Top Ten Freebies, Upcycles, and Dollar Items to Make Your RV Camping Easier

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If I were going to be a full time RVer, I would no doubt probably be willing to shell out the big bucks for quality items for my cabinets. Since I’m not…yet…I like to find things that make my camping trips easier, more fun, and convenient. I occasionally lose misplace things along the road, and I don’t want to have to worry go back and get them. That’s why I made this list of things that are indisposable very helpful, and best of all, they are all free or cost one buck. I’m serious. When you try these ideas, you’ll never go searching for that perfect dish, pot, or accessory again. You’ll just do what I do and go through your trash recyclables, scout out garage sales, and/or head directly to your local Dollar Tree. Here’s the list…sort of in order of importance.

  1. Foil pie pans and microwavable individual meal trays-  Start saving them NOW. Every Weight Watchers’ meal you eat will leave you with the perfect little tray that you can reuse to heat things in the microwave. These are particularly helpful when you prepare food in advance for traveling across country from campground to campground and don’t always have time for the fun cooking outside. When you do have the time, the foil pie pans are perfect; better than foil pouches because they are sturdier. You can cover with foil OR put one pie tin on top and clothespin together or tie with kitchen string. Very little clean up is involved. You can wash them if you want, but since you have already reused it, you don’t have to feel guilty about tossing it.
  2. Shower caddies from the Dollar Tree-Buy two or three of these because you can use them everywhere. One of the most pinned postings from my camping board is the one I use in the cabinet to separate plates and cups and hold things in place as you travel. They also work great for carrying directly from your trailer or RV to the outside picnic table…paper products, condiments, cutlery.
  3. Crystal Light type drink containers-These are the perfect size to hold your silverware, fit inside a drawer, and keep the implements separate. I put forks and spoons in with handles down, but since I keep sharp steak knives in them, too, I put the knives in with the handles out.
  4. Mesh Collapsible Hamper-Dollar Tree-one buck. I love mine. I used to stuff dirty clothes in a big trash bag. Trust me, this smells is so much better! You might need more than one. Five days of camping, for Saint and me,will fill it up. I like that it is not shapeless like a trash bag and it is breathable. I put it on the top bunk, which we never use, and it is totally out of our way.
  5. Mt. Olive Pickle Jar- If you haven’t eaten Mt. Olive dill pickles, well, I’m sorry. You should eat them just for the jar, but no! These are the BEST dill pickles. Almost like getting them out of a pickle barrel. And the jar is the perfect size for sun tea and other drinks. A  gallon sun tea jar takes up too much space in the cabinet, takes too long to make the tea, and makes too much for two people to drink before it gets old. This one is perfect. If you have more than two people, get two of them because they still fit in the cabinet better and give you a choice if you want a jar of sweetened and another of unsweetened tea or a jar of tea and a jar of lemonade. ALSO, you can put a candle or solar light inside for your picnic table ambiance. Aren’t you glad I used also? Way too many twos in this paragraph, but totally necessary.
  6. Reading Glasses and Tinted Reading Glasses-Once again, a dollar. “What!?” you say. Yes, if you pay $35-$135 for a pair of stylish reading glasses, you don’t want to leave them at a fast food stop along the way or lose them overboard trying to get your fish netted. I buy 8-10 pairs of these and keep them everywhere-one in my purse, one in the truck, one stays in the trailer, one in the boat, and one in practically every room of my house. They work just as well as the expensive ones…well, the earpiece doesn’t last as long, but what the heck…you can just throw them away. If you leave them, lose them, sit on them…it’s okay. One less thing to worry about…or two.
  7. Foil Grill Covers-Once again, Dollar Tree, where everything is a buck. When you have too much for your portable BBQ and you need to cook over the fire pit grill at the campgrounds, these fit right on. They have holes already reinforced so the juices get out and the smoke flavor gets in. Just another way to make your meal faster and easier. Throw away after one or several uses. They come in a pack of two.
  8. Solar Lights-Dollar Tree sells these for a dollar apiece, of course. You can attach them to your tent or awning stakes or rods so visitors don’t trip, screw the stakes off and put them in jars for table lights, or replace bulbs in a vintage chandelier to make an awesome outdoor light fixture. You can mark paths, make games and obstacle courses for the kids, as well.
  9. Screen Colanders- Stackable on top of your pots and pans, these wire mesh colanders wash veggies or kids’ toys, but my favorite use is to turn them upside down over a bowl of potato salad or a plate of cookies to keep the flies off! You can fancy them up by attaching a drawer pull as a handle, but why would you? Just pick it up from the bottom. They store much easier without a cumbersome handle.
  10. Collection– I know, I know. This is a cheat. I couldn’t narrow it down to just ten, so I lumped several other things into this last point. Butter tubs and  plastic deli meat containers that you have in the trash or recyclables work just as well as a matched set of covered bowls. Save them. They are dishwasher safe and perfect for the fridge. Use them for pickles, olives, sliced onions, mushrooms…things that come in a jar or can and take up too much room in their original containers. You may notice a couple of bottles in the above pictures that look like water bottles for toddlers. These are from Dollar Tree. I use them for mustard and mayo. No, I don’t suck either one, although I do like Miracle Whip almost that much. I transfer mustard and mayo from the big jars I have in my kitchen at home into these. The “straw” makes a perfect spreader and these fit into the door of the camper fridge. I also find that a quart milk jug fits much better so I save those, wash them, and pour the milk in from my gallon jug at home. Also, I have glow stick bracelets for putting around a toddler’s wrist…easier to keep track of, and to place in the bottom of a cooler or tub of ice. Such cuteness you’ve never seen, and it makes it easier to select your cold drink. I have tiny command hooks to use everywhere I want. One goes in the space behind the hide-a-bed, and I hang the fly swatter on it. TaDah! Out of sight, yet accessible.

There you have it! Long post, I know, but good grief, there’s a ton of helpful information here. How do I know? Just look at how many times I used words like easier, perfect, easier. Yep, camping’s about the fun and the food. Anything that makes your life more fun, more delicious, and easier has got to be worth a 1290 word count, right?

 

Organizing in Your RV or Camping Trailer

I am always on the hunt for organizational ideas for our camping trailer. My latest find… total cost = $4 + tax. Yep, for the price of a gourmet coffee, you can save yourself  a bit of precious space, time, and effort. Here are the four items I purchased at the Dollar Tree for a buck apiece.

1. Drying Mat

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This works better for me than a plastic rack. It takes up very little space on a counter or a sink shelf, dries quickly, and can be folded and put away in the linen cabinet or drawer. Honestly, I don’t use my stove inside the camper much because we like to cook outside, so I usually just place this on the stove burners. The vented shelf over the burners helps it dry even quicker.

2. A lightweight plastic coated hanger shelf

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This comes with small screws, but is so lightweight that it could be hung with industrial strength velcro strips, depending upon what you are hanging on it. Hung by the door, it is great for keys, note pads, jewelry, pocket sized flashlights, and any other things you want to grab as you go out.

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In the kitchen, it can hold utensils behind the stove, pot holders, tea towels and dish cloths.

Bathroom towels, damp socks, and other items from the bath and bedroom can be hung up, as well.

3. Mesh Laundry Basket

Look at this! It just pops right up.

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It starts out flat, and returns to the flat position when you are finished. The amount of space it takes up is completely minimal. I just spray it off with Lysol and store it in the linen cabinet with the towels and sheets; so much better than the black plastic trash bag that would begin to smell after a few days. The mesh allows things to continue to dry thoroughly and breathe. It has ribbon handles and is not the sturdiest piece of equipment you will find, but it will last an entire camping season for us.

4.Aluminum pans with lids.

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Admittedly, I don’t usually buy foil pans. I save them from graham cracker pie crusts. I’m all about freebies, reuse, and upcycle. Foil pans are a staple for camping. They stack, are lightweight, can be washed and used again, and I don’t feel badly about crumpling one up when it has been charred or would be too hard to clean and using it to clean the grill grates. I only buy them (three for a dollar) when I need the lids. Sometimes I cook things that need a bit more stability than a foil packet and find these to be more economical and a little more environmentally friendly than using an entire roll of foil.

Make a trip to your local Dollar Tree and let me know what you find that makes your life easier on the road or at the campgrounds. They have plastic egg protectors, covered bowls and storage containers of all sizes, clotheslines and clothespins, candles, in addition to my four faves.

Right now, it is 20 degrees outside. Planning and organizing for our next adventure keeps my mood in check. Happy camping!

Best Time to Decorate and Organize your Travel Trailer or RV

What do college students and campers have in common? BACK TO SCHOOL SALES! When you think about it, dorm life and trailer life are similar:

  • You have a small space in which to fit everything you need.
  • There is never enough storage.
  • You want the decor to be pleasant.
  • You eat a lot of snack food.
  • There’s always a little work to be done, but mostly, life’s a party

And since department and box stores don’t run huge sales for camping…well maybe around Memorial Day and Fourth of July you can get good buys on sleeping bags and charcoal, but for the most part, August is our best friend. Practically everything you need to organize and update your camping trailer is on sale in late July and early August. You just need to look for the back-to-school sales.

Here is an example of how I organized my entire trailer medicine cabinet with one “gym buddy” hanger.

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Before, I thought I was being very organized when I put cosmetics, lotions, razors, etc. in little disposable Glad bowls with lids. I had about 3 of them in the cabinet above the bedroom sink, and I also had toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo, bandages, and headache tablets loose on the shelves. The trouble was not so much that they moved around when we were traveling…although they did. The problem was that I could never remember which little bowl to open for which product, and as sure as I opened one, I found one thing I needed, but had to open the others to find the rest. Pretty soon, I had everything scattered around the sink and had to put it all back again. I always put the toothbrushes and toothpaste in a holder and left it out. Then, when it was time to travel, I needed to arrange everything back inside the cabinet. With the gym buddy, there is a ZIPPERED space for everything.

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Once I got everything in and zipped up, I folded it and placed it on ONE shelf. Just one, mind you. Now, when I arrive at the campground, I will take the gym buddy out of the cabinet and hang it over the back of the bathroom door. Voila! Everything at our fingertips. No more digging through plastic tubs, and no more hunting for things that might have slid to the back of the cabinet shelves. Plus, there are still two empty shelves for the hair dryer and larger items. Genius!

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Here it is. Can you believe all the stuff I used to have on three shelves now fit compactly into this one space? My professors would be proud. 😉

So, while I was thinking about it, I looked at all the online back to school sales and found a gazillion things that trailers need…all on sale!

Comforter sets-lightweight and fun sets for $39.00-Perfect for an RV bed.

Throw rugs

collapsible bowl sets

Pop up mesh hamper

Bamboo cooking utensil set

Micro plush throws-perfect for those hammocks and lawn chairs by the campfire.

Closet cubicles and storage bins

Space bags

Pillows

Shoe storage hangers

Mirrors

Brooms and mops

Anti-bacterial wipes

Scissors

 

I could go on and on, but I suddenly have the urge to shop. Go check out those back to school sales and let me know how you use them in your camping experience.