You won’t need to adopt Minimalism to enjoy a life on the roads. Why give up on comfort when there are plenty of easy, cheap yet functional and cool RV hacks to upgrade your RV into a better mobile home?
Check out these tried and true DIY camper hacks, including handy temperature control tips, energy-saving power and lighting solutions, RV organization hacks, RV cooking hacks plus many more.
RV Hacks: Exterior and Outdoor
Showering outdoors in good weather is a perk of the RV life. For a bit of fun, or if you do not have enough space for a shower in your small RV, which is often the case, you can fit your own outdoor shower on the side of your vehicle.
An outside shower will prevent the interior of your RV from extra moisture and is useful for getting the mud off from your trekking trip before you go inside. Make your own privacy screen for your outdoors shower using a shower curtain and wire or piping is a fun and not too challenging project. Do not forget to get a good quality RV shower head to enjoy your shower time more.
If you love staying outdoors in great weather, an awning is a must. An awning can provide shade and help save money on cooling in hot summer weather. It can also provide a shaded place to dine, enjoy a drink or read outside your RV.
If you don’t want to invest in a commercial awning, there are many guides, including videos, within the RV community on how to make your own awning by upcycling the material from an old tent, or even old umbrellas. A curtain rod and simple pulley system plus some craftsmanship will provide reliable support for your awning.
External Mounts for Extra Utility Space & Storage
Another hack to increase the forever-limited storage capacity on your RV is to add an external mount such as RV bike racks to the rear of the vehicle. Bicycles and kayaks are the most common items that you will see.
In addition, you could also use an external mount to stow extra fresh water tanks or waste containers. Some full-time RVers even stow a whole little greenhouse for their RV-grown fresh produce, or an outdoors kitchen. Extra space will allow you to take on plenty of cool DIY projects for amazing upgrades, helping you get the best out of your RV living.
Bubble Level or Leveling Blocks
When you travel off-road into nature, parking on uneven ground is common, which means you won’t get your trailer level.
There’s a simple and affordable remedy for this: bubble levels or leveling blocks. You can get a bubble level for as little os $5 or even get a fancier level with raving reviews on Amazon, which can cost from $20 to under $40.
In addition, you can get leveling blocks instead of bubble levels. You can stack these flat blocks up like Lego to achieve the desired thickness, a super simple yet effective and convenient mechanism.
The two best sellers in this domain are Tri-Lynx RV Leveling Blocks and Camco Heavy Duty Leveling Blocks. Tri-Lynx and Camco are among the most loved brands by RVers thanks to the usefulness, quality and variety of their offerings.
The model from Tri-Lynx costs $36 for a pack of 10 blocks, and is claimed to withstand any RV weight. Camco’s blocks are more affordable: $23 for a pack of 10.
Portable Propane Fire Pit
Like a hammock, you might think a fire pit is not that ‘essential’ to include in your bucket list of travel trailer must haves accessories. Spend some time camping and you’ll think again.
Camping and outdoor gatherings won’t be the same without a centerpiece campfire.
Say goodbye to dirty ash, expensive firewood, and bothersome smoke. For typically $80-$130, you and your fellow travelers can enjoy clean, hassle-free and realistic propane campfire with cozy warmth and beautiful ambiance.
In addition, a big plus is a CSA-approved, spark-free propane fire pit is safe to use during most campfire bans, the objective of which is to protect campgrounds and forested areas.
RV Hacks: Cooking
Depending on the class of your RV, you might have everything you would need to enjoy a life not much less comfortable compared to in your own home. Otherwise, you might need to give up on certain perks, such as a spacious and fully equipped kitchen.
Cooking on your own on longer trips is essential regarding both your budget and health. This is why every travel trailer hacks list includes a number of kitchen organization tips and portable accessories
DIY Sink Covers/Chopping Board
A lack of counter space can sometimes be a problem in RVs. One simple hack is to make a DIY stove cover or sink cover to give you more space for prep. A sink cover could even double as a chopping board – you can simply cut a wooden chopping board to fit.
DIY Countertop Fold-Outs
Many RV DIYers have also added to their countertops by creating their own simple fold-out extensions, which will hang down or slide into existing cabinets when not in use.
A multi-functional cooker will save you space on your small RV by combining typically 7 kitchen appliances in 1, including: pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, sauté, yogurt maker, and warmer.
The most user-friendly, reliable and affordable cooker is arguably the Instant Pot Duo Mini 7-in-1 Electric, which costs $60. It receives a 4.5 overall rating from almost 50,000 positive reviews on Amazon, making it the absolute best seller.
Stove Top Oven
If your RV has an oven, you can skip this RV hacks. However, if yours does not and you do not want to compromise great oven-cooked dishes, a stove-top oven is a convenient choice.
A great option is the one by Omnia, which costs $67. The brand also offers a variety of accessories for oven cooking.
Liquid Propane Grill
A huge perk of the RV life is outdoors BBQ. Do not compromise this, as there are a wide range of compact, go-anywhere grills offered at different price range you can choose from to perfect your RV experience.
Portable outdoors grill also solves the nuisance of cooking in limited space in the RV.
You can find compact, portable gas grills with a 6,500 BTU-per hour burner and porcelain-enameled cooking grate for $60-$90. For easy carrying, look for one that features handles, plated steel legs and pivot to lock lid in place.
A liquid propane grill, which runs on disposable liquid propane cylinders, would typically cost a little more. For $150-$250, you can get a grill that offers some 12,000 BTU-per-hour, 280 square-inch cooking area and easy-start electronic ignition.
RV Hacks: Cheap Temperature Control Methods
All-season camping: Reflectix
This is one of the super useful and affordable RV hacks that not many RVers know about.
If you travel during summer or in areas with year-round hot weather, then Reflectix is definitely one of the travel trailer necessities you need for economical temperature control.
Reflectix is a reflective insulation roll, which covers all your windows to reflect sunlight away from your RV, thus keeping your RV cooler. These rolls typically costs around $15-$20 each, an economical and effective way to survive brutal summer days.
Simply attach these rolls to cover the whole area of each window. Also, if your RV comes with a shower skylight, don’t forget to insulate it too.
A pro tip on how to heat an RV using Reflectix is to look at the product’s R-value. This R-value tells you how well the insulation will trap heat inside a space.
While the higher the R-value number, the better, anything between R-3.7 and R-21 would be functional for your RV’s relatively small space.
Winter camping: Energy-saving insulation and heating
While heating using gas, electricity or propane can be big money pits in winter, the good news is you can heat an RV without electricity, gas or propane.
These RV hacks are heating techniques that effectively trap the heat inside your RV and prevent icy cold air from leaking in. Even if you use conventional heating, these techniques can add considerable warmth to your journey while being affordable and saving you heaps of money in the long term.
The key to keeping your RV warm in the harsh winter is effective insulation, that is preventing cold air outside from leaking in and trapping the heat inside the RV.
The two areas to focus most of your energy on if you want to improve insulation are windows and vents. Even tiny cracks will let cold air in and reduce the temperature to a noticeable extent.
Fixing air leaks
Before trying to do anything to more effectively trapping warm air inside your RV, you must make sure cold air cannot leak in from all the nooks and crannies first.
Tiny air leaks from the rubber gaskets around your exterior windows, doors and vents are often overlooked, however keeping them in good shape will ensure cold air is not leaking into your interior.
If they are worn, repair or replace them. Next, inspect the edges of cabinets, closets and appliances, which are surprising places where cold air can leak through. A maintenance tips for this type of leak is to use silicone sealer or spray foam insulation.
Maximizing natural sunlight
You might think that trying to get exposure to sunlight when it’s snow and ice outside would not do much, but you would be wrong.
Simply position your RV so that the largest windows point to the south and west to maximize your RV’s exposure to direct sunlight definitely will warm you RV up. It is one useful tip on how to heat an RV that many new RVers do not know or underestimate.
Hatch vent insulator
An RV’s hatch vents, roof and wall vents are also often overlooked and can let cold air in, thus all of them need to be covered.
These vents covers are usually made from thin plastic, which is not reliable at all in preventing cold air from leaking in. Thus it is best to equip them with extra protection by adding another layer of Styrofoam right below the covers.
The Styrofoam must be cut to fit precisely. Secure it in place with tape or another adhesive.
The second option is to get a vent insulator. A popular choice for RVers is vent insulators from Camco, which typically sell for around $15 on Amazon. A vent insulator is a large piece of insulated foam that may or may not come with a reflective surface.
Do note that you must get a vent insulator that will fit your vents.
Aside from being a cheap and useful method for how to heat an RV passively, Styrofoam and vent insulators are also handy in the summer: it traps in cold air from your air conditioner.
Affordable and useful in any weather, these accessories are a must-have for your RV for better temperature control.
RV Hacks: Energy-Efficient Power and Lighting
In extreme winter, you would definitely need gas, electrical or propane heaters in addition to the passive heating techniques above. However, in milder winter, passive solar heating plus passive heating may be sufficient to replace conventional heating methods.
If you plan to be an RVer for life, this green energy source will save you money in the long term, all the while being environmentally friendly. Solar panels work by generating photons while sitting in the sun for hours. The photons can be converted to be used as electricity for your RV.
You can now buy RV solar panels from many sources. A panel typically costs between $500 and $300, depending on the durability, efficiency and size of the panel. The bigger the panel, the more green energy it can produce to heat your RV without electricity.
This sustainable and economical option is welcomed by countless RVers, thus you can find a huge video library on how to choose a good solar panel and how to install these panels on your RV’s roof.
Solar/ LED Lighting
A pro tip to go green is to switch out existing bulbs for low-energy LED ones. If you cannot afford a full solar array for all your power needs, you can consider investing in some solar lighting that can be run off a single small solar panel.
Even using some solar lanterns, or strings of solar fairy lights to your RV’s exterior could make a difference to how much power you need for lighting after dark. Plus, fairy lights are aesthetically pleasing too.
RV Hacks: Storage
If you are traveling in a big family and often go on long vacations, you would never get as much storage space as you desire.
These RV storage hacks will not only help you maximize the limited space in your RV but will also protect your things from rattling or breaking when traveling off roads.
Over-the-door towel rack & caddy rack
Apart from the kitchen counter flaw, RVs never seem to have enough towel racks in the bathroom. A cheap and easy solution is over-the-door towel rack, which you can easily buy online or at department stores.
No drills, simply hang the hooks over the thickness of your bathroom door or shower. This is not only a tried and true RV hacks approved by RVers worldwide, but also a handy upgrade for your own home.
Apart from towels, there are plenty of small things you would want to hand away to clear off horizontal surfaces. For instance, an over-the-door caddy is handy for organizing your toiletries and cosmetics.
Hampers & closet organizers
Open storage compartments in an RV are never adequate, even if you are a minimalist. Hampers and closet organizers will help you effectively optimize space and keep things organized.
These come in a variety of forms and shapes. Most are foldable for space saving and super lightweight. You should definitely get some foldable storage bin cubes, which you can stack up, and some hanging shelves with sturdy metal frame.
Storage bin cubes usually come in packs of 4, 6 or 8 at $12 to typically under $30 for a pack. Hanging shelves can range from $13 to $30 for one.
If you are a neat freak, maybe grab some drawer dividers for underwear and thin summer clothes. This is a super cheap yet smart RV organization hacks. When you don’t need them any more for your RV, they will always be useful in your home.
This might not sound super grand, but is one of those RV hacks you will love more and more the longer you spend on the roads. Towing on bumpy roads can cause annoying rattling and worse, your cutlery can fall off the shelves and brake.
A favourite cutlery protector by full-time RVers is the Camco Stack-A-Plate, which costs $10 for a pack of 2, one small and one big.
While you’re on it, getting some organizers for your fridge would also prevent rattling and things knocked over as well as maximizing space.
The market for fridge storage is vast with high quality yet affordable products. You can find from plastic bins to keep things from topping over to food containers with lid to keep your vegetables and fruits fresh, and even super creative solutions like sliding drawers.
Last Updated on July 2, 2020
- RV Hacks: Exterior and Outdoor
- RV Hacks: Cooking
- RV Hacks: Cheap Temperature Control Methods
- RV Hacks: Energy-Efficient Power and Lighting
- RV Hacks: Storage