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Camper Organizing Tips: Making the Most of Small Spaces

There is one rule that experienced RV-ers will tell you: minimize what you bring to maximize what space you have. It’s all about the available “real estate”: the square feet within your camper and the available space on the outside. Even so, there are still those must-haves that you won’t travel without, but now have to figure out where to keep.

We searched for some tips and tricks to help campers find ways to pack what they can’t live without and included them below. (You can find even more ideas in our post: Customizing Your Camper: Tips to Make it Uniquely Yours.) 

Inside Storage

Do you miss that double vanity with loads of counter space and are now struggling to find a place for your bathroom essentials? RVShare’s post suggests attaching storage bins or baskets to towel racks as an alternative to countertop storage. No space for an extra towel rack? Mount hooks instead, either screw-in or adhesive ones. Or use a tension pole shower caddy, which can be placed anywhere, not just in the shower, and has several small bins to hold miscellaneous items that otherwise would be easily lost.

Replace the shelves inside a cabinet with a drawer unit for better organization and ease of access. Worried about the drawers sliding open when you’re traveling? Secure them with a tie or cord. Alternatively install lightweight wire shelving cut to fit, which will allow you to customize the distance between shelves to fit taller items. Hate removing a stack of platters, baking sheets or cutting boards to get to the one you want? Set pairs of tension rods vertically in the cabinet and slide the items vertically in between the rods.

Instead of outfitting your camper kitchen with mismatched pans, buy a set of space-saving nesting cookware with lids that will fit both saucepans and fry pans. Or go one step further with GSI Outdoors’s Pinnacle Camper Cooking Set. The compact, nesting set includes plates, mugs, bowls, and Teflon-coated pots and pans. As for countertop appliances, leave the full-size steamer, mixer, and blender at home and bring “mini-me” versions that are designed for campers.

As much as possible, have each item do double-duty. That bedside light? If it has a USB port and AC outlet, it can serve as illumination and a power source. Speaking of double duty, consider turning your bench seating into pull-out drawers, as shown in 40 Brilliant RV Space Saving Solutions, to store blankets and pillows or tall items. Or if your RV also serves as your mobile office, those drawers can house your files, laptop and other electronics when not in use.

Outside Storage

No RVer ever heads out without bringing along an assortment of tools. But where to go with all of them? Two options in RV Living: Necessary Tools and How to Store Them are mounting the box to fit where a bike rack might be mounted and above your tow bar, or converting one section in the underneath cargo area into a slide-out tool chest. (Not sure what tools you should pack? Read this post for a comprehensive list!) 

As for the other items, in 24 Easy RV Organization Tips, Amanda Watson provides two clever outside-RV storage solution hacks. Her first involves mounting cut-to-size pieces of PVC to the underside of the camper and then using them to store cords. As for all those long tools that you used to throw willy-nilly into the outside storage compartments, Amanda suggests installing brackets along the walls of that storage area, then using them to hold the items. That way, you can store them up and out of the way yet they will still be accessible. (Bonus tip: clean your tools before you put them away to keep the dirt and debris out of the storage compartments.)

By the way, cut down on dust and dirt by packing those items destined for the storage compartment in sturdy storage bags, suggests The Container Store. Not only will it keep the articles clean, but it also helps organize them so you don’t have to root through everything to find what you need.

Final Tip

Sometimes the very items you need are space hogs when not in use. In 14 Tips for Functional Camper Storage and Organization of Space in Your RV, Mike Napier recommends purchasing items that collapse or fold up when you’re done using them, such as trash cans, buckets and dish drying racks.

But one of the most important tips comes from The Wandering RV: “Designate a place for everything. And I do mean everything. Keys, your fly swatter, loose change, bike helmets, the RV trash can — you name it. It’s the only way you’ll ever get your RV to stay organized.”

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