How We did It

For a video version of this post, be patient, it’s coming :o)

What happens when you decide you’ve had enough of the day to day drudgery and you’re ready to take the big leap and follow your dream of living and traveling full-time in an RV?  Guts, lots and lots of hard work and communication! After months of packing, hauling, patching, painting and waiting for the house to sell, our nerves were shot and didn’t know if we could be together all the time in a “house” a twentieth the size of the house we just spent 20 years in.  Once we got past the worst part of it we settled in and it’s been perfect.  Okay, not perfect but this is what you need to expect when you become a full-time RVer…

  1.  Everything has a place and everything must, immediately, go back into it’s place when you’re finished with it.
  2. There’s always going to be something to fix or clean or maintain.  This is your new job, learn to enjoy it :o)
  3. You have to love change and be adaptable.  Learn to relax and accept and learn, learn a lot!
  4. Keep your sense of humor.  You plan, God laughs.
  5. Be creative!  Find new and various ways of storing items, locating them and making your niche.
  6. Absolutely NO temper tantrums.  Take deep breaths until you calm down then fix the problem and move on.  Remember:  This too will pass.
  7. Sign-up for events, walk your dog or cat and get out and meet people!
  8. Exercise and be sure to stretch!  It can be tough work packing up to move and then unpacking everything at the next stop.
  9. Enjoy the scenery, stop when you want, stay as long as you want (as long as you make reservations :o)
  10. Keep a diary or do a blog like I do.  Share your adventures, good and bad.  They make the best memories!

AND…RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH!

When you’re searching for you’re new RV, think it through.

Is there enough storage?
Does it have enough outlets?
Are the ceilings high enough to work out in?
Who’s going to drive?  (LazyDays RV has a great Driver’s Confidence course)
Will the layout work?
Where will the pet(s) sleep?
Do you need an office?  Where will it go?
How is after market support on the RV?  Google can give you pretty much all the answers you need and I’m here to help as well :o)

There’s lots to figure out.  Just imagine living in it for a day.  How does it feel?

I researched for months on full-time RVing and am really glad I did.  I found that lots of newbies make the same mistakes and some can be costly.  It also helped that my oldest son worked as an RV repair technican for awhile :o)  Here’s what we’ve done, and learned, so far (I’ve also broken these down into pages in my Tips & Tricks section):

  1. Build some shelves in the storage areas under the RV, from now on referred to as “the basement”.  This just about doubled our storage.  We were also able to place some planks on top of the beams in the basement and we store tax records and other items there that we we’ll seldom need.
  2. Organize a tool box with basic tools and spare parts (light bulbs, Water regulators, hose washers, door locks, etc.)  See post Handy Gadgets.
  3. Purchased see through storage containers with lids for large kitchen items, winter clothes, extra supplies, etc.  Labeled the boxes with the contents, taped the “label”to the inside, front of the container so you can see it from the outside and entered all items in MS OneNote with pictures and location (DMH – Driver side, Middle, High, PRF- Passenger side, Right, Forward, BUC – Bedroom Upper Closet, etc.).  I’ve tried several phone apps and I like OneNote the best, it syncs across all your devices so you can share lists.  Hopefully you have enough height space to stack these on a containers with wheels and increase your storage space as well as move it a little easier.
  4. We learned this lesson too late, but we built a closet rod support from a 1x2xwhatever height you need, cut a curve out of one end and wedged it under the center of our closet rod where it had pulled out of the ceiling from the weight of the clothes and the jerking motions when driving.  We stained it to match and the clothes keep it in place.
  5. Purchased child proof locks to keep cabinet doors in place, where possible, and to lock the refrigerator doors together so nothing would fall out while driving.  We also used expansion bars to hold refrigerator and cabinet items in place.
  6. We added multi-outlets with USB ports to practically all of our outlets and ran two long extension cords under the couch from the outlet behind the sofa.
  7. Installed shelves in the cabinets where possible and purchased see through bins to fit and labeled them with the contents.
  8. Terry (awesome guy that he is!) built slide out drawers to replace the shelves in my kitchen cabinets.  They even have acrylic see-through sides!
  9. I purchased an 12″ acrylic towel bar and installed it in the bathroom using 3M picture mounting strips.  I then put one of those Kleenex disposable towels boxes in it.
  10. Apply rug non-slip stripping to keep rugs from sliding around on slippery floors.
  11. I found a large cereal storage container with a seal-able lid, with a “pour “opening, where I place a small trash bag in for storing used toilet paper (#1 only).  One of the most common problems when living in an RV is that the black tank fills up with toilet paper and waste and can’t be washed away, even if you use the recommended toilet paper.  My way allows you to use the “comfy” toilet paper :o)  I also was lucky enough to be parked next to a wonderful couple that are distributors for “Unique Waste Digester” black water tank additive which dissolves any type of toilet paper.  Another long time full-timer told us that Scot bathroom tissue was great.  It breaks down easily with no problems.
  12. Just before traveling add 1/2 C Calgon Water Softener and  1/2 C dish soap to the black tank, let is swish and slosh all the way to your destination, then dump it when setting up.  This will help keep your sensors clean.  I actually do this after every black tank flush.  The previous owners apparently didn’t know about this and our sensor continues to say the tank is 3/4 full after being emptied.
  13. Purchase a mesh bathroom organizer and hang it on the shower wall, with some 3M hooks or over the door hooks, to hold bath, make-up and other items.  Install a Shampoo/Conditioner/Body Gel dispenser and a fog free shaving mirror in  the shower as well, and don’t forget the non-skid tape on the shower floor!
  14. Put a “shoe bed skirt” under the bed to store more shoes or other items things.  Be sure to get the clear shoe skirt so you can see whats in the pockets.
  15. We copied our favorite movies to our computers so we could get rid of the DVDs and jackets.
  16. I purchased one of those coffee tables where the top comes up and backwards (towards sofa) to use as a desk or place to eat and put containers underneath to hold office supplies and such.
  17. Our coach has this option, not all do, but I removed the panel under the stove which opened up the perfect area to set Nicky’s (our malti-poo) water and food dishes.  I placed a non-skid shelve liner down first, then a pet food tray then another non-slip liner then his dishes.  Nothing spills onto the RV except the food he drops while eating.
  18. Buy a children’s bath toys net bag with suction cups and place it on the “wall” by the door to store all of your pet items so you can quickly grab them when you head out for a walk.
  19. Buy a motion activated light and stick it to the “wall”, on the side of the steps, so when you go in or out you can see the steps, switches for the porch light, awnings, etc.
  20. Put two strips of fluorescent tape on the outside step so you can easily see it.
  21. Cut a swim noodle into 6″ chunks and, when you’re parked and the slides are out, place one on every corner so you don’t hurt yourself if you run into them.  I saw an RV where they had cut a longer piece, 12″-14″ and then he cut the middle at slants so they covered the whole corner.
  22. Get some “Identity” cards.  You can create them online at vistaprint.com or create and print them yourself at avery.com (our preferred method).  Put your names, cell phone numbers, email addresses, and/or website, etc. on them.  When you meet folks that you’d like to stay connected with, just give ’em a card.  You can write your current space number on the back of the card as well.
  23. My FAVORITE storage idea came from an “Over the Door” organizer.  Checkout our “Back of the seats” organizers and, my favorite, our “bar back“!
  24. We installed a dash cam and an inside security camera.  The inside cam is mainly to keep an eye on Nicky when we’re out.
  25. Hung a number of fabric wall hanger pocket organizers.  One up front on each side of the seats for items like sunglasses, chapstick, reading glasses, baseball caps, etc.  Hung one up by the dinette for Terry’s office supplies.  Hung one up on each side of the “living room” for remotes and such and hung one next to my side of the bed for reading glasses, eye masks, etc.
  26. Terry built me some wonderful slide-out shelves in the kitchen with sides made of clear acrylic so I can see what’s hiding in the back.
  27. Label your canned goods on the tops and place them in drawers standing upright so you save space and can see at a glance what you have.
  28. Gift Cards!  Quick and easy to send for all occasions!
  29. Amazon Prime!  Two day delivery service on most items so you don’t have to have these purchases forwarded!

I thinks there’s more but I’m sure I’ll come up with them as I add more posts.  There’s a lot to learn and I’m a firm believer in learning from others mistakes :o)  That’s about all for getting the RV ready.  I hope something in here was helpful.  If so, please let us know.  If you have a helpful tip please leave it in a comment below so we can share with other newbies and old-timers alike!

Til then, Live, Love, Laugh and Share!

“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta

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