*There are NO affiliate links in this post. I am just sharing what has worked for me and my family, no strings attached.*
When we started out full-timing four years ago, I knew nothing about RVs. Literally nothing. I had never even been in an RV before, much less lived in one.
My family had always tent camped and I had no experience whatsoever with small footprint living. I had to find and purchase special sized items and four years later, I’m here to shed some light on what worked. Interested?
Then let’s get a drumroll, please.
#10 – Movie storage. We had a zillion movies and no one was happy to pare them down or store any of them in boxes for later. I bought these holders from Amazon. They each hold 100 movies and they are still holding movies today and showing no wear at all. We have continued to purchase movies at the rate of 15-20 per year so it is time for me to purchase another one of these.
#9 – Grill forks. People, you need this particular set. The forks are extra long so you don’t also cook your fingers while turning your hot dog in the flames. Plus a storage bag that keeps them from walking off when you put them away in the darkness of your campsite. They are so popular that we take them on family vacations and group campouts and they are always the first chosen from the stack.
#8 – Laundry. Everything you have in an RV needs to be able to do two things to be useful, am I right? Easy to carry, this tall, plastic laundry “basket” is a go-getter. When you arrive at the beach, laundry can be dumped on the floor or your bed and it instantly converts to a beach hauler – it holds lots of sand toys, towels and waters. Spray it off when you return and voila, now it’s a laundry basket again.
In addition, it is squeezable.
We put ours in the closet and even full, we can squeeze it into the available space. This doesn’t work with the more rigid, regular baskets.
Recently I got this collapsible laundry basket from Grove and I love it! Often when taking bed linens, comforters or just extra laundry, I was having to stuff it into grocery bags or pile it in my car. This basket takes all the extras, whenever I need it and basically disappears in my closet when I don’t. The only drawback is that it doesn’t stand up on it’s own. It needs to be filled at least halfway. This works for me because I am not using it for my primary basket.
#7 – My down mattress cover. It is thick and plush and helps keep us warm when it is chilly outside, but never lets us overheat. It’s amazing. We stayed away from foam because my husband kicks his covers off every night and we don’t need anything that holds heat. We recommend this brand all the time.
#6 – 3M command hangers. This seems an odd choice, but trust me. These things are essential. This weekend I pulled all of our home decor down, because we are getting ready to move into a new unit and not ONE bit of wallpaper or trim came down. The walls are still pristine.
That is saying something because I like to change our decor every season. I hang calendars, signs, banners, bunting, regular frames – this works on everything. A bold claim I know. I have a huge variety of styles – ones that hang art on the refrigerator, the velcro type I put on large frames, and the hook style for calendars and twinkle lights.
#5 – bathroom rugs. Most are large and sized to go in front of the tub or a long double sink. Instead, you need one roughly the size of a bathroom scale. Ok, slightly bigger.
They do make them in this small size – 17″x24″! I found this one at Walmart. I started out with white and just recently switched to a light gray one from the same line. Bonus – they can be flipped over and used another week! I hate washing bath mats every week so we use them for a week. When I clean the bathroom, I flip over the rug and it looks just washed. This cuts down on my laundry, but feel free to wash more often if that grosses you out. Or if you like doing laundry. To each their own, right?
#4 – These small cookie sheets from Target (Made by Design) are the bomb. You need at least two. They are so reasonable (cheap!) at $5 and they beat the much pricier cookie sheet that I started with – which eventually crashed, burned and was replaced.
I wish I had started with these. They do a good job of baking cookies – my primary concern! – are nonstick, clean up with a damp paper towel if you are in a hurry, cool off quickly and of course, stack.
#3 – This toaster oven. We got a toaster oven very similar to this for a wedding gift many eons ago (*cough* 21 years) and we were pretty resolute about not parting with it. If you love your current smaller toaster or don’t toast at all, then please don’t let me convert you.
This baby is not small or collapsible but we. use. it. every. day. Four years of moving it every time I make anything on the stove and yet it has survived?! It’s the best. We make melts all the time (deli sandwich + melt the cheese). My family enjoys the little things. Like melted cheese. The occasional poptart is no problem. Reheating pizza, a breeze. Even homemade chicken pot pies in the disposable pans – popped in the oven. I just don’t see this one going away. Ever.
#2 – Can you feel the excitement? You know the top two are going to be winners, right? I really did save the best for last. These top two are interchangeable in their usefulness.
Ok. Now that I’ve made you wait a bit, I’ll spill the beans. My Mom purchased this folding step stool for us and we use it probably twenty times a day. This brand is Safety 1st and I don’t see it online today but there are several versions that are similar in size on Amazon.
I’m short and the cabinets, especially in the kitchen, are up at the ceiling. I can reach a few things but everything else requires this step. My son uses it by his bed to climb into a tall bunk every night. We store TP up high on a ledge in his bathroom – out of the way and hard to reach. No question this is going to the new RV that is headed here today.
#1 – This amazing life-giving ottoman. I love books, like LOVE them. I need books to survive. I collect books. We homeschool. I also read all the time. We check out large stacks of library books every chance we get. I scour used bookstores for treasures. If I didn’t have this ottoman, there would be no floor space. because there would be stacks of books everywhere.
I got it at Target (for about $70), and while I dearly love Target, I didn’t think this ottoman would hold up with the ton of books inside and almost hourly use as, well, an ottoman. It holds snacks and feet and remotes and mail and school books and lunch plates. The bottom has not broken out and the cushion on top is in used but good condition. We have used it on occasion as an extra seat, but it would be better for smaller children to sit on than adults. It is a super hard worker in a house where everything has to work – to make it work. Yes?
And a bonus for you, if you read this far. *High five*
My newest find. And it’s a good one.
This collapsible popcorn maker that can double as a bowl and takes up hardly any space at all! It fits perfectly inside my smallest mixing bowl. My teenage son, AKA the world’s largest lunch-eater and snacker, can make a quick batch of popcorn in the microwave – with no oil at all.
My sister-in-law makes this addictive popcorn/candy/sprinkle/treat recipe and it calls for air popped popcorn. I had been going to her house and making popcorn there with her plug-in popper, because the recipe was so, um, addictive. This saves me a step and means I can make the popcorn anytime, anywhere. A victory, I think.
And because I love you, here is the recipe. Use it wisely.
I used to use the microwave popcorn packets but the orange color eventually turned me off to them. If you like those and don’t need addictive popcorn, then the packets would likely take up less room for you.
So that is the whole list! Any questions about full-timing, organizing, or downsizing? Pop them in the comments and I will do my best to get you answers.