Are you new to the full-time RV lifestyle? We have hit our 6-year mark of living and traveling in our RV! It has taught us so much about what works, and what doesn’t work in an RV. Below are some really helpful organizing tips and hacks of things we use, and some things that were a total fail. We hope you find some great items you might not have thought of. The things that worked and things that definitely did not! Please understand these are all our personal choices and preferences. What worked (or didn’t) for us. It will, undoubtedly, be different for everyone. This might be a lot to take in, but I promise, these are some items we truly value as full-time RVers.
Travel or Stationary?
Do you travel full-time, or are you stationary? Do you have a home base where you store or “switch out” things from time to time? The answers to these questions make all the difference in our opinion. Yes, you still want your RV to be organized when you’re out on the road, but if you have a sticks and bricks house that you return to here and there, you may not need every inch of your RV maximized for optimal space. Either way, we hope you find our ideas useful.
How Do We Travel?
Our advice comes from the way we travel. We are full-time RV “travelers”. Owning our dream home was a beautiful experience. Deciding to sell it was a choice we made. There are no regrets! Even 5 years later. Everything we have fits inside 39 feet, and that takes a lot of organizing and hoping that when you get to your new destination, you don’t have a mess to clean up.
Here Are Some Top Suggestions
Always have a First Aid Kit. Even if you decide to put one together yourself, please make sure you have one!
Tension rods are your best friends!
I use these for everything!
- Tension rods hold things from falling out in our refrigerator
- They hold our wine and our wine glasses
- They keep our medicine cabinet organized and keep things from falling out
- Double Rods – These are supposed to be used for a refrigerator?! They were not wide enough for me, but I did find them very useful in some of my cabinets!
- THESE tension rods are what I used the most! These are small and fit in most cabinets. Order more than one set! You’ll use these for so much!
Adjustable chrome shelves in the pantry – LIFESAVER for storage! See the picture below!
Bungee cords to hold food in place. See the picture below! This keeps my stuff stored on top from coming out during traveling.
LED Lights Stick-on anywhere – 2022 Update. We have purchased more of these in different sizes. We use them in cabinets, under cabinets, in our closets, etc. We couldn’t be happier with these.
Refrigerator deodorizer. No explanation is needed. You will need this! Small spaces ya know! You can easily buy a box of baking soda, but it’s big compared to these, and if every inch is a concern, you’ll love these.
Let’s talk RV mattress’ — Ok, so everyone complains about the RV mattress. In our sticks and bricks house, we had a mattress that was just over 15 years old. YES, time to replace anyway. So when we first checked out our RV mattress, we thought it was pretty nice! So we decided to keep it and just do a few upgrades to it. After a year of sleeping on it with the below 2 upgrades, it’s one of the most comfortable beds I have ever had! We highly suggest if you are keeping your RV mattress, think about adding these two items. We love them! Click on the links below to view and purchase.
2022 UPDATE: Look at this! We purchased these two items above for our bed back in 2016. We still use them today! Our bed is so comfortable!
Bed Band sheet holder – These have saved us so much money! RV mattresses are just a tad different in size, and our sheets kept coming off. I didn’t want to buy new sheets, as the ones I had bought were super high quality, which came with super high prices. I was happy to find something that works to keep them in place. And a year later, we still love them!
Let’s talk vacuums! I have a Labrador. That should answer everything if you’ve ever owned one. Oh, she’s cute alright! And she sheds only when she’s breathing. I sweep up “puppies” almost daily, and so I needed a vacuum that would really work well on dog hair, but also be really small and easy to store. I got online and researched, and asked in groups of fellow RVers, and I’m so happy to say this is seriously the best vacuum I’ve ever owned. Hands down! Even better than the one I had in my sticks and bricks house. Shark Rocket Vacuum
We’ve used this vacuum for over 6 years now. TIP: We blow it out (filters and all) often with an air compressor. We have that same yellow Lab still, and she sheds beyond belief. You can’t go wrong with this vacuum, but I highly recommend keeping it clean.
Speaking of dogs, why do they have to take a bite of food and then look around? Letting it all drip on the floor! YUCK! The best thing I ever bought for this dog of mine was the below mess-proof dog feeding system!
Another 2022 Update – We still use this. What we love best is that on travel days, her water isn’t all over the floor when we arrive at our destination. If it splashes out, it’s contained.
Dog/Cat food storage containers – No mice! No ants! And in bear country, no bears! Even if you stay in RV parks 100% of the time, you’ll eventually get a mouse. It’s not fun! But these containers mean that mice and critters will not be able to get in your pet food. Ants are not something I’ve had to deal with (yet), but I see them all over our RV groups. These will save your life! Ha Ha! You can certainly buy cheaper, non-airtight containers, but you’ll regret it the first time you get ants or a mouse in there.
Padded car seat cover for pets. Did I mention our dog sheds? This really helps keep the hair off the seat.
Command Strips (please click the link below) Pretty sure I need to own stock in this company. I use these for everything. Here is a sampling of what I have used. We all know about Command Strips so get a bunch! You’ll need them!
- Picture hangers
- Toilet paper holder
- Kitchen towel holder
- Broom and Mop Holder – These are great!! I bought this package of 2, and they hang behind my bedroom door.
- Hooks – I use these in my bathroom both in my shower for hanging wet things and also outside my shower to hold our towels. If you’re looking for the best towels ever – check out our blog about our Norwex towels here!
Collapsible Dish Drainer – let’s talk about this for a moment. I have seen those super cool little drying pads out there. Small, and easy to fold or roll up and put away! Right? Well, the first time I used one, my coffee pot (which I balanced on a spoon) rolled off and completely shattered on the ground. So unless you have amazing Tetris skills, get this awesome collapsible dish drainer! It has been very convenient and I put it right between my back couch and the wall.
Another one of those “I still use it today” items! This dish drainer is perfect for us. It fits between our couch and a little side table on travel days!
Coffee filter dispenser – Works like a charm! I love it! I did not attach it to anything. We didn’t choose to hang it up. But even after six years of travel, it’s one of my top useful items. 2022 update: Looks like this is out of stock. I highly recommend looking for this outside of Amazon if you have to! We love it!
Coffee Cup holder – It works great! Please measure the area you’re putting this in, to make sure you can still get them out of the top, or it won’t work for you! You might want to try this if stacking doesn’t work for you.
Silicone Cup Lids – Who would have thought? I love these things. When we were in Montana, I couldn’t sit outside without flies or mosquitos hovering. These saved my drinks 100 times, if not more, from bugs in my drinks.
Onion Keeper – This does much better than I even expected. Not only does it keep the smell in, but it keeps the cut onion fresh for a very long time.
Cutting Mats – When we left on our full-time journey, I had cutting boards. I wasn’t going to spend the money on something new. I quickly learned how valuable these cutting mats are and how much more efficient and easy to store and use they are.
Collapsible salad spinner – We just didn’t have the storage for the salad spinner we had in our house. When I found this, I was more excited than anything! I had planned just to eat wet salad all the time!
Collapsible laundry basket – Aside from the obvious of it being a laundry basket, I also use this for washing hand wash items. It holds water well, and I liked the square one vs. the oval one. The oval one is hard to store in a square closet. Yes, I use every inch of storage.
Dinner plate holder – Love this! This is truly one of our most loved items. It allowed us to use the space well! And as you can see, we purchased this back in 2016 and still use it today! We are lucky enough to have a small section in our trailer that is made for storing dishes separately. But they only gave us enough separators for three plates. Strange … I know. And believe me, I tried to buy more from the maker. I ended up getting this, and it also holds all my paper plates as well.
Magazine holder for foil, plastic wrap, baggies, etc. I have 4-5 of these that I use for the storage of these types of items. There are other typical foil/baggie holders you can get to fit your space as well! I always find going vertical is the way to go in most RVs. But you may have a short long area that would be better for the 3rd one below.
Shelf liner – I struggled with this stuff until Justin came up with a genius idea! So these shelf liners are great, but they do not stay in place as you would think. We would drive, and I’d come in and open a cabinet, and everything that was on the shelf was shifted. Usually slid forward, and we’d have the liner all bunched up in the front. So I got frustrated because I bought this stuff to keep everything in place. Justin mentioned putting velcro dots on each corner. It worked!!! We use velcro dots often. They also hold our remote to the bedroom wall!
Here are the before and after of my liners with and without the velcro dots. And we tested it … travel day was great! Nothing moved!
Ice Genie – Have you seen these great things? PERFECT for the RVer!
2021 Update: We finally bought an ice maker! We love it! It doesn’t use a lot of power when we’re boondocking and it’s been awesome to have. Here is the one we have!
Silicone Ice Tray I have 2 of these, and they do exactly as they say! I can turn them any which way, and water does not leak out. I’ve used these for over three years, and they are still working perfectly!
Luci Lights & Luci Lights in Color – These are so perfect for the RVer! If you’ve never heard of Luci Lights, you’re missing out! They are on the pricy side, and even though I’m a very thrifty person, I found these lights really worth the money, and the space-saving is wonderful! Tip: On travel day, collapse them and set them up on your truck/RV dash, and they’ll charge while you drive.
USB Charging Ports – These are SUPER easy to install! Let us know if you need some advice and help, and we can certainly help answer questions. Justin put these in 3 places in our bedroom to charge our devices. Super helpful! I don’t think RVs come with enough of these.
Do you boondock? If so, I found this very helpful! It sits in my bathroom, and in the middle of the night, I can have a nice soft light! And the colors are fun for kids too. Easy for them to use to see! Dimmable LED Nightlight
Water Bladder – If you boondock, this will be very convenient for you! Who doesn’t always need a little more water? We’ve been using this now for over five years and have never had any problems. Make sure you rinse it with a couple of caps of bleach/water mixture before storing it. It keeps it clean.
Plastic bins – I would highly recommend getting sets of these all in the same size. We use these for all of the below items. I used these labels to also write on each bin even though they were see-thru (you can call me an organization freak … I’m ok with that, HaHa) Measure … measure …. measure. Get the most of your space with the sizes you can.
- Pet supplies/medicines
- Household items (like glue, tape, command strips, velcro)
- Cords – We bought a couple of these, and they stack and travel great!
- Nuts/Bolts/fuses – These are stored in our under-storage area. Well worth the money! Very good quality and helps keep you really organized.
Magma nesting pot set – Ok RVers … these right here will change you! We had the hardest time making this purchase because of the price, and after six years on the road, I couldn’t be happier with these pans. My only complaint is they didn’t somehow incorporate a pancake pan. Ha Ha Keep in mind, that there are several options, so purchase the ones best for your cooking style. The ones we got were the exact link I sent. They are the non-stick ones. These are the best pans we’ve ever owned and take up such a small amount of space. 2022 update – We are still using this same set. We cook at home every night, and they are fantastic!
De-humidifier – I would never have thought I needed this! Never! Our goals were to spend our time in 70* year-round. Well, the first time it rained for five days straight, our pictures were falling off the wall, and we had so much moisture on the inside of our windows, that it was literally dripping. Of everything we bought for our RV, this was one of the top things I have enjoyed having. It makes living in a small space more comfortable when it’s humid outside. This is the one we bought. It works very well and has been very easy to store when we aren’t using it. You may not need one this large, but we have the room for it. There are much smaller options out there.
Foldable step stool – I’m short! I always need an extra 11 inches!
Plastic container for dry goods #1 and Containers #2 – You know when you order a set of storage containers, and they send you one normal size one and ten that you might be able to fit a grape into? Well, after our mice fiasco, I put most of our food in plastic containers and was determined to find some that real food could fit in. I was not disappointed with either of these purchases!
Something that did NOT work for us — the spice racks everyone seems to use. I did buy them. I did not like them. First off, we are spice hoarders. So taking up the room for 6 or 12 spices wasn’t going to work. They did not stay on the wood finish I have. I tried the alcohol wipes, gorilla 2-sided sticky tabs, velcro, everything I could think of. Fifteen minutes and they were falling off. I threw them away. If they work for you, great! I have my spices just in my cabinet by the microwave. We do ok with them just like that.
Peppermint essential oil – I do diffuse oil as well. However, I defuse the high-quality, brand-named oils. I do not diffuse this brand of peppermint oil. Did you know Peppermint oil is a natural disinfectant? Mice/critter repentant? It is! And after having an issue with 5 little field mice, and lots of food of mine they thought they deserved to rummage through, I now am a firm believer in Peppermint Oil. I use it for many things.
- In a spray bottle, mix two tsp of peppermint oil with two drops of liquid dish soap, and fill the rest with water. Spray under your trailer all around. By the way, this is natural, so you can use this in a National Park or National Forest. I recommend once a week or so. Using often keeps spiders and ants away as well! And everyone around will wonder where the nice Xmas smell is coming from.
- Peppermint-wicking pots can be made really easy. I bought a package of the wicks for tiki torches and cut them to about 4 inches (depends on the container you’re using. I used an old potato salad container). Cut an X on the top of your container. Insert the wick touching the bottom, and mix two tbs of peppermint oil with about half a cup of water. You can also add a drop of soap and stir. The soap keeps the oil and water from separating. Put these wicking pots in your food cabinets. Or under your bathroom/kitchen sink.
Whew! Did you take all that in? If you aren’t too tired – check out part 2 of this list here. We hope it was helpful. I understand there are so many more things out there and so many more things for us to add to this list. Share your favorite tips! We would love to hear them! Thank you again for your support, and we appreciate you using our links.
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28 thoughts on “The Best Tips for Organizing Your RV Stuff”
Such smart ideas for your RV. I would never have thought to put those bars by the food, but it totally makes sense!
Useful, indeed 🙂 thank you for sharing. you did your research well
I put several drops of peppermint oil on a cotton ball that I place in a little cover…and place one in every cabinet and drawer. Keeps the Argentine ants out of the RV. I use soap pieces in drawers to repel mice. The smellier soap the better. Esp. Irish Spring.
Great idea! We did do the peppermint oil on cotton balls and my RV always smelled like Christmas! LOL I never found that the soap worked. I even tried doing the shavings so it was really strong, but it didn’t seem to work. We’ve only had an ant issue one time, and so far no issues again. I hate bugs! LOL
We’ve considered renting an RV for a trip in the future – these are some super helpful tips!
I would love to like in a RV full time! These tips are great. I love the collapsible laundry basket!
I love all these hacks! The tension rods and bungee cords to keep items from flying around while mobile are pure genius!
Who would have thought you would need so many things to live in an RV. I just created a peppermint oil to use it as a repellent. It actually works.
These are such great tips to optimize space in an RV. I would like to try living in an RV for a short time. Thanks for sharing.
I’m not an RV person right now but it’s definitely on my list. Thanks for this in-depth post. Wow never thought about so many of these things.
Very informative and great review. A collapsible salad spinner is what I really need right now. I would love to buy it ASAP.
Thank you! Just click on that link, and it’ll take you right to the salad spinner we bought. Thanks again!
These are some helpful organization hacks even for people living in a small space because let’s admit it, if you’re paying for rent, every inch and square space matters.
Small spaces are tricky! You’re right!
WOW! You amazed me. I once thought of getting an RV. I was younger then and didn’t have my son. …Any way, I admire your approach to healthy and organized living. Who knew that tension rods can go this far, it performs miracles for organization. Thanks for sharing this.
Thank you so very much for your kind words! We just live by the “if it doesn’t work out, you can always go back” rule. 🙂 It’s working out wonderful! Gotta take chances in life or you’ll never know what you might be missing.
Great list! I just added most of them to our “full time rv planning book” for next year. So many things I wouldn’t have thought of? Thank you for making it easier!
Thank you for reading Karla! Glad you found some helpful information! 🙂 I love mine!
I love all these tips, thank you! Quick question about the velcro tabs to hold the shelf liner in place. Do you stick one half of the pair of dots to the bottom of the shelf liner, and the other dot to the shelf? Seems like a silly question, but I couldn’t tell from your photo exactly what you were doing there. Thanks!
Hi! Not a silly question at all. I actually put both pieces/tabs on the liner, and then stuck it to the shelf. It works REALLY good! Still holding! Let me know if you have any other questions.
Thanks for sharing these awesome tips. We just wrapped up our RV renovations with a hardwood floor resurfacing so now we just need to get it all organized to get it up on the road this spring.
That’s awesome!!! I’ll bet it looks amazing!
Thank you for the article. I’m curious how you handle doctors, hospitals and medicines?
Hi! Great question! We, personally, are retired military, so our medical is Tricare, and we use Express Scripts (a mail service) for our meds. Luckily we aren’t on any meds that are too serious and we are monitored just once a year. If we are sick and need a doctor, we can go to any urgent care around the USA or if we need to be seen for something more routine and long term (an example might be back issues) then we look up a local “in-network” Dr, and see if they are accepting new patients. So far it’s worked great for us. Hope that helps. I do know there are lots of blogs out there for different situations that may help you. Best of luck and thank you for your comment.