HOW TO DOWNSIZE – FULL TIME RVING – DECLUTTER YOUR HOUSE

downsizing full time RVing
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DOWNSIZING AND GETTING RID OF SENTIMENTAL ITEMS – FULL TIME RVING

Let’s talk about how to downsize when getting ready to go full time RVing.

Do you remember when I mentioned I’d go back to the beginning and let you know how we got to South Padre, Texas? Well, I’m finally getting back to talking about that. We are just loving South Padre Island so much that we want to talk about all of it, so if you ever make it South Padre you can experience some amazing adventures. Squirrel, focus, downsizing.

“How were you able to get rid of everything you owned, especially sentimental items?” This is one of the biggest questions we get from people while on the road. For this post, I want to help you be able to figure out how to downsize when getting ready to go full time RVing. Also, how to deal with things that you are sentimentally attached to.

IT’S JUST STUFF

Chuck and I had a 3500 square foot house, plus a two and a half size garage full of antiques, collectibles, treasures of all sorts, musical instruments, a huge collection of furniture, tools, you name it we had it. I swear we had 100 tapes measures, sunglasses and scissors because when we couldn’t find one we would go buy another one. I really liked stuff!

Throughout the process of getting rid of everything, I kept telling myself that “It is just stuff. I can always get more stuff and it will be fun to be able to shop again if we ever settled down.” Honestly, after being on the road for 9 months I don’t see that happening anytime soon. We love the road so much! So, how did we get rid of all the stuff to fit in a 32′ RV?

For us, in the beginning it was a little challenging but once we really honed in on the end goal which was full time RVing it kept getting easier and easier the more we got rid of. There was this sense of being free and free from stuff.

Freedom downsizing full time RVing
Downsizing Full Time RVing – Keep the Goal in Mind

KEEP THE END GOAL IN MIND

When you are thinking about full time RVing it can be extremely overwhelming. For me, I had constants thoughts of all the things I needed to do before we could leave. This left me feeling weighed down and wonder if we would ever be able to get everything done. But despite the chaos, I was able (with some help from Chuck, the girls, and other family and friends) to keep our end goal in mind. I knew that every step I made was going towards our goal.

Some days it is harder though. And on those days, try and focus on one thing. Because whatever your goal is, whatever you are passionate about, whatever freedom you want, it is worth it to make some progress everyday no matter how slight.

The beginning is one of the hardest parts, but once you know how to start and break it up into small pieces it won’t seem as daunting. There are ways you can start this process.

downsizing full time RVing
Downsizing Full Time RVing – How to Get Started

HOW TO GET STARTED

How to downsize when getting ready to go full time RVing. Here are some thing that may help you:

#1 – GETTING ORGANIZED 

First thing you will want to do is get organized. Here are some suggestions:

  • Review the list of items I’ve made below that you may be helpful to keep for your RV.
  • Get 4 fairly good sized boxes – Write on each box, RV, SELL, DONATE, and TRASH
    You can also add a STORE Box (We didn’t use a store bin because we soon figured out that we didn’t want any of it and we didn’t want to store it plus pay the hefty storage unit prices monthly).
  • Place the boxes where you have space in the room or out in the hall.
  • Touch the item once and make a decision right then and there what you want to do with the item.
  • It may be helpful to set deadlines, especially if you have picked a date to leave. Let’s say you want to start full time RVing in one year and you have 12 rooms that gives you a month to clean out each room. Now, that doesn’t seem like such a big task.
Bedroom Furniture - Downsizing Full Time RVing
Downsizing Full Time RVing – Start with Big Items

#2 – START WITH BIG ITEMS 

Most full time RVers suggested we start with clothes, which is what we did. This was a mistake. We waited till the end to start selling our bigger items and furniture, granted we had a lot. If we would have started sooner with the furniture we would have sold it all. We ended up with 5 pieces we couldn’t sell, luckily my brother offered to sell them for us.

Now, if you don’t have a lot of furniture then no worries, do pictures, lamps, anything big in the house that you can live without for an extended period of time. If you start selling your big items now you wont have so much to give away at the end.

SOME EXCEPTIONS

My recommendation is to look around for the bigger items you can live without, except maybe the following:

  • Bed – Definitely keep the bed until the end unless you can live in your camper. We lived in our RV parked in the driveway for almost 2 months before we left.  
  • Dresser – We did sell our dressers fairly fast and lived out of laundry baskets for a few months until we narrowed down our clothes then moved what we wanted to keep to the RV. This was a little tricky at first but again it really forced us to get rid of clothes.
  • Table Lamp – You really don’t need it but it will help keep your home cozy while you are living in chaos.
  • TV – Depending on if you watch TV or not. We kept our TV up until the end and then gave it to our daughter.
  • Table and Chairs – However, you can eat off a folding table and chairs, we did for a couple of months and it was fine.
  • Sofa – We sold our sofa a little too soon and ended up watching a lot of TV at night from our bed which was okay but could have hung onto the sofa a little longer just for comfort sake.

Other than these few items, get rid of your bigger items. Ask yourself what furniture, pictures, lamps, rugs, etc can I sell or give to family members or friends now and/or later?

#3 – PICK ONE ROOM, TOUCH IT ONCE APPROACH

After sorting through your furniture and figuring out which big items you want to get rid of, the next step is to pick one room and touch it once approach. This was something we did which hopefully will be helpful to you too. 

I liked organizing by room instead of by items. Some people pick all the clothes, all tools, all office paper, etc and gather it all in one area of the house. This is a great approach, however, if you are running from one room to another all day long it becomes very time consuming. I like the pick a room, touch it once approach better but if this doesn’t work for you that is okay. Just figure out the best approach for you.

LISTS BELOW OF WHAT TO KEEP

Below are list of things you may want to keep which we have found helpful to have in our RV. Now, there are no hard rules on what to keep and what not to keep. This is just a general guideline on what we currently use in our RV. Your list may vary depending on how much space you have. If you have a small camper van versus a larger motor home, your numbers will be very different.

Reminder – Less is more!

Clothes Pins - Downsizing Full Time RVing
Downsizing Full Time RVing – Bedroom & Clothes

BEDROOM & CLOTHES

The bedroom is a great place to start. A good starting point here is to ask yourself how often do you want to do laundry? You may not even know the answer to this question and that’s okay. We do laundry approximately once a month, give or take some because we didn’t want to constantly be spending our date nights at a laundromat.

Occasionally we wear the same clothes for a couple of days in a row, exceptions are underwear. We each have 30 pairs of underwear. They don’t take up a lot of space. Now, some of you may think I can’t wear the same clothes for a couple of days in a row, that is fine. Figure out what will work for you.

Here is an approximate list of the items we have in our camper so we can do laundry once a month. This is per person.

  • 30 – Pairs of Underwear – You can also wash your clothes by hand and hang out to dry.
  • 5 – Pairs of Socks – We mostly wear sandals these days.
  • 3 – Pair of Jeans
  • 3 – Pair of Shorts
  • 10 – T-Shirts
  • 2 – Swimsuits and Cover-Up – We use a Towel.
  • 2 – Set of Sleeping Clothes or Sleep in the Nude – Your Choice
  • Bathrobe – We don’t need.
  • Pair Dress Slacks
  • Button up dress shirts
  • Dressy Outfit with Shoes for this Outfit
  • Sweatshirt
  • Sweater

OTHER CLOTHING & SHOES

  • Winter Coat
  • Warm Hat
  • Pair of Gloves
  • Fleece Jacket
  • Windbreaker
  • Raincoat
  • Hiking Boots
  • Set of Slippers
  • Pair of Tennis Shoes
  • Baseball Cap – This is for the days you don’t get a shower in.
  • 3 – Pair of Sandals – One for public showers, another pair to wear most of the time and one backup pair in case the pair you wear all the time breaks, lol.

BEDDING

Here is a general guide to bedding items you may want. Again, this can be different based on the bedding items you use and how much you want to do laundry.
If you have any helpful comments be sure to add them below.

  • 2 – Blankets – I love blankets! We have 11 of them in our camper, I know this is a serious problem, but I’m gonna give a few to our girls once we get back to MN.
  • 1 – Comforter
  • 4 – Pillows – I have 10 pillows in the RV right now and really need to get rid of a few.
  • 2 – Extra Sets of Pillow Cases
  • 2 – Sets of Bedroom Sheets – We change our sheets twice a month, maybe you need to change your sheet more. So bring as many sets if you need.
  • 8 – Towels – You might be able get by with less if you are doing laundry more often.
  • 8 – Washcloth
  • 2 – Beach Towels
Toilet Paper - Downsizing Full Time RVing
Downsizing Full Time RVing – Bathroom

BATHROOM

Here is a general guide to bathroom items you may want. Again, this can be different based on the bathroom items you use.
If you have any helpful comments be sure to add them below.

  • Toothpaste/Toothbrushes
  • Shampoo/Conditioner
  • Hand Soap
  • Deodorant
  • Laundry Soap
  • Dryer Sheets
  • Wet Wipes
  • Tissues
  • Toilet Paper
  • Lip Balm
  • Hair Brush / Comb
  • Hair Dryer
  • Make-up
  • RV Toilet Drip-ins
  • Febreze – Great for your bathroom
  • Razors and Shavers with Cream
  • 2 – Shower Bags – Extra – Sandals, Shampoo, Conditioner, Toothbrush, Toothpaste, Soap, etc
Passport - Downsizing Full Time RVing
Downsizing Full Time RVing – Documents You Will Need

DOCUMENTS YOU WILL NEED

Most of these items should be with you and/or in a place you can access them quickly if needed. Some of them can be stored on the cloud but you may need original copies if you need to update your passports let’s say.

  • Driver’s License
  • Passports (If traveling out of United States)
  • Insurance
  • Credit Cards
  • Social Security Cards
  • Birth Certificates
  • Medical Records
  • Pet Records
  • Taxes
  • Receipts
Computer - Downsizing Full Time RVing
Downsizing Full Time RVing – Office Supplies

OFFICE SUPPLIES

Some office items you might want to bring with:

  • Tape
  • Printer
  • Stapler
  • Erasers
  • Notepads
  • Computer
  • Pens and Pencils
Kitchen Pan - Downsizing Full Time RVing
Downsizing Full Time RVing – Kitchen Items

KITCHEN ITEMS

Here is a general guide of items we use to help you downsize your kitchen so you can go full time RVing. Again, this can be different based on the kitchen items you use.

4 Each of the Following:

  • Forks
  • Spoons
  • Knives
  • Place mats
  • Dinner Plates
  • Plastic Containers with Lids for Leftovers

2 Each of the Following:

  • Glasses
  • Pot Holders
  • Coffee Mugs
  • Wine Glasses
  • Cereal Bowls
  • Stirring Spoons
  • Serving Spoons

1 Each of the Following:

  • Spatula
  • Fry Pan
  • Colander
  • Saucepan
  • Wire Whisk
  • 5 Quart Pan
  • Can Opener
  • Measuring Cup
  • Set of Measuring Spoons
  • Wine Corkscrew/Bottle Opener
  • Cake Pan – Check your Oven Size
  • Cookie Sheet – Check your Oven Size
  • Microwavable / Oven Safe Casserole Dish

MORE KITCHEN ITEMS

  • 10 – Dish Rags
  • 8 – Dish Towels
  • Dish Soap
  • Plastic Wrap
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Garbage Bags
  • Magic Erasers
  • Cleaner – Simple Green
  • Matches/Lighters
  • Plastic Silverware
  • Ziploc Bags – Quart Size
  • Ziploc Bags – Sandwich Size
  • Paper Plates, Cups, Bowls, Napkins, Towels
  • Plastic Tablecloths – Great for Outdoors
  • Chip Clips – I love these because your chips will for sure stay fresher if you use them.
  • Favorite Spices / Oils / Condiments, Etc.
Coffee Pot - Downsizing Full Time RVing
Downsizing Full Time RVing – Small Appliances

SMALL APPLIANCES

Here is a general guide of small appliances we use to help you downsize so you can go full time RVing. Again, this can be different based on the small appliance items you use.

  • Toaster
  • Electric Coffee Pot
  • Magic Bullet or Ninja Juicer
  • Portable Hand Electric Mixer
  • Small Grill, Propane and BBQ Utensils
  • Percolator Coffee Pot – Great for when you aren’t plugged in.
  • Crockpot – We use our crockpot a lot and love the crockpot bags!

GARAGE 

There are some things that you will want to have in case you need to fix something on your RV. Things will break because every time you drive your RV down the road it is like an earthquake inside. Many of these items can be stored in a toolbox.

Toolbox - Downsizing Full Time RVing
Downsizing Full Time RVing – Tool Box

TOOLBOX

Here is a general guide of tools we use to help you downsize so you can go full time RVing.

  • Screwdrivers
  • Wrenches
  • Hammer
  • Pliers
  • Measuring tape
  • Nails, Screws, Bolts, etc
  • Bungee Cords
  • Ratchet straps
  • Rope
  • Work Gloves
  • Duct Tape
  • Plumbers Tape
  • Mechanics wire
  • Reflectors
  • Bulbs
  • Zip ties
  • Ax
  • Flashlights
  • Flare Kit
  • Lug Wrench
  • Spare Fuses
  • Hose clamps
  • Utility Funnel
  • Oil Filter Wrench
  • Grease gun
  • Motor oil
  • Power Steering Fluid
  • Brake Fluid
  • Transmission Fluid
  • Silicone lubricant

OTHER TOOLS AND SUPPLIES

  • Jacks
  • Drill and Bits
  • Hand Saw – If you want to do any remodeling
  • Bucket – Great for washing the Camper
  • Vehicle Long Handle Wash Brush & Soap
  • Windshield Washer Solvent
  • Windshield Squeegee
  • Extension cord 50’ heavy duty
  • Jumper cables
  • Leveling blocks
  • RV Water Filter
  • RV Fuel Filter
  • Heater Hose
  • Radiator Hose
  • Green Garden Hose for Regular Water
  • White Hose for Drinking Water
  • Water Filter – Be sure you ask if the water is safe to drink wherever you camp.
  • Wiper Blade, RV
  • Rubber gloves for emptying tanks
  • Sewer hoses
  • Shovel
  • Broom and/or Whisk Broom
  • Vacuum
Fishing Pole - Downsizing Full Time RVing
Downsizing Full Time RVing – Recreational Items

RECREATIONAL ITEMS

Depending if you are the outdoorsy type of person or not. Here is a list of ideas for you to consider when thinking about downsizing:

  • Sunglasses
  • Sports Gear
  • Fishing Pole and Tackle
  • Fishing License
  • Bait
  • Water Bottle
  • Bikes and Helmets
  • Binoculars
  • Hiking Gear
  • Camping Guides
  • Canoe and/or Boat
  • Life Jackets
  • Canteen
  • Compass
  • Whistle

MEDICINE & PRESCRIPTIONS 

Here is a short list of things that you might need to bring with you. Again, if you have any other suggestions feel free to comment below.

  • Tums
  • Tweezers
  • Antiseptic
  • Bandaids
  • Sunscreen
  • First Aid Kit
  • Insect Repellent
  • Antibiotics Cream
  • Allergy Medicine
  • Prescription Medicines
  • Tylenol, Advil, Aspirin, Etc.
Beach Chairs and Umbrellas - Downsizing Full Time RVing
Downsizing Full Time RVing – Other Items You May Want

OTHER ITEMS YOU MAY WANT

These are some extra items that we carry with us and is a general guide of misc items we use to help you downsize so you can go full time RVing. Reminder, they may or may not be needed just depending on how much room you have and/or if you will use them.

  • Tarps
  • Cards
  • Books
  • Cooler
  • Games
  • Puzzles
  • Camera
  • Tiki Torches
  • Clothes Pins
  • Lawn Chairs
  • Beach Chairs
  • USB Portable Fans
  • Folding Outdoor Tables
  • Folding Table and Chairs
  • Solar Charging Bricks with USB
  • Floor and/or Ground Mats with Stakes
  • Skewers for Hot Dogs, Kabobs and/or Smores
Antique Photos - Downsizing Full Time RVing
Downsizing Full Time RVing – Sentimental Photos

SENTIMENTAL PHOTOS

How to deal with all the sentimental photos as you go through your house. This can be the hardest challenge for those who want to full time RV. If you have time, sentimental photos is something you can handle yourself and there are several ways to be able to do this:

Family photos can be scanned and stored digitally:

    • External Hard Drives
    • Flash Drives
    • SD Cards
    • CDs & DVDs
    • USB Flash Drive
    • On the Cloud: Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, MediaFire, and Bitcasa, and many offer mobile apps too.

Backup, Backup, Backup! We can’t stress enough to have a backup plan. You may want to do several of these just to be safe.

  • If time is an issue hire a commercial service to upload and make a DVD for you.
  • Ask relatives to store your photos for you. We did, one of our daughters has all our family photos.
Antique China Teapot Creamer and Sugar - Downsizing Full Time RVing
Downsizing Full Time RVing – Sentimental Items

SENTIMENTAL ITEMS

For your physical items, you can always ask a family member or a friend to hang onto them for you. Another suggestion is take pictures of the items, this way you will always be able to see them whenever you want. However, if you have given the items away or sold them the enjoyment gets pasted on, your items will be loved and cherished by someone for a very long time which is a really great feeling.

What other ways have you found to store your photos or handle your sentimental photos and items?
Please leave a comment below.

DON’T GO BUY STUFF

Our first month of RVing we went and bought lamps, rugs, drying racks, storage containers, etc. and we’ve already sold or donated almost everything we bought. You don’t need it. Less is more especially when living in a small space. We still have so much that we aren’t even using in our RV. I have donated stuff to multiple campgrounds wherever we go because we have too much in the camper.

Currently, we have two tape measures and two pairs of scissors in the camper. That was because we couldn’t find the one pair we kept for the RV, but hey it’s only two of each. Yay! Down from 100 Progress! Now they have a place and I know exactly where they are, well I know where one of each of them are at least. lol

If you find you don’t have something that you really need you can always buy it later if you really decided you need it or borrow it from a neighboring camper. Most are more than willing to help a fellow RVer.

Peaceful Living - Downsizing Full Time RVing
Downsizing Full Time RVing – Simple Peaceful Living – Minimalism

SIMPLE PEACEFUL LIVING

This lifestyle of minimalism living is simple peaceful living at it’s best and it’s awesome! Being and staying organized in a small space makes life go so much smoother.

14 BEST WAYS TO SELL YOUR STUFF FOR COLD HARD CASH

I also did a post of how we ended selling most of our items. Hope this also helps you find an outlet to sell your items so you have a start to your adventure traveling fund. Here is it – 14 Best Ways To Sell Your Stuff For Cold Hard Cash

PRO TIP

Hopefully you found this list very helpful on how to downsize when getting ready to go full time RVing. The Pro Tip this week is when living is a small space, you aren’t gonna be able to keep a lot of your stuff, at least in the RV. Be realistic and really think about whether or not you really need the items. 

QUESTION OF THE DAY

What are some items you have found that would be helpful for a person just starting out as a full time RVers?

COMMENTS

You’re invited to post your positive experiences to encourage, inspire, and/or help others.

Have fun and remember, this is a complaint free zone. 

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Thanks for the love and support,

Chuck and Sandi  

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