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How To Live Simply In A 39 Foot RV Motorhome

My husband and I live full-time on the road in a 39 foot tour bus that has been converted into an RV. While this is considered fairly large by RV standards, it is a very small home, especially considering that we share it with one dog, two cats, and four tropical fish.

Keeping things uncluttered is vital for several reasons. First, we travel almost every day. Loose items simply cannot be lying around in a moving vehicle. At best, they will become a big mess as they slide and shift. At worst, they can become deadly projectiles in an accident.

Secondly, clutter can become overwhelming in such a small space. Our bedroom is 9 ft x 8 ft and our kitchen even tinier. Anything left on the counters or floor makes it seem even smaller. Travel is dusty, too, and it is much easier to clean a smooth, empty surface. The good news is that 300 square feet doesn’t take long to clean.

One way we have reduced clutter is by going electronic. Bills are paid online through a service. Paper bills are received at their facility, scanned, and emailed to me. We pay our taxes electronically. All our banking is done over the internet. We keep in touch with friends and family through email, our blog, Twitter, and phone calls. News, weather, and entertainment arrive via the web. We take digital photos and even conduct meetings using on-line conferencing software.

What paper we have left, such as pet vaccination certificates, vehicle registration/maintenance receipts, passports and marriage license, easily fits in a single file drawer.

Because we are on-line often, we each have our own laptop computer. They take up much less space than a desktop unit with a monitor, and are much easier to stow for travel.

We chose a clean, light, simple interior design for our bus to help reduce visual clutter. The plain maple cabinets used in every room have no knobs. The hardware that shows is all the same brushed stainless steel. All the window blinds are cream colored and very simple. Furniture is solid colors and patterns are limited to muted tones on the bedspread and throw pillows.

Items used often, such as the TV remote, reading glasses and camera, are stored in attractive wicker baskets or leather boxes. These neutrally-colored storage containers keep small items corralled and blend nicely with the countertops. They also make it simple for everything to have a place to be put away quickly before hitting the road.

The most important way we reduce clutter, however, is simply by having less stuff. Sometimes less means fewer. For instance, we gave away at least half of our clothing to prepare for RV life. What is left exactly fills the drawer and closet space we have. A strict “one in/one out” rule, which makes it easy to resist buying new clothes. More than 90 percent of our books were left behind. Place settings for four and a handful of knives and kitchen utensils suit us just fine.

By looking for items with multiple uses, we can often get by with less. Our mixing bowls double as serving bowls, a folding stool is used as a footrest, small padded trays are used both for dining and to hold the laptop computers, and bungee cords are used for everything. Washable microfiber towels when damp can clean floors, counters, ceiling, and shower; and when dry can dust, absorb leaks and spills, and pad breakable items.

Sometimes, less means smaller. We use two small scooters as our alternative transportation. They are light, fun and get fantastic fuel mileage. When possible, we look for items that collapse for storage. We have a collapsible ladder, laundry cart, exercise mat, pet carriers, and patio furniture. All were chosen to fit the small storages spaces we have available. Doesn’t fit? We don’t own it.

And sometimes, less means none. We don’t own a car, but when we need one (about once a year), we either borrow or rent. In fact, we choose to rent a number of bulky, seldom used items such as skis, bicycles and golf clubs. We visit laundromats all over the country and don’t need a washer and dryer.

None of these decluttering techniques seem like sacrifices to us. For our life of travel, less is definitely more. The reward has been freedom, simplicity, and happiness, and that’s an article for another day!

This is a guest post written and published by Louise Hornor at


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