Organization Tips & Storage Solutions for Your Tiny Camper
Having some sense of organization when traveling from a small space is pretty crucial to remaining sane and being able to relax - we’ve learned that the hard way.
The constant searching for things, spending an insane amount of time to locate some specific needed item, or moving stuff from one space to another just to get it out of the way again - day in and day out of that can make you want to cut an otherwise enjoyable trip a liiiiiiittle short.
During our previous travels from “real” campers we could adhere storage racks to the walls, use over the door hooks, place things in cabinets. Getting organized wasn’t difficult.
But now, our family of three travels from a truck shell camper. It’s tiny. (Read this if you’re curious as to why we made the switch).
And finding ways to get and stay organized while road tripping is a little more of a challenge. We’ve added a person, and lost about 90% of our storage space!
Check out what we’re working with now! It’s tiny!
Now on to our top 5 tips and recommendations for staying organized when traveling from a small space!
Tip #1: Bring Fewer Things!
The less stuff you bring, the less you have to deal with! Simple!
And if this makes you uncomfortable, you can start with whatever you’re used to having, and then, after a couple of trips, you can always reevaluate and eliminate extras.
A few pointers on bringing less:
You likely don’t need as many kitchen gadgets and supplies as you’re thinking. Remember, if you use it, you have to wash it.
Dishes are the worst. And camping dishes, of course, top that. Stir and serve that food using the forks you will be eating with. Share the knife. Hey, eat out of the pan if it’s doable.
But really, our camp kitchen is an area that we’ve found it easy to eliminate from, and we do cook almost all of our own meals. And usually eat off dishes.
Think multipurpose. Tupperware for leftovers can be used as a mixing bowl if needed. We used coffee mugs as bowls during our entire last trip, and it worked fine.
Get creative and embrace less!
Kid Toys -
Start with the bag or box that fits in your tiny space, and then choose the toys and activities to bring. If it doesn’t fit in the bag or box, it doesn’t come!
I’m a fan of multi-purpose toys and open-ended activities, as they can be revisited many times while still remaining engaging and fun. Bonus if they are micro sized!
Invest in clothing you can wear multiple times before washing, resulting in a much smaller wardrobe. Check out our recommendations here.
Aim to have all of your tops match with all of your bottoms so that you can create more outfits with fewer pieces.
And if you tend to be an over-packer, you might want to decide on the number of shorts, pants, shirts, etc that are practical for the climate where you’re headed before beginning to pack.
Tip #2: Invest in Some Space Saving Items
We have found that spending some extra money in certain areas in order to have a compact version of the needed item can be worth it because the gain in space (and organization!) in the camper is worth it.
A perfect example - our camp chairs and table. Typical camping chairs would have to be stored either on top of our bed or roof rack - not ideal.
But the ones we landed on were designed for backpacking and fit in a little cubbie below the corner of the platform. They require significantly less storage space, they are easy to access when needed, and aren’t in the way when not needed. And we didn’t have to sacrifice comfort in buying compact.
Searching for things marketed towards backpackers, motorcyclists, and sailboat owners are some ways to find quality compact gear.
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Some of our recommended space saving gear that we’ve got in our truck camper:
Here’s a list of some of our space saving gear:
GSI Nesting Pots and Pans* - we’ve been using this set for 8 years
Flexible Cutting Board* - these basic kitchen tools can be found at any big box store like Walmart as well
Collapsible Tub* - having one of these around is high on our recommended list! Lots of uses.
Collapsible Sink* - makes washing and air drying dishes a little easier
Porlex Mini Coffee Grinder* - fits perfectly inside the Aeropress when not in use
Tip #3: Consider When You’ll Need Things
Try to think through scenarios when items will be needed, and pack them accordingly.
This one might take a couple days on the road to sort out.
We have a raised platform with slide out drawers, and a majority of our belongings are in there. However, getting to the things in there, like when stopping for fuel, is not a quick job.
Think multiple locks, latches, swing outs, plus reversing it all 5 seconds later to close the truck back up. The required steps to get to the thing in the drawer (when not settled in at camp) makes it not worth getting the thing, unless it is absolutely needed.
So! For us, it made sense to find “homes” for certain things somewhere other than in the drawers.
For example, extra snacks are in the cab as well as the drawers. Our overnight/toiletry cases are in the cab so we can get to them easily even if our daughter is sleeping in the truck bed.
We’ve found that drawer storage is best for all things related to cooking, setting up camp (hammock, chairs, etc), and things you don’t use on the fly without making some plan first (like water clothes and shoes, things related to cleaning laundry or dishes, water purifier).
While things like a hat, jacket, sunscreen, headlamps - those go in easier to access places in the truck camper.
Tip #4: Assign a Place for Everything
Everything needs an assigned home. You don’t want multiple things constantly rolling around and having to be moved from one spot to another just to get them out of your way (again!).
Of course, the more people and stuff you have, the harder this becomes.
And in a DIY camper, you’ll likely have to create your own “homes” by adding organizers and storage solutions in creative ways - which is pretty specific to each individual setup.
Check out some of the ways we’ve added organization to our truck bed camper.
And here’s a list of some of the products we’ve bought to help with organization, including mounting hardware. Many of the things we’re using came from around our house or from other RV projects.
Cargo Net* - usually holds jackets, hats, small bags with socks and underwear. Double check sizes of nets before buying anything - most are either really small or really large!
Small Storage Net* - these work best if adhered to smooth surfaces and are handy to keep small things in place
Action Packer* - we sometimes travel with one on the roof for extra storage, we’ve used ours for camping gear for over a decade and it is incredibly durable, can double as a low table for our daughter or as an extra seat (so it might look like a regular Rubbermaid that costs way too much, but it isn’t!)
Suction Cup Bath Caddy* - cheap way to add storage
Durable Plastic Organizers* - these are durable plastic that doesn’t get brittle, they come in a range of sizes, good for organized storage beside mattress/under bed rails or to add organization to the inside of the drawers
3M Fastener* - like command strips (also great) on steroids and more customizable, this stuff does a great job of holding things in place
Bundling Straps* - these hold Patrick’s guitar in place and the curtains when rolled up
We bring our sleeping bag stuff sack, just because it is really nice to be able to get the bag out of the way on days we’re hanging around the truck all day. And don’t forget that you’ll want an assigned space for dirty clothes, dirty shoes, and trash!
If you’ve got an RV, like with actual walls and cabinets, The Wandering RV has compiled a great list of ideas on bringing some storage and organization to an otherwise cluttered space.
Tip #5: Always Put Everything Away
If it’s got a place (which it does - see above!), then put it there!
Sometimes, this is just too much of a pain. There’s a slew of unreachable places in a truck bed unless you take the time to climb on in.
So, having a time or two a day where “tidying” is part of your routine can go a long way when packing multiple people and their things into a tiny space. For us, doing this during our daughter’s bedtime routine became the norm, since one of us was already crawling in there to help her get settled.
Bring less stuff, think through the best places to put your stuff, remember where those “best places” are, and lastly, put your stuff back into those assigned “best places” when you’re done using your stuff.
Once summarized, this sounds very unprofound.
But if you’re camping and traveling from a micro space, doing these things can really add to the enjoyment of the experience rather than add unnecessary stress.
Having fewer object floating around, investing in some special space saving gear, and coming up with storage solutions has helped keep us happier out on the road!
We hope this helps in your tiny camper organization!
As always, thanks for reading, and don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE for blog updates!
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