Does the inside of your RV look like the picture-perfect interior of popular RV bloggers? Mine doesn’t, because I’d rather be spending time outdoors than inside redecorating. But after a decade of full-timing, I’ve saved my sanity by implementing this short list of simple, frugal RV organizing tips that don’t cost much time, money, or effort.
Most standard RVs are built with lightweight materials that don’t take well to organizing mods done to traditional dwellings. For instance, hanging too-heavy objects with double-sided tape on an RV’s smooth interior wall is asking for failure.
Eventually, the object falls when the outside temperature heats up the RV siding. Heavy-duty Velcro can do the job, but have you ever tried removing it from RV walls?
If you’re not into redecorating but want to tidy your RV’s interior, this short list of frugal organizing tips is a good starting point. None require much effort to end up with a functional and neat RV interior.
Use lightweight modular storage bins
Heavy-duty RVs like Prevosts typically have enough GVWR allowance to install just about any kind of traditional home cabinetry and storage hardware. For the rest of us, lightweight storage containers keep our RV’s weight in check.
Think like a square
Make the most of square RV interiors by banning round household containers. Also, fill storage areas with everything from square dinner plates to pots and pans.
Ditch canned foods
Canned food adds weight to RVs (and they’re round-shaped). Shed pounds and increase storage space by purchasing a pressure cooker and switching to dried beans.
They’re healthier, taste better than canned, and can be made in about 30 minutes. The pressure cooker doubles as a standard stockpot. It’s the only one I carry.
Bag similar items together
Pretty storage canisters are nice but they add weight to RVs. Instead, make Ziploc-style bags your best friend. Bagging similar items keep things tidy.
Put empty corners to good use
Does your RV kitchen countertop have one corner that’s hard to reach? If so, don’t waste it. That unused countertop space is perfect for small everyday appliances. If you stack vertically on an inexpensive rack you’ll use less counter space.
Capitalize on high ceilings
Tall fifth wheels have loads of dead space that can be used in better ways. Stackable interlocking bins are perfect for food. Mine are stacked based on how often I use them. We took advantage of tall cabinets by adding lightweight wire shelving.
Cool electronics with stacking shelves
Electronic components are only rated to operate within certain temperatures. Keep yours cool by separating them on stackable wire shelves. An AC server cooling fan with airflow pointed up will keep the temperature down.
Think twice about hanging things
Hanging objects behind cabinets is a good idea. However, I discovered that after a few thousand miles, hinges loosen and fall off. If you must hang towels or other items, replace wood screws on hinges with small machine bolts and nuts.
Get things off the floor
My husband made this rack that enabled us to ditch a box of magazines stored under the dining table. We no longer find clusters of dust balls under our feet.
After many years of living in a fifth wheel, these frugal RV organizing tips preserve my sanity. We would love to hear about yours, feel free to comment below.
Here are some additional examples:
Rene Agredano and her husband, Jim Nelson, became full-time RVers in 2007 and have been touring the country ever since. In her blog, Rene chronicles the ins and outs of the full-timing life and brings readers along to meet the fascinating people and amazing places they visit on the road. Her road trip adventures are chronicled in her blog at LiveWorkDream.com.
Thanks for the great tips! I was wondering if anyone had added slide out shelves successfully? We have a Class C with a tall, narrow and deep pantry. I would like to make the deep shelves more accessible without adding too much weight.
Another challenge I have is organizing spices in a user-friendly manner. I see in the picture above that you use a lidded box. I have mine in a plastic basket about the same size. I cook a lot and rely on my spices to “spice things up” so I tend to have a good variety. I tried having less on hand but they tend to multiply (sheepish grin). I find I’m frustrated rummaging through the basket and miss my sticks and brick spice rack built into the cabinet door. Before jumping into recreating a sticks n brick solution I thought I would ask what others have done to keep them visible, organized and accessible.
Lastly, five thumbs up on the mention of the pressure cooker! I would love to spread the word more on what a valuable addition this is to the RV. In addition to the points you made, I would add that you use way less water and fuel when cooking (bonus when boondocking). It cooks almost as fast as a microwave without losing the nutrients and you can make almost everything in one! We’ve even used it outside on our coleman stove!
Rene Agredano - The Full Timing Nomad says
So glad you enjoyed the article Naomi! Thanks.
No I haven’t added shelves in our slide out, but I know others who have incorporated portable lightweight shelving into theirs.
When it comes to spices, I contain mine in the box because I don’t like countertop or wall clutter (I prefer to save walls for photos and art). I’ve seen spice container wall racks at home supply stores that could work well. The containers are metal and stay on the rack with magnets.
And thanks for bringing up that important benefit about pressure cookers, I forgot to mention what great water savers they can be when boondocking. I make pasta with so much less water and condensation, I love it!
I have my spices in square plastic bins. I use a label maker and label the jar cap with the name of the spices so I can see them from the top and I don’t have to pull out each jar to see what it is.
I saw on you tube an idea it keep things from falling out of your cabinets. You cut pieces of plexiglass to the width of your cabinets on the inside and make it 33”-4” high or to whatever you think you need to hold stuff in. Then you put hook and loop command strips on the inside edge of the cabinet frame and the edge of the plexiglass, so it holds it in place while going down the road, but then you can remove it when you are setting up at your site, then reinstall it later when you hit the road again.
Denny wagamam says
Sorry I absolutely do not agree with many of your suggestions. Stuff stacked in the corners, for example. I hope you don’t travel down the road that way. Flying projectiles is what they become in a panic stop. Plus it looks messy. We generally can usually find a grocery store near us. When we travel cross country we do stock up but not to the extent that we have to worry about extra weight. We travel six-seven months max. Not full timers. Maybe that makes a difference, pressure cooker hummm where to store that projectile I guess in the bay’s…,less canned goods? Maybe but there are some things that come in cans that we like…..oh well different strokes for different folks….
Rene Agredano - The Full Timing Nomad says
We do travel that way, and nothing has ever flown out of the cabinets, even on bumpy dirt roads. Nope, we’re not overweight either. Our rig has been expertly weighed and we’re well within limits.
Yes, the pressure cooker and dry goods still weigh less than cabinets full of cans (i.e. projectiles).
We rarely camp near cities or towns. Being prepared with what we want to eat wherever we want is how we roll.
Agreed, there is a difference in full-time versus part time RV living.
Thank you both for the comments. I’m very curious about the statement “We travel six-seven months max. Not full timers” because this describes us as well. However, I’m so new that I don’t know how to practically store that much food. Mind you, I am well educated on food preservation. I am still in the midst of transferring my knowledge to a mobile environment. I’m very interested to learn more!
While I appreciate the personal touch of using my given name, I would prefer to be referred to as CarrollCamping as our endeavors are a joint effort. Thank you!
Just a thought…I find heating my sauce up and throwing in the dry pasta way more efficient (time/space/water saving) and same amount of flavor, etc. using only one pot… Anyone else try this?
Rene Agredano - The Full Timing Nomad says
Wow that’s a good one Cathy, I’ll have to give it a try. Thanks for the tip!
Alice Carroll says
Thanks for the tip that making use of all the corners would help in managing space in a fifth wheel trailer. My friends have been thinking about buying a shared RV soon in order for us to have a vehicle whenever we go on interstate trips to go to events. Maybe this would also be a good vehicle to use for hiking and camping trips.