A Mobile Vacation Home or a Portable Hotel Room?
I remember standing in a 26 foot travel trailer at an RV show when a lady walked in followed by her husband, “Ugh!” she groaned, “This is way too cramped! I could never stay in this!” She left quickly. I looked around at all the space and wondered what she would have said about our Roadtrek.
I’ve never felt cramped or claustrophobic in our Roadtrek – but I can’t say that about every Class B I have been inside. One fulltiming couple proudly showed us the innovative features of their custom Sprinter Sportsmobile. Some really unique ideas stood out, but I couldn’t have lived in it for two weeks let alone fulltime. The front seats were not usable as living space and there were exactly two spots to sit – opposite couches with or without a table in between. The bathroom took up ¼ of the living space. It is one thing to travel and sleep in a Roadtrek – with most of your time spent either driving or out of the Roadtrek. The Roadtrek becomes just a portable hotel room for the night. That’s good, we use our Roadtrek that way too, but it can be so much more than a portable hotel room.
I view our Roadtrek as a mobile vacation home. It can be that cottage in the woods, or a beach house or a mountain cabin. If this is how you use your Roadtrek, there is a need for more comfort – but not necessarily more space. The comfort comes from both how you use and how you configure your space. I think Roadtrek did some wonderful things with their designs to maximize comfort in a minimum amount of space. And by making minor additions and modifications you can have a very comfortable “home”.
It is important that you do things differently in your Roadtrek than you do at home - unless you live in a very tiny home.
Put It Away. Increasing comfort in a small space has to do with decreasing clutter. To make life in your Roadtrek better, each item you have needs to have a place to be “put away”. And put it away right after you use it. Don’t let stuff sit around. Stuff that is laying around is stuff you have to keep moving around. Or it fills up your limited space. Don’t do it. I tend to leave stuff out at home, but I’m learning not to do that in the Roadtrek
Avoid Moving Stuff. Things need one home not several. The exceptions should be as few as possible and should still have a moving vs camped spot. In our case the laundry hamper is one of these. It is the pop up variety so it is on the towel shelf until needed. Then it sits on the toilet when traveling, and it is moved into the passenger foot well when camped (and the seat is rotated). Many of our modifications have been to provide “put away” spots for items. Our laptops, cameras and all the various charger cords were a problem in our early Roadtrek days. Now they all have a home.
Get Rid of It. Another way to decrease clutter is to remove the stuff you aren’t using from the Roadtrek. All those nifty gadgets you bought at Camping World but have never been used can be left at home. Do you really need measuring cups or spoons? Those brochures and maps from the last trip? Toss them or leave them at home.
Use It All. It is amazing to us how many people miss out on the finer things in their Roadtrek. And I don’t just mean the people who have never used their toilet (let alone the shower). We run into many Roadtrek owners who leave their bed set up permanently. We love our dinette! How could they miss out on that wonderful spot surrounded by 3 windows? For the Popular try both the king and the twin configuration. You may be surprised at which you prefer.
Physical Comfort. There is a physical part of maximizing comfort as well. Knowing what window to open and how far to open it to get the best breeze is important. It took us awhile to realize that opening as many windows as possible only decreased the breeze. The Fantastic Fan is worth its weight in gold. Learning how to redirect the A/C air back into the sleeping area is important on a hot night. Depending on where your furnace is located (varies a lot over the years) you may need to learn how to redirect the heat as well. Reflectix is the wonder product for both hot and cold weather camping. But it needs a “put away” spot when not in use. Little things make a big difference. A standard pillow is not only a pain to store; it is so deep it effectively shortens your bed. Find a travel size pillow instead.
Housekeeping. Maybe you are a bit lax about this at home. Or you do it once a week. Don’t do it that way in a Roadtrek. Clean the stove and wash and put away the dishes right after dinner. Wipe out the microwave, get out the cleaner and clean the mirrors, sweep the floor with your little whisk broom – it only takes a couple of minutes. Don’t you wish you could do it that fast at home? A squirt of 409 and a paper towel wipe and the bathroom floor is clean. Not only will you be more comfortable in a neat and clean Roadtrek, you are prepared to show it off to anyone who asks you about it.
Simplify. Simplifying the basic tasks goes a long way toward maximizing comfort. How to set up and break camp, how to wash dishes, how to take a shower, how to prepare breakfast – these need to become routines. Dream up ways to make things easier. An example: We almost always have sandwiches for lunch. I found some stacking plastic containers we use for lunch meat and cheese that fit nicely under the fins on the second shelf. Now it only takes a quick opening of the fridge to grab the containers and condiments – no fishing around for individual packages and warming up the fridge. This is very important with sleeping; preparing the bed and putting it away should be quick and easy. If not, change things to make it that way.
The Away Room. I admired the book, The Not So Big House. The author emphasized the importance of sight distances to avoid things feeling small (I’ve seen a few Class Bs with extremely short sight distances and they really feel cramped. Our closet, bath, pantry, and clothes cabinet doors all have mirrors on them. It gives the impression of more space and increases the sight distances. The author also was a proponent of the Away Room – a room away from the hubbub of the rest of the house. Obviously a Roadtrek doesn’t have that, but if we set up front and rear tables, we can each have a nice work space and we are out of each others way – and depending on which seats we chose, may not even be visible to the other. It is the Roadtrek equivalent of the Away Room – something lacking in many bigger RVs.
No Fear. Don’t be afraid to modify your Roadtrek. You bought it for you to use. Make it what you need for your lifestyle.
Experiment. Some of the mods we have made just didn’t pan out. They turned out to be more trouble than they were worth, or we really didn’t use them as much as we thought we might. Sometimes a better idea comes along. Or perhaps our style of travel changed. Look at what others have done. Boating and RV stores, magazines, and websites can have some great ideas. Many of our modifications were first done by others on the Yahoo Roadtrek Group. Try our ideas if you think they will suit you. And come up with some better ones to share with others.