The Ultimate Guide to Living in a Travel Trailer

We are a young couple on a journey to start an off grid homestead 100% from scratch. As we want to do this with as little money as possible, we are living in a travel trailer while we work on building our home. As we’ve been living fulltime in a travel trailer for months now, we’ve come up with a huge list of tips for living in a travel trailer and thought we’d share them! We hope this list gives you some ideas to implement to make travel trailer living as easy and fun as possible!

To use this guide, feel free to navigate by the table of contents below. Simply click on the area you are interested in… otherwise, just keep scrolling and read them all!

living in a travel trailer - complete guide to camper trailer living

Trailer / RV Layout

When you go to buy your travel trailer, one of the things you want to think about is the layout of the RV. If you will be living in your camper fulltime, then you want to be sure to find an RV that suits your lifestyle and your spacial needs. Here are some things we found you can look for to make your trailer feel most like a home.

  • Size doesn’t matter, layout matters more: We found that bigger was not necessarily better! Bigger did NOT mean that the travel trailer felt automatically bigger, because it was! We looked at travel trailers all the way up to 25’ in length and they just didn’t seem to do the trick for us. We never thought we’d find a 19’ trailer that would feel spacious but after looking around enough, we found a Fun Finder which are known for great layouts. Because everything is laid out as well as possible, we feel like we have all the space we need and everything is fairly ergonomic.
  • Pull outs: One think you can look for is a trailer with a pull out. These are typically designed so that they enlarge the living room, but they are pushed in during travel. We didn’t find any of these that we liked or that were within our price range, but they are out there, especially if you have a higher budget.
  • Think about your “must haves” and your “can do withouts”: There were some things we knew we would need in our RV and other things we could live without. We didn’t really NEED an oven. We didn’t need to be able to walk on both sides of our bed. We didn’t really want a bathroom that was RIGHT by the bed. I can’t think of anything else at the top of my head, but you catch my drift. Decide what you absolutely need and what you can live without.
  • Decide whether you want a 5th wheel or a simple tow-behind trailer: One thing you need to keep in mind is what type of vehicle you will be towing with. When we were trailer shopping, we didn’t yet have a vehicle to pull the trailer so we were open-minded. We ultimately decided that we didn’t want to deal with a 5th wheel camper trailer, nor did we find any that felt great spatially, so that all worked out well.

RV Protection

If you are planning on living in your camper trailer long-term, then it could be a great idea to give it a little bit of protection. Ours already has some dry rot in the front, and it’s also prone to leakage, so here is what we’re doing to protect our RV (or things you can do):

  • Buy a portable RV garage: To protect your travel trailer on the cheap, invest in a portable RV garage. As our travel trailer is only 19′ in length, we’ve settled on a ShelterLogic Garage-in-a-Box. This is much more sturdy than your average carport. Ours is 10×20′ which is just perfect for our travel trailer. To give it a little extra height, we built a platform for the RV carport to give it an extra 12″ or so. This also doubled as a deck for our RV. If you have a really long RV, you may be able to hook two of these bad boys together.
  • Build a small shed for your RV: Another option is to build a small shed or pole barn for your RV. For our 19′ travel trailer, we determined that this was going to cost $3,000 or so which wasn’t worth it at the time. If you’re able to get your hand on some reclaimed materials, or maybe you already have a pole barn available, then you’re set!
  • Caulk the outside of your RV: If you’ve purchased your travel trailer second-hand, it may be a good idea to go along the seams of the outside of the trailer with caulk. This will help seal up the travel trailer and prevent leakages in the rain.

Outside Your Travel Trailer

If you’re living in your travel trailer long-term, it may be a good idea to give some thought to the outside of your RV. In our case, it seemed that nature was just TOO CLOSE to our trailer, and we wanted to do some things to keep tidy and give us some outdoor living space!

  • Build a deck for your RV: The best thing we did to give us some outside living space was to build a deck for our RV. As stated prior, our deck doubled as a frame for our portable RV garage, so you can do that or you can build just a simple, stand-alone deck. Our deck cost us maybe $100 in lumber. By having a deck, you have a place to set the garbage, kick off your shoes, put a door mat, etc.
  • Have a quality doormat: When we first arrived on our land, we had an old, carpeted door mat that didn’t do a very good job collecting dirt off of our shoes! We’ve since discovered this doormat that does a much better job keeping the dirt outdoors!
  • Have a couple of camping chairs: We didn’t really think about this before starting our journey, but we quickly realized that we needed a place to sit outdoors, especially so that if guests were to come by, we could sit and chat for a while! We recommend these camping chairs because they aren’t “sinky” like others. They’re easier to get in and out of, and more enjoyable to sit in.
  • Have a place to store propane, water, and other outdoor stuff: If you are boon docking in an RV as we are doing, then you will likely want a place to store some of your “outdoor stuff”. We have a couple extra propane tanks, eight 6-gallon water jugs, and things of that nature. Having a portable RV garage really helps with that because we can contain our stuff within some walls rather than just having it all sit piled outside of our RV!

Meeting Your Power Needs

If you are living in a travel trailer that is tied into the grid, great! You have endless electricity! If you are boon docking like us, then you will need to come up with some sort of power solution like a portable generator or solar power of some kind. Here is what we have found works for our off grid power needs.

  • Buy a quality generator: We did a lot of homework and bought a 3000 watt generator for our power needs. While this is more power than needed to simply power an RV, we also have a lot of power tools we use simultaneously, so having a powerful generator really gives us the freedom to work as much as we can. We use our generator a couple hours a day to charge our RV battery. The exact generator we have is the Honda EU3000i Handi… read the review of the generator here. We love this generator because it is lightweight and has a built-in wheel kit that allows for easy transportation of the generator. Check out our best portable generator reviews.
  • Buy a battery charger: Many trailers like ours have a trickle charger, which means that you can only charge the battery so fast. It was taking us 8+ hours a day of running the generator to charge our battery, and if we were in the trailer using the lights, we were draining the battery faster than we could charge it! By using this battery charger, we’re able to charge to the battery directly and it helps the battery charge quickly and as efficient as possible.
  • Buy LED lights: If you’re travel trailer is not already equipped with LED lighting, that can be a great way to reduce your power consumption! We wasted an entire year of time on cheap LED lights but once we upgraded to these ones, they got much brighter and lasted longer! Worth the extra cost.
  • Get portable solar panels: After living in our trailer for about nine months, we invested in some portable solar panels, more specifically this one, and in the summer we’re able to NOT run our generator to keep our trailer battery topped off, saving us around $90/month in generator fuel! These will pay for themselves quickly. Setting them up is easy peasy.

solar panels for travel trailer living

Black Water / Septic

This is probably our largest pain point when it comes to living in a camper trailer. As you may know, black water is anything that comes down from the toilet. Right now, we are having to dump our black water maybe every 5-7 days.

  • For men (or even women who aren’t picky), try peeing outside during the daylight hours: This will save you a lot of space in your black water tank. Save the peeing indoors for nighttime when you really would rather not go outside.
  • Be mindful of the amount of toilet paper you use: I’m sure I’m not the only one that has a tendency to grab a huge wad of toilet paper when I really don’t need it! Try using less to reduce the risk of having a clog develop at the valve. Or, try throwing some of the toilet paper in the garbage. Or, try using this Rapid Dissolve Bath Tissue which is designed for RV us.
  • Use the restroom when you are away: When you’re out and about there are many opportunities to use a public restroom. While I’m not encouraging “holding it” per se, if you can, using a public restroom will prevent your black water tank from filling up quickly.
  • Be sure that your black water tank is actually emptying when you dump it: One time, we heard the tank empty so even though the sensor said full, we believed it was empty. It turns out that just days later our black water tank was completely full and we couldn’t flush the toilet! This was a careful drive to the septic dump. Check and double check that it is indeed, empty.
  • Fill the tank up completely before dumping it: Once we had our septic system in, we left the portal open which created quite the stink… don’t do this! It’s actually better to just dump it when it’s full that way there is no stink and that also helps your tank stay clean.
  • Be aware that the sensor may get blocked: Our sensor frequently doesn’t work. This is probably because solid waste is built up on it (eww, I know). Even if it says empty, the first time we use the toilet the sensor will say the tank is full which is not accurate. We try to use common sense.
  • Flush out the black water tank and toilet at the dump station: To keep things clean and sanitary, we frequently run a lot of water through the toilet at the dump station. We also sometimes pour a small amount of bleach down the toilet to sanitize things.

Grey Water

As you probably know, grey water includes anything from the shower, bathroom sink or kitchen sink. When you’re camping this probably isn’t a huge deal if the weather is warm and you’re showering and / or cooking outside. When you live in your trailer fulltime and the weather is chilly, this is a bigger issue. If you aren’t careful, your grey water will fill up much more quickly than your black water. Here are our tips for keeping your grey water tank as empty as possible.

  • Use a bin in the kitchen sink to catch your water: We use the sink on our RV… A LOT. The first month of having our RV we didn’t even have the BBQ hooked up so we did all of our cooking indoors. For breakfast we make coffee and some sort of breakfast skillet. We cook our dinner too. We also make our own cat food so we have storage containers to wash out frequently. It is critical that we use a bin to catch the water that would normally go down the kitchen sink. We then toss this outside when it’s full.
  • Use hot water to wash your dishes: Whether you use cold water or hot water, it doesn’t make a difference in your fresh water tank level, so use hot for cleaning. We cook a lot of meat so hot water helps to dissolve the fat quickly. We use less water for cleaning when the temperature is hot, so a few drops of detergent and a little water goes a long way.
  • Take quick showers (like really quick): Sorry to be a party pooper, but say goodbye to really long showers if you have nowhere for the water to go AND are on strict water rations! We turn on our hot water heater a bit before showering. We use enough water to get wet, lather up, and then use just enough water to rinse it off. I don’t use shampoo daily as this takes a while to get out of my hair. We also use Dr. Bronner’s Fair Trade & Organic Castile Liquid Soap as it’s extremely “clean” and seems to wash off with a little bit of water, unlike other soap that sticks around forever. If we don’t do any heavy work and aren’t particularly dirty then we will skip showering for a day.
  • Get your shower fix at a truck stop: We are fortunate enough to have a truck stop just a ways up the road from us that offers $5.00 showers. Not all are this cheap. We both get unlimited, hot showers for this price combined. I’d say we do this on a weekly basis… sometimes more if we’re really filthy at the end of the day. Once we have our septic system installed and a cistern we won’t be so picky about short showers but right now it’s still something we have to be mindful of.
  • Use as little water as possible when you don’t have a bin to catch it: We don’t have a bin in the bathroom sink because the sink is so tiny. We barely use any water when we brush our teeth, and I try to use as little as possible when I wash my face before bed.

Using these tips, our grey water has never been full when we dump it. Our black water tank always fills up first and there’s only so much we can do about that.

Fresh Water

Needless to say, but fresh water tanks vary in size from RV to RV. Our 19’ travel trailer has a 25 gallon fresh water tank. As we love water for showering, staying hydrated, making coffee, cooking and doing dishes, we seem to go through this quickly. We’ve blown through this in 3 days before and at max, if we don’t supplement, it will last 5 days or so. If you have a well you can hook into then great, but if not, here are our tips for conserving water.

  • Clean dishes with hot water: As stated previously, clean your dishes with hot water from the hot water heater or the stove. Hot water will loosen residue and fat better than cold water. You will simply use less water when you’re doing dishes.
  • Use an easy-to-remote soap for showering: As stated previously, I love Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap because it’s easy to remove. It washes off almost instantly where other soaps I have seem to never come off. This helps me to reduce shower time.
  • Skip the daily or bi-daily shower: I hate to say it if you love showers, but try increasing the length between your showers if you’re not getting that dirty. We spend many days running errands and don’t break a sweat, so showers aren’t always necessary especially when they are a luxury.
  • Buy 6 gallon tanks to fill for backup: We can fill up on fresh water at the septic dump, but moving the trailer is a pain in the butt so we’d rather not do it when we simply need more water. We shopped all over and finally found these 6 gallon tanks to restock our supply with. Any heavier and you may risk hurting yourself lifting it to dump… and for us, we have to pour them in slowly. We also have maybe (5) 1-gallon water jugs. When we dump our septic, we fill up the trailer, (2) 5-gallon tanks, and multiple 1-gallon jugs. Once we discovered this, we never again made a special trip to fill up the trailer with water.

Cooking

For us, cooking our own food is critical. During our first few weeks after moving to our land we at out a lot, and our bellies were unhappy. We simply feel our best when we cook our own meals so even though we live in an RV, we do what it takes to nourish our bodies properly. Here are our tips to making cooking and food preparation a breeze.

  • Keep meals simple: In the past, I’ve sent a lot of energy trying to cook new and creative meals. This resulted in a lot of random, leftover ingredients in the fridge which simply took up a lot of space. We now keep our meals really simple, and cook the same meals again and again because we love them and rarely have waste accumulate in the fridge. We also pick meals with relatively few ingredients.
  • Cook in bulk (within reason): Since we’re busy, and preparing food isn’t always the easiest in a crowded travel trailer, we cook many things “in bulk”. For us, that means cooking the entire 1-pound package of meat rather than half of it. Breakfast always consists of sausage or beef, potatoes and eggs. We will cook the meat and potatoes in bulk, that way, the next morning half of the work is already done and we can just heat the food + toss in a few eggs. We will also cook a large pot of chili (2-pounds of meat + veggies) which stores well in the fridge and provides dinner for at least three nights.
  • Prep veggies in bulk: We don’t like doing dishes so when we get them dirty, we’ll get as many miles out of them as we can. I also hate cutting onions because they burn my eyes like nobody’s business, so I simply cut a lot and put them in plastic containers in the fridge. Veggies store quite a while so they rarely go to waste. When they’re nearing the end of their life, we can simply toss them in a soup or salad and call it a day.
  • Use a BBQ: If you use a BBQ then there is usually less (or no!) cleanup. We’ve been using this a bit lately now that it’s working. If you’re unsure what to cook on the BBQ, head on over to Pinterest and get loads of ideas! If you make something like kabobs you may not even have dishes to do after dinner.
  • Use an outdoor cooking stove: In addition to having a BBQ, we also have an outdoor 3-burner propane stove. We do ALL of our cooking on this in summer as it keeps the heat out of the trailer.
  • Use a solar stove or oven: We recently had the opportunity to try out a GoSun Stove. Many solar stoves such as this can cook food using strictly sun alone. This means that you don’t even need to worry about propane or even firewood for cooking. These may be the way of the future, who knows?
  • Use a french press for coffee: We are coffee addicts. We had a hard time putting our espresso machine in storage for a while (it’s kinda silly to fire up the generator every morning for a cup of coffee) but are trying to adjust to our french press. This works great when you get a coarsely-ground coffee. No electricity required and tastes just as great.

Dishware

If you love cooking and spending time in the kitchen like I do, then it may be hard to live without your favorite appliances and dish selection for a while. Because we like to keep our RV tidy and have as little in it as possible, we said goodbye to the majority of our kitchen. Here is what we do to ensure we have what we need while having realistic expectations.

  • Have one set of dishes for each person: In our old home we had at least six of everything. We rarely had guests, but we still had six of everything including big plates, small plates, bowls, wine glasses, mugs, silverware and more. We decided that since we always do the dishes after each meal that we really only needed one of everything if that. We have two plates, two bowls, two cups, two travel mugs, two spoons and two forks. It seems to be working so far.
  • Only include the things you use daily / weekly in the RV: Be honest… you probably use 1/5 of everything you have in your kitchen frequently! In our RV we have our Vitamix, meat grinder, french press, glass bowls for mixing and salads, ice cream scoop, can opener, measuring cups, measuring spoons and a few other items. We use all of those things on a frequent basis. After the one month mark in our trailer, we got rid of stuff we didn’t use including a colander, wine glasses, and a few other items.
  • Think twice before including dedicates: Even in the largest RVs, you will be tight on space. Even if you’re are small, fit and agile, you will bump into things, things will move around on the road, and things will fall out of place. We already said goodbye to one glass that was displaced on the way to the septic dump. If you have something delicate that you care about, maybe you should put it in storage for a while.
  • Don’t be lazy and toss your silverware into the dishwater bin: I did this one or two times before learning my lesson. Our dishwater bin is never clean (except the 3 minutes after we thoroughly clean it). Once a spoon or something dives into the dishwater bin, it’s always annoying to clean because you have to fish it out and clean the handle in addition to the part that touched your mouth or food. It’s a small thing, but it’s the small things that really matter when boondocking in your RV.

Food Storage

When living off grid (or even NOT living off grid) it’s a great idea to have some sort of food storage. In the RV, it’s really hard to do this at all as the space is so minimal. Regardless, we’ll share our tips to storing food, staying organized, and even thinking more long-term in case some situation happens where you can’t run out to the grocery store to restock.

  • Keep everything organized in bins: You will quickly learn on this blog that we love bins! We’re highly organized people and the availability of bins just feeds our obsession. We have a couple different spots for food bins in our trailer. We have a couple styles of bins and organize them by spices, cans, things we use daily, snack storage and more. We picked bins that are aesthetically pleasing so that it feels like we have more of a home than a travel trailer. Our bins also do a great job at hiding whatever is in them. We’d rather look at a pretty, white, basket-woven bin than hot chocolate packets and chips.
  • Save your storage space for food rather than things like clothing: We have a decent amount of unused storage space in our RV so we are trying to fill it up with non-perishable food. As we cook a lot of soup, we have stocked up on boxed broth, canned veggies and canned tomatoes. We also have a lot of no-bake cookie supplies like oats, peanut butter and sugar. Basically, if you prepare something often, have a lot of those ingredients on hand in storage. Even if you only have 1-2 weeks of food stored in your RV, this is better than 3-5 days.
  • Canning is your friend: We just started canning and love it because we don’t need freezer or fridge space to store our food! How much more perfect can it get? Look into canning – it’s worth it, especially if you have access to free or low-cost produce.
  • Buy things you use frequently in bulk when on sale: There are some things we cook with frequently including broths, canned tomatoes, salad dressing, and microbrew root beer! When our favorite items are on sale, we stock up and do what we can to store it! As said above, we save most of our storage for food so that we can go many days or weeks if necessary without stopping by a grocery store.

Organization / Keeping Tidy

Jesse and I are both neat-freaks… we like everything to have a place so that we can quickly find what we need. It took some trial and error to find places for everything, but here are our organization tips.

  • Try to put things in an intuitive place: Think about the flow of your lifestyle throughout the trailer. Make sure items you use daily are easily accessible, and in a convenient location. Put kitchen-related items right by the kitchen. Put things you use outside right by the door. Don’t be afraid to change the location of things a couple of times… it will take some effort to find spots that work!
  • Shop for organization tools after analyzing the trailer: Rather than buying a bunch of bins and knick knacks before organizing your trailer, organize first and then go buy what you need to finish the job. We measured various cubbies and cupboards in our RV, thought about what we want to put where, and then bought bins designed for those spots.
  • Bins are your friend, use them often: As stated a lot on this homesteading blog, we love bins! Almost every cupboard in our RV has a bin in it. This is extremely helpful for taller cupboards when you can’t reach the back of them! We have all of our food in bins which makes it easy to find what we need. We even have a bin for our electronics, chargers, and cameras! They work so wonderfully, you can never have enough!
  • Clean up as you go: One thing that is extremely important when living in small spaces is to clean up as you go! If we neglect cleaning up just one activity, we always regret it later. We clean up dishes immediately after eating. We make the bed after getting up. We put away clothes that we take off so that they aren’t laying around. When we’re done with our laptops, we put the laptops and chargers away so that they don’t add clutter. We do a lot in our trailer so if we don’t clean up after each activity, it will look like a bomb went off, and that’s not good for anyone’s energy!
  • Don’t be afraid to hold out for exactly what you need: After several trips to Lowes and Walmart, we did look online in hopes we would find the organization tools we really needed. One thing we have is an office organizer that fits in the TV cubbie hole (we took out the TV) that allows us to easily organize pens, paper, receipts, small tools and more. We really wanted this one because it is white and fits in with the rest of our trailer. It was worth it to buy exactly what we needed and wanted rather than to save a few bucks and settle for something that would just “get us by”.
  • Look online for organization stuff: One of our favorite websites is The Container Store… they have oodles of organization stuff! Just looking through their website may give you some ideas on how to organize your RV.

Clothing & Closet Space

When you live in a small space, you really need to pick over your wardrobe with a fine-toothed come. If you’re accustomed to having your own 200 sq ft closet, you have a lot of work to do! Jesse and I don’t have much storage for clothing; we only have a tiny closet and some space above the bed. Gotta be creative!

  • Be honest with yourself and think about what you actually wear any given week: If you’re like most people, you only wear about 10% of your clothing in any given week, month or year. Try as hard as you can to only pack that 10% and put the rest in storage, or even donate it to Goodwill.
  • Don’t plan on going to dinner with the queen: We all have those few outfits that we have JUST IN CASE the queen invites us to dinner, and we need a REALLY nice outfit! If you aren’t living that kind of lifestyle, put those types of clothing in storage unless yo actually wear them on a monthly basis. If you really need to go get your nice clothing, you can go get it.
  • Pack according to the season: Since we have limited space, I only have in the trailer what is appropriate for the current season. If it’s winter, I don’t have any tank tops, shorts, dresses, or anything of that sort. If you have the space or are living in your trailer solo, you may be able to pack your seasonal clothing into bins under your bed. Basically, if you don’t wear it, don’t make it accessible!
  • Have warm clothing: Here’s an article I wrote on how I dress warm in winter. I only have a handful of items, but those items are quality and critical to my wardrobe.
  • Have a laundry bag that is easily accessible: Unless you have a way of doing laundry in the trailer, plan on going to the laundromat often! We have a laundry bag that is easily accessible so that we are encouraged to pick up as we go! Also, when laundry day arrives, all we need to do is grab our laundry bag and we’re set!
  • Keep laundry supplies in the car: One thing we do is keep our laundry detergent and quarters in the car. On a good day, we’re thankful to simply remember the fact that we need to do laundry and we’re lucky if we grab the laundry day! As we always have a million errands to do when we are in town, we try to keep some stuff in the car because otherwise, we would forget it at the trailer.
  • Redefine your definition of clean: Some people wear a shirt once and then toss it into the laundry bin. Unless you are getting filthy on a daily basis from head to toe, see if you can’t get away with wearing the same clothes at least a couple days in a row. If we’re simply doing light work around our property, or just working in town all day, we can wear the same jeans and sweater for many days!

Sleeping Well in a Travel Trailer

I don’t care who you are… sleep is important. When you’re living in a travel trailer, things can get tense at times due to the lack of space and frequency of bumping your head on things, so sleep is extra critical to keep grumpiness to a minimum!

  • Buy a quality mattress: We were lucky enough that our RV came equipped with a memory foam mattress! We love the thing, and feel that having a quality mattress helps us to get good sleep at night! However, check the mattress dimensions in your trailer… some trailers have shorter mattresses that need to be special ordered to fit.
  • Have some ear plugs on hand: When you sleep in a travel trailer, it seems that the slightest movement makes a lot of noise! If you are not sleeping alone, then your chances of getting poor sleep go up because if one of you wakes up in the middle of the night, chances are both of you will! While ear plugs don’t reduce movement, they can mask some of the sound.
  • Turn the heater down at night: One thing that wakes Jesse up a lot is the sound of the heater kicking on. We try to keep the heater as low as possible at night without turning it off completely so that our pipes don’t freeze in winter!
  • Have dark sheets: If you’re living out in the wilderness and/or not taking showers daily, one thing that can help is having dark sheets. This isn’t an excuse to never wash your bedding, but it can help hide some of the grit and grime!
  • Make your bed daily: Now I’m not your mom, but you’d be amazed at how having the bed made makes the trailer feel cleaner! On days we don’t make the bed, the entire trailer just feels messy, which can wear on our mood.
  • Run a fan at night: After we got our portable solar panels, running a fan at night for both cool are and white noise was an option, and our sleep quality increased as well. This was because we could afford to run the battery down at night as it would begin charging again by about 7am.

Keeping Warm in a Trailer

We are boon docking in a colder climate, and having snow on the ground all winter long is not uncommon! Weeks with below freezing temperatures aren’t uncommon, either! There are some things you can do to winterize your travel trailer while you’re living in it.

  • Use heat tape: If you’re fortunate enough to have access to electricity, you can try wrapping your hoses with heat tape which should prevent them from freezing.
  • Insulate your carport: One of the things we’re trying is insulating our RV carport with fiberglass and high density foam! It’s not sexy but it helps keep some of the cold out. We also built a 3-sided cabin onto the end of our carport which we heat with a wood stove, so overall we’re able to keep the inside of the carport 20-30 degrees warmer than the outside.
  • Keep your heater at 50 degrees minimum: During winter, we never turn the heat completely off. We set it at the minimum temperature possible which helps keep things from freezing. Freezing is bad! For the most part, it doesn’t come on during the day but it does come on at night.
  • Keep cupboards open: When it’s really cold outside, keep cupboards open that would normally hide things like plumbing and water tanks. You need all the heat you can get so be sure to leave all appropriate cupboards open so that the heat can infiltrate the area.
  • Insulate windows and air vents: This isn’t something we do because we have a fully-insulated carport, but others suggest insulating the windows and putting some insulation in your air vents.
  • Remember to air out your trailer: One of the byproducts of propane is moisture, so if you’re running your heater but have everything sealed up, you will have a lot of moisture accumulation. We always leave the top air vents open a little when the heater is on, but other days we would open them fully and crank the heat up high! Heat can dry your trailer out a bit but you also need proper air circulation for this to work.
  • Dress warm: While you do need to keep your trailer a little bit warm to prevent freezing, one simple solution is to dress warm, then the inside temperature of your trailer isn’t so critical! Here’s how to dress warm in winter.

Keeping the Trailer Clean

Somehow, when you’re living in a travel trailer, things get dirty quickly! I’m not sure if this is because travel trailers are typically in wilderness-type settings or because you notice every detail when your home is small, but either way it’s great to be clean!

  • Sweep daily with a compact broom: We sweep out our trailer daily with this compact broom. It folds up nicely so that we can store it in the closet. Even if the trailer doesn’t look dirty, we always get a decent amount of dirt off of the floor!
  • Wipe down all surfaces with a microfiber towel: We frequently wipe down the floors and all surfaces in the travel trailer with these microfiber towels. A general rule of thumb is to try to clean dry, otherwise you just make mud!
  • Have a lot of rags on hand for cleaning: What we can’t clean dry, we clean up using a simple wet rag. We use these to clean up after dinner, and to wipe off random marks off the trailer walls and doors.
  • Have a wet vac on board: Since accidents are bound to happen (even just sipping spaghetti sauce on your kitchen table seats!), it’s a great idea to have a wet vac in your trailer or car! We try to keep our trailer extra clean and not accumulate stains, so as soon as we spill something on upholstery we clean it up ASAP. We also have a couple of Bengal cats that have been known to place hairballs on our bed, so the wet vac works great for that too. However, you will need electricity for this or at least a generator to plug it into.
  • Leave your shoes at the door: As a general rule of thumb, we try to avoid wearing shoes in our trailer when we can. This isn’t always possible as sometimes it’s too cumbersome to remove our shoes, but this will really help to reduce the dirt in your trailer.
  • Have a dirt-collecting doormat: Another thing we do is have a dirt-collecting doormat at the entrance to our trailer or RV deck. IF you’re going to wear your shoes in the trailer, at least knock the dust off of them first! Or, if you have some sort of RV deck, place it at the beginning of the deck so that you track less dirt right outside the trailer door! A great way to clean is not to get something dirty in the first place.

Books, Blogs & Other Resources

Trailersteading: How to Find, Buy, Retrofit and Live Large in a Mobile Home

In addition to what I shared, has a wealth of information about living in a travel trailer or mobile home! Best part, the author highlights the advantages of living in a trailer while getting your feet under you or saving money for something greater – such as building your own home as we’re doing. There should be no shame in living in a trailer – it just makes sense sometimes! Keep your eye on the prize!

Travel-Trailer Homesteading for Under $5,000

this book is great for someone who is looking to stay stationary but living in a travel trailer to cut back on costs. This book is highly rated on Amazon.

Electronics

Coming soon!