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How to Downsize for the RV Life

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How to Downsize for the RV Life

These tips will help you keep what you need and get rid of what you don’t

Choosing to trade in a house for an RV is a big decision. Immediately you’ve got a ton of things to think about, such as what to do with your home, what it will be like living full-time on the road, and how to find the right RV.

And what about all of your stuff? You probably have closets – and maybe an attic and basement – full of things you’ve accumulated over the years. What are you supposed to do with it all? Because space is limited even in the roomiest RVs, you need to downsize, and this guide will help you do it.

Start getting organized early

If you’ve ever moved before, almost certainly you know how much of a chore this is. It takes a lot of work clearing things out, getting rid of trash, and boxing up what’s left. And when you move from one home into another, you have the luxury of taking pretty much whatever you want with you. When you’re moving into an RV, you just can’t do this. You’ll have to decide what’s absolutely necessary, and the earlier you begin to do this, the easier the transition will be.

Put your stuff into one of five categories

You basically have five options when it comes to what to do with your belongings:

  1. Keep for the RV. Whatever essentials you need, make sure they come with you. This includes clothes (more on that later), small electronic devices, books, cookware, etc.
  2. Put in storage. If there are items you don’t need but don’t want to get rid of, putting them in storage could be a good idea. If there are only a few small things, you might want to see if a friend or family member would be willing to hang onto them for you.
  3. Sell. Once you know what you’ll keep, you can figure out what’s left over that you may be able to sell. Furniture, of course, won’t fit in your RV, so that could be a good place to start.
  4. Donate. Whatever you can’t sell that’s still in good shape, you can donate. Some charities will come out to your home to pick things up.
  5. Trash. Finally, anything you can’t sell or donate should be left on the curb or taken to the local garbage dump.

What to do with all your clothes?

Getting rid of clothes is often hard, and it can be especially difficult for women. But you have to resign yourself to the fact that – even with storage hacks– you’re just not going to have the room for all of your clothing.

Right away, you can probably ditch the more formal stuff. If you still are working, clearly, you’re doing it or will do it remotely, so there’s no business attire to worry about. It’s important to bring clothes you know you are going to wear.

You should also pack according to where you’ll be headed. If you intend to travel all over the U.S., bring clothing for all seasons. If, however, you’re planning to always stay in warm states, you can probably ditch the parkas and knitted hats. And again, if there are some pieces of clothing you just can’t bear to part with, add them to your storage items.

Dealing with paperwork

Even in our computerized society, we all have to deal with a certain amount of paperwork. Chances are you have bags, boxes, or a filing cabinet or two crammed with documents. While a good portion of it can probably be thrown away, you’ll probably find that quite a bit is important. And while it may be tempting to just throw it in the RV, there’s a better way: creating digital copies.

Scanning vital paperwork and then saving it to a device (or the cloud) offers two benefits. First, it lets you get rid of extra clutter. Secondly, it will be much easier to find something when you need it. Of course, there are some physical documents you’ll want to keep with you, including birth certificates, marriage licenses, insurance cards, etc.

For more information on downsizing or anything else related to the RV life, think about becoming a member of RV Advisor. Benefits include discounts on parts, coupons, and insurance guidance. Membership plans start as low as $23/year (with 3 year plan).

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