Tiny Living Tips: How to Share an RV with Loved Ones

Apr 27, 2020 | Rigs

Tiny Living Tips: How to Share an RV with Loved Ones

Whether you travel in an RV with one person or five, we’ve got tips for how to pack, organize, and maximize your small, shared space.

By Alison Takacs

Photo: Aleksey Korchemkin // Shutterstock

One of the biggest perks of having an RV is the endless access to new spaces and places, combined with the ability to pick up and move somewhere new. And while the world outside your window may be vast, the interior could feel a bit cramped. Sharing an RV with another person—or even multiple people if you’re traveling as a family—can be challenging. Not only is physical space limited inside an RV, but your privacy may be as well. To help, we’ve pulled together some tips for how to peacefully share your RV and ensure everyone feels cozy instead of crowded.

View inside an RV looking out at a couple sitting outside on porch wrapped in a white blanket overlooking green grass
Photo: Aleksey Korchemkin

Organization Is Key

In an RV, a small mess can appear quite large, especially when dealing with minimal square footage. Avoid this by tidying up throughout the day and keeping things as organized as possible. The following space-saving techniques will help you make the most of your limited storage and space. And to ensure you don’t pack too much, check out our downloadable RV packing list.

Bathroom

If you have a bathroom inside your RV, then you know space can be tight. However, there are a few things you can do to make the most of it. Hanging a collapsible shoe rack on the back of the door, or along a tension rod, can provide extra storage for bathroom essentials. Assign each person their own shelf or cubby. This will help eliminate clutter and the mixing of toiletries.

Side by side image of bathroom cabinet full of toiletries next to back of bray bathroom door with decorative red mushroom painted on door
Photo: Autumn Bailey

Command hooks are great for mounting various items, but err on the side of caution as they use an adhesive which could damage your RV’s wallpaper. Look for ones that are specifically made for bathrooms, as they hold up to the higher humidity in RVs. And if you really want to optimize your bathroom space, invest in a set of microfiber towels—they dry quickly and can fold into small, compact squares.

Kitchen

Just like at home, it can be easy to fill your RV’s kitchen cabinets with dishware, cookware, and utensils. But many of these items are large and bulky, so try to pare your collection down to a few key essentials or multi-use items. For example, an Instant Pot allows you to prepare multiple meals—including both dinner and dessert—all within one appliance. Collapsible bowls, dish cradles, and stackable pots and pans will work wonders in saving space (and sanity).

View inside an RV looking towards seating area with pillows and blankets, surrounded by windows
Photo: Aleksey Korchemkin

To help increase counter space, try fitting a cutting board over your stove when it’s not in use. Keep counters free of clutter by using a magnetic board to hold spices, knives, and other kitchen gadgets. Industrial Velcro can be used the same way, and it works great at holding kitchen appliances in-place while driving. Overall, just remember to pack small, light, and plastic whenever possible. 

Bedroom

Socks seem to be notorious for disappearing, and that’s no different when living in an RV. Many RV cabinets are deep, which can lead to poor compartmentalization and unnecessary time spent sifting through many layers of clothing. Cloth closet organizers and collapsible baskets can efficiently fill those tall cabinets and allow for easy access to your own wardrobe. Installing additional shelves into cabinets is another option to maximize their capacity.

Bedroom area inside an RV full of different pillows and white blankets, surrounded by curtained windows on either side
Photo: Aleksey Korchemkin

If you plan to RV in different climates and have gear for both sun and snow, invest in vacuum storage bags for bulkier items, like snow jackets or beach towels. Then put the bags you’re not using in a place where you won’t need to regularly access them, possibly even the RV’s outside storage compartments. And just like with the bathroom, we recommend assigning each person one cabinet or drawer to help keep clothes separate and force you to think about what is essential. After all, if it doesn’t fit in your drawer, do you really need to bring it?

Create Your Own Space

Being able to spend plenty of quality time with family or a significant other is a huge perk of RVing. And while time together on the road should be treasured, everyone occasionally needs some space to themselves. If you’re fortunate enough to have separate or multiple rooms in your RV, then the solution to privacy is pretty simple—each person can simply retreat to a different room. However, in RVs with open floor plans, private spaces must be defined.

Establish Quiet Time

Bunk beds are perfect spaces to help build a personalized corner, especially for kids. Privacy curtains can easily be added to provide some sense of solitude. Even putting up a temporary curtain to section off the sleeping area from the living area is a great way to create some physical boundaries. It’s also helpful to designate certain hours of the day as “personal quiet time.” This is when both adults and kids can relax and enjoy something completely to themselves—reading a book, video chatting with a friend, playing a game on their phone, or watching a show (the last three done with headphones, of course). Add some simple comforts to your space during this quiet time, perhaps by curling up with a soft blanket or making your favorite drink. Create a space that you genuinely enjoy and you’re more likely to spend time there.

Corner seating area inside RV next to open windows with pillows, straw hat, guitar and open book scattered around
Photo: Aleksey Korchemkin

It’s important to recognize that some individuals may need more “quiet time” than others. Be sure to have an open, honest conversation with your partner and kids about the value of setting boundaries and respecting personal space, especially in close quarters. By including some “me” time, you are recharging your own batteries and enhancing the time you and your loved ones spend together.

Be Courteous

The bathroom should be given the highest priority when it comes to cleanliness and courtesy. Leave a small, portable fan in the bathroom to help maximize air flow, and always wipe down counters and surfaces when you’re done. Take any bathroom trash with you, be mindful of excess hair in the shower, shave outside when possible, and always put the toilet seat down. The goal is to leave the small space just as clean, or cleaner, for the next person. Pro tip: Some RVers even choose to use the restrooms at campgrounds or rest stops and leave the RV bathroom for emergencies or late night visits (this will help you conserve water as well). 

Get Outside

Whenever the weather allows, be sure to spread out and enjoy some time outside of the RV. A comfortable seating area or hammock provides an enjoyable place to relax, take a nap, read a book, or listen to music. Prep for dinner at an outdoor picnic table and give yourself some extra space and fresh air. You can even pitch a tent outside and treat that as a separate “room” or private space. And of course, take the time to pursue your own interests, whether it is a quiet solo bike ride or a peaceful nature walk by yourself. Even if just for a few minutes, it’s amazing what being outside can do to your overall mindset and mood.

Folding table and two red camping chairs next to a pitched tent among tall trees with a lake view in the background
Photo: Aleksey Korchemkin

Your RV should feel like home, even if you are dealing with multiple people and very limited square footage. Hopefully, by making a few of these changes and implementing some basic rules, you can create organization, boundaries, and—ultimately—peace in your tiny home on wheels.

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Alison Takacs

Alison Takacs is a vision researcher, wife and mother of two from Dallas, Texas. When not in the lab, she can be found exploring and photographing nature from America’s most treasured hiking trails.