Whether you’re a weekend warrior or a full-time RVer, one of the most challenging things about motorhome life is how to fit everything you need into one enclosed, relatively small space.
The answer? Clever, imaginative (and sometimes mindblowing) storage solutions. Whether it’s utilizing hidden spaces, investing in innovative inventions, or just getting more organized, there are lots of ways you can save space and squeeze some extra storage into your camper van. Take a look at our favorite 20 RV storage ideas below.
Before we get the glue guns and IKEA catalog, it’s helpful to understand the first rule of RV storage hacking. If you ask anybody who has gone on an extended road trip for one piece of advice, it’s always the same: pack less. You can be the most organized and imaginative RVer on the planet, but the most basic storage hack is to simply carry less stuff. This is the best storage idea you can implement.
Make a list of every single thing you’re carrying or planning on taking with you. Then cut it down. Cut without mercy, indeed be brutal, until you get rid of everything that isn’t absolutely necessary. Once you have an idea of what you actually need, it’ll be much easier to organize and manipulate your living space to accommodate it all.
As the number of people choosing to live on the road full time continues to rise, the market for products and gadgets designed specifically for RVers is booming. And as extra space is the ultimate luxury when it comes to RV living, most are designed with this in mind. With collapsing colanders, bowls, roll up dish drying racks, and even a collapsible kettle, all available in various color schemes, you should have no trouble cutting your kitchenware down to size.
If you find that you don’t quite trust a collapsible saucepan, there are plenty of other ways you can maximize space in your RV kitchen cabinets. Pots and pans that are designed to stack inside each other take up far less space than a higgledy-piggledy set made up of all different sizes.
Nesting Mixing Bowls
Although collapsible mixing bowls do exist, the silicone material they tend to be made from sometimes has a strong, chemical odor that puts people off. They should be perfectly fine to use, but we understand if the baker in you isn’t quite convinced. That is why nesting mixing bowls are a great alternative. As with stackable cookware, mixing bowls that are designed to sit happily inside each other are a lot easier to store than a pile of bowls in individual shapes and sizes.
Square Up Your Storage Containers
While you’ve still got your head in the kitchen cupboard: have you noticed how much space is lost in between all those round storage containers and Tupperware tubs in various shapes and sizes? A set of storage jars with square bases would certainly utilize the available space better than round containers, right? And if they all measured the same across but had different heights, they’d stack pretty well too, right? Right.
They’re easy to find from both Amazon and IKEA and perfect for making the most of your cabinet space. We can’t help but notice how much prettier they make your lentils look too.
Unfortunately, the food industry still prefers cylinder-shaped cans, so you can’t throw round storage out entirely in favor of square alternatives, but we’re not done yet when it comes to optimizing those kitchen cabinets. Enter the Lazy Susan.
With rotating shelves, a Lazy Susan gives you an extra layer of storage space for your canned goods, so you can put the height of your cupboards to best use. Even better than that, it also lets you spin to the stuff at the back for easy access, convenient kitchen storage, and (if our experience is anything to go by) less forgotten food that would otherwise go to waste.
Inside Cabinet Doors
Well, that’s your kitchen cabinets and sorted. There couldn’t possibly be anything else in there that could be optimized for additional storage space, right? Wrong. Hidden inside your kitchen cupboards is one of the biggest wastes of usable space in your entire RV. And you can use it in so many ways.
The back (or the inside) of a cabinet door is as useful as an extra length of wall space and yet everyone forgets it’s even there. Why not hang your kitchen trash bin on the inside of the cupboard under the sink? Your top-level cupboard doors are even more versatile. You could add a spice rack or a cork noticeboard for your calendar and important paperwork.
Once you get started, finding creative ways to increase kitchen storage space is easy. The door and sides of your refrigerator are a good place to start. Add a fridge caddy or magnetic strips for knives and other large utensils. And decorative magnets that double as bottle openers or corkscrews can be a great way of adding pops of color and fun while opening up a little space elsewhere.
After magnets, command hooks are the most useful and versatile tool in your storage solution arsenal. They require no screws or fixing, can be attached to almost any surface, and can hold a surprising amount of weight. Use them to hang things that would otherwise take up valuable counter space. Where you put them is limited only by your imagination, but consider previously unusable space like underneath high-level cabinets and shelves, the internal walls and ceilings of cupboards, and surfaces to which you would normally struggle to attach fixings (like bathroom tiles, doors, or glass).
Peg boards are another super way of efficiently using walls and vertical space. A small one by the door can be used to store keys, sunglasses, and the like to keep clutter out of drawers and off counter tops. A big one can revolutionize kitchen storage space and looks pretty cool too. With the right kind of hook, you can hang all your utensils, ladles, spatulas, and even tongs and pans on the peg board, freeing up even more space in your kitchen cabinets for heavier stuff.
Nobody likes giving up the CD collection they’ve been curating for a lifetime, but if you’re optimizing your living space, it’s going to be one of the first casualties. Even if you’ve already downsized from individual cases to a media folder, there’s still more you can do. Digitizing your media by uploading your albums and movies onto your laptop’s hard drive or an even smaller memory stick can be time-consuming, but once you’re done you’ll be able to carry your entire music and movie collection on a keyring.
Take It Outside
Depending on your rig, you could add either a roof box or vertical storage chest on the back door of the vehicle. In terms of organization, exterior storage boxes are lockable and relatively weatherproof, but you might want to use them for things you don’t mind being exposed to the elements just to be on the safe side.
For full-time RV owners, carrying bulky winter clothing or extra blankets through the summer when you absolutely have no need of them for another six months can seem like a giant waste of space. Vacuum bags can make the process a little less painful. Designed to form an airtight seal around the contents, these innovative storage bags have a fitting on the front that allows you to suck all the air out with the nozzle of your vacuum cleaner. Not only do vacuum-packed bags shrink by around 50 percent, they end up flatter so they’re easier to stack tidily.
A closet organizer is basically a portable shelving unit with a hanger for the clothes rail at the top of the closet where your shirts would normally go. The compartments reach all the way down to the floor, so you get to utilize the space in the middle of the closet instead of just the rail and the floor. They’re lightweight and can be hung up anywhere, which gives you the ability to store your clothes in an organized, easily accessible way, whether you’ve got a dedicated closet or not.
Hanging Shower Caddy
Use the vertical space in your RV bathroom to store toiletries and accessories with a hanging shower caddy. Individual caddies can be attached to the bathroom wall with a suction cup or hooked over the shower hose fitting and, like the closet organizer, give you extra bathroom storage by using previously unusable space.
No matter what type of camper you’re in, there’s one thing that they all have in common: seating up front for the driver and passengers. Over-seat organizers hang over the back of these seats and turn them into walls of pockets, pouches and compartments in all different sizes. Even if you use them primarily when you’re in the cab and on the move (we’re thinking maps, snacks and water bottles) they are a great road trip organization hack.
If you take the best bits of the over-seat organizer and combine them with the best bits from the hanging closet organizer, you end up with the ingenious bedside caddy. These come in different shapes, sizes, and designs but all perform the same function: they give you and organized and portable place to keep all the stuff you’d normally keep on the nightstand or a shelf by the side of the bed (a book and glasses, a water bottle, the TV remote, etc.) when you’re sleeping.
Cloth Shoe Racks
Cloth shoe organizers can either be used as they were intended or, with a bit of basic DIY, can be turned into a super lightweight, horizontal shelving unit. Let’s face it, nobody said you had to use those compartments for shoes. And the shape and size means it can be fixed above a door or used vertically (they make great DIY towel racks) in long, narrow spaces to provide valuable storage where there was none before.
Do you know anybody who buys physical magazines anymore? We don’t either. But since the humble magazine rack is key to so many DIY RV storage hacks, it’s probably a good thing anyway. You can use them vertically inside a kitchen cabinet to hold rolls of kitchen foil or on the wall to keep cutting boards off the counter top. And you can use them horizontally. Why not add an extra layer to your existing shelving?
Tension rods are a versatile and popular storage hack with RVers who don’t mind the bit of elbow grease involved in getting them installed. Used vertically, they can break up a shelf into compartments for efficient storage of plates and anything else that takes up less space turned on its side. Horizontally, they’re even more useful and can be turned into a cabinet-wide rack over which you can hook small caddies and pots or any cleaning products with a trigger handle.
One In, One Out Rule
Bear in mind, however, that simply buying all the recommended items on this list isn’t going to make you into an RV storage solution hero. At best, you’ll be acquiring lots of new things to replace old, inefficiently shaped ones. So our one final piece of advice for RV organization is to always follow the “one in, one out” rule. For every new thing that comes into your living space, you’ve got to get rid of something as well.
With this advice, a little creativity, and maybe more than one trip to IKEA, you’ll be amazed at just how much you can fit in such a small space.