5 Ways to Optimize Storage in a Travel Trailer
Living and traveling full time in a 21-ft (18 feet of living space) travel trailer with four kids and a dog means you have to get a little creative with the inside storage and where things go. It also means you want it to be comfortable and inviting while providing inspiration for your kids!
Below are five ways that we have attempted to do just that in our Micro Minnie:
1. Convert the shower to a closet
There is basically little to no clothes storage in our trailer. But as full-timers, we have to fit all seasons of clothes for six people. What to do?
Our solution was to turn the shower into the clothes storage area. It has been a great solution for us for multiple reasons. It is a large space that doesn't get used often, so there was a lot of room to be used. And we are fine showering in the bathrooms at the campgrounds -- which normally have unlimited hot water and good water pressure. Plus, we don't have to worry about cleaning our shower. Win win win!
Our easy how-to
As soon as we made the decision that this would be the route we were going to go, we measured our shower (including the corner area that juts out) to see what type of shelves we could get to fit.
Luckily, after a little trial and error, we found a smaller size shelving unit that would fit perfectly. And it holds itself in place really well. However, we did add one tension rod to help ensure it did not tip forward when driving (and help calm our nerves a bit).
Also note that it fits securely but can jostle the shower handles, so it is always important to make sure the water pump is turned off when driving down the road. Yes, there was a time we forgot and a lot of clothes got really wet.
Next was finding bins that would fit. Luckily IKEA had them and they fit in there snugly with the lip on the shelf holding them in place. Then for the top of the shelves, we put baskets that we secured down with 3M Velcro Strips. As you can probably tell, this took a lot of measuring and looking at baskets and bins at multiple stores before finding the right ones. But now that we have it all setup, it works great.
2. Add bonus storage for phones and books
In such a small space, we do not have a night stand area, but still have night stand things like phones and books we want in an easy to reach place. Our solution? Mesh baskets and a staple gun.
We decided over the window was a good open space to store these things. Then, after measuring the top of the window and determining the height, width and length, I was able to track down a few bins that fit perfectly and stay in place while traveling.
3. Get creative with pet necessities
When having a dog, you need somewhere for their bed to go along with their food. We found great solutions for both with a dog dish that also has food storage below it. Perfect! And a dog bed that we could take the stuffing out of the top part, so it would fit right under the slide area and still give her plenty of room to lay.
We also got a fun hopscotch rug to help protect the floor and it fits in with the idea of making an inviting and comfortable home in our trailer. And yes, the trailer shakes when the kids play a game of hopscotch!
4. Find homes for all the toys
Our trailer has two bunk beds that are adult size which means they are really long and our kids aren't that tall yet. This leads to a perfect opportunity to add in storage at the end of their bed. In comes IKEA again with a small shelf unit that fits in almost perfectly.
Our daughter has bins for her main items, a small suitcase for her doll clothes and accessories, room for books, and the bottom shelf is a bed for her dolls.
For our older son, who is a little taller, we opted to raise the bottom shelf and put the mattress pad straight into the bottom of the shelving unit, so he still has plenty of room to stretch out and his feet don't hit the shelf.
He has a very important case with a lock on it that didn't quite fit, but we had to keep. So we rigged up a bungee cord to hold it in place while traveling.
The rest of the toys that get played with daily go under the dining table in plastic bins (measured to make sure they are skinny enough to slide by the table legs, and short enough for when the bed goes down). Then the toys or board games that get taken out less often go in the storage under the seats. We also use that storage for school books and additional items we need to store.
There is a lot of storage under the seats and it isn't to much of a hassle to open them up to get out what we need.
5. Stick to wall decorations
It has always been important to us to make our rigs feel like home. And vinyl stickers are perfect for that! Again, measuring was important and then finding the right ones (that we liked) to order on Amazon.
When you travel full time with kids, maps are always important to help everyone understand where we are that day. We opted for the world map to help our kids learn more about the world and where we are in it. Then we went with a couple of sayings that we really liked and wanted our kids to see over and over again. Add in a cork board for a place to showcase their art work and we were good to go!
In an RV, a little creativity goes a long way! However, like most travelers, we are still learning as we go. For example, you may have realized I didn't show our kitchen. Well, it is still a work in progress while we are trying to figure out exactly where everything should go. We are getting there, but in the mean time, please feel free to share any tips or ideas that you have on how to make an RV kitchen as functional as possible!