Organizing your RV
How To's and Why Not's, RV Organization, RV Tips, Tricks & Lessons, RV Upgrades & Mods

The Best Tips for Organizing Your RV Stuff

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 seven years later. Everything we have fits inside 39 feet, which takes a lot of organizing and hoping that you don’t have a mess to clean up when you get to your new destination

Here Are Some Top Suggestions

Always have a First Aid KitEven 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 RodsThese 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!

Stackable can organizer

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. 

Pantry

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.

Mattress Topper

Quilted Mattress Pad

2024 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 holderThese 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 seven years now. TIP: We blow it out (filters and all) often with an air compressor. We still have that same yellow Lab, 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 2024 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.

Neater Feeder      

Dog/Cat food storage containersNo 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!

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. 

It’s 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!

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!

2024 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. 

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 usthe 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 five 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. 

So – You’re shopping on Amazon? I mean, who doesn’t, right? Please consider using our link. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, and it gives us a few extra pennies. Click below to use our link and then just shop like normal. Don’t forget ~ check out within 24 hours so we get credit! Thank you!! It really means a lot to us!

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Organizing your RV
How To's and Why Not's, RV Organization, RV Tips, Tricks & Lessons, RV Upgrades & Mods

31 More Must-Have RV Accessories

Organizing The RV On a Budget

Updated for 2024!! Many more bonus items were added!

I can’t count the number of times someone has walked into my RV and said, “Oh my gosh, I need that; where did you get it?”. I put together a large list in our first blog but realized I forgot so many more things. We’re in our 6th year of full-time travel, and we’ve learned a lot about what works and doesn’t.

We try to do all our organizing on a small budget. I hope you find the following items useful. Please reach out if you have any questions or need further ideas on organizing your RV. 

Check out our other organizing blogs:

KeyholderOrganizing your keys! We have this hanging just inside the RV door so we could always have our keys easily accessible.

Drawer Dividers – I love these in my kitchen drawers. I know it takes up just a bit more space in such a small drawer, but they really work! They keep everything on its own side, and because they are adjustable, they will fit in any drawer. I put them in one of my plastic bins to divide stuff and use them in my clothes drawers. You won’t be sorry! They have really come in handy.

Storage Baskets These are the best I’ve ever had! It is very sturdy and fits perfectly in my closet. I actually have 9 of them stretched across the back of my closet shelves. Three on each shelf. I keep overflow bathroom items inside (ace bandages, hiking items, cleaning supplies I don’t often use, water filters for the trailer, vacuum accessories, winter hats, gloves, and scarfs. There are so many uses for these, and I’ve had these baskets since before we started living full-time in our RV. They are still in perfect shape.

Add A ShelfAs funny as this might sound, this is a perfect fit in most RV cabinets. So many people complain about needing something to add more shelf space inside the cabinet. These work great!! Measure and make sure they will fit where you need them. I used them in my bathroom cabinet, and under my sink

Picnic Caddy We eat together with friends a lot! This makes it so easy to gather everything we need to meet our friends outside. 

Security SafeDon’t forget just because you’re not in a sticks-and-bricks house doesn’t mean you don’t need to secure your items. We love our safe! Hint: Make sure you secure it permanently to the floor somewhere convenient. 

Speaking of securing your item, check out these fire-safe bags! Small! Compact! And you can always get a few of them and store your important documents inside. 

An Organizing Video for You!

We recently made a video using some amazing spice cabinet organizing tools. I will link them below the video!

These are the spice trays used in the above video. 

Accessorizing An RV On a Budget

Drinking water hose – Please don’t forget you need a special hose for filling your drinking water.  

Weather Radio – This is not an option if you’re living in your RV full-time. It might seem like a frivolous purchase, but it’s not. We know we can rely on the internet for most weather, but when you’re sound asleep during a storm, you aren’t going to be able to rely on the internet. This is a super useful tool. Like a fire alarm, you should have this.

RV Sewer Hose SupportNo one likes to talk about the sewer, but this is a really handy item to have. 

2024 Update

I love these wall-mounted dry food dispensers!! I don’t travel with kids, but I imagine these would be so handy traveling with kids. Getting two sets of these is highly recommended. Even if you mount these inside your storage cabinet or pantry vs. on a wall outside, you’ll find some great things to use this for. Cereal, rice, pasta, coffee beans, candy, oatmeal, snacks, trail mix, and much more!

Ok, these Twist & Lock shower caddies have worked really well! No drilling is needed, and they really do stay put! There are so many options! Here are a few we love!

Metal Folding TableYou won’t realize just how much you will love these until you get them. They are perfect for sitting outside. Easy to store. And they don’t melt when you put hot stuff on them. 

Water Bandit Ever heard of one? Me either! Not until we got to a water spigot that didn’t have threads to fill our tank with our traditional hose. That’s when my talented husband said, “I spent $10 on this really cool thing just for this purpose”. And pulled this out of our toolbox. We’ve used it many times and helped friends many times with it. 

Screen Door HandleThis has been one of my top favorite items we installed in our RV. Between this door handle and the screen door protector you can find here, it’s made our life much easier. Did I mention we have a dog who has put her head through the screen door a few times?

Garmin RV GPSEveryone always asks us about our GPS. We love our Garmin RV edition. A favorite thing about it we enjoy is that we have put the height and length of our RV into the settings, and the GPS will not take us on any roads that we can’t fit down or bridges that are too low. We have had zero problems with our GPS, other than the occasional new road that was added. We do have free lifetime map updates.

Meat Chopper – This sounds like a funny thing to add to my list, but I actually listed this on a group list I was on as my #1 favorite kitchen tool. Ha!

Shower SqueegeeThis has really helped keep the humidity down when needed and also helped keep the water spots off the shower doors. We’ve used it for a year now. No problems and it’s never fallen off the shower wall. 

Don’t laugh! It’ll happen to you! Day of the Week Clock. I used to think it was crazy not to know what day of the week it is. I’m so there!! When you don’t have a regular job, it’s hard to keep track of the days. 

Bug Zapper – You are going to absolutely LOVE me! 🙂 We’ve actually had more fun with these than we should have. But in reality, these work amazingly!!

Brita Water Pitcher We do have a whole RV filter, but we still filter the drinking water and water for making coffee, which goes through yet another filter. Guess I’m a little neurotic about my water. Check out our water filter blog here: The Best RV Water Filter

Collapsible Colander with FunnelAnother great item for the small RV.

Portable Washing Machine I elected not to have a washer and dryer installed in my RV. I already had a dishwasher I didn’t want. I prefer to go to the laundromat and just get all my laundry done in an hour, a couple of times a month. This is a good alternative for those in-between times or when you have a “hand wash” item you just need to do yourself. It’s easily stored, small, and you can use it outside even. 

Clothes LineYou’ll use this more than you think! 

Wash All – You will love this waterless cleaner. Super easy and the best product I have ever used to wash/wax your RV. Go ahead, read the reviews, and ask around. 

Bose Bluetooth Speaker – This is the most epic sound in a small speaker we have ever heard. We love sitting outside, and this little speaker is perfect for streaming music.

So – You’re shopping on Amazon? I mean, who doesn’t, right? Please consider using our link. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, and it gives us a few extra pennies. Click below to use our link and then just shop like normal. Don’t forget ~ check out within 24 hours, so we get credit! Thank you!! It really means a lot to us!

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Boondocking / Dry Camping, How To's and Why Not's, Life ~ Thoughts ~ Writings, Our Life Before Full-Time RVing, RV Organization, RV Tips, Tricks & Lessons

What To Do With Photos When Downsizing

OMG – SO MANY PICTURES!

What Do You Do With All Those Photos?

In the last 6 + years of traveling, one of the biggest questions we get has been about stuff and how to downsize. Some of the most sentimental things are photographs. What do you do with hundreds, maybe even tens of thousands of photos, negatives, and old family heirloom photos? This is something very possibly our children will never have to experience. With everything digital now, everything is kept on small storage devices from the beginning. But before digital, I had film, negatives, tintype, and slides. 

I (Stacy) was raised by my grandparents. So there was a generation gap there. I was left with thousands of old photos, slides, and pictures. A lot of people I’d never met. But never the less part of my past. Then I got married, had 2 beautiful daughters, traveled for 20 years on active duty military, and took thousands of pictures on film. Meaning I had thousands of negatives. 

Here are some helpful tips on what worked for us!

Should You Get Rid of Your Pictures? 

Yes and no! Going through pictures took me a solid 4 months. I devoted many weekends to sitting down and dividing pictures into two piles. Keep, and throw away.

What is this?

Yes, I threw some away. There were pictures I had no idea even what it was, let alone what it was supposed to be when I took them. I remember thinking Why did I keep this? Pictures of my thumb in the way or what looked like a TV in the background at a weird angle (possibly the camera sitting on my lap was accidentally clicked). I would get them developed, put them into a box, and that’s where they stayed. How many of you can relate?

After weeks of going through picture by picture, I then had one big pile of keepers. I then started this process all over again. Five photos of the same thing weren’t needed. I carefully picked out the best one (maybe two) and again my pile got smaller. 

Storing the Pictures You’re Keeping

So now what? Do you have a big pile of pictures to carry in an RV or store in a small space? So after you read the above sentence, you’re probably thinking, I have very few pictures now, right? Wrong! First off, I love photography, and second, I’m a mom, and third I’m a “daughter” who was left hundreds and hundreds of family photos. So what did I do? I packed them all in a box and shipped them to Scan Cafe to be scanned. Yes, this can be done yourself, but how many hours and hours do you really want to spend scanning one photo at a time? Both Justin and I worked full time, had our last daughter still at home very active in school sports, plus we were still trying to go through and sell 99% of our household items and the bottom line was we simply did not have time to do this ourselves. I do not have an affiliate with, nor am I paid from Scan Cafe. I’m just a pleased customer. I know there are several companies out there that do similar scanning but after quite a bit of research, I loved the fact that every old, faded photo was corrected and color fixed for free! About 6 weeks after I mailed my first box of negatives and pictures, I received a link to view them online. I then went through them all one more time and picked the ones I wanted to be saved in high quality on discs and sent back to me. They even returned all the original pictures and negatives. 

So what’s the point if you still have all those pictures and negatives?

What’s the Point?

There really was a point! I’m now organized, and I’ll bet I threw away hundreds of photos that were similar to the ones above, of something I couldn’t even recognize. I don’t know why we keep some of the things we do. But I personally could not throw these originals away. We threw away, donated, and sold 99% of our stuff. Pictures were not in the deal! Ha, But I sure had a whole lot less, and now I have them saved digitally as well. That was a pretty big accomplishment in my book! Someday, down the line, I will leave these to my girls and my grandkids, and I’ll let them figure it out. I won’t be leaving them a huge house of “stuff” to go through, just a few boxes of pictures that I hope bring a smile to their face. But with them all organized and now on discs saved digitally, I felt I could now carry these discs with me in my fire-safe box. 100 years of pictures saved on discs that I can fit in my fire safe box? WOW! 

What did I actually do with all those originals I did keep?

What Did I Do With All Those Originals I Kept?

I organized them yet one more time into sizes and bought some of these very durable, sturdy, plastic photo storage boxes. (Please do yourself a favor and don’t buy the typical paper/cardboard boxes I see out there to store these precious photos!) These photo storage containers hold so many photos!! I bought six of them. Yes, six! In one of them, I took out all the dividers and put all the larger pictures inside. These boxes are acid-free, and though I don’t know if they claim to be completely airtight, I do believe they are pretty safe in these. These also come in a pack of three (here) if you’re ordering them in bulk.

Pictures were definitely the hardest thing for me to let go of. Once you decide you’re going to start this process, take it slow! I know for our over-scheduled weekends, I would pull out one box of pictures early on Saturday morning when everyone else was still in bed, and I’d go through pictures while drinking my coffee. Those were precious times for me! I smiled, cried, and laughed. I remembered things I had forgotten. Think in terms of one box at a time, and it will get done. I promise!

How Much Did This Cost Me?

First let me say that before I decided to send my items out to be scanned, I weighed all the options. I looked at scanners, negative scanners, at least five different companies online, and ultimately this was the best option for me. I also started this process very early in the timeline of downsizing. So I had time. I could do this on weekends when it was raining/snowing or early in the mornings when no other plans were happening. Below is a screenshot of what my costs were. You may have more photos. You may have less. I did mine in 3 different stages with Scan Cafe. Also, remember these were prices a few years ago (dates on screenshot).

I’d love you to share your ideas for preserving your photos!

Here are a few more blogs I think you’d love to read!

So – You’re shopping on Amazon? I mean who doesn’t, right? Please consider using our link. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, giving us a few extra pennies. Click below to use our link and then just shop like normal. Don’t forget ~ check out within 24 hours so we get credit! Thank you!! It really means a lot to us!

How To's and Why Not's, Life ~ Thoughts ~ Writings, Our Life Before Full-Time RVing, RV Organization, RV Tips, Tricks & Lessons

What To Do With Sentimental Items When Downsizing

You got rid of what?

When we were downsizing to live and travel full-time in our RV, we got so many questions on this topic. What do you do with Grandma’s punch bowl from the 1940s? Or the old pictures that were passed down? Well, I’m going to tell you what we did. There is no right or wrong answer here. I’m going to share what worked for us, and maybe you’ll get some ideas of your own out of our suggestions. 

I (Stacy) am an only child, raised by my grandparents. So, there was a generation gap there, and I also was left all the stuff when they passed away. Can I just say I’m glad, as a society, we’ve graduated from the doily stage? Ha! I think my grandma had everything in the house on top of a doily. So what did I do with everything in that vast, 4 bedrooms, 2-car garage house? My memories aren’t in “stuff”. If you’re keeping the stuff because it was just Grandma’s but really didn’t use it, and it is just sitting there only because it was Grandma’s, I’d like to offer you alternative ways to “remember it.”  

The Stuff

If it means something to you, and not simply “it was grandmas”, and you actually have fond memories surrounding it, why not take a few beautiful pictures of that punch bowl, old desk, or the porcelain doll she so cared about? If those items bring you memories by looking at them, then get those pictures printed out, put them into a beautiful scrapbook, and write that memory down next to the picture. That’s much smaller than any item. Imagine how those memories or stories can be passed down now! And then imagine the joy of passing that item on to someone who will really use it. Either in your own family or bless another family with it. You can do this with hundreds of items. If you have 100 pictures of 100 items, which one is smaller?

The beautiful heavy punch bowl of my grandma’s was something that I actually don’t remember seeing … ever … in our house. It was tucked away in a dark deep cabinet and I found it after she passed. I had it looked at for value, and it was simply a very heavy, worthless, punch bowl. One that I would never use. So along with thousands of other things, I donated them, or dropped them off at the auction house in town and made a few dollars. None of my memories have anything to do with the stuff. All my memories have everything to do with moments. Stories. Time spent together. Vacations we took. Holidays we were together. Stories at night before bed. Not punch bowls and old macrame owls hanging on the wall (tell me someone remembers those! Ha!)

Pictures

I had 100+ years of pictures passed down to me. This was such an important part of downsizing for me, that I actually did a whole blog about it. Pictures are so important! Follow the link below and I promise you’ll get some great ideas from what I did to downsize our pictures.

Click here to read What To Do With Photos When Downsizing

Now that you have smaller amounts of stuff and all your priceless pictures are saved on a disc smaller than the palm of your hand, what are you waiting for? Get out there and make more memories! You don’t need that old macrame owl or 400 doilies to give you those memories. They are already with you.  I’d love to hear our ideas on sentimental items and what you did with them. Please share your brilliant ideas below in the comments.

Here are a few blogs we think you’ll love!

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How To's and Why Not's, RV Tips, Tricks & Lessons

Boondocking – Our Top 10 Tips on Free Camping

Boondocking is defined as: Camping without hookups. Also referred to as dry camping. Boondocking means staying in a completely undeveloped area. Often Free.

Why is it that before we started boondocking, we were so afraid of it? And I know we aren’t alone. Well, I can tell you, it’s because of the unknown. Let’s go back over 4 years ago. We decided to sell our two homes, quit our jobs, and live simply, debt-free. But we wanted our new home to be a nice place that was comfortable for us. We decided on a 39-foot Grand Design Solitude. This wasn’t our first RV or even our 2nd. We raised our two kids by spending weekends and holidays camping and roasting marshmallows over open campfires for years. Though, living in it would be different. So the research began. And continued.

Vandalia.jpg

So we are here to share all our information.  The good. The not-so-good. The secrets from talking to the locals (we love our locals! And we talk to them a lot) We want you to know that it’s ok to be apprehensive and a little scared. But the way to get over that is to try! Free camping is perceived as camping in a location right out of an old horror movie. We have found some of the most amazing places that we’ve both agreed that we would have even paid to stay there it was so incredible. 

Tip #1

Be flexible. Do your research before you go. We sat one day at McDonald’s for 3 hours doing research on their free wi-fi so we could be prepared for the next place. Especially having a larger RV, make sure you read the reviews, check out Google maps and follow the road in, ensure you can get in … and more importantly, OUT!

Tip #2

Have a plan B (and C). This is so important!! We always have 2 places plus a local Walmart scoped out. Just in case! We can always find out some information, but sometimes it’s very limited. So many people are out there boondocking nowadays, and there is a lot of helpful information to read. But always take it for what it’s worth. Remember, this is their opinion. For example – we once read 3 out of 10 reviews on a place where they said it was the worst place they had been, trashy, terrible, and unlevel. They wouldn’t recommend a rig over 15 feet and on and on. We decided to try it and it ended up being very clean, very level, and the best place we had been in a long time.

Tip #3

Always travel during the day. Our rule on drive days is, that we are on the road by 9 (ok, we say 9, but that’s never happened. We are slow early morning movers since we quit our O’dark 30 alarm clock jobs. But we are always on the road for sure by 10 am).

Youngs Creek

And off the road by 3. We almost exclusively stick to this. That way it gives us time if there is an emergency or we get lost or we arrive and don’t feel comfortable or don’t fit (did we mention we are almost 40 feet long?). 

Tip #4

Don’t rush! If you’re reading this and you are a full-time RV-er, don’t drive 8-10 hours in one day. If you need to get from CA to FL, don’t give yourself 2 days to do it. We drive about 3-6 hours at the most. And we always find a rest area to stretch, pull the slides out, eat lunch, or do internet research. There is so much to see in those few hours. Don’t pass the beauty right in front of you. 

Tip #5

Never ever arrive in the dark. We’d rather arrive and stay in a Walmart Parking lot if an emergency arises than try to get into a boondocking area in the dark. Even if we’ve been there before, we wouldn’t recommend arriving in the dark. Weather changes things, as we’ve already seen with the flooding this year.

Check out our 10 Myths about Boondocking – Debunked here

Tip #6

Join social media lists This can be so helpful. Most people are willing to help and give advice on places to boondock. Join a boondocking list or full-time RV travel list. You’ll get some great help most of the time!

Tip #7

Talk to the locals. Whether it is the guys coming out of the lake after an afternoon of fishing or the local hardware store owner. The locals are valuable resources for everything local. I once was lucky enough to be filling my truck at a fuel station when the local mail carrier pulled up and was able to give me directions on where I could get a propane cylinder refilled for cheap and right around the corner.

Free camping

Tip #8

Arriving early allows you to make choices. In Missouri, there are a lot of conservation areas to boondock, and we found a very nice one. After unhooking and exploring the area just down the road, we found a better spot near the lake we wanted to be in. So we went back and got our RV and moved it. Had we arrived later in the day or in the dark, that wouldn’t have been possible.

Boondocking in Florida

Tip #9

Don’t utilize only one app or one website. Some popular ones are fantastic, but some of the information isn’t reliable, up-to-date, or complete. Cross-check, recheck, and triple-check. It’s not as time-consuming as you think. It takes us about 30 minutes to do our “plan A and plan B” and then scope out the closest Walmart for the last resort plan. We use at least 7 different resources. Apps on our phones and websites.

Tip #10

Watch your days of the week! People who work hard want to get away on the weekend. We’ve been there! Maybe you have also. The best time to find a boondocking spot is Monday-Thursday.  We recently didn’t think about this and pulled into our location on a Friday. With everyone else who was just there for the weekend. We were quickly reminded of why this tip is important. Holiday weekends …. get in no later than Wednesday and plan to stay through the whole weekend. You will be frustrated if you try to get in on Thursday or Friday and expect to find a place to boondock.

We will be continuously updating our list of boondocking areas. We are sure you can find your own, but if you need any help, email us, and we’ll be able to share our information with you. 

AppList

In the end – You got this! Don’t be afraid of what you don’t know. Boondocking is an amazing, safe, and great way to travel around the USA. Did you know in 2018 we traveled and spent a total of $48 on camping fees for the whole year? Want to read how we did it? Click the link below, and we’ll share lots of information with you.

Boondocking in Texas

Here are a few other blogs we think you’ll love!

Thank you for coming to our little corner of the internet! We hope you found value and helpful information and we’d love to hear from you! Send us any questions you might have! We’re here to help!

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Boondocking / Dry Camping, How To's and Why Not's, RV Camping, Rv Solar, RV Tips, Tricks & Lessons

11 Myths About Boondocking

Spring is here, and summer camping is upon us! Many people think boondocking (aka dry camping) means you’re out in the middle of nowhere with nothing. We are here to tell you this couldn’t be further from the truth! Here are 11 myths we know from experience are untrue!

Myth #1 – Boondocking is dangerous and unsafe

Boondocking is not unsafe at all. In 2018 we traveled the whole year and didn’t stay in one campground. We traveled through 19 states and over 25k miles, staying 365 days in unique and beautiful locations. However, if you feel unsafe in a location, another location is typically nearby. Tip: We always have a plan B location picked out, and also the nearest Walmart, Cabelas or Cracker Barrel in the area just in case.

Myth #2 – Boondocking sites are challenging to find and hard to access

Another false statement we’ve heard. We travel in a 40-foot Grand Design 5th Wheel, and as always, it takes about 15 to 20 minutes of research, using multiple websites and reading reviews to ensure we can fit. However, the solitude and views just can’t be beaten! You can check out our link here on what apps we use: Top 20 Phone Apps For RV Travel

Myth #3 – Boondocking is illegal in most places

Boondocking is illegal in “some” places. But not in “most” places. The public lands around the USA are incredible gifts to us. If taken care of, we can use these amazing places. In our years of traveling, we see more and more trash being dumped. This is when the states must get involved, as they do not have the manpower to clean up these areas. We always pick up trash wherever we are. We encourage you to help when and where you can!

Myth #4 – You need to be an experienced camper to boondock

You do not need to be an experienced camper to boondock. You should always do research and be aware of your surroundings, whether you’re boondocking or doing any other event in your life; however, you will learn as you go, and it becomes easier and more of a routine the more you do it.

Myth #5 – Boondocking is uncomfortable and lacking in amenities

Define “Amenities”. If you’re looking for a clubhouse full of bingo cards or a swimming pool full of waterfalls and kids, then this statement may be true. However, there is never a lack of any other amenities. Check out our blog here: Boondocking ~ How We Spent $48 on Camping Fees For the Whole Year

Myth #6 – Boondocking is only for people who want to “rough it”

Did I mention we live in a very nice Grand Design Solitude? This is our 7th year of living full-time in our RV. We have all the comforts of anyone else living in a regular home, only more! Our views change, and we can visit friends one day, swim in the ocean the next, and park near the mountains the next. In Colorado, we had so much sun coming into our solar panels that our batteries were full by noon, and we were making cobbler in the convection oven some days. Do you have to put the money upfront for solar and energy so you can “just live”? Yes! Nevertheless, with the cost of campgrounds being over $100 a night now, I can guarantee you that you’ll not spend $36,000 on an adequate system to be able to live quite amazingly in your RV. Need help with an RV solar quote for your RV? Check out Panels Up Solar!

Myth #7 – You can’t boondock if you have kids or pets

Both statements are again untrue. Kids and pets actually love boondocking. Fewer restrictions and more creativity and freedom for kids.

Myth #8 – Boondocking is only for hippies and free spirits

Well, if we live and travel in our RV, we are free spirits, so what’s wrong with that? I promise we take daily showers and vacuum our floors. Ha!

Myth #9 – Boondocking is only for retirees with no work or family obligations

During most of our seven years in our RV, Justin and I have both worked remotely, and Justin even attended college for 2 years. With RV life being increasingly popular, many young people are getting out there working, getting out of debt, and showing their kids that classrooms have more than four walls.

Myth #10 – If you sell everything and live in an RV, you can’t go back to a house

Wait – What? Do you know how many times I’ve heard people say this? If you sold your house and decided to go on a grand adventure, who says you can’t settle somewhere else again? Why is life one way or another? Guess what? You absolutely can go back to living in a house anytime you want. Perhaps back in the same city you left. Maybe clear across the country. Possibly you’ll move back into a house for 4 or 5 years and then repeat the cycle. Maybe you’ll rent. Maybe you’ll build a house. Possibly you’ll trade up or down in an RV. Maybe you’ll decide to live in a cabin off-grid or save money while traveling so that you buy a mansion. Why is it so badly looked upon to change your mind or experience different things throughout your life? You do you!!! Don’t try to impress people you don’t know or don’t care about. Life is too short. Be happy! If you’re not, change where you are until you are happy.

Thank you to close friends for this photo! We have enjoyed boondocking with friends so often!

Myth #11 – It’s impossible to stay connected and maintain communication while boondocking

That is another completely false statement. I have rarely been in any boondocking situation where I didn’t have full connectivity to be able to work, make phone calls, search the internet or any other connection to the rest of the world. On the rare occasion, we were somewhere without cell/internet service, it was nice just to read a book, and a 5 or 10-minute drive to town could usually get me connected if needed. Check out our blog here: Full-Time RV Life ~ Working Remotely and Staying Connected

In conclusion, try it!! Don’t live your life campground hopping. Campgrounds have some great advantages; however, when you boondock, you’re less restricted, and the quiet and solitude may be just what you need once in a while.

You can read some more of our boondocking blogs here:

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Norwex for RV’ers

This isn’t your typical home-based business, nor do I sell Norwex. I’m just a really happy customer who did a lot of research for you. Why? Because I’m naturally skeptical, and I don’t let go of my money easily for things I don’t research first!

What is Norwex?

Norwex is a home-based company, yes! But the products are about chemical-free, healthy living. The items you purchase from Norwex will seriously change your travel life. As silly as that sounds, it’s true! When we first purchased our Norwex towels, face cloths, and other items, they were just towels. No big deal. I quickly noticed a difference! And after 3 years of using them now, I’ll never use another towel, dishcloths, hand towels, etc. Why? Check out this news story where it was tested in a lab!

Why Norwex?

Silver! That’s why! Norwex Microfiber contains silver ions that kill the growth and spread of bacteria. Bacteria cannot reproduce. So, when you clean a surface, then hang the Norwex Microfibre cloth back up, the silver ions are inactivating any bacteria inside. But wait! That doesn’t mean you don’t wash them! But you will notice they will never smell. I typically wash our towels and clothes once a week, sometimes 9-10 days (living full time in our RV means we get to pick laundry day … and I still hate it). Even in hot, humid Florida where nothing dries, ever … I didn’t have a smell on our towels ever.

Third Party Testing Labs

The science part. Norwex hires third-party testing labs to test the effectiveness of what they claim. These lab tests show that the microfiber removes 99% of bacteria from the surface. Lab testing was also done to make sure there was no cross-contamination. Tests demonstrate that you don’t have to worry about cross-contamination, as the microfiber is holding on to everything it picks up until you wash it. Wait, what? Cleaning … with water?

So I’m not here to give you a big sales pitch. Remember, I don’t sell it! I’m just really confident you’ll love the product! And I want to share that with you! I also won’t tell you that every single item I’ve purchased has been the best. There are a few things I have purchased I simply have not liked! But what I will tell you is if you’re looking for the perfect items for your small RV that will change your way of thinking about towels, sheets, washcloths, hand towels, and more, you will love Norwex. Try it!! Buy a couple of enviro-clothes for your kitchen, or one bath towel, and I promise you, you won’t go back!

My 5 Favorite Products

Guess what?

I’m having a Norwex party! For every person who purchases from my party I will send you a personalized postcard from our latest travels! I’m super confident you’ll love Norwex! Can I just say for a man, Justin loves our Norwex products. That in itself says a lot! He never really notices too much, and he very well could be the next spokesman for Norwex! Ha!

Whether you purchase from me (or a friend or family member who sells it), just do it! You won’t regret it. And .. you get a postcard from us! WOOP WOOP! You’ll have to send me a mailing address, though! Don’t forget!

How To's and Why Not's, Off the Beaten Path Series, Travel Destinations & Stories

Geo-What? What is Geocaching, and How Does it Work? Bringing Free and Family Fun Together.

Geocaching is something we’ve done with our kids since they were young! Let us help you understand what it is, and we’ll guarantee you’ll love it as much as your kids do. 

ge·o·cach·ing — ˈjēōˌkaSHiNG 

It occurred to us one day while speaking with someone that many people still don’t know what this incredibly fun activity is. And the most fun part is, in these unpredictable times of 2020 and 2021, you can absolutely get out and do this while social distancing. 

What is Geocaching?

“Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices (or phone – though I have confirmed the phone is not as accurate and can make this harder). Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location.” There are millions of geocaches hidden around the world—there are probably some near you right now. You probably walk right by them every day. Which is the object of this! They are hidden and unless you know they are there, they are not seen. Sometimes under a rock, inside a tree, under a bush, inside a bird feeder, or under a bridge. The possibilities are endless. 

How We Got Started

We started Geocaching when our youngest daughter was about 5 (she is 24 now). Our girls didn’t spend much time in front of the TV, and video games were pretty expensive. I (Stacy) was a stay-at-home mom for 12 years, and funds were limited, so we learned about Geocaching. A free worldwide scavenger hunt. Who doesn’t like a scavenger hunt? It gets you outside exploring new and different areas. With the technology the way it is today, it’s gotten much easier for families to join, and yet so many of our friends look at us funny when we say we went Geocaching for the afternoon. 

More Information

There is a lot of information out there about this fun activity, but basically, you sign up on their website. It’s free, but they do have a $30-a-year premium membership you can purchase. Which gets you even more caches in your area. You can download their free app on all phones and enter your current location and search. Try it … just for fun, to see how many caches are in your area! Chose any geocache from the list and get information on that cache. If you want to search for it, you would enter into your GPS device the location coordinates, and your handheld GPS (or phone) will lead you to the cache. Our family likes medium, large or extra-large caches. These are typically Tupperware containers or ammo boxes full of “stuff” If you take something, the rule is to put something inside. There is always a logbook to sign and date, and make sure you “log our find” so the owner of the cache knows who was there. You physically sign the book and then log your find electronically online. 

What Are Trackables?

aka: “Travel Bugs” A trackable is a sort of physical geocaching “game piece.” You will often find them in geocaches. Each Trackable is etched with a unique code that can be used to log its movements on Geocaching.com as it travels in the real world. Some of these items have traveled hundreds of thousands of miles thanks to geocachers who move them from cache to cache! 

They can be coins, dog tag types, or connected to a particular item like a key chain, small stuffed animal, etc. These are our favorites. Because we traveled so much in the military, we loved to take them from one state and move them to another.

Here are a few supplies we have. But really, just keeping a bin of fun little items is a great way to share the surprise!

I could go on and on about Geocaching, but there is much more information online for you. Go to www.geocaching.com to find out more. Get your kids involved! My kids are 33 and 24 and we still involve them in this fun outside activity. Now my oldest is a mom herself and loves Geocaching and soon my granddaughter will be running around looking for fun caches everywhere!

So get out! Download the free app on your phone and enjoy your time exploring!

Here are some more fun blog posts we think you’ll love!

So – You’re shopping on Amazon? I mean, who doesn’t, right? Please consider using our link. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, and it gives us a few extra pennies. Click below to use our link and then just shop like normal. Don’t forget ~ check out within 24 hours, so we get credit! Thank you!! It really means a lot to us!

Thank you for stopping by our little corner of the internet! We truly appreciate each and every person who takes the time to read our blogs. We’re honored you spent the last few minutes with us!  If you aren’t signed up to follow us, please do! You’ll be notified of our new blogs when they go up. 

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How To's and Why Not's, Rv Solar, RV Tips, Tricks & Lessons, Travel Destinations & Stories

Boondocking ~ How We Spent $48 on Camping Fees For the Whole Year

In 2018 we challenged ourselves to spend less than $100 in camping fees for the whole year. But wait … let’s go back a bit.

When we bought our 39′ Grand Design 5th wheel and started prepping to leave on our journey, we were diving into the research and asking lots of questions. We were a sponge and wanted to learn everything we could about this boondocking thing. We were not new to RVing, but we were new to full-time RVing and boondocking. I had all the same questions all of you have repeated back to me in the last 2 years. “Is it scary?”, “Do you leave your rig unattended?”, “How do you find the places?”, “How do you know if you’ll fit?”, “Where do I start”, “How do you dump your tanks?”. So back when I was doing my research and trying to learn everything, I was sadly met with things like “give it up, you’ll never boondock in that thing”, and “boondocking in a rig like that isn’t possible.” and “no, we don’t share our information.” To say I was deflated was an understatement. We were told on several occasions we’d never be able to boondock in a Grand Design because it was too fru-fru and too big. Wait … What? Ha! Yes, we were actually told that. So I set out on a mission to prove we could absolutely do this in our size rig.

And with that, I decided I was going to help everyone who asked. I was going to do the research, and answer questions, and always share what I knew. I would mentor people and get them to their goals if need be. And, that’s what we’ve done!

YES! Yes, you can boondock in epic, amazing, places in a 39′ (apparently Fru-Fru) 5th Wheel.

In our first year of boondocking, we did not have solar, and we had a small lead-acid battery bank. Yes, you can boondock with just that. We ran our generators, but we still did it. If you want to see some of the places we boondocked in 2017, check out our tips for boondocking here

At the end of 2017, we saved enough to buy some solar panels. Justin did all the installation himself, and it gave us even more freedom. We decided since it was the end of the year, we would see if we could go all of 2018 under $100. And that we did!

So here’s why you came to read this! You want to know how we did it. I’m going to give you some tips, and then the steps we take to find our places, and then I’m going to give you some helpful items that we did not have in the beginning, but we absolutely couldn’t live without now that we are all in!

TIPS

  • Don’t be afraid! Don’t live your life afraid. Leave your RV. Explore. Live! If there is anything in your rig that is not replaceable then take it with you. We personally have nothing in our rig (other than our pup) that can’t be replaced. The only priceless thing I have, I wear on my finger.
  • Always have a plan B. Always! This is something that has saved us a few times. There is only so much research you can do online.
  • Ask friends for tips on places in the area you’re going to.
  • Be flexible. Our hardest times finding boondocking places is when we “have to” be in a certain area. We’re either lucky or not. And we don’t stress about it. If the cost of fuel is going to be more getting to/from our certain destination every day, then we find a low-cost RV park and go in. No biggie!
  • My last tip is … if you have never boondocked and you start doing it, you’re going to be hooked. You’re going to love it.

Read our Boondocking Myths Debunked – It’s important to rule out these doubts!

HOW WE FIND OUR BOONDOCKING AREAS

We first have a destination. That’s a chore in itself for us sometimes. Ha! There are days we have no idea what we’re having for dinner, let alone where we want to go next. But once we find our destination, we then start jumping on our favorite websites to find free boondocking locations. Our top 3 favorite websites are:

Here is a list of all the websites/apps we use. But the above are our go-to’s first.

Below is an example of what came up when I went into Free Campsites [dot] net and searched Moab, Utah. It shows me where Moab is by the STAR in the middle, and then all those green squares are all free areas to camp. If you click on them you can get all the details, reviews, pictures, etc. Please look at all the websites/apps. They are all different with different information. Even if you find the same place on 2 or 3 websites, the reviews and information might be different and more beneficial on one vs. the other. Sometimes you’ll find an amazing place on one website, and it won’t even be listed on the other.

So once we find the location we like, and according to the reviews, we think we can fit, and all looks good. We then take it to Google Maps, and we look at the area from above, the road going in, etc.

Again, we always have a plan B. (I can’t stress this enough) We find more than one in the same-ish area, and then our 3rd option is a Walmart, or Cracker Barrel in the area as a last resort. We really do not stay at WM or CB often unless we are literally passing through and just need a few hours of sleep to get up and drive again. You don’t want to arrive at a boondocking location that might have ended up being closed due to maintenance, flooding, or yes, even a government shut down, and not have a plan of somewhere else to go.

This process takes us about 20 minutes now. It can take us longer if we’re looking for something specific, or in a very specific area that we aren’t flexible with, but typically doesn’t take us too long to find locations.

And that’s that! We head out to our next destination!

OUR BEST BOONDOCKING GEAR

Through the years we have found a few things we consider priceless for our boondocking. Everyone is different, but we don’t mind spending the money if it makes our boondocking more comfortable.

  • 60-gallon water bladder – This folds up smaller than a typical book when it’s empty and stored. It’s strong. Great quality. We don’t have to move our rig or carry around jugs to go get water. This has been a game-changer for us.
  • Yes, we have solar, but there is still rain. Sometimes for many days. We have had 2 Champion Generators since we left in 2017 and we have nothing bad to say about them. They work like a champ (sorry … that was cheesy).
  • Luci Lights – These are great!!! We love these, and now they even come with a USB phone charger. I mean charging your phone with a solar light is genius right? You might think they are a little pricy, but I promise if you buy one, you’ll be buying more.
  • Clam Shelter – This has been so fun to sit in with friends on a cooler night with our propane fire pit inside (yes you can) and enjoy a warm, bug-free area. Please don’t buy cheap brands! We have had several people approach us telling us that they regretted buying the cheaper brand and they saved less than $100.
  • Propane Firepit – I fought Justin on purchasing this. I mean for free we can gather wood and sit by the fire. I am so glad we have this now and so thankful I gave in on buying it.
  • Back Support Camping Chairs – These don’t look like much, but with our bad backs, they are truly lifesavers. Best chairs ever. We love these chairs!!
  • Buddy Heater – We traveled East for the holidays and I can’t tell you how amazing this little thing is to have!

HOW DO WE FIND OUR RESOURCES WHILE BOONDOCKING?

We wrote a blog about that! Check out How to Find Resources While Boondocking

Another great resource for additional information is Your RV Lifestyle. They offer some great information to help you make your boondocking experience the best it can be.

We are here to tell you this – If you want to boondock, you can absolutely do it. No, you can’t get into every boondocking area, but you can get into millions of them. And you can have epic views!

And our biggest question in 2018 was ….

HOW DO WE DUMP OUR TANKS?

To that, I always say “the same as everyone else”. Just because we boondock all the time doesn’t mean we don’t move. We consider ourselves Full-Time RV Travelers. We don’t stay in one exact location for months on end. In fact, after about a week or two, maybe even three, we start to get a little antsy and start looking for our next adventure. So to fully answer your question, we go to the dump station. Those are easily found all over the U.S. See our blog above on how we find our resources. I’ll bet you’ll be surprised at how easy they are to find! Since we can bring water to our rig with our water bladder (see above link), we really can go about 2 weeks in one location. Yes, we use our bathroom. We didn’t pay all the money for an RV to go outside or use a porta-potty. Our black tank is big enough that we can go a little over 2 weeks before we feel it’s time to go find a dump station. And no, it doesn’t smell. Ever! (I’m a little picky and have been called a bit of a clean freak a time or two, so that would be unacceptable.) And even if we decided we wanted to stay longer than 2 weeks, it’s not hard to hook up, go dump, and come back. We’ve done that before!

HOW DO WE GO MONTHS WITHOUT RUNNING OUR GENERATORS?

This wasn’t always the case! We didn’t always have solar, or lithium batteries. It’s been a work in progress. We’ve saved and installed everything in stages. If you’re interested in seeing our solar setup, check out Justin’s solar blogs starting here. You can also join Justin’s DIY solar group on Facebook. I often refer to Justin as the “RV Solar God”. He’s now up to about 9 installs, but more than the actual install, he’s got the knowledge. I’ve listened to him walk people through a fix 3,000 miles away, while on the phone. Now that’s impressive to a girl who needs help understanding the difference between screwdrivers. Installing your system yourself will save quite a bit of money. Click here to join the DIY Facebook Group.

Whew! If you made it this far ~ Thank you! I hope you learned something. What I can tell you is that like most new things in life, it’s a learning process. I can now say it’s extremely easy to find the sites, get to the sites and I know what I need to look for in the information available. What I can’t tell you is what I’ll find when I get there if that information can’t be obtained online. And that has happened. Last month we arrived at our Plan A spot to discover the entire road was shut down due to construction. We tried to approach from the other side, and it was indeed completely closed from one end to the other. Nowhere online could I have found that. So we had to go to Plan B. But when we first started out, since it was all self-taught, it was not easy. So I encourage you to reach out, we can certainly walk you through it! We can work together to find you your first spot, or just use one of our previous spots. That’s why we share them. You can find all our travel maps here. Starting in 2018! If you’re interested in boondocking, just do us a favor … you have to do it 7-10 times before you make a decision on if you like it or not. Of course, the very first time we boondocked, we both fell in love with it. But I’m here to tell you that you really need to give it a chance. If your first experience isn’t rainbows and sunshine, and is more like mud and rain, please don’t give up! We are here to help!

Reach out! We don’t mind! OptingOutofNormal@gmail.com

We hope you learned something or found value in our information! We’d love to hear from you.

So – You’re shopping on Amazon? I mean who doesn’t, right? Please consider using our link. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, and it gives us a few extra pennies. Click below to use our link and then just shop like normal. Don’t forget ~ check out within 24 hours so we get credit! Thank you!! It really means a lot to us!

Boondocking / Dry Camping, How To's and Why Not's, RV Camping, RV Tips, Tricks & Lessons

Finding Resources While Boondocking

We’ve been on the road and boondocking in a big rig for over 5 years now! You continue to see all our epic boondocking places. Now you’re wondering how we really do all the other stuff that surrounds boondocking. How do we find water, and where do we take our trash? Well, we’re here to break it down for you. It doesn’t stop at just researching and finding the most beautiful epic places we stay for free. There is more to it. And I’m here to share with you some information, ideas, and tips and tricks we have used. 

How Do We Find Water

Water is actually easier to find than you think.

  • Gas stations
  • RV parks (sometimes for a fee)
  • Cabelas
  • National Forests may have spigots randomly placed
  • City Parks
  • Fairgrounds
  • Chamber of Commerce buildings (in CO they had a dump and fill station)
  • Visitors Centers
  • Laundromats (usually have a spigot outside. Just make sure you ask)
  • Churches

Anywhere with a spigot. Look around when you’re driving. You’ll be surprised! Please make sure you ask if there is someone official around, or go into the business and ask. Sometimes there will be a small fee, but in over a year of traveling, we have only ever paid once for water. Here are a couple of things that are helpful in getting water anywhere. Water Thief (don’t let the name scare you Ha!) And Water Bladder. This is a little pricey but you will not regret this purchase if you have a bigger rig you don’t want to move to be able to get water. 

How Do We Dispose of Our Trash?

This is sometimes a very tricky situation. And frustrating at times, I know!  We often find ourselves picking up others’ trash. But where do we put it if trash facilities aren’t available? Our advice?

  • Walk into the grocery store, buy a few items you need and with your full arms of groceries go over to the customer service desk and explain you’re a full-time RVer, and could you possibly dump just a couple of bags of trash in their dumpster outside
  • Another idea is to use the small grocery bags and dispose at a gas station, or in front of a store.
  • A city park
  • Campground in the area (Please make sure you ask if there is someone to ask.)
  • Burning your paper products is another option. (Personally, we don’t have “real” fires much. We use a propane fire pit. We aren’t real crazy about burning our trash. With the glues and the dyes going into the atmosphere, we just don’t do it. It’s just our preference.
  • Highway rest stops usually have trash cans. Again, they can be small, so try using smaller bags.
  • Highway truck stops are another option.
  • Most restaurants have dumpsters, but again, go in, have a meal, and ask if it’s ok.
  • National Forest/tourist information places will have trash facilities. 

How Do We Find Propane?

We personally have 2 portable propane tanks that travel in our trailer, and then 2 extras we travel with. Some rigs have onboard propane tanks, so your resources will be different from ours.

  • We have found Tractor Supply to be the easiest to use. Because they are a chain across the United States. But not all of them sell propane. That’s when google comes in handy. Also, word of mouth. Always ask “well, then who does?”. People are more than helpful and give you information. 
  • Many gas stations also sell propane.
  • ACE Hardware has been lucky for us as well.

How Do We Find Places To Dump Our Black Tank?

There are apps and great websites for that! Here are a few of our favorites

Some other ideas:

  • A lot of welcome centers will offer a dump (some free, some not).
  • A lot of rest areas will have a dump for a small fee too. Bet you never saw them until you looked.
  • Campgrounds will usually charge you if you aren’t a guest, but here’s a situation we ran into last year. We found a city park with electric and water hookups for $11 a night. Free dump on the grounds for guests. And down the road was purely a dump station for $5. So for an extra $6 we plugged in, took Hollywood showers, filled up our fresh water tanks, stayed a great night in a little city park, and left the next day stopping at the dump on the way out. Sometimes you have to just figure out what financially works best for you.
  • Fairgrounds almost always have a dump station. Most of the time free, but sometimes there is a charge.  We do not have a composting toilet but know many people who do, and never have to worry about finding a dump station. 

Finding Resources Off The Beaten Path

A lot of boondocking locations are in rural, out-of-the-way areas. How do we find resources way out there?

  • Aside from Google, Ask! You might run into others staying in the same area as you. Ask them where they got their water, propane, etc.
  • Locals are another great information source. We have simply been getting fuel and asked the gas station attendant questions about where to find resources. They love to share helpful information about their town!
  • Local gas stations or small convenience store clerks will most likely be from the area and usually are happy to share their information. We once were at a gas station when the local postal worker came by. Who better than the postal worker to ask where to find something. People love to share information about their town. 
  • Apps are your friends! There are so many great apps for RV travelers. If you missed our blog on the best apps, check it out here. Most of the apps we use are free, but there are a few we use that cost a very small amount of money (one time) and they are truly helpful. 

How Do We Know Where We Can Camp/Boondock?

What if it’s not listed on a typical free camping app?

  • We use a paid app for that, and it’s so worth it. It’s called US Public Lands. It’s currently $2.99 and helps us find public lands that are ok to stay on for free. It’s an app designed by full-time RV’ers who have traveled for about 12 years now. Excellent app!
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  • We also stop and ask for maps at information offices inside the national forests.

We promise, once you do this a few times, you will be a pro. As we’ve always said, we will make memories and mistakes. The memories outway the mistakes, and you’ll learn from the mistakes.

Here are a few blogs we think you’ll love!

We love hearing from you! Please let us know in the comments what you use for your resources. We love it when we learn new things, and it will benefit everyone. 

Here are some of our Boondocking Videos we hope you enjoy!

Thank you so much for visiting our little corner of the internet. Each and every one of you is appreciated. We hope you found some value in our content. Travel safe! Be well!

So – You’re shopping on Amazon? I mean who doesn’t, right? Please consider using our link. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, and it gives us a few extra pennies. Click below to use our link and then just shop like normal. Don’t forget ~ check out within 24 hours so we get credit! Thank you!! It really means a lot to us!