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Packing Your Life Into An RV

Packing Your Life Into An RV
The Cyclone finally came out of storage, and we began the arduous task of ACTUALLY moving into it. Now, when you move house or apartments, there is the ritualistic packing of random junk into random boxes (if you’ve done it a time or two, maybe the boxes are even semi-labeled!), loading them into a vehicle, the traveling, the unloading of the boxes into the new dwelling, and the unpacking of said boxes, which may or may not happen within the year–I think I found an unopened box about 3 years after moving into our house.
With an RV, things are slightly different…at least in our experience.

There were no boxes. Well, there was one – more of a sturdy crate. And it was filled, carried out to the RV, and unloaded into its (in most cases) permanent, pre-planned location. Then carried back into the house, reloaded, and repeat.

Before an item even makes it into the box, it was meticulously considered, evaluated, and decided on whether it made the cut. Space and weight are precious in an RV, so you must choose carefully and wisely what comes with you.

So what does come with you? What do you need for full-time living in an RV?
Emphasis here on the word “NEED.”

We live in a materialistic world. We work, we earn money, and we spend it on things we really don’t NEED. I’m not bashing anything here, because I’m just as guilty as anyone (just wait until we get to the shoes and clothes section…). Stuff is fun, stuff is nice, and when you have a house with some space, you want to fill it with stuff.

You can’t take all that “stuff” with you in an RV. That collection of birthday cards you’ve been saving over the years? Nope. That strange “thing” sculpture you found on the street in college? Nope. All those pictures, doo-dads, and other decor around the house? Nope. All the books you’ve ever/never read? Nope.

So what makes the cut?

Things you NEED:
1. Kitchen – This is pretty easy; all the things you need to make and consume the food you eat. Pots, pans, plates, cups, mugs, silverware. However QUANTITY, WEIGHT, and how FRAGILE something is something to consider.
  • Quantity – If you’re washing your dishes after every meal, you probably don’t need 6-8 dinner plates for just the 2 of you. You also don’t need 12 coffee mugs – as cute and sentimental as the all are. 
  • Weight – We chose our thinner Corelle dishwear over our thick, heavy, and more beautiful ceramic dishwear. Thin metal mixing bowls over class. In these cases the weight and space difference won easily. 
  • Fragility – GoVino plastic wine cups are lighter and more durable than the crystal wine glasses you got as a wedding gift (and you’re heart probably won’t break should you break one!). 
2. Food – RV fridges can be smaller (although some makes and models have residential sizes in them now!) so you really probably shouldn’t bring 6 different stir fry sauces and 8 salad dressings. Tom and I love our condiments and sauces, so this was tough. Also, buying in bulk doesn’t work out so well any more – not that we’re going to stop shopping at Costco, but we just have to be more selective.
3. Clothing – Half your wardrobe. Okay, good. Now half it again. Okay. Now that you have it in the RV…go ahead and half it one more time for good measure. 🙂 Honestly, only bring the things you love to wear and are very versatile. Bring some nice things for nicer outings, and thing your aren’t afraid to get dirty. As a rule of thumb, if you haven’t worn it in 6 months, leave it/donate it.
5. Shoes – Sorry, ladies! The whole shoe collection can’t come. Actually, this was equally hard for Tom, as he had a lot of use-specific shoes as well: boat shoes, hiking shoes, hiking boots, work boots, sandals, flip flops, sneakers, running shoes, water shoes, winter boots etc. For us, flip flops and sandals are what we hope to wear most of the time! Along with hiking shoes/boots. I brought my favorite pair of dress shoes (the comfy ones), my dance shoes, and a cute pair of boots as well. Again, use the 6-month rule and pack for versatility and functionality
6. Bathroom Supplies – I kid you not, we had more shampoos, conditioners, lotions and more than I knew what to do with! Friends and family got a couple bags full before we finally could fit it all. RV vanities and bathrooms are pretty snug. $2 Sterilite bins became by best friends!
7. Camping Setup – The things you’ll need to set up your outdoor living area: lawn chairs, outdoor rug, grill, patio table, prep table, etc. Some people go all out with hammocks, lawn decorations, bird feeders, and more. We’re starting of pretty simple, trying to keep our setup/takedown time and effort minimal :).
8. Adventure/outdoor fun gear – We are planning to have some serious adventures when we “get out there,” so we are bringing our backpacks, tents, and other camping gear, as well as our rock-climbing harnesses, rope, bikes, wetsuits, frisbees, soccer ball, and more. This is something important to us, so we allocated special space for this in our packing.
9. Dog stuff – With 2 dogs in tow, we have food, supplements, leashes, collars, toys, beds, kennels, tie-outs, grooming supplies, etc. What can we say, they’re our kids! <3
10. Computer & “Work” gear – Computers, tablets, monitors, cameras, drones, lighting rig, papers, files, scanner, printer, etc
11. Tools – In case they are needed, and because they come in handy – we also might pick up a job or two requiring tools.
12. Motorcycle & gear – Secondary/short commute transportation.
Whatever doesn’t come with us has to either fit in our 12′ long enclosed trailer or be sold or donated.
Becoming a Minimalist
It is tough, and we know we aren’t done yet, but at the same time it is extremely cleansing. Even if you aren’t moving into an RV full-time, it may do you some good to de-clutter. Too much stuff in your environment is stressful, and can make your life or your home seem unorganized. Let it go, and I’ll bet you don’t even miss it when its gone.

Can’t truly let go of something? Take a picture! Store it in a folder called “Memories” and revisit whenever you want. Pictures take up WAY less room than objects, and you can take those with you!

About Mortons on the Move

Tom & Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move gave up the stationary life for one where they are constantly on the move. They are full-time travelers, television hosts, and digital media producers.
They left their jobs, sold their house and possessions, and hit the road in September 2015 in their full-time “home on wheels”. Since then they have traveled the US, Canada, and even internationally by RV.
Now, they are Discovery Channel & PBS TV Co-stars of The RVers, producers of “Go North” on Amazon Prime, co-founders and instructors of RV Masterclass, and contributing authors for Hwy.co and an Arizona travel guide.

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