Architect Mies van der Rohe is responsible for the aphorism “less is more” that so many of us yearn to live by. And for sure, less quickly becomes “more than enough” when we squeeze our lives into an RV or camper to hit the road for days, weeks, months, maybe even years. With that in mind, these 16 RV hacks for better living can help elevate your RV lifestyle regardless of the space you have available.
But living in a smaller space doesn’t have to mean living a smaller life. Not at all! For one thing, many people discover that living-with-less cracks open opportunities for adventure, even (or especially) when adventure becomes the simple pleasure of unscheduled time.
To get to that sweet spot where life is not so crowded requires some planning and organization, however. No matter where we are, life is always complicated by something–chores, lost tools, broken pipes, dirty dishes, etc. You know it’s true. RV living requires meaningful solutions for challenges related to space-or lack thereof, weather, system outages, and more. Happily, RVers are famous problem solvers.
In this post we’ve combed through 100s of resources to bring you a collection of ingenious RV hacks. Some offer common sense advice, and a few are remarkable innovations. What they all have in common is that problem was identified and someone stepped in to solve it. Human ingenuity, you gotta love it! Read on for a collection of RV lifestyle hacks that we think rate high on the “WOW” factor.
16 RV Hacks in 5 Categories
- Essential RV Tech Hacks
- Small Space Storage Hacks
- Kitchen & Cooking Hacks–on the Road and Off
- Smart Cleaning Shortcuts
- Making More of Outdoor Space
Essential RV Tech Hacks
- Never lose the remote again. Shifting, falling, and sliding objects is a constant problem when you’re on the road. Add Velcro® backing to every remote and mount them all in one convenient spot. Let’s just call this solution the ultimate remote control.
- Hollywood comes to you when you mount your tablet as a TV. You’ll need a charged tablet, of course, but electricity is not necessarily essential. Command sticky hooks are quick and convenient, especially for areas where mounting hooks with a screw gun is not an option. Four hooks align to face each other, two facing up and two facing down; then simply slide the tablet into place. Don’t forget the popcorn!
- Turn a too-bright LED headlamp into ambient camp lighting. Stretch a 9volt battery-powered headlamp around a gallon jug full of water, light facing towards the jug, to create a glowing, ambient light. Water absorbs and reflects the light for a soft glow, and best of all, it’s portable. Why not just strap the headlamp to your head, you ask? Simple: with this hack you’re sharing softer, diffused light rather than blinding folks nearby.
Small Space Storage Hacks
- Short tension rods prevent shifting loads. This inexpensive hack is popular for good reason. Widely available online or in hardware and big box stores, multi-use, adjustable-length tension rods are effective in the fridge, in cupboards, in the shower, everywhere. Use them to create vertical shelving for kitchenware; create horizontal braces along bookshelves; some people even mount short extension rods along a horizontal brace for use as shoe trees. These safe, plastic tipped rods prevent scratching furniture, appliances, and people, too.
- Stabilize your trash can with an in-cabinet hanging can (also great for composting), or mount it on a track that conveniently rolls the trash can out when you open the cabinet door (perfect for people who dislike bending and reaching). Either option keeps your trash upright and out of sight, because the last thing you want after a long day at the wheel is to face down a kitchen filled with garbage.
- Skinny hangers save space. Sounds obvious, but maybe not! The message here is that it’s always possible to expand existing space with better tools; innovations in technology may surprise you once you see at what’s new.
- Step up your bedmaking game and simplify your laundry. This might just be a game changer. We could easily devote a blog post to sleep: finding the right mattress, a pillow for every sleeper, the softest sheets…we’re getting sleepy just thinking about it. For our purposes today, meet a smart solution to sloppy RV beds and the difficulty of keeping sheets crisp and clean: Quick Zip® sells fitted sheets sized for trucks, boats, and RVs that feature a washable, zip-release top. In other words, wrangle the sheet onto the bed once, and simply zip off the top section to clean. Rezip the cleaned sheet, Cover the bed with a pretty duvet and you’ve got yourself Instagram-worthy bedroom décor. #naptime, y’all.
- Store Vertical. Every recreational vehicle has limited square footage, but when it comes to storage, you can always get skinny and get vertical! A vertical oscillating fan offers diffused ventilation all day and all night (time for that well-deserved nap); Stick vacuum cleaners are lightweight, efficient, and tuck into tight areas that might otherwise be wasted space; ask any cook, a slim immersion hand blender works wonders on soups, sauces, and batters and takes up a fraction of the space usually reserved for stationary mixers.
Kitchen & Cooking RV Hacks on the Road–and Off
- The Instant Pot® works wonders in tight spaces. We’ve said it before. You’ll be hard-pressed to find detractors of this multi-tasking kitchen gadget. For the RV crowd, this combination pressure cooker/slow cooker/rice and grain cooker+ requires far less power than an oven. If that hasn’t sold you, imagine a delicious braise or a spicy BBQ bubbling away while you drive.
- An electric griddle takes cooking smells outside. RVs catch cooking smells; it comes with the territory. If animals are not a consideration, you have power, and the weather cooperates, make use of this brilliant hack. Welcome back, bacon.
Smart Cleaning Shortcuts
- Stop dirt at the door with an awning mat. Simple and efficient, an awning mat is especially helpful if you’re boondocking in the wilderness, and twice as important when sand is an issue. ShadePro universal step covers help, too.
- A retractable laundry line pays for itself and your clothing and linens will smell divine.
- Mount a capped PVC pipe onto your undercarriage to carry plumbing lines (being mindful of the differential). You definitely don’t want to store any bacteria inside your rig.
Making More of Outdoor Space
- Step Stabilizers prevent RVs from swaying, which offers stability and peace of mind. This is an excellent hack for newcomers to life on the road. There are plenty of options on the market. We’ll mark this solution down to “preventable problems I wish I’d known about beforehand.”
- Pie Irons give road food a new meaning. Simply said, an inexpensive pie iron (preferably cast iron, preferably with detachable handles for easy storage) gives you the ability to toast sandwiches, build wraps, make a mean calzone, and yes, make a hand pie over a campfire. The two-sided irons encase your food and the long, heat-proof handles keep your hands away from the fire. Pro tip: refrigerated cinnamon buns (Pilsbury and Trader Joes are both delish) squished into a greased pie iron and set over a campfire on a frosty morning makes for a memorable breakfast, we promise.
- A well-made awning is the best RV hack of all. It’s true. There is nothing more exhausting than an inability to get out of the sun and rain, and no better place to while away a summer afternoon than a shady spot outdoors: just you, your favorite lawn chair, with your diversion of choice by your side.
And More RV Hacks to Come?
There are hundreds of helpful RV hacks for better living created by RVers everywhere, and plenty of them are either inexpensive or even free, depending on what kinds of supplies you have hanging around. Where there’s a problem on the road, you can be sure that there’s an ingenious hack not far behind. We’d love to know some of your favorites. Feedback helps to spread the word, and folks on the road are nothing if not good neighbors.