Customizing your RV for comfort
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
You've just bought a new or used RV. Now you can relax and enjoy it. Well ... not yet.
Maybe the more expensive RVs are perfect, but it seems that most RVs need to be customized for better comfort and ease of use. As full-timers, we have purchased both a used RV and a new RV over the years, and both needed to be customized.
You decide how you use your RV and what needs done to make it best for you. Here are some of the changes we suggest:
Lie down on your mattresses.
Many RV manufacturers tend to buy cheap here. The flat surface makes the bedspread look good to sell the RV, but the mattresses tend to be uncomfortable. Most people either buy a new mattress or add a mattress pad. Given that the dimensions are different on an RV mattress versus home mattresses, you will probably need to special order a mattress or cut down a mattress pad.
Try out all your beds. RV manufacturers sell units saying they will sleep 6 or 8. Before you invite someone to stay overnight, see if you can comfortably sleep in spots like on the fold-out couch or the fold-down table. Cushions may need to be changed to something more comfortable or perhaps additional padding is needed.
Put the supplied bedspread in storage or just get rid of it. These tend to be scratchy and lightweight. Buy good sheets, blankets and a bedspread that fits your mattress.
There is a great range of options for RV blinds. Many of them look nice. However, if you need to keep heat or air conditioning in, something more is needed.
Outside light from your neighbors at night or from the sun during a nap is annoying. Light tends to transmit through the thin accordion types or leak through blinds. Another annoyance is the curtain that is provided by the RV manufacturer for the front truck portion. It doesn't really block light and makes the front space unusable (I like to store my computer on the front dash when camping).
There are heavier blinds available to replace the lightweight versions. We just buy rolls of reflective insulation from a store like Lowes. The foil needs to be cut roughly to size, but works for the front windshield, side windows, and even on the roof vents. It is extra work to remove them when you want a view, but it takes just a few seconds.
Our new RV came with low-cost roof vents. Rain leaked into our RV, and we only had a fan in the bathroom. The better vents keep rain out unless it is a major storm.
Buying and installing a fan in the bedroom definitely helps. We have mixed feelings on the fitted foam pads you can buy. If you have fans, it doesn't fit well. Instead, we added Velcro strips under the vent to attach insulated foil. This keeps the bedroom dark for important naps during the day!
Seems like a small thing, but there are a lot of keys that can get lost when RVing. We mount several 3M Command hooks near the RV door with space for all the keys for the RV, the ignition, the exterior storage doors and the car that we pull (and our level). This is quick to reach and reduces the fights due to lost keys.
We also add a dab of bright fingernail polish on one side of the key and the matching position of the lock. Before we did this, we kept trying the key back and forth to fit it into the lock.
Once you know what you are bringing in your RV, start adding storage units. We use hooks a lot. Those spring bars are useful for places like the refrigerator or the bathroom medicine cabinet to keep "stuff" from moving when we travel. We also add foam pads or empty containers just to keep things from shifting.
Buy plastic containers or baskets to keep things organized. We bought wire rack shelves to improve storage and even made a custom shelf to mount the DVD player to open up additional food storage. The remote is mounted using Velcro so we don't lose it.
With limited space, RVs don't seem to come with a spot for trash and recycling. In our old RV, we added hooks at the end of the counter and just used Walmart bags for an easy trash container.
We added a trash can in our current RV, but added some weight to the bottom of the can so that it doesn’t move around when we are travelling. We also have a hook and a Walmart bag for recyclables.
A blanket or cover is needed for the couch and/or chairs. Remember, you are dirtier from being outside and are probably using the couch a lot more than in a home. Preserve the surface with something you can throw in the laundry once in a while.
We added a couple of electric extension cords so we didn't have to crawl under the table or stretch cords across awkward places.
Our RV came with an accordion-style door to close off the bedroom. Turns out it is noisy and difficult to use. We just mounted a good dark curtain on a rod. It’s quiet to move aside when using the bathroom late at night and cuts out most of the light and sound when one of us watches TV while the other wants to go to sleep.
Of course, there are many other options to customize your RV based on your needs. Small changes can make your RV home livable and comfortable. How did you customize your RV?
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