Win the Battle of RV vs Stuff

Living in an RV doesn’t mean you have to get rid of all your belongings…just most of it!
February 2, 2023
By: Tiny Tenorios (Resty and Jaedene) Brand Ambassadors

Tiny Tenorios is a full-time living, mostly stationary family going into their third year of RV life, they know all-too-well about downsizing and constant purging.

Living in an RV doesn’t mean you have to get rid of all your belongings…just most of it! Unless you have a storage unit (or three) to store all the things you just can’t seem to live without. Guilty, we had three storage units at one point. I know, I know!

Jaedene and Resty travel every chance they get with their family. As living full-time in a Sprinter 3621FWLBH for over 3 years, they haven’t looked back.

If RV life is new to you, you’re about to enter a whole new world in which only your most necessary possessions make the cut. We’re a full-time living, mostly stationary family going into our third year of RV life, so we know all-too-well about downsizing and constant purging.

With a few years of tiny living under our belts, here are some of the lessons we learned when it comes to dealing with “stuff.”

  1. Maximize your space.
  2. Purge often.
  3. Less is more.

Our 40-foot, fifth wheel, Keystone Sprinter is on the larger side in terms of RV size, but even the largest of RVs can start to feel really small when you have two adults and three kids under one tiny roof. We have gotten pretty clever when it comes to finding spaces in the RV we can make functional. If you’re not afraid of some power tools and changing things up, you can end up with extra office supply space, shoe storage, toy organization, and possibly even a floor to ceiling pantry that did not originally come with your RV.

Let’s start with maximizing your space! This can sound daunting, but for us, it fed our creativity and allowed us to add functionality to otherwise dead space in our RV. What is dead space? For us, it was every nook and cranny that had potential to store stuff or the potential to store more stuff than it originally did. Toys, shoes, important documents, food, the list goes on and on. The first step to maximize your space is to walk around your RV and identify all dead space and then brainstorm how to turn it into functional space. Easy enough, right? These were our biggest transformations of dead spaces turned functional spaces:

  • Under the stairs- we added hinges and turned it into shoe storage.
  • An empty area in the underbelly storage that can be accessed from inside the RV. Our floor plan allowed us to turn this space into shoe storage that can store our winter and work boots. We cut a hole in the wall, added a door, and tada- even more shoe storage!
  • Space behind the fireplace and TV- we pulled that area forward and added open shelving to store baskets full of various items.
  • Coffee nook- as much as we loved our coffee nook, we needed more pantry space. Think about what works best for your family, and for us, a large pantry won over the cute coffee nook.
  • Toy storage- we used the manufacturer’s storage concept under the master bed (which we use every inch of) and added the same thing to our bunkhouse to build storage for our kids’ toys.
  • Custom made desk that stows away when not in use.

Purge, purge, purge! It’s a full-timer’s favorite word. Maybe not, but purging is crucial if you want to live clutter-free, and in our tiny space clutter-free is always the goal for us. We all know how quickly things accumulate in our homes, in both RVs and traditional houses. The only difference is there’s a lot less space to hide all these extra things in an RV. As I constantly remind my kids, “Any mess is a big mess in an RV.” Here are our tips and tricks for your purge parties to help with the heartbreak and headache of having to get rid of things:

  • Purge with the seasons. When putting winter/summer clothes away for next year, determine what items will still fit when you open that bin up next winter/summer. This applies mostly to the kids since they grow like weeds, but adults can also part ways with anything that didn’t serve a purpose for any specific season.
  • Be realistic. One rule we use in our family is if you haven’t touched something for 6 or more months, you most likely don’t need it. It’s time to find it a new home.
  • Toy swap. Our kids love toys and, boy, do they have a lot. Let’s just say they are very loved by our family and friends. When toys start getting out of control, we pick and choose what to keep in the RV, which must fit in their designated toy bins, what to donate, what to trash and what they would like to keep in a storage bin to swap out in a few months. We have a storage unit, so this works for us.

Less is more! Strive for minimalism, which goes hand-in-hand with purging. We have lots of work to get to our personal definition of being a minimalist, but we’re progressing, so that counts in our book. Being minimalists encompasses a variety of things, so for the sake of minimizing the minimalistic portion of this blog post, here are ways we try to be our best minimalist selves:

  • Get rid of any clothes and shoes you can’t fit at the moment. Yes, that means you should finally get rid of those high school jeans that are just collecting dust!
  • Narrow down your multiples. This goes for clothes, shoes, all kitchen items, towels, etc. Do you really need 4 spatulas, 15 wash cloths, and 25 pairs of socks?
  • Declutter. Everything. And when you think you’re done decluttering, declutter one more time for good measure.
  • Do not keep broken things.
  • It’s ok to not fill every corner of your RV with decor.
  • Cute baskets and storage bins to hide, I mean organize, the junk are your best friends. This is perfect for books, board games, and important documents.

As a family, we thrive when our space is functional and organized. Even though we’re pretty sure we’ve maxed out on coming up with creative storage solutions, we’re always willing to change up a space that is not serving it’s intended purpose. We hope we have sparked your creativity, inspired you, or maybe even taught you a tip or trick to maximize your space, purge your stuff, or live a more minimalistic life— or at least a step towards it.

Happy camping!

Resty and Jaedene

Love grows best in little houses, with fewer walls to separate. Where you eat and sleep so close together, you can’t help but communicate. If we had more room between us, think of all we’d miss. Love grows best in houses just like this." - Doug Stone