FOTR - Families on the RoadZion NP

Making the Motorhome Home

Dirty Laundry - Where do you put it?

RV's tend to be designed as if no one ever has any dirty laundry to stash. The general consensus among Family RVers is the dirty laundry gets put in mesh bags and stored in the bath tub/ shower stall. Some families in converted buses have made a laundry shoot that drops the laundry into the basement storage.

Here's a link to help you find laundromats wherever you are.

Which brings us to another question. How do you do laundry on the road? Should we get an RV with a built in washer and dryer? Most families agree that laundry time is quick and easy when you stop at a laundromat. Several loads get done at once. Instead of doing laundry daily it is done in a few hours. And you can pass the time with your family. Bring juggling scarves, coloring books and games, or just go back to the RV to read a book between loads. You may also keep an eye out for outlets to plug your lap top in if you have work to do.

"I thought I just HAD to have a washer and dryer and was very disappointed that the RV we ended up getting didn't have one. However, I have found that having three kids it is much nicer having the space for extra pantry so we took the cabinet that was made for the washer and dryer and put in drawers and shelves so I have an awesome pantry. We have found that every campground we have stayed at has had laundry facilities so it hasn't been an inconvenience. It isn't like we have to drive into towns looking for a laundromat."

~Bonnie Focht

Decorating Tips and Ideas

Turn Your Walls and Ceilings into Magnetic Boards

Active Wall, is made by Magnamagic in Massachusetts, it turns any wall space into one you can stick magnets all over. There's also a chalkboard wall option - where you can tint the chalkboard paint to any color you like.

I just painted the ceilings in the bunkroom so each kid can have a magnet collection to play with. I had already done one bunk about a year and a half ago, and our oldest really enjoys it.

The paint, which has iron in it, goes on like regular primer, then you primer/paint over it to match your interior color. When done, you may notice a slight texture difference, but no color difference, so shouldn't deter from resale value if that's a concern.

While our fridge now is a standard apartment style, most RV fridges aren't metal and won't support a magnet. Being a fridge magnet fanatic, I missed that in our TT! The paint people also sell magnets, like a build-a-castle or create-a-face puzzles. The paint is a bit pricey, but it doesn't take much in a small space. They claim theirs is better because of more iron and it won't. I don't know about that, but haven't had a problem with our older wall.

So, it's lots of fun - and great for school if you use chalkboards.

~Amy "Independent" (FOTR since2004)

"We bought the over the door shoe holders for the "pockets". They were a decent price & decently made. We took out the heavy, mirrored sliding doors on our master closet & replaced them with the shoe holders - for all our doodads, meds, shoes!!, etc. We have them in our bathroom, on the side of a cabinet, etc. We prefer to have "stuff" in pockets rather than sitting in precious space on the dinette!!!

I also got some $3 white mesh bathroom organizers. They are really lovely those for small spaces."

~Lora

What about Privacy?

What to do in a small space when everyone needs some space?

Take turns having the RV to yourselves while the others go shopping or run errands. Let the kids go to a movie while the parent(s) wait in the RV in the parking lot. Asign each person a cabinet or tub to call their own. Install or buy an RV with bunk beds for multiple kids so each can have their own area.

"We are a one child family, and have been OTR for 15 years, currently touring in a C-class. Son has the couch, mom and dad get the loft bed.

For space and alone time we hit the bookstores, internet cafes, movies and the like. We don't spend every second in the RV. We also each have our own designated storage space. We try to allow our son to be King of the couch during the day as well. Dennis and I each have our own side of the dinette to rule.

We have also come to treasure our personal CD players. We had always frowned upon earphones in the past, afraid they would be turned up too loud. But they have become our sanity savers these past few months."

~ Kimberly (FOTR since 1992)

"We have one boy, 12, and we're in a class A, which means one bedroom. I really wish he had his own space. The best we can do at the moment is we give over our bedroom to him during the day, so he can go back, close the door, and escape. Privacy is apparently very important to him (after 30 years, I don't remember how I felt at that age), so we just try to be respectful and knock, let him have the room. We walk with him each day for exercise, but then my husband and I may go out for an additional walk in the evening to relax and maybe chat with others; that's usually another time that he has to his own. Then, when we go to bed at night he has the entire front of the coach to himself. He seems to be okay with not having a "bedroom" as long as we allow him the opportunities to have privacy when he wants it.

~Vickie Swindling (FOTR since 2006)

Flushing

Toileting in an RV is bit different than on land. Here are a few tips and tricks to save your black tank wear and tear.

  • Tank space is limited. If you are not going to be hooked up daily and don't know where your next dumping option is going to be you will need to conserve resources. One option is to collect tub and sink water instead of letting slip down the drain. Then use it to flush and pour the extra outside.
  • To help clean out the tank add a bag of ice before you take off. Every time you hit a bump in the road, your tank is being cleaned with the ice knocking around. Then when you get settled back in, dump the tank, and all water and grime will just come right out.
  • Add a cap of laundry soap to the tank to help clean it out.
  • Use Enviro-Chem as standard treatment.
  • Mind what kind of TP you use. Buy it at RV supplies store or use Scott tissue, or look for single ply.
  • Always leave the black tank closed to keep from getting the 'brick' problem with everything drying out. It also helps to close off the gray for a few hours before you dump, so that you can wash some shower water right behind all that sewer water.
  • Scott Tissue is just as good as RV toilet paper that costs more.

Another tip: "Don't let your husband get distracted when washing out the black tank with the waterhose...he might just close off the tank and come sit down on the couch...and really stinky water may just start flowing out of your toliet....but that's just hypothetical situation of course...haha..."

~StormyJuliet

Is it possible to fulltime without a generator?

"Well, we've been full-timing over 6 years and have never owned a generator, so I guess it must be possible.

Solar panels have been adequate for us under most circumstances. We often boondock/dry camp for up to 3 weeks at a time. If we were to try to do this in places where the sun doesn't shine much, we'd consider adding a generator.

Just house batteries (2 good ones!) are enough for a couple of days without hookups. A full day's driving generally is enough to recharge them enough for another night or two. Longer stints without hookups do require a means of recharging the batteries--solar, wind, or generator."

~ Barb Wagner (FOTR since 2001)

If you are planning on boondocking and not moving for more than 2 nights and you don't have solar panels, a generator is recommended. Also if you have medical equipment that relies on electricity you will need one. Otherwise an 400 Watt/800 Watt Peak Continuous Power Inverter will work fine and take up less space.

If you choose to not have one, you will need to be careful about how much power you use. Turn on only lights as needed.

If you do choose to use a generator - please be mindful of neighbors. Most campgrounds have restrictions on when they can be used due to the noise they create.

Ovens, stoves and refrigerators in RVs work off of propane. Air conditioning systems and microwaves depend on electricity - which means you need to be plugged in or using a generator.

"We have been fulltiming since 1992 without a generator.

We do move more than most - typically we don't stay in one place for more than a night or two so our house batteries are constantly being recharged.

We also do most of our office work at cafes and libraries, or when we are plugged in at a campground.

And we borrow microwaves at gas stations when we want to heat up a meal on the run."

~ Kimberly (FOTR since1992)

Packing It All In

~ by Patti Cohen
FOTR since 8/1/2003

After 9 weeks of packing, purging and storing we headed out OTR on Aug 1st. We are in a 2003 34ft Four Winds Class C. We don't have pullouts and we have a small single bunk over the drivers seat that pulls out.

For our homeschool we use: Sonlight Homeschool Curriculum in a secular way. I love Sonlight because it's history based and an excellent literature program! So we have books!!

I also love it because we can follow the program in any way like. And since most of the time we just go with the flow of our days and are not too serious about following curriculum this program works for us! (It's taken us two years to do the Core Three3 one year curriculum LOL).

I store the homeschool books and resources above the couch. Laid the books flat, so we could see the names. Put them in chronological order of use (or you could alphabetize) and put one row in front of another. Whatever didn't fit, didn't come along, which really made us consider what we were bringing (but I have the entire Sonlight year curriculum and resources in these cabinets). It's a bigger space than I thought!!

We have board games and art supplies under the kitchen bench. The other kitchen bench has odd items, a food dehydrator, water machine that comes out when we are stationed and hooks up to the sink faucet.

Kitchen stuff went above the table, in the microwave (great for storing everyday kitchen ware) and under the sink.

Food is above and below the refrigerator (a bigger space than I thought too). I put all flours in a small basket for easy pull out. I did the same for other like items. And the rest is in the refrigerator.

Above the kitchen sink we made a shelf, dishes and pots and pans both fit in this cabinet.

My daughter has one cabinet above the drivers seat. The other cabinet above the passenger seat is where our electronics are and has more room if we had another child they would be able to put their stuff there.

I gave my daughter two Tupperware tubs and once they were full that was all she could bring along. She separated items in the tubs in zip lock bags. The tubs were just the right size for the cabinet. They stack one on top of the other. The only toys out are her two American Girl Dolls.

My husband works from home, so he needed a place for office stuff and his books so we organized everything in bins under the bed. We have one file box above the bed in the cabinet. One tub holds office items like paper clips, stapler, pens, etc... The printer is stored there as well.

We have lap tops that sit on our night stands when not driving and under the kitchen table when we are driving.

Above the bed we stored another set of towels, and extra blankets. We brought 2 bath towels and one beach towel each. Medicine cabinet stuff in a tub, a humidifier, Personal boxes of things.

We brought only enough clothes for 10 days without washing. One dress outfit and three pairs of shoes each. (we wear one pair daily).

We have two small wardrobes above the night stands where my hubby and my clothes are stored and one big one in the bathroom where our dress stuff and coats are with our daughters things. We hung our pants as well.

We share the two drawers under the big wardrobe in the bathroom. Underwear, bras, pajama's and socks in the top one. Shorts and tee shirts in the bottom.

We each have our own toiletry bags that hang when unfolded. Mine stays hooked on the shower, my guys is in the big wardrobe next to the sink and our daughter has her own that stays there too.

Everything we need each day is inside of them and they are easy to take to the campground bathroom if needed.

We have a hanging shoe holder tower in the big wardrobe too. (once again, it's bigger than we thought).

The sink medicine cabinet has daily items and vitamins. The cabinet has baskets with hair dryer, etc.. and wash cloths and other items frequently used. We have a duffel bag/laundry basket beside the toilet.

Everything else, tools, (inside a four drawer plastic tub outside furniture and cooking stuff, a tent for our daughter to play in. Outside toys, fishing polls, coolers, etc... are all stored underneath.

We travel with a miniature dachshund dog and a ferret in a cage. The cage lives at the bottom of our daughters bed when we are parked and is secured under the kitchen table when we are driving.

We also have a small re-bounder that we put bedside the bed with a guitar when driving. We keep the re-bounder outside when parked and the guitar.... well... we'll see where that will hang out.

BTW we actually have storage room left over above the kitchen table and in the bedroom area.