Often, people set off on the road to find a simpler way of living. A place where street lights are replaced by stars and the sun is your alarm clock, where stressful meetings melt away into hours spent listening to a creek, and mountains cast a shadow over your camp in the afternoons.
Have your home with you everywhere you go
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. One of my favorite things about the RV life is having my home with me everywhere I go. As they say, home is where you park it. It’s awesome to be as comfortable camping in a desert canyon as you are in your own living room. Heck, in a desert canyon I am in my own living room.
Still, taking your home out into the woods with you takes a bit of work, and some good RV life hacks will help you to learn how to make your life on the road quite a bit more efficient, give you more time to enjoy your trip, and less time spent dealing with the work of life.
This hack is for when you are camping someplace without water hook ups, and is a 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. That’s why when we are camping in a spot with no water hook ups we will try to save water as much as possible, not to mention the environmental benefits of making your camping trip a bit more green. When I take a shower, I save water by turning the water off while I soap up. I turn the water on to get wet, turn the water off to soap up, then turn it back on to rinse. This little hack will save you ton’s of water, and extend the amount of time you spend enjoying the woods instead of driving back to town to fill your water tanks.
This one may be one of my all time favorite RV life hacks. Most large supermarkets or Wal-Mart’s sell a plastic container for storing cereal. They are about the size of a box of cereal, and have a small lid on top designed to allow you to pour your cereal without taking the lid off. These little containers are perfect for using as small trash cans. They fit a plastic grocery bag perfectly, so no need to buy trash bags. The small size makes them a perfect fit in any RV or van. With a lid that is much more secure than any garbage can your trash won’t bounce out while you travel down the road.
Tortilla Chip Fire Starters:
Got a bunch of wood, but can’t get it lit? Try using some tortilla chips to get it going. 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 it is the oils in the chips that are flammable. Doritos and Fritos seem to work especially well, although you may be a bit worried about eating them once you see just how easily they ignite…
Sage as Mosquito Repellent:
One of my favorite thing’s about camping in the American West is the smell of sage. Sometimes on long whitewater rafting trips I will tuck a small sprig of sage into my life jacket strap so I can smell the fresh desert perfume as I float down the river. But sage also has some practical uses, and one of them is as a mosquito repellent. 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 blood suckers.
Camp Cleaning your Dishes:
I have no idea where we came up with the term camp cleaning, or if others use it, but that’s what we call it. After we finish a meal we each take a paper towel and wipe down our plate’s and utensils. This means we need much less water to wash our dishes. As a bonus we keep the paper towels in our burnables bag and use them to light a fire later.
Nobody likes going to the laundry-mat, but unless you have a large fancy pants RV with a washer and dryer it’s a place you may become accustom to visiting on longer trips. We use this life hack to avoid the laundry mat when camping out in the woods. 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.
Of course, if this sound like a bit too much work I have another bonus life hack. Most RV parks have great washing facilities, so when we need to wash our clothes we often find a nice RV park. This way, instead of sitting around a laundry mat, we can swim in the pool and hang out in camp while we wash our clothes.
Most RV’s have refrigerators, and these days many have larger and nicer stainless appliances then many homes. Still, it can often be a good idea to bring a cooler to throw a few beers in, or even pack a lunch for the day. Nobody likes to open the cooler and find lunch floating around in a sea of mucky cooler water. That’s why we alway grab a few jugs of drinking water and freeze them. The solid block of ice will last longer then the small ice cubes you buy at the store, 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!
I remember our first night in Oregon Pipes National Monument. This campground is about as far south as you can go in Arizona, and sits 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 truck. The stars were vivid, and the quiet of the desert night was enveloping us. It was just to 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 camp ground had the hood cracked. After asking around the next day we learned that this was a trick for preventing pack rats from eating the wiring of your vehicle.
Now don’t get scared, these are not big gross scary city rats, these are fluffy cute little guys that live in the desert. At least they look cute until they eat the wiring of your car! Leaving the hood open a crack while camping in the desert can help prevent them for setting up shop in your engine and chomping down on your electrical system. For bonus points you can take a bit of Irish Springs bar soap and put chunks of it around the engine compartment. The smell of Irish Springs works great to deter the little critters from moving in, and worked great for us after I found little foot prints on my engine. Some folks with large RVs will also run small stands of LED lights under the vehicle at night for even greater protection.
Water Bottle Lamp:
This life hack can work just about anywhere you need a little bit more ambient light. Just take your headlamp and strap it around a water bottle, or gallon water jug, with the light facing in towards the water. The water will act to make the light more diffuse, turning your water bottle into a perfect little lamp.
Good Ol’ Duct Tape:
I feel like using duct tape to fix absolutely everything might just be the original life hack, but what if the duct tape is buried under a pile of stuff? Or if you are out on a hike and don’t have any? I like to take duct tape and wrap it around my water bottles. This turns my water bottles in handy little rolls of duct tape, and since my water bottle is never far away, neither is my roll of duct tape.
Well there you have it. A few simple life hacks for life on the road. One of the things I love about RVs is how they take everything you need to live and pack it up in a simple little package. It really boils life down to the more important things, the essentials. It does this in a practical way, by taking everything you need to live and wrapping it up in a perfect tiny home, but it also does it in a more conceptual way. It takes away the extraneous things and show you what you really need. It makes life simpler and more minimal, and sometimes removing all those distractions from the world around us also removes all the distractions in our minds, and can help us focus on what really matters to us. It’s always been a fun challenge for me to live on the road. I find joy in watching the sun fill my batteries, and figuring out new ways to live more simply. I hope these life hacks help you to enjoy being on the road, and give you more time to focus on what’s important to you, and less time worrying about the details.
Written by Jason Striker
Jason Striker owned and lived in his first Volkswagen Bus as a teenager, instilling a deep love of travel and a home on wheels. It’s no wonder several campers and decades later he finally calls the road Home full-time. He currently wanders from mountain summit to sea level while pickin’ his mandolin. He travels in a Toyota Tacoma and tiny travel trailer, in search of any new experience that involves strapping a board to his feet. To find out more about his daily adventures visit allpointsinbetween.com
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