Often, people set off on the road to find a simpler way of living. RVing is a place where street lights are replaced by stars and the sun is your alarm clock. Stressful meetings melt away into hours spent listening to a creek, and mountains cast a shadow over your camp in the afternoons. Life on the road can, and often is, the idyllic vision we all imagine.
But there is sure a lot more to living on the road than campfires and long hikes. Taking your home out into the woods takes a bit of work. Every RVer needs to be equipped with some good RV life hacks that will make life on the road more efficient and give you time to enjoy your road trip.
We’ve got ten tips coming your way— buckle up!
1. Conserve Water with the Right Shower Head
This hack is for when you are camping someplace without water hook-ups, but should also be a general standard for RV life. Water is one of those limited commodities you just can’t do without, and once your tanks are dry, you need to head into town to fill up. When camping in a spot with no water hook-ups, try to save water when possible. Not only will this help your tank go further, but it will make your camping trip a bit more green.
One of the best ways to do this is simple: turn the water off while you suds up. You can turn the water on to get wet, turn the water off to soap up, then turn it back on to rinse. Some shower heads made for RVs even come with a nifty on and off switch just for this purpose. This little hack will save you tons of water and extend the amount of time you spend enjoying the parks you visit instead of filling and emptying your tanks.
2. Keep Trash in a Small Container
This one may be an all-time favorite RV life hacks. Most large supermarkets and Wal-Marts sell plastic containers for storing cereal. They are about the size of a box of cereal and have a small lid on top designed for pouring cereal without taking the lid off. These little containers are perfect as small trash cans. They fit a plastic grocery bag perfectly, so no need to buy trash bags. (Reuse— it’s one of the three Rs!) The small size makes them a perfect fit in any RV or van, and their thin profile means that you can store them out of the way. Best of all, the container has a lid, ensuring your trash won’t bounce out while you travel down the road.
3. Use a Surprising Fire Starter in a Pinch
Got a bunch of wood, but can’t get it lit? Try using some tortilla chips to get it going. Yep, you heard us right: tortilla chips! They burn like crazy and can help you get a roaring fire going in no time. This will actually work with most fried chips, as the oils in the chips are flammable. Doritos and Fritos seem to work especially well. The downside? You may become a bit concerned about eating them once you see just how easily they ignite.
4. Repel Mosquitos with Sage
One of the best things about camping in the American West is the smell of sage. But did you know that sage has practical uses aside from cooking? One of the most useful for campers is its mosquito repellent properties. Just pick a few small branches and toss them in the campfire fire to help keep the mosquitoes from bothering you. Now you can relax and enjoy the fire instead of spending the night swatting at those pesky little bloodsuckers.
5. “Camp Clean” Your Dishes
Being out in the wild sometimes means roughing it. Dishes don’t have to spotless after every use. After you finish a meal, take a paper towel and wipe down your plates and utensils. Boom— your dishes are now “camp clean”. You’ll conserve water for when you really have a mess on your hands. As a bonus, you can keep the paper towels in your burnables bag and use them to light a fire later.
6. Make a DIY Laundromat
Nobody likes going to the laundromat. But unless you have a large fancy-pants RV with a washer and dryer, it’s a place you may become accustomed to visiting on longer trips. Instead of wasting time sitting around waiting for the rinse cycle, creating your own DIY laundromat at camp. Just take a bucket and a plunger and use it to wash your clothes. Then you can line dry them in the sun. The bucket and plunger make a great little washing machine, and there is nothing like the smell of clothes line-dried in the forest.
Video source: Smith & Edwards
Of course, not everyone has the spare room to tote around a bucket. So here’s a bonus hack for ya. Most RV parks have great washing facilities, so when you need to wash your clothes, look for a nice RV park to stay in for a night or two. This way, instead of waiting at a laundromat, you can swim in the pool and hang out at camp while your clothes wash.
7. Keep Your Cooler Ice Cold
Most RV’s have refrigerators, and these days many have larger and nicer stainless appliances than many homes. Still, it can be a good idea to bring a cooler to throw a few beers in or to pack a lunch for the day. But nobody likes to open the cooler and find lunch floating around in a sea of mucky cooler water. Instead, grab a few gallon jugs of drinking water and freeze them. The solid block of ice will last longer than the small ice cubes you buy at the store, and there won’t be any gross cooler water making your sandwich soggy. Another added treat is that you can drink the ice-cold water as it melts!
8. Prevent Critters Under the Hood
I remember our first night in Oregon Pipes National Monument. This campground sits about as far south as you can go in Arizona, just a few miles north of the Mexican border. We arrived after dark and were awe-struck by the beauty of the dark desert night as soon as we stepped out of the truck. The stars were vivid, and the quiet of the desert night was enveloping us. It was just too inspiring to go to sleep we decided to take a walk through the campground and enjoy the cool desert air. As we passed the first car I noticed that the hood was open. Odd, I thought, but probably just a mistake. Then I passed the next car and its hood was open too! We continued our walk and found that every car and RV in the campground had the hood cracked.
After asking around the next day we learned that this was a trick for preventing rats from eating the wiring of your vehicle.
Rats and mice love cramped, dark spaces. Leaving the hood open a crack while camping in the desert can help prevent them from setting up shop in your engine and chomping down on your electrical system. For an extra deterrent, you can take a bit of Irish Springs bar soap and put chunks of it around the engine compartment. The smell of the soap will keep critters away. Some folks with large RVs will also run small stands of LED lights under the vehicle at night for even greater protection.
9. Make a Lantern from a Water Bottle
This life hack is perfect when you just need a little bit more ambient light. Just take your headlamp, flashlight, or phone light and strap it around a water bottle or gallon water jug, with the light facing in towards the water. The water will diffuse the light, turning your water bottle into a perfect little lamp.
10. Keep Your Duct Tape Close
Duct tape can fix absolutely everything and might just be the original life hack, which is why you should always keep it close. Always keep a nice big roll in the RV, and if possible, keep a little on your person. You don’t have to carry the whole roll wherever you go, but you can wrap some around your water bottles. Since your water bottle should never be far away, neither will the duct tape!