The number one upside of living in your van is having the world as your oyster and everyday morning view! You can own that little space you like and stay as long as you please, with all your travel essentials at arm’s length inside your rig. On the contrary, the major downside of van dwelling is the space – or the lack of, rather. It takes a few organizational skills, and lots of creative life hacks to hunker down into the most comfortable van life you can build for yourself.
1. Make Sure You Have A Spot For All Your Belongings: The Key to Organization
When it comes to your belongings, they should have a specific place to live in. Whether it is your sunscreen, bug spray, or wipes, they should be placed in a particular part of your van. Doing this is not only for the organization or to save space; it will also help you find things easily when you need them.
Now, when you are going to use your things, such as sunglasses or small or big items, make sure that you place them back after use. It may sound like a small thing, but doing this will ensure the tidiness of your van and will help you find your belongings much easier.
2. Avoid Packing Clothes in Your Bag: Takes Up Too Much Space
Most van lifers take a while to figure this out since, most of the time, they don’t have enough space or cabinets to hold their clothes. They would usually pack their clothes into duffle bags, thinking that it would save space in your van. Another disadvantage of placing your clothes in bags is you would need to rifle through them every time you need clothes.
There is a huge chance that you will leave your clothes in a mess once you find the outfit you like to wear. Doing this can be time-consuming and inefficient.
To resolve this problem, you have to get rid of the bags in your van. You can pack your clothes in clear bins or cubes since it would be easier to organize your clothes and find clothes when you need them. Packing clothes in clear bins are things are easy to see, clothes can stay organized, and you don’t have to try too hard to store awkward bags when you are on the road.
3. Folding Clothes Technique: Small, But Has A Great Impact
Plenty of van lifers spend their time creating the infrastructure so that they can utilize every crook and cranny. However, something simple like folding clothes could save you plenty of room. Make sure that you find a method that works best for your clothes as well as your space. You can experiment with different and new techniques to figure out what is the best folding technique for you.
4. Dealing With Dirty Clothes: What You Can Do
Now, dirty clothes don’t disappear when you are living a van life. When you have a system before you set off on your adventure, it will make your life on the road much more smooth. It would be helpful that you use an airtight, waterproof container so that you can store your clothes in between washes.
If you store used sweaty or wet clothes in your van, it can easily stink up your van, so you need to ensure you place them in a container as soon as you change your clothes. There are plenty of waterproof dry bags and hanging laundry bag in the market that you can purchase.
5. Learn to Manage Your Laundry: Avoid Pile of Clothes
You don’t want to leave your clothes all over the place when you are done wearing them. Doing this will cause chaos inside your van, which you don’t want to happen. It is best to place them in the bags that I have mentioned above.
Make sure not to place your clothes in the laundry haphazardly. You can wear clothes more than once when you are on the road. If you think that your clothes are not as dirty and can be worn once again, then do so.
Also, if you don’t have washing machines or dryers inside your van, make sure that you visit the laundromat so that you won’t have tons of dirty clothes lying around in your van. You may not notice it, but it can take up plenty of space in the long run.
6. Packing Cube and Mesh Pouches: Makes Organization Easier
It is essential to think that less is more when it comes to van living and maximizing your storage. However, it pays to spend time purchasing packing cubes. Make sure that you label your cubes so that it will be easy to find your belongings when you need them rather than cramming all of them into a closet.
It is best to avoid throwing clothes all over your van while you are searching for your outfit for the day. Packing cubes are the best way to keep your clothes out of sight and out of mind.
When you are looking around, and you feel like your van has no space left to fill, the best way is to create more space with a couple of mesh pouches. These types of mesh pouches are cheap and very effective since you can place them anywhere.
They are also durable, perfect for above your doors, and they will last for years. Aside from placing them above your doors, you can also place them under your beds or the back of your seats.
You can place your small essential items such as small devices, sunglasses, or important papers that you may need during your drive. Also, you don’t need to worry about your belongings getting damaged while you drive on bumpy roads.
7. Clothing Cubbies: Build Them Under Your Bed
It is best to build clothing cubbies under your bed so that you can place your folded clothes or shoes easily. Having clothing cubbies is also easy-to-access, and very space-efficient. They are also multifunctional and easy to build so that you can do this by yourself during your van conversion.
You can combine them with drawers or attach a sliding door to cover it up. Whatever way you choose, it would be an excellent addition to your van design.
8. Make Use of Hanging Space: Don’t Brush This Off
The most critical piece of advice that you shouldn’t ignore is the hanging space in your camper. They can be a lifesaver in the long run. You can make use of hooks for jackets, hats, fleeces, sweatshirts, and so much more. If you don’t have many flat surfaces for hooks, you can try to use the L-track system.
The L-track system is a pre-drilled track that can be installed anywhere in your van, like on the floor of your gear garage, below your cabinets, etc. You can hang carabiners off of it for the instant jacket rack or have recess the tracks to make adjustable fork mounts for your bikes if you have any.
To keep your hats and towels organized, you can purchase wear-resistant webbing or sturdy S-biner clips. These can be hung anywhere in your van, and when winter comes around, you can also hang them across the van and over the heater to dry your towers or even wet jackets.
9. Doing the Dishes the Proper Way: Less Clutter
Now, it may be a hassle, but when you do your dishes the right way, it will help keep your space cleaner and more organized. The only time that you can break this rule is when you are headed over to a house or location where you can use someone’s dishwasher.
You can stack the dishes in your sink and unload them when you arrive at your destination.
10. Make Use of Your Outdoor Space: Be the Pro Organizer
To be the pro organizer, you would have to use the outside and the inside of your camper. You can have a gear garage in your van which will allow you to store all of the bikes and skis that you use on your adventures. However, larger gears such as stand-up paddleboards would need special racks like surf hooks that are mounted to a ladder and pole whenever it is not in use.
You can also make use of rear storage boxes which can hold jerry cans or firewood. Closed boxes are great for storing camp chairs, snow chains, and tie-down straps, which are rather bulky items and can be a challenge to fit inside your van.
11. Manage Your Trash: Just as Important as Managing Your Clothes
It is best to keep two trash cans inside your camper, you can place one under your sink, and the other can be a small hanging car trash bag that can be placed on one of the front seat armrests. You keep these things clean while you are driving and can easily dump them out at gas stations when you need to.
When you are at camp, you can keep the trash organized as well as keep your van from smelling with a water-resistant canvas trash bag that will fit over your rear spare tire. There are plenty of trash bags on the market that can easily be hauled out and into the trash cans out of national parks or more remote sites that don’t have any trash services.
12. Different Compartments in Large Drawers: Great for More Spaces
Large drawers are great for holding things of all sizes, and you will have space for more. However, a bit of separation is necessary, and it is great for custom fixes so your belongings are more accessible and can fit together better.
You can place back a large drawer that can have two different compartments for three different uses and order in the drawer based on the amount they are used.
On the bottom part of the compartments, you can place your propane gas tanks when you have one, and next to that, you can place some cleaning products. If you have any jugs or pots and pans, you can place them in this bottom section as well.
Above the compartments is the light plywood separator, which is made up of two parts which include the back plank that is rounded inward, which allows your propane tank to sit upright.
In the middle section, you place a couple of your plastic containers for leftover food that you may have. Lastly, the final section above can flip open and act as a bench for your stove when you are cooking. If you want to add some design, you can add a sticker wallpaper roll that will keep the wood clean and easy to wipe food off.
13. Top Hopper: Another Closet Space You Can Take Advantage
Right above your driving seat, you will find a deep and wide space which is great for storage space. The top hopper can be your pantry since there is plenty of space up there, and you can pack plenty of provisions for long road trips.
If you are worried about the number of clothes to bring with you on the road, the top hopper would be a great storage space. You can insulate it with foil tape to make sure that the shelves have lids so your clothes won’t fall out while you are driving.
You can also build an effective door with some plywood and different hinges, sash locks, as well as latches.
14. Pop-Up Shelving: Not Just A Storage But Also A Table
When you have large cabinet doors, it can create extra table space through spring-loaded hinges. They can be sturdy enough for you to cook on or work when you need to. These shelves are an important way of keeping order in your van so that your belongings won’t be cluttered all over the place.
You can easily fold them for an even better space when they are not in use. If you want to know more about installing cabinets, here is an article that I have written for you.
There are many clever hacks you can try to make your van interior more spacious, efficient, and livable. You can incorporate your storing systems with your interior design or make hidden compartments for a neater-looking space. Whether you are satisfied with store-bought shelves or want a more in-depth solution through custom shelving, know your van capacity and prepare a budget for seamless results.