Tips on Downsizing for RV Life

Updated: Jun 22


I met Kiana in a blogging group and when I learned she was an RVer I asked her to share with us any tips she had for downsizing for RV life. It has been three years since we did it and I wanted someone with a fresh perspective to offer advice. Kiana writes over at Off The Rock Adventures.


Hi! My name is Kiana and my husband and I started to RV full-time in June, 2018. We lived on a small island our whole lives and decided we wanted to do more than just fly on a plane somewhere for adventure. So we decided to buy a truck and camper trailer and hit the road. Naturally, this was a complete lifestyle shift for us that came with new challenges. We definitely needed tips on downsizing for RV Life!


Our truck (Ramsey) and camper trailer (Cooper)

Before we decided to try RV living, we both downsized from living in a house to living in a 600 sq. foot studio. We had already figured out that both of us wanted to try living with less so we could do more traveling and less worrying about our stuff. So, as we got to the end of our three year mission to downsize for RV life, we were still constantly surprised by how much stuff we still had. This is why I cannot stress tip number one enough!


TIPS ON BUYING AN RV


START EARLY

Now, I'm not saying you'll need three years to downsize for RV Life. That's just how much time we had. You can do it in much less time as long as you put the work in. However, no matter how long you think it's going to take you, start earlier than you think you need to. Stuff just seems to pop up out of nowhere...all...the...time. And hey, if you get done early, that's even better. It just gives you more opportunity to enjoy your hometown and the people in it right up until you leave in your RV. Otherwise, you could end up like we did and still be getting rid of things and packing on the last day. No fun!


MAKE LISTS

Now, I know I'm one of the few people who actually enjoy making lists. I can hear some of you groaning from here! But, I do recommend making some to prepare for this life-changing event called RV Life.




Your list could just be of the important things you know you'll want with you in the RV. I can't imagine having set out on the road and realizing I had forgotten something I really needed, like my passport. Or maybe you're bringing a pet and you need to make sure you have its favorite bed. Or your child's treasured stuffed animal. Lists will help you remember everything!


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Another thing you may need to make a list of is to-do's. If you're selling a home, you'll need to do tasks specific to that. If you're going to go full-time in your RV, you'll need to figure out your mail. There are a bunch of to-do's when it comes to moving in to an RV. Ours was a little convoluted since we were moving from Hawai'i to full-time RV'ing on the mainland. But, I don't know how we would have done it without lists!



SCHEDULE TIME FOR TASKS

If you're like us, you're trying to downsize for RV Life while working full-time and keeping up with life in general. So trust me when I say it'll be easier if you schedule out some time to get things done. Even if you have just half an hour to shred that paperwork you've been meaning to, you'll feel more accomplished when it's done. Especially if you have one of those to-do lists you can check things off on (I don't know about you, but I love checking things off as done). Without scheduling, you could end up running around crazy at the end.


GUY APPROVED GIFTS FOR THE RVER


In our situation, we both got off of work around the same time and had the evenings and weekends free. We scheduled time almost every night to go through things. We started small (pared down our desk first, then our bathroom, then tackled larger areas). At one point, we even did the minimalist challenge where we got rid of things for a month - 1 thing on day 1, 2 things on day 2, and so on. The challenge would be great to do in the beginning because it doesn't take as much time when you are first starting out and you can get an idea of how much time you'll need to schedule for future tasks.


GET ORGANIZED

I cannot stress this enough. If you are going to downsize enough to fit into an RV, most of you are going to have to get rid of a lot of stuff. It will be overwhelming. I can almost promise you that.


WE WERE LUCKY ENOUGH TO FIND A CAMPER WITH CABINETS OVER OUR BED, BUT NOT ALL MODELS HAVE THIS FEATURE, UNFORTUNATELY.

But, the good news is that you can minimize the stress by having a system in place. We kept four totes in our living room with labels on them: TRASH, DONATE, KEEP, and SELL. When it was time to work on an area, like our closet, everything would go into one of those boxes.


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It was when we started organizing this way that the process became more manageable and sometimes even fun. That's right, it can be fun! As we started getting rid of things, it was like weight was being lifted off our shoulders. We felt great when we looked around and saw less clutter. We felt better about moving toward our goal of downsizing for RV life. So what had been really difficult in the beginning ended up being fun and rewarding.


ACTUALLY GET THE STUFF OUT OF YOUR HOUSE

Remember those TRASH, DONATE, and SELL boxes? The ones sitting in your living room staring at you every day? Make it a point to actually get that stuff out of your house! Put the trash in bags and take it to the dump or set it outside for trash pick-up. Have a garage sale... or a bunch of them. Take boxes of stuff to a donation center. Just don't let the hard work that you've done end up looking like more clutter and overwhelm you even more. That's also when the cute sweater you wore ten years ago that's sitting right there, on the top of the DONATE box, starts talking to you, saying "Are you really going to throw me away? You could use me again..." Get it out of your house!

WORK CAMPING JOBS FOR RVERS

Our three year downsizing for RV life project included 4 or 5 garage sales. Let me tell you, those can get old really quick. As we got closer to our moving date, we decided how many more times we actually wanted to sit outside in the heat and humidity watching people rummage through our junk. We set a limit of 2 garage sales at the end and donated a bunch after that.