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4 Tips to Transition from RV Living

Here are four tips to make the transition out of RV living as smooth as possible.

By
Amanda Thomas,
June 2, 2016
Episode #207

When Mr. DCeo and I decided to move in to an RV and travel the country, we really didn’t know what we were doing. We weren’t sure where we would go, how we would get there, or even if our setup was going to be able to make it out of the state of Arizona. The one thing that I think we had a pretty good idea on, though, was that it was going to take some extreme organizing to downsize from a 2700 square foot house into about 150 square feet of RV living space. Luckily I love to organize, and had a blast coming up with ideas to make sure that we were able to neatly fit everything we thought we would need into the storage spaces we had available.

What I didn’t realize at the time was how important those organizing tactics were going to be when we transitioned back out of the RV. When we started our journey, it was going to be for an indefinite amount of time, so moving back in to our big home wasn’t even in our minds. When we found out I was pregnant, the plan had to be adjusted. We are back in our house for a couple months while we wait for the baby to come and then adjust to life as a family of 3. This means that we had to move almost everything OUT of the RV and back into our home.

This practice is not uncommon with families who live full time on the road. If you follow many RVing families on Instagram, you’ll see that many of them alternate going out on the road for a predetermined amount of time with living in a stationary house for a while. The amount of time spent in each location is different for each family, but what remains constant is the fact that there is a transition time. And the more organized a family can be with their belongings, the quicker that transition time can be.

Here are some of the tricks we’ve learned in our first transition cycle:

Use Drawer Compartments, Not Drawer Dividers

When you are standing in the drawer organizing area of your favorite organizing store, you’re likely going to see two types of drawer organizers. One type is the spring loaded or adjustable dividers that promise to provide flexibility for any storage need. The other type is the ones that look like little baskets that fit into the drawers. These compartments may not provide as much flexibility as the spring loaded dividers, but they make transitioning a hundred times easier!

When we moved from our RV back in to our home, we discovered just how easy it was to take those compartments out of one closet and put them in to the other closet. All our socks, undies, and other items stayed contained, so we were able to move everything as categories, not individual items. Anything that was already contained was so much easier to get put away in the “new” place compared to items that had to be individually removed. We learned an important lesson for the next transition and will be organizing even more items in these containers to make the move faster and easier.

Move Hangers, Not Just Clothes

When we were moving out of the RV, I started to remove our hanging clothes from the hangers. I knew we had a whole closet full of nice hangers waiting for us in the house, so my initial plan was to remove them from the slim hangers we needed to make things fit in our RV and replace them on the nice wooden hangers in the house. Luckily, I realized after removing just a couple items from hangers that this was a colossal waste of time.

Instead, I grabbed a laundry basket and started to carefully pile stacks of clothes with hangers still attached into the basket. I then took that basket into my closet and swiftly moved the stacks of hanging clothes on to the hanging bar in the house closet. Once I moved the extra wooden hangers out of the way, the closet was immediately functional. If I would have removed all the items from hangers and then put them on the other hangers, the process likely would have taken me hours. By moving everything on their hangers, it took me about 15 minutes.  

Have Doubles of Your Favorites

When we moved in to our RV, I made sure to grab my favorite cooking utensils to take with us. We had duplicates of most of these items already in the house, so we were able to leave a decent set at the house while we had our most used ones with us on the road. When we transitioned back to the house, I didn’t think twice about leaving the kitchen utensils in the RV knowing that we had a set at the house.

What I hadn’t considered was that the ones at the house were the ones we didn’t like to use, and that I would quickly start to miss having my favorites available. I actually sent my husband back to the stored RV to pick up my favorites so I could use them instead of the set at the house. When we do this transition again, I am going to buy another set of my favorite items to keep at the house. When it comes to little items like cooking utensils, it’s easy to overlook or forget something. Rather than chance it and having to buy an item on the road to make do, I’d rather have double sets of my favorite items and leave one in each place. With the amount of cooking I do, it’s worth it for me to do that, but you might find that having double sets of something else is more important to you. Let’s just say you figure it out pretty quickly on the first time you transition!

Expect to Find Projects

Living in an RV means you are almost constantly going to have to make repairs to your rig. As one person we met on the road put it, “You’re driving your home through an earthquake several times a month. Things are going to need attention.” We had gotten in to a routine of checking for damage while we were on the road, but what we weren’t expecting was that we’d find more when we starting pulling things out of the RV during our transition in to our home.

When the cabinets are emptied, you can see if there’s damage to the walls behind the stuff you had been storing. When the exterior storage compartments are empty, you can easily see if any water had been leaking in during drives in the rain. When you pull everything out from under the sink, you can see if the there was a drip you hadn’t yet caught. While we knew there would be some projects to work on before we stored the RV, we were still caught off guard by a few extra projects that were discovered as we emptied the storage areas. We learned to expect the unexpected and set aside some extra time during the next transitions.

We’ll be continuing to learn as we go out for our next round of life on the road. As we do, I’ll be sure to share the lessons we learn and the mistakes that we make!

Until next time, I’m the Domestic CEO, helping you love your home.

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