Breaking in your first RV is like breaking in a new pair of running shoes – it takes time to get the comfort level just right!
Here are some of my favorite hacks and must-haves before hitting the road! And all these mods and lifestyle hacks cost me less than $100 each
1. INSTALL MOTION-ACTIVATED LIGHTS IN CABINETS AND ALONG FLOORING
One of my favorite devices is the Anker motion-activated LED lights that run off 3 AAA batteries. They’ll last for 10,000 hours! I place these lights in cabinets and along the flooring to illuminate my RV during the night.
You can also stick these lights on the outside of your RV. They come fitted with 3M adhesive stickers that won’t budge! You can stick them around your camper and near the stairs to prevent unwanted slips during the night.
2. SET UP SOLAR POWERED TIKI TORCHES FOR THAT OLD-SCHOOL TAVERN FEEL
Tiki torches are an RVer’s best friend. You can purchase these solar-powered garden lights online and plant them around your campsite for some great ambiance – and they’ll stop you from tripping! They will also outline your boundary line (and prevent the neighbors from encroaching on your self-proclaimed property line).
3. DITCH THE EXTRA SINK OR VANITY IN THE BATHROOM
In my 1988 Hymer motorhome, there was a sink in the bathroom that took up a massive amount of space. I opted to get rid of it to free up space for the toilet (mostly so I wasn’t cramped while using the toilet).
You might do something similar to free up space, Plus, not having the option to wash your hands out of routine will cut down on water use. You can instead opt to fill a small bucket with water and a cap full of bleach to disinfect your hands – and it lasts all weekend!
4. PUT AN EXTRA CURTAIN ROD IN THE SHOWER
Put an extra clamping curtain rod (no screws) inside your shower for extra storage! I recommend either using a screw-in-place design (pressure only, no screws), or a removable rod that sits on a U-shaped holder.
When you want to actually use the shower, you can easily lift this curtain rod and move it opposite the shower. Then put it back when you’re done.
Otherwise, it’s a great space to dry clothing if you find yourself swimming in the rain and needing to dry your swimsuit. Or you can just use it as a regular full-length closet.
5. LEAVE THE PANS – BRING A WOK!
How many pots and pans do you plan on taking? I myself only had a wok. A wok is perfectly shaped to fry, boil, cook, and stir fry any foods you may want to cook. So you can boil pasta in the wo, and then sauté your veggies. Or cook scrambled eggs. Whatever you think you need extra pots and pans for – you don’t. The wok will do it all!
6. BRING A LARGE WIDE-LIPPED BUCKET
On my cross-country trip across Europe, I had a wide-lipped bucket made of hard plastic that was about 25 inches across and 10 inches deep. And I. Loved. It!
- You can put your boiling water used for pasta and use it later to clean the dishes.
- Or to do hand washing of your clothes.
- Fill it with lake/ ocean water to clean the sand off your feet before entering your RV.
- Use it with a dish towel and water to wipe down all the surfaces and outside of your RV.
- It can be used for wood collection for a bonfire or fruit and veg storage while on the move.
- Or a small step ladder to reach the higher places in your RV (not technically safe, but it works!)
The list goes on and on about the uses of a bucket. Get one!
(If you’re super short on space, consider a collapsible silicone bucket.)
7. COMPACT YOUR CLOTHES WITH A COLLAPSIBLE HANGING ORGANIZER
No, I’m not talking about vacuum-packing your clothes (although that’s not a bad idea). I mean this awesome, simple mod to compress your clothes:
- Get an Ikea fabric Hanging Organizer.
- Pack your clothes in each cube
- (Hint: Rolling your clothes rather than folder saves extra space!)
- Sit on the Organizer and wrap it in bungee straps or Velcro straps to keep it compressed.
This is a great hack for autumn or winter weather when you may be using down coats that compress easily.
8. BUST OUT THE CLASSY BOXED WINE
Boxed wine might not be seen as the classiest way to enjoy a steak or chicken. However, the lightweight carton can be easily compressed when finished. There is also no chance of it breaking and having wine spill everywhere. Glass bottles can clank or crack if you’re on bumpy roads. Not to mention the need to find glass recycling. Boxed drinks will save you space and energy!
9. KEEP TRACK OF AEROSOL CANS OR BOTTLES WITH HANGING ORGANISERS
My wife always complained that she wouldn’t find certain aerosol cans or lotions. (Even though we would head into the woods for a while she still needed to have that Betty White skin and hair care groove going on.
So, I took a sheet of nylon and put fish netting on it to match the size of our bathroom door. I used command hooks to hang it. This created a 5×6 pocket door sleeve that hung where she could store all of her essential beauty products. Bonus: It freed up some much-needed countertop space!
You can either make your own or buy a hanging organizer off Amazon. They make organizers for aerosol cans, spices, makeup, shoes, and more!
10. CREATE A MAKE-SHIFT GARDEN PATIO
My wife and I are way into having an excellent outdoor garden vibe when we rock up to a campsite. We always set up our outdoor chill-out zone. Although space is a commodity not often taken for granted. My wife and I opted to ditch some clothes to open up storage space and incorporate a great outdoor environment where we could pass the day.
11. BRING AN ANYTIME, ANYWHERE PORTABLE GRILL
The Caveman Featherweight grill is by far my favorite for traveling. It’s super lightweight, can fold down, and is really easy to clean. It’s perfect if you want to have a small bonfire and not even grill anything. It’s discreet and won’t attract attention if your idea is to be inconspicuous (say, for stealth camping).
12. GO BEYOND THE COLEMAN CAMPING CHAIR
Guys, once you go with a premium camping chair, you’ll never go back! Instead of the classic (but uncomfortable) director’s chair, check out one of these options:
- Saucer chairs, great for snuggling up and reading on a chilly evening! Also called “moon” or “royalty” chairs.
- Zero-gravity chairs, great for reclining around a campfire without getting hot! Also fold up flat for easy transport.
- Rocker chairs, great for just lounging and chatting! Free-standing rockers are better than the classic design, which can rock unevenly on dirt and gravel.
This is less of a hack and more of a strong encouragement so you’re comfortable while hanging out. We use the super-cushioned saucer folding chairs that are shaped like an oval. (These can also be used to create a great place to have a midday nap.)
13. KEEP PRYING EYES OUT WITH A PRIVACY SHIELD
Ever get tired of the awkward wave that’s between you and the other campers? That good old, “Hey neighbor! We’re too close, but it is what it is”?
My wife constantly complained about that awkward wave. So I built a collapsible shield. Being made of steel poles with hooks and nylon running between the poles it remained light. It had screws with circles at the end so you could peg it into the ground or tie it to the mirrors of the RV to secure it in place. When it wasn’t in use, we used it as an armrest or foot rest.
You don’t have to make your own – you can buy a photographer’s adjustable background stand which will do the same thing!
14. ROLL OUT THE ASTROTURF TO KEEP THINGS CLEAN
Astroturf can be a godsend if you’re trying to keep dirt, crawling bugs or anything else that may make its way to your feet out of your camper!
My wife and I invested in a few yards of astroturf that kept our feet clean. We could roll up to our campsite and before even getting out we rolled out the green carpet with style. This was great for sandy areas or areas with pine needles and rocks. And it doesn’t look as tacky as a rug.
Bilingual Spanish and English writer. I lived in a RV for a year while traveling through Germany, Switzerland, Italy, France, Andorra, Spain, Portugal.