We get asked all of the time how we stay organized and sane in such a tiny space. So while I was spring cleaning Tilly and packing her up for our first voyage of the season; I decided I would give you a run down on how our family of 4 stays organized in a 16ft space.
I look at this mess and I see a page from an I spy book…too much stuff! So what do we do with all this stuff? Where does it go?
Command hooks are a great way to utilize space without compromising the structure of the walls. A hook next to the door provides easy access to keys and sunglasses. Along with these cute original magazine racks that we refreshed; they hold coloring books, notepads for the kids, national parks maps and the original owners manuals that we love showing off!
There is a cupboard right as you walk in the door and here is where we keep simple supplies like tools, flashlights, duct tape etc.
Now trying to get a wiggly little baby to sleep without the comforts and confinement of their crib is like… trying to get a greased pig into its pen.
The first summer camping in Tilly we tried everything for a bed for our little raptor and no matter what we did, I still spent my nights back and forth getting in and out of bed trying to make sure the raptor was sleeping ok; and co-sleeping wasn’t an option because the raptor turns into a large facial wrap with jagged edges that pierce your back and jugular.
But alas we discovered that the pack-n-play fit perfectly when placed on-top of the folded down dinette bed without the cushions.
He sleeps so much better like this because it’s familiar and I don’t worry that he is going to fall off the bed and land on the heater.
It’s also great for nap time; if it is too hot in the camper in the middle of the day, I find a nice shady spot outside, cover it with a light weight blanket to keep the bugs, sunlight and noise out and I don’t feel tied to staying in the camper or try to go in and out without waking him.
Something that I thought was a waste of money, but that Brett thought we just absolutely needed was this mini fan that is powered off of the 12 volt socket. I really wanted a cute little vintage fan, but seeing that we were actually going to use this, I didn’t want a fire hazard lurking in the night.
Turns out this was one of the best $13 spent! Did I mention that Tilly is small?! Like 16ft small? So it doesn’t take much for her to cool off, it also doesn’t take much for her to heat up on a hot July’s day either.
This is all the A/C we need. And because it is oscillating, we can clip it out of the kids reach and have it rotating and directing the air throughout the entire camper.
Now the fridge in our Deville is not an actual fridge but an icebox. So in order to keep food cold you have to treat it like a cooler and keep blocks of ice in the top part of it; and because of the size of the icebox, the block of ice eats up a lot of space. However, I do put food on the top shelf too when needed. Here I was packing for a 3 day camping trip and I didn’t need too much of the food refrigerated.
But a trick to saving space is to put condiments in small containers and snacking items like veggies into portioned baggies. It also makes it easy to throw a picnic together incase you are going to be away from camp all day but don’t have time to make sandwiches before heading out on your adventure. In our case, most the time its a lengthy jeep ride.
The “pantry” is very narrow and only supplied me with 2 shelves and a lot of empty floor space.
Luckily I had one of these on hand and it just so happened to fit perfectly and give me more storage capacity.
The blue basket contains any kitchen utensils I might need while cooking inside Tilly. Our outdoor cooking gear we keep separate in our “camp box”. Watch for a post to come about our favorite outdoor cooking recipes.
The wicker basket is similar to this one, and holds all my disposable plates and dinnerware. That way I can easily grab everything and take it outside with me without having to dig dirty forks out of the dirt and chase down the napkins that were swept away by the “gentle” breeze.
I keep this closet stocked all camp season long, so that it makes packing easier.
So you can get a feel for how much stuff we are actually able to stuff in the camper; here is a list of everything that is in the white drawer container:
- 2 boxes of packaged Crackers
- 2 boxes Granola Bars (or monkey bars as my kids call them)
- 1 box Fruit snacks
- 12 Fruit leather strips
- 8 Fig Newton bars
- 24 Individual Sized Chips
Something that is not rocket science, is how much I am able to pack and bring with us if I get rid of the bulky boxes and packaging that everything comes in. I only have 2 cupboards and this “pantry” for food. There is no way I could fit half of the things I bring if I didn’t take the time to break stuff down and organize it.
Not to mention afterwards we have plenty of kindling from all of the cardboard flats for our campfires.
- 2 Tin Foils (too long to fit next to the ziplock bags)
- 1 Table Cloth for campground picnic tables
- 2 Plastic Table Cloths. Makes for easy clean up with finger paints or nature art that my daughter creates.
- 2 Soda Can Sleeves
- 1 Dish Drying Mat
Screw hooks to hang any items that I might need a little more convenience in finding. Everything also travels very nicely. I never have to worry about cupboard contents flying all over the place as we are driving on a dirt road.
The bottom half of the pantry is still a work in progress. I want to put in more shelves but I also want to be able to access the very bottom space without a problem. So for now, more hooks to hang the broom, portable hand held vacuum (yes, I bring a vacuum!), and a few other items.
We then have the outdoor rinse bin, fan, fire extinguisher, small propane bottles and another plastic bin that holds our collapsible water jug, portable shower and also serves as a second outdoor dishwashing bin.
A few other handy items that help us stay clutter free and organized:
You can find this space saving spice rack here. I can’t imagine camping without it. 18 spices without taking up an entire cupboard!
*Note that this was while I was spring cleaning and before I had stocked these cabinets with food for the whole season. We do not survive on just beans and syrup!
Hanging a dollar store dry erase board up in one of the cupboards allows us to jot down items when we run out of something, or have an idea of what we need or should do to the camper while we are out in the wilderness, I can write it down here. That way when I am cleaning out the camper after a trip I can see it and have a better reminder of what I need. It’s also nice to write down campground information incase of an emergency.
If you haven’t noticed, I use bins for everything! Brett and I both hate opening a cupboard and having everything surprise you by falling onto your toes and smacking you in the face on the way down.
This is my medicine and first aid cabinet. I have everything from allergy medicine to flushable wipes in here! We also keep these in each of our vehicles at all times just to make sure we are always prepared.
The cupboard next to the medicine cabinet is where mom and dad keep their underwear, pajamas and socks. I did not include a stocked photo of that though… You’re welcome!
Tilly has no actual bathroom. In the 1968 owners manual it is labeled as an optional bathroom where you can have a portable toilet. We, but really I, chose storage over the pooper… I’m not ashamed to be one with nature. Now girls listen up… if you don’t have a Go Girl, you NEED one of these! I don’t know if it’s because it fulfills my childhood desire to pee like my brothers or what, but this was one of the best Christmas gifts Brett has ever gotten me!
I already had one of these and bought some canvas shoe bins from the dollar store and this is how I store everyone’s
- kids underwear
Everything for 4 people! Our longest camping trip so far in Tilly has been 8 days and we have yet to feel crowded and cluttered.
I keep baby wipes beneath the closet organizer with a small bin that holds diapers and helps keeps them clean.
Toiletry bags are kept in the camper all year long and are always stocked with what we need. That way no one ever forgets their toothbrush! Speaking of which… probably time to replace them with new ones.
Still plenty of room to hang bulky jackets and hoodies; and the laundry basket hangs on a hook that is screwed to the wall. All bedding is stored on the bunk with the cute curtain hiding it all!
We love our little Tilly and we love the time we get to spend camping together; and staying organized helps keep us playing and enjoying the great outdoors!