rv life picture with a women laying in the back of a rv looking out onto a lake and sunset

Your New RV Life: Whittling Down a Houseful of Possessions

With the tiny house movement taking off, plenty of Americans are embracing minimalism as never before. When you decide to live full time in your RV, taking it across the country and seeing everything it has to offer, you face one challenge that’s much the same: whittling down a house–or even an apartment–full of possessions in order to make them fit in the RV. How do you decide what you really need versus what you can learn to live without? What items are really necessary for RV life? Minimizing your possessions can be a challenge, but you’ll find that it’s worth the effort to live in a clear, clutter-free space that’s easy to travel with every day.

Go Digital

These days, many items are available in digital formats, thus causing them to take up little to no space in your RV. In a space the size of a single book, you can carry an e-reader that will hold hundreds of volumes–more, if you keep some of them in cloud storage. Amazon and iTunes both allow you to purchase movies and music digitally, storing them in the cloud for access when you want to watch them without using any of the valuable space in your RV. Even video games can be stored digitally instead of in hard copy form. While digital copies do have some disadvantages–for example, not being able to share them as easily–the amount of space you’ll save is well worth the effort.

Digital pictures are also a great way to save space while still enjoying the images you love most. A single digital picture frame can cycle through hundreds of images, allowing you to observe an entire vacation while simply sitting and looking at the frame. Not only that, digital pictures are great for sharing on social media or sending to friends and family when they need a reminder that you’re thinking of them.

The most important place to go digital, however, is your paperwork. Papers accumulate fast in spite of your best efforts to reduce them. By keeping tax information, bank statements, billing details, and other key paperwork in digital format–ideally backed up in cloud form so that you won’t lose it if your device goes down–you’ll find that you have much more room throughout your RV for more important things.

RV Life Relies on Multipurpose Items in the Kitchen

In an RV, you need single items to serve a variety of purposes. If it’s only good for one thing, you don’t have space for it! A baking sheet, for example, can be used to cook a variety of things, as can a cookie sheet. A doughnut pan, on the other hand, is less valuable–so unless you’re making your own doughnuts every week, out it goes!

Make sure to consider your specific needs before you decide to keep an item. A toaster oven is a great way to cook small things fast, but not if you never use it and always turn on the oven instead. While a blender is a great way to make smoothies and shakes, it’s useless if you never make either of those things! Embracing the RV life means acknowledging what items you really use: if you’re never going to actually use that juicer, out it goes!

This is an incredibly freeing process anywhere, but it will make you even lighter in the kitchen. Instead of purchasing items that meet your expectation of what you “should” be doing, choose the ones you’ll really use instead. Letting go of society’s expectations–and maybe even your own–is one of the best freedoms that come with the RV life.

Choose Knickknacks with Care

Look around almost any living space, especially one where people have lived for a long time, and you’re likely to find knickknacks: little items that serve no purpose, but to which people have a sentimental attachment. In some cases, it’s for a reason: they’ve collected cat figurines all their life, and this was the one that got them started; the item was a gift from someone special; the item represents something meaningful to them. In other cases, however, knickknacks just add up without any rhyme or reason. There’s no real reason to get rid of them, but there’s no attachment to them, either.

In your new RV life, knickknacks should be kept to a bare minimum. You don’t really need them, so there’s no sense in allowing them to pile up, taking over space that could better be used for something else. At first, this may seem daunting. As you actually get rid of those items, however, you may discover that you never really cared for them anyway–and that letting them go is one of the best decisions you’ve ever made.

Ask for Experience Gifts

Around the holidays and birthdays, friends and loved ones–especially those who have never tried to live in a tiny space–pile on the gifts. While you’re grateful for the love, sorting out those items and trying to find homes for them can be incredibly frustrating! Instead of finding yourself making regular donations to thrift stores, ask loved ones to send you gifts of experiences instead. These might include:

  • Tickets to attractions in areas where you’re planning to travel in the coming months
  • Gift cards that can be used for digital purchases
  • Restaurant cards that will allow you to choose a place to eat while you’re out on the road
  • Annual passes to attractions in your home base area or where you spend most of your time

It may take some getting used to at first, but once you make the transition to experience gifts, you’ll never look back! Not only do they not take up space in your RV, experience gifts will allow you to make incredible memories on your travels and share them with the people who gave you those gifts.

Embrace the Benefits of Storage

picture of rv storage space showing the rv lifeWhether you have a caring family member who is willing to store important items for you or need to rent a facility, having a dedicated storage space is one of the best ways to make cleaning out your possessions easier in your RV life. Not only does this mean that you can store sentimental items for later acquisition, it also allows you certain other freedoms, including:

  • Tucking away seasonal items, from swimsuits to skis, during the seasons when they aren’t necessary
  • Storing holiday items in a location that doesn’t have to travel with you
  • Allowing you to rotate entertainment items–books, games, and movies, for example–so that you can own a larger library than you might be able to if you were restricted to the space in your RV alone.

Making the transition to full-time RV life is the beginning of an adventure. Sorting down your possessions is one of the most critical first steps. When you reduce the things that you’re carrying with you, it leaves less of a mess in the wake of sudden stops or jolts, decreases your weight so that your gas mileage goes up, and frees you from the weight of those possessions. Go through items with an eye for minimalism. Do you really need it? Does it make you happy? If the answer to either of those questions is no, chances are, that’s an item that you can live without–and you’ll be glad you did.

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