Every lifestyle has its quirks and camp life certainly has no shortage of quirkiness. We are coming up on our 25th month of camp life, and while we are masters of nothing, we have managed to glean a bit of experiential wisdom along the way. In that spirit, per our experiences, we are putting together installments for what we have affectionately coined our “camp life truisms” series….
Whether you are dwelling in a van, camper, fifth wheel, or motorhome, most of us face challenges when it comes to down sizing from an apartment or house. The battle over space, and how to maximize it is something we struggled with in the beginning and continue to struggle with as we manage to accumulate more “treasures” from the road. Cay and I dwell fulltime in an 11- foot truck camper, and space is definitely in short supply. Having kitchen items that nest or collapse is a great way to reduce space and minimize clutter, and was one of our initial space saving strategies. For everything else, here are a couple quick and easy ways we have found to be effective in maximizing are incredibly limited space.
1. Clothing pods
We bought a few sets in varying sizes on the cheap during an Amazon flash sale. Since we were going to be on the road full time, and covering lots of ground, we wanted to make sure we had clothing for all occasions and climates, which added a lot of bulk to our cabinets. To cut down on the bulk and clutter, we found that grouping like pairs of clothing into single pods and labeling each pod saved a lot of space as well as time in hunting for items. Using pods also made it more conducive to rolling clothes, which saves even more space over folding. Also, with the pods, we were able to make use of unused space. For example, the gap between our bedside window covers and the celling was just the right size to sandwich a few pods and free up more cabinet space for other items (picture below).
2. Hooked on hooks
We happen to be addicted to Command Hooks, but what ever your brand, hooks are a great way to save space. We use them to hang coats and bulky items, add shelves to larger cabinets, run cables around the camper, hang our garbage bag, store the little necessities, like keys and hairbrushes, as well as a means to hang wall decor and artwork. With the easy to remove variety, they never leave a mark and are easy to replace and adjust. We are constantly finding new uses for hooks and love that it helps us to keep junk off the dinette area, our unintended “catch all” for the daily clutter.
3. Clutter happens
On moving day, everything is stowed and organized to a “T”. On every other day, it looks like a clutter bomb went off in the camper. Having baskets has helped with all those little items that get frequent use, but just seem to sit around on the counter tops getting in the way. The nice thing about using baskets rather than cabinets, is that they are easy to look through and move out of the way. When in motion, they normally get nestled onto the cab over bed, or tethered with Velcro to the leg of our dinette table.
4 . Hanging organizers
The small medicine cabinet and under sink cabinet in our bathroom ran out of space a long time ago. Using a hook, we found a cheap pocketed organizer from the Dollar Tree and use that to hang small toiletries that are used frequently, like tooth brushes and toothpaste, floss, Q-tips, accessories, and other small assorted toiletries. The clear pockets make it easy to locate different items, and when it gets beat-up from use, it is cheap and easy to replace.
5. Adding shelves
Before we took to the road, we converted our large cabinet from what I imagine was meant to be a short closet to an actual cabinet with shelves. Most of the items we would have wanted to hang, like coats or dresses, would never have fit in that short cabinet space to begin with, and having a hanging rod in there was really just a waste of space for us. Adding the shelves enabled us to turn them into holders for clothing pods, while the base of the cabinet is a great spot to store canned goods. We have one external cabinet on the side of the camper that we use to hold utility items, like cleaning supplies, hoses, and other repair items. Using a piece of lined board and some hooks, we were able to add a shelf to this cabinet to maximize our external storage space.
6. Tension rod
Since we took away the only hanging rod form the cabinet mentioned above, we decided to add a tension rod to our dry bath. This was a far better area for us to hang items, as it actually fit the length of our coats and other long items, as well as those articles clothing that get too wrinkled in the clothing pods. Since we largely use the bathhouse at campgrounds, having a “closet” in our shower made the most sense. If we ever need to use our own shower, it is easy enough to temporarily remove the rod and lay the clothing items on the bed.