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Organize and Declutter Your RV

QUESTION:

We are RVers on the road full-time, and it is a constant struggle to keep our rig clean and organized. Do you have any tips to help us?

-Cluttered

Dear Cluttered,
This is a common problem and one that is easy to resolve. Even the largest RV is a confined space. For that reason, adding a few extra items on an occasional basis can make the rig appear messy and cluttered. The key to handling this problem is organization. With little planning, your RV will be clean and comfortable in no time.
Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Invest Time in Cleanup

Most of us simply have too much stuff. You and your travel companion need to set aside a weekend to go through your things and separating them into three piles:

Things to Keep

These items should be things you use or wear frequently and/or things you cannot live without.

Perhaps this list might include a television set, computer, good books, favorite clothing, etc. Guard against the tendency to put everything (or most things) into this group.

Your goal, if you have too much stuff, should be one third of your possessions going into each pile.

Things to Eliminate

This pile should include items you do not use regularly and rarely need.

Examples could be clothing you have not worn in six months or tools and kitchen items rarely used (or could be borrowed from another RVer in a pinch). As soon as you have a box filled, remove it from your home or RV quickly before you change your mind. Don’t give your-self a chance to back out.

It is easy to convince yourself there is nothing expendable in your home. However, I can tell you from personal experience, I conduct a thorough cleansing about every six months and always find several boxes of belongings I no longer need.

Be wary of holding onto and storing things in your RV that have purely emotional, rather than practical, value. If parting with sentimental items, such as your child’s kindergarten artwork, are out of the question, you may consider renting a storage unit. It simply isn’t practical to be driving around the country with these things.

The Maybes

These are items you are unsure about letting go.

You should pack these items into a box and stash them away for a month. Take them out at the end of the month and, if you haven’t needed them in that time, add them to the “Get Rid Of” pile. You could always stretch this process to two months if you start to panic, but not more.

A Place for Everything

Getting organized is crucial to living happily in a small space.

If you have ever watched the Tiny Homes shows on HGTV, you can see how they have a place for everything and keep everything in its place. In addition, many spaces serve dual purposes. For example, a bookshelf may fold down into a desk, depending on the need of the moment.

Start by taking the items in your pile to keep and finding a permanent spot for each item. Obviously, you will need input from your partner on this process, as both of you will need to be on board with the plan for it to work.

Then, make a pact that when you are through using the item, it should be put back into its designated spot. That way, it will always be there when you need it, and it will also not be cluttering up your living space.

New Item In; Old Item Out

Another part of the clutter and disorganization problem is that we tend to accumulate items rapidly without being aware. You can start with a clean and organized RV and, before you know it, it is cluttered with the 16 additional items you accumulated only a week after you’ve organized your space.

Make a deal with yourself that for each new item you bring into your RV or home, you must get rid of at least one item. Getting rid of two items for each new one is even better, as you will then be decreasing your overall clutter. Be firm and hold to the rule that at least one item must leave for each new item that comes across your threshold. Only in this way will you be able to maintain your organization.

Sell or Donate

There are many options for what to do with the things you eliminate.

You can list them on Craig’s List or eBay to earn extra money. A less profitable but quicker solution is to donate items to Goodwill, Salvation Army or another charity organization near your next destination. There are people who would love to have the items you no longer need. You can help yourself and someone else at the same time. Many charitable donations are tax-deductible, too.

Appreciate Simplicity

From time to time, take a moment to look around your clean and simplified domain and appreciate the effort it took to get you there. It was not easy, but you did it. Give yourself a pat on the back and reward your hard work. Maybe treat yourself to a nice dinner out or special time for yourself.

In this manner, you will be encouraged to continue your efforts. Also, you will appreciate your simpler surroundings and will likely be healthier, happier and less stressed in the process.

It is only too easy to accumulate more and more things until you are surrounded and overwhelmed by your stuff. It takes a bit of an effort to stop that cycle, but once you do, you will find that you really appreciate living a simpler existence.

Hopefully, these organization ideas will give you a great start at that process.

Diane Berry

Author

Diane M. Berry

Diane is a therapist in private practice who works extensively with clients on stress management and relationship issues. She and her family are also avid RVers. Her articles are meant to provide information of a general nature and are not intended as specific psychological advice or to take the place of consulting with a health care professional.

4 Responses to “Organize and Declutter Your RV

  • Thanks Diane. FYI Goodwill CEO profits in excess of $2.3M per year!

    https://www.countryliving.com/shopping/a18198848/is-goodwill-a-nonprofit/

  • Great tips!
    Also consider scanning or taking photos or items you are hesitant to get rid of. This way you will always have an electronic version of it and don’t have to take up precious space in your RV.

  • If you are at an RV park or campground, leave your unwanted items in a communal area or next to the trash bin. I’ve shared quite a few items this way and it made me happy knowing my items were going to fellow RVers. I’ve also picked up a couple of useful things this way.

    • Georgianne Austin
      7 months ago

      What a great way to share! Please make sure it is ok with the park management that you leave things in communal areas, or ask if there is a more appropriate place to leave them. Not all campers assume items left behind in communal spaces are for the taking versus mistakenly left behind.

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