Today’s RV designs make camping easy, but just a few simple changes can make an RV feel more like home. My 2015 Shasta Airflyte bumper-pull camper is like a member of our family thanks to some fine-tuning of the floorplan. Here’s how I did it, and how you can make inexpensive, cozy (and easy) RV mods too.
My Perfect First RV Made Me Fall in Love with Camping All Over Again
If you’re a lover of the great outdoors, you have probably experienced camping in a variety of ways, from tenting, backpacking, RVing or glamping (which is basically staying in a cozy hotel in a cool location). I’ve experienced all of them and they all have their benefits.
In the my early days of camping, it was backpacking in the Colorado mountains and the deserts of Utah. But once I graduated from college, camping transformed into car camping with a tent. This worked well until we had kids.
My stamina for camping in a tent held up for several years and then one weekend it died suddenly. I mean my desire to pack up bins and put up a tent was over.
How did this happen? We had taken our toddler and kindergartener to a kid friendly music festival in Northern California. The long drive and intense prep in-between working on a crazy TV show put me over the edge. Despite having a wonderful long weekend floating in rafts on a beautiful reservoir with our kids, I was exhausted.
The Search for an RV That Feels Like Home
On the ride home, I immediately started searching for a travel trailer. We were never tenting it again.
In my Google search, I stumbled upon the Shasta Airflyte. It was cute. Smaller than a fifth wheel and heaper than an airstream, and a re-issue, so brand spanking new. Hmm, this sounded very promising. As luck would have it, a week or so later we chatted with some parents who were also fellow campers and they told us they had just bought the new Shasta Airflyte. We went over to their house to check out the new vintage RV replica.
It could sleep four comfortably with an RV bedroom, a bathroom with toilet and shower, kitchen sink, refrigerator, storage, heat and air. Wow, everything within the RV’s walls was more comfort than I could ever have imagined. On top of that, it was a stylish living space. It literally checked all of the “cool” boxes.
After inspecting their red and white Shasta, my husband and I were sold. I called the next day and put our names on the waiting list. The 2015 re-issue of the Shasta Airflyte was going to be ours.
As first time RV owners, we knew absolutely nothing about how to manage an RV.
The first thing we noticed was that things were a bit flimsy. You could break a cabinet if you closed it the wrong way. Close the cabinets carefully, open screen doors with consciousness and you should be ok. This is not a house. It’s a house on wheels and it has to be lightweight.
Our first road trip with the Shasta was to the Grand Canyon in the winter! Well, it was pretty darn cold, but with a heater, we felt invincible. The first trip always has its mishaps and we pulled out the manual several times, sometimes calling my dad to get advice (he’s an RV owner too).
We persevered and made it through our first trip and loved every minute of it. But, I also learned that there were many missing items in the Shasta.
How to Make Your RV Feel Like Home
First, a few details need to be addressed. The first issue is how to best utilize your small space with storage solutions. Here are some RV hacks and personal touches to help you do it.
Compartmentalize the closet
Closets in most RVs are just empty spaces, there are no built in shelves or drawers. This makes space-saving an issue.
To alleviate this problem, we bought a metal drawer system from the Container Store. Another option is Ikea, which has great RV storage solutions too. This made a huge difference because it allowed each family member to have a sizeable drawer for our clothes. The drawers are removable, so it’s easy to pack the clothes inside of the house and then carry the drawer to the RV and slide it its slot once it’s filled.
The drawer system also allows us to maintain hanging space as well as a shelf on top of the drawers.
Designate a shoe spot
The Shasta has a storage compartment underneath the refrigerator which is a perfect spot for everyone’s shoes. A tiny space with four people can get really messy. It’s always best to have a select spot for everyone’s items.
Give cabinets and drawers a job
Each cabinet and drawer are for specific items and those items only. In our little Shasta, we have a kitchen tool drawer and a tool and headlamp drawer, separate cabinets with command hooks for pantry items, one for plates, cups, seasonings, forks and knives, one for towels, one for sheets and one for kitchen rags, tablecloths and sometimes hats. We also have a cabinet for games and art supplies and one for batteries and lights. This pretty much keeps our very small space organized.
Organize outside compartments
The compartments that are on the outside of the RV are fantastic, but can get extremely unruly and unorganized. We love to use plastic bins for each category of items.
In this exterior storage space we also store our camping chairs, shade structures, levelers, and other “outdoor only” items here. Anything that gets really dirty is allotted to the outdoor compartments.
And lastly, the black tank hose gets its own plastic bin and the clean drinking hose also gets its own bin. These are both carefully labeled.
Keep the things that you care about in your RV.
Your RV should have its own sets of blankets, sheets, towels, pillows, kitchen rags, kitchen supplies, pots, pans, medical kit, cosmetics, etc.
Be sure to add some artwork decorations to your RV’s walls, and personal touches too. You’ll get a good night’s sleep when you pack the little things that make camping feel luxurious.
Not sure where to begin? Take it one cabinet at a time.
Start with one great addition in the kitchen. Start with one great addition in the kitchen. Maybe add a pop of color to the walls, and nice scents like lavender. Then go from there.
Stocking your RV can be expensive, so take any renovation project slow. Whether you want to change window treatments or wall hangings, try wallpaper or cover the couch, focus on RV interior areas that are most important to you. Consider packing a few holiday campsite decorations, too! But most important is to make sure you have storage containers so that everything has its place.
Bottom line; from your RV ceiling to counter space, wall art to floor runners, the trick to creating an RV space that feels better is to bring creature comforts. We can’t live without a wipeable tablecloth, stainless steel tumblers or our camping rug outside of our door. These are the little things that make camping feel luxurious.
Enjoy how good your RV space feels, and life on the road!