How To Live In An RV Without Feeling Cramped

Have you ever thought about downsizing to live in an RV or a Tiny Home? We had considered it for a few years before we actually started living in an RV. I was both excited and scared thinking about how it would feel to live in an RV.

Image of the inside of an RV with an overlay that says How to live in an RV without feeling cramped

Would we feel cramped? Would we not feel like we had enough space for things? Would the kids adjust? What would happen if it rained for a week straight (note: we had two months of rain and we did just peachy)?

How To Live In An RV Without Feeling Cramped

We started living in an RV due to my husband getting a job 4 hours from home and not wanting to pay rent for a home in the area. First, living on one income we just couldn’t swing it. Two, we didn’t want to when we could live in an RV in a campground and pay 1/4 what we would have paid for rent.

Not to mention our lot rent comes with electricity and water! So, we’re paying $300 per month for our spot on a hill and it’s really lovely. We’re surrounded by trees (not always a good thing — storms) and the campground is always peaceful and quiet.

With two kids, though, it can start feeling quite cramped when no one really has their own space. Both kids share an area with a bunk bed, and, of course, my husband and I share our room area.

But, I can say that the only time it really feels cramped is when the kids are acting up or being loud. Then I sometimes wish for a bit more room.

More posts on RV living:

Tips To Keep From Feeling Cramped When You Live In An RV

#1 Keep clutter to a minimum

This is a big one in an RV, honestly. The fact that it’s a small space means that any sort of clutter can start to really make the walls feel like they’re caving in. I’ve found myself just staring at the living area wide-eyed asking myself how in the world it got that cluttered.

Thankfully, it is a small enough space that it’s pretty quick to clean. Which is amazing and a definite pro when it comes to living in a smaller space then we were before.

Keeping a relatively clean RV will go a long way in making it feel more spacious.

#2 Look for an RV with slide-outs

Initially, I was thinking about finding a simple RV/camper to live in, but once I realized how important slides were that nixed the idea. We currently have 2 slides on our RV and it helps so much!

Our living area feels big enough that we aren’t shuffling by one another to get from one part of the RV to the other. But, the next one we get (if we don’t build a tiny house) will have more slides. The more slides you have the bigger the area feels.

Aim for at least one slide in the living area, and if you can find one with two or more then definitely go for that!

#3 Downsize and get rid of things

I’ll be honest, we are still working on this one. I have a serious kitchen gadget addiction and am finding gadgets that I can use as multi-purpose items (hello, InstaPot!). It’s a work in progress… I’ll just say that.

But, it doesn’t just go for kitchen items. It goes for everything. The more things you can downsize the easier it will be to feel like you have a ton of room. Think of things like clothes, shoes, toys, electronics, bags, hobby items and anything else that you tend to collect.

Downsizing can be hard, but it can also be liberating. So, don’t be afraid to let some stuff go. 🙂

#4 Clean up after yourself ASAP

This goes along with #1, but it’s a whole different thing. The kitchen sink and bathroom areas are small… TINY. So, they can get messy pretty quick.

Do the dishes after you’re finished eating and pick up the bathroom/sink area after you’re done in there. Don’t leave things lying around. Believe me, I’ve had many times where the sink was full of dishes and I started feeling claustrophobic. It’s crazy.

Taking a little extra time to clean up after you’re done doing something will help the room seem brighter longer.

#5 If you have kids, find a way to store toys

It took us probably a year before we found something we liked that actually kept the kids toys from being all over the place. We’re using a clothes basket, but one of those cloth kinds you can get at Target that’s pretty and homey. It makes the kid’s room look nice and all of their toys fit wonderfully in it.

Don’t hesitate to get creative. We were going to build a toy box, but… we’re not exactly wood-savvy folks. Most of our things come out looking kind of rough. So, we splurged on a basket that looks pretty ;).

#6 Use storage areas wisely

Living in an RV proves difficult when it comes to storage areas. Thankfully, our little home has two beds that have storage underneath them, plus a couch that has a storage area. These places can get pretty full pretty quick, especially with winter clothes and excess blankets.

Aside from clothing spaces, any other spaces that you have like cabinets above a couch or under seating should be used wisely. If you find yourself running out of space to put things it may be time to revisit #3 and downsize a little more.

This lifestyle can seem very limiting at first, but after you’re living it for a while it starts to feel very freeing. Not being weighed down by all the things and not worrying about the next best gadget.

Here’s a rule you might find useful: One thing out for one new thing in. Meaning for every new item you want to bring into your RV, you need to get rid of one thing. This keeps your space easy to manage without overcrowding yourself. Of course, that only works with like-sized items ;).

#7 Build shelving if necessary

When we moved into the RV we’re in, our cabinets were (still are mostly) one huge shelf. Meaning there wasn’t a shelf in there to create rows for plates/cups/bowls/etc. We had to go out and buy makeshift shelving… and it’s not really great shelving either. We’re going to be making new shelves soon to separate the cabinet into three shelves. Or two… I haven’t decided.

Another place we added shelving was in our closets. We could have hung things up, but the shelves were much more efficient and useful for us than hangers. Mainly, this was due to the fact that not a lot of weight can be hung in the closet without it ripping the panel down (boooooo). So, the shelves work wonderfully for us and we have a way to stack our clothes nice and neat.

We’ll likely be building a bookshelf type thing here soon that I can stick right by our slide-out. It will serve as sort of a second pantry. Our current pantry gets full way to fast, so we’re going to make another one.

It’s all a work in progress and things are taken one day at a time.

We’ve been so grateful for our time in the RV, even if some days are trying. We feel closer than ever and love the coziness of what we’ve created.

Stay tuned! We’ll be renovating our little place soon!

double image of the outside of an RV and the inside of an RV


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19 Replies to “How To Live In An RV Without Feeling Cramped”

  1. Have you considered suggestions for organizing storage compartments?
    For travel trailer owners, who need to store a weight distribution hitch and spring bars, HITCHPORT stores hitch equipment on the trailer tongue freeing up valuable compartment space.

    1. Hi Gary,

      That is definitely on our list. I’ve never heard of HITCHPORT before. I’ll have to check them out.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      1. You’re really lucky. You can’t rent anything nice in Colorado for under $700 plus you pay electric!

        1. Gracious! I think everything is more expensive in Colorado though. Our housing isn’t near as much as housing up there. A friend of mine lived in Denver a while back and we compared one day.

          We did luck out on the not paying electricity or water part. But, I think most of the places we looked aside from a few were all inclusive. Which is pretty awesome. Maybe you could find something around there that’s like that OR find someone that will allow you to camp on their land?

          What part of Colorado are you in?

          1. We lived in an RV until my husband was transferred to Colorado. RV spaces in Colorado Springs were at least $500 a week, and at that, we would have to move every week until November. We ended up renting a house instead.

          2. Gracious! That is insane! I’m sorry Colorado Springs was like that. I can’t imagine. What does your husband do?

  2. We have the same camper as in your picture; I bought an ottoman/ coffee table/ toy box for less than $75.00. I needed more counter space ; so I bought a butcher block with 2 shelves on wheels that I had to assemble for $100.00. I personally could not live with the factory installed window treatments. I took those down and put new valances above the windows with shades. New cloth shower curtain & mat.

    1. I waited for over a year before I could rip down the valances. This was my in-law’s camper before I said: “ok, we’re buying it because I can’t take it anymore.” I’m so glad I can do what I want in here now!

      Where did you get your butcher block? I’d love to see what it looks like. I hate how little counter space we have, but we use our table right now mostly. I’m hoping to replace this wobbly thing with something way more sturdy here soon. I have a list my husband is afraid of haha.

      We replaced the curtain as well and added a shower mat recently because washing towels so often was getting old and a wet smelly towel in the bathroom wasn’t appealing.

  3. I’m not sure this is the butcher block she was referring to, but We bought an Origami foldable Kitchen Island from Amazon, which is on locking wheels and is the same height as our RV countertop. It was a game changer. It comes in about 5 colors, folds up, if necessary, and has 2 shelves. It’s pretty sturdy and solved our problem of no counter space. When we travel, we just slide it over onto the slide. It could easily be folded up, also.
    Here is the link

    1. Thanks for the link Diane!!! I’ll show this to my husband tonight and see if he’ll let me get it ;). I’m always on the lookout for ways to make our space better!


  4. Have you considered helping travel trailer owners with weight distribution hitch storage? HITCHPORT Storage Mounts store the hitch and spring bars on the trailer tongue at a convenient height for quick and easy hitching while freeing up valuable compartment space and leaving a greasy hitch outside. Secure it with a deadbolt pin or python cable lock. See DEMO and testimonials

  5. I love this guide! I really wish we had bought a camper with slide outs… I think it really would have been much more spacious. And I really feel motivated to follow your tip about picking up after yourself right away! I’m so bad about jumping to take care of a kid, or go back outside or whatever. It doesn’t take much for a camper to look cluttered!

    1. Picking up after you do things is such a big help. Our kids went to visit their grandparents last week and my husband and I didn’t really clean up, and boy could you tell a difference. We just kinda took a chill pill on it all and by the end, we were itching to clean the camper really good.

  6. Hi, I live in an RV also. I do not have children. My hats of to you doing it with children. So do you currently live in Ms or La? I live in Ms. Just curious. Other people I know who are full time living are so far away!

  7. Thank you for this! We are on one year of living in a travel trailer. I have a 9 month old and a 2 year old so it gets cluttered feeling fasssstt!! These were such helpful tips! I hope to read more rv-living tips!

    1. Hi Liz,

      Yes! It’s so easy for little ones to take their stuff and spread it everywhere. Some days it looks like a tornado went through our RV lol.

  8. Thank you for pointing out that you should make sure and take a little extra time to clean up something after you are done with it to make living in your RV easier. My husband and I love traveling in our RV and we are looking for some new sites. I’ll have to look into finding the best parks in our area.

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