It’s deep into 2015, and by now you’re either packing for your trip to Alumaflamingo in Sarasota, dewinterizing, thinking about spring ‘streaming, or all of the above. It’s the perfect time to take a hard look at the indoor environment of your trailer and do some serious decluttering.
We sought advice from Ramona Creel, an award-winning 15-year organizer and member of the National Association Of Professional Organizers. She fulltimes in a 29-foot Airstream, which affords only 200 square feet of living and working space.
Outside Interests: Ramona, what’s unique about organizing in an Airstream? How does it differ from a home that’s not on wheels?
Ramona Creel: The most obvious answer is that RVers tend to have less storage than folks living in a stationary house or apartment, so we actually have to be even more organized than those who occupy brick-and-mortar homes. We’ve got to be more discriminating up front about what we take with us, what we leave behind, and how we can make more of what we own travel-sized.
We must also be more judicious about what new things we accumulate along the way, and better about re-evaluating our belongings at regular intervals (deciding which items truly serve a purpose in our lives and which have become nothing more than clutter).
Organizing is a journey, not a destination—and what you thought you might need when you first hit the road may not even come close to resembling what you actually use once you’re out there traveling. A wise RVer is willing to let an item go if it turns out that “thing” is doing nothing but taking up space and collecting dust.
There’s one additional component to staying organized in an RV: we’ve got to use our extremely limited space more efficiently than one might in a house or an apartment. While non-mobile-types might get away with having things crammed randomly in a drawer or closet, RVers simply can’t afford that kind of space-wastage—and what’s more, haphazard storage will cause fragile items to be broken or ruined while bumping along America’s highways.
Maximizing every possible square inch of room while protecting your valuables becomes a top priority; that means having the right kinds of containers/racks/dividers/accessories, figuring out how to make use of vertical storage (via shelves, hooks, and hanging racks) without your stuff going flying the minute you take off, logically “layering” your storage, and reclaiming otherwise “dead space” (under the bed/sofa, behind doors, and in oddly-shaped areas of your rig).
OI: You recently contributed “Decluttering with Craigslist”, an article that was published in the Winter issue of Airstream Life magazine. Craigslist?
RC: When people find out that I’m a full-timer, they always ask what I’ve done with the “rest” of my stuff (meaning anything I didn’t take on the road). My response? I don’t have any other stuff! I made a conscious decision to find new homes for anything that wouldn’t fit into my Airstream—and I made $16,000 in the process (enough to pay for the actual RV, which cost $15,900). When folks ask how on earth I did that, I tell them, “Craigslist was my best friend.” It can help anyone make cleaning out easier (and more profitable), even if they still have a brick-and-mortar house and are just looking to lighten the load. I wanted to teach people how to use this amazing decluttering tool to their advantage. My article is filled with tips for posting an effective ad, maximizing your positive responses to each listing, getting what your stuff is really worth, and staying safe as you interact with potential buyers.
You might need Ramona’s help if…
- you’ve ever spent more than ten minutes looking for your keys or wallet
- it takes you three tries to get out of the house in the morning
- you trip over a pile of shoes every time you go in and out the front door
- you refuse to let other people in your rig so they won’t see your mess
- your counter/table is buried under a stack of unopened mail and paper to-dos
- you’ve never actually seen the bottom of your in-box
- you’ve ever worried that you might be buried in an avalanche when you open a closet
- you have even one “homeless” item that sits out all the time because you don’t know where to store it
- you pay at least one late fee or interest charge during a month
- you know you own at least three pairs of scissors, but can never find one when you need it
- you have cabinets that feel half-empty, but you still don’t have enough space to store everything
- there’s no room in your closet for the good stuff because your space is taken up with
- you have to move a pile off a chair so someone can sit down
- you’ve ever found something in a drawer or cabinet that you forgot you owned
- looking around your rig makes you cringe rather than feel comfy and at-home
For more tips, pick up Ramona’s book, “The A-To-Z Of Getting Organized: A Grown-Up Picture Book For The Chaotic And Cluttered” which teaches 26 basic organizing principles. “I have a ton of free content on my website, and I also sell a variety of toolkits, checklists and templates to help folks get better organized,” she said. “I also offer a variety of in-person and virtual organizing services, as well as ongoing coaching to help my clients simplify their existence on this planet, eliminate clutter and debt, regain control over their lives, and create a plan for achieving their larger goals.”
Email her at Ramona@RamonaCreel.com.