body washes off of the shower floor and place them back on the ledge where we wanted them. Although this wasn’t a huge hassle, it did take up time that could have been better spent. We decided to change our strategy, however, after a couple of bottles dumped out entirely while we were driving. This was inconvenient, messy, and a waste of money. Installing a towel rack inside the shower or using bath caddies provides a great method for keeping things accessible, out of the way, and off the floor.
Some people prefer to keep all of their trash in one, central location, usually the kitchen. We prefer to avoid carrying ours through the Tourmaster each time we have some. Therefore, we keep a small, second wastebasket in the cabinet under the sink in the master bathroom. Hanging a wastebasket is another way to keep it out of the way. By keeping the refuse lower than the rim, it stays confined within the basket, even when traveling.
Arrange the Storage Space
Lastly, when storage nooks become “catch-all”, they are almost certain to be disorganized with plenty of inefficiently stacked items and wasted space. By planning it out, you can make the most of your storage areas.
Assign each hatch under the living space a specific purpose and make sure you only put things that fit that purpose inside. We have several that house handyman items like ladders, replacement parts, work lights, and tools. One hatch holds seasonal items like space heaters and coats during the summer, as well as holiday decorations, etc. Slide outs with plastic bins and totes make it easy to store things in the under carriage.
Consider Coffee Can Storage Containers
With a variety of sizes, empty coffee containers can serve many purposes. They make a great rodent-proof container to store dried goods like flour, sugar, popcorn, or fast food condiment packets. You can also use them to store rolls of toilet paper to keep them dry. Paint a couple of different sizes to create a set of canisters that you don’t mind displaying.
Use Square Containers
When possible, use interlocking square or rectangular containers. Round containers leave a lot of unused space. So, you can fit a greater number of vessels within a smaller area when you use ones that can sit flush against each other. Interlocking ones provide additional stability and reduce wasted space even more.
Properly organizing your motorhome achieves several things. It decreases the amount of time you need to spend searching your drawers and cabinets for things. It ensures the safety of your belongings and minimizes risk of property damage or even injury to passengers while traveling.