Packing and unpacking. The bane of my existence.

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garyb1st

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Dec 31, 2010
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As much as I love hitting the road, getting the Motorhome ready to roll is becoming a major pain in the you know where.  We keep the motorhome parked between our garage and the neighbors car port.  It's a narrow space so unable to open the rear bays fully to pack and unpack STUFF.  When we travel, we take everything from the house refrigerator and move it to the RV.  We also take as much food from the pantry as the RV will hold.  We don't eat out often so a lot of food.  Then we take all the clothe and bedding which needed to be washed and put it back in the RV.  Next are the biggies.  The Honda Genny, the air compressor and all the tools.  We only have 110 power to the motorhome so adequate to run the refrigerator and a few lights but no AC.  I've thought about leaving food in the refrigerator but not sure it's a good idea when the temps are over 100?, like most of July. 

So my question for all you 'long time' RVers, what do you leave in the RV when you're not on the road? 

 
 

FunSteak

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Aug 24, 2013
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610
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NE Illinois
We aren't full timers - just weekenders (and occasionally "weekers").  We try hard to leave everything we need in the coach, save clothes, food and beverages.  We outfitted the kitchen with extra stuff from the house, and filled in anything missing as necessary.  We keep most toiletries stocked in the bathroom, as well.  Paper towels, TP and other consumables are stocked under a dinette bench, so we only occasionally have to restock when needed.  I have a small set of tools in it, and bedding only leaves the coach when it needs to be laundered. 

In most cases, all we need to do before departure is bring clothes, food and beverages for the trip.  We use a couple of laundry baskets to carry stuff from the house - usually only takes 15 minutes.  We keep one of the baskets in the rig for dirty clothes.

When we get home, we simply reverse the process.  Very simple and quick.

At the end of the season, as we winterize, we remove anything that could be food or bedding for rodents.  Pillows and blankets get sealed into large Rubbermaid containers with a couple of dryer sheets.  Worked very well so far.
 

blw2

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Aug 9, 2012
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3,338
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Saint Johns, FL
I can only write hypothetically here...but IF I were able to store my RV at my house, I'm pretty sure I'd have it plugged in all the time.  I'd have a complete set of clothes in the rig, save for specialty items maybe...
I also think that I'd also keep most of the food onboard, at least the non parishables
beds already made, ready to go.  Very well stocked I think, because if I ever wanted a pair of shoes or whatever I could just pop out and get them.
So loading to go would just be grabbing in specialty items I might want for this particular trip...like things based on the destination, season, or weather.  I'd of course have to load fresh things...fruit, milk, and such

As it is, we keep ours in a storage lot a few miles from home.  I have most of the clothes I'd need for a regular trip always there.... not my stuff that I wear in normal life though, since I can't just pop out to grab something I need.  I have a jacket, swim suit, a few pairs of socks, several of my old "camping" shirts shorts and pants, a couple different kinds of shoes.  The only thing I bring to load is the shoes I'm wearing to drive, and maybe things like an extra swim suit if going to the beach, my computer, Any prescription meds, & I'm good to go.  DW and kids though pretty much clear out most of their stuff.

Towels and sheets get washed after a trip, then I stow them in my truck for delivery back to the camper the next time I go to check on it.
Ditto any dishes that need washing at home, or any of my clothes that live in the RV.  We keep it stocked with paper plates, a full set of dishes, pots, etc...  The rv has it's own tool set, toiletries, and most everything else I usually need.

The biggest killer for us now is the food.  Pretty much the only things I feel comfortable leaving are a few canned goods, a little coffee, coffee sugar in a jar....not much else.
If its been stored for a while, I'll usually drain and refill fresh water while I'm doing stuff like airing up and installing the TPMS sensors, and loading bikes if we take them.

It's a lot more work than I'd like, but lightyears better than the popup was...now that was work!
 

HappyWanderer

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Apr 21, 2014
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2,896
The only thing to pack is food. Everything else stays in the motorhome. Laundry is done as soon as we return from a trip, and goes right back outside. We even have motorhome shoes and boots that never come in the house.
 

kportra

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Jun 12, 2017
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224
Location
Montana
Besides not wanting to sleep on the ground anymore, the main motivation for moving from tents to a trailer was the packing.  We leave many of our camping clothes and shoes in the trailer.  Bedding and towels gets washed and returned to the trailer as I have time - not on packing day.  If it's not too much time between trips we also leave the fridge running and leave butter, mayo etc in the fridge.

Packing day - we use a laundry basket as well: 
Trip one to the trailer:  Take out whatever clothes are not already loaded.
Trip two to the trailer:  Food
Trip three to the trailer:  generator and solar suitcase
Four:  Load the cooler with adult beverages and go.

Basically the same three trips when we get home.  The first 2 items are my responsibility and 3 and 4 are done by hubby.  Takes about 15 minutes.
 

Rene T

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May 20, 2011
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Farmington NH
We leave everything in the RV. If I need a tool, I go out and get it and put it back as soon as I'm done. We also do laundry as soon as we get home and put it right back in the RV and make up the bed etc.. Many of my clothes stay right there. My DW is another story. She takes all her stuff out. We're probably 75% packed all the time. We don't wait till the last minute to start packing.
 

Gods Country

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May 23, 2016
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655
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North Central Pa
Agree with everyone else.  Bedding, plates dry, goods, cups, toiletries, just about everything stays in the trailer. We pack our clothes and perishables, and that's about it.  Oh it's still work, and not as simple as I may make it, but's it's a lot easier than unpacking/packing every little thing.
 

Rene T

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garyb1st said:
I've thought about leaving food in the refrigerator but not sure it's a good idea when the temps are over 100?, like most of July. 

If you keep it running, why not leave stuff like jelly, salad dressing, extra butter, eggs, beer, soda, bottles of water or a pitcher with water etc. in the cold fridge.
 

JudyJB

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Jul 6, 2010
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Another important reason for leaving your rig almost fully-packed and ready to go is that you can use it to evacuate in case of an emergency--fires, hurricanes, sick elderly relatives you need to visit, etc.

I full-time, but if I didn't, I think i would even leave extra clothing in the rig so I could go fast if I wanted to.  I would also leave food that could be stored on shelves, like pancake mix, baking supplies, canned good, spices, cleaning supplies, etc. so I would not have to pack them at the last minute.  I would also keep it fully stocked with bedding and towels.  Most part-timers I know have extra dishes, sets of pans, silverware, baking dishes, etc permanently stored in their RVs.  And there is no reason why you cannot have a separate set of tools stored in your rig, along with the generator and air compressor, unless you use those daily at home.

After all, convenience is the reason we all bought these things. 
 

Back2PA

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Jul 26, 2015
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5,766
I had a large shelf area in the house where I kept non-refrigerated RV food in crates. All the refrigerated stuff sat on the bottom shelf in a garage fridge. Still had to haul the stuff but made it a lot easier if it was all consolidated and organized.
 

Larry N.

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May 26, 2010
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Westminster, Colorado
When we travel, we take everything from the house refrigerator and move it to the RV.  We also take as much food from the pantry as the RV will hold.
That's a lot to take. And our RV fridge isn't as big as the one in the house (not to mention the freezer). As for pantry, no thanks. So though we take the more perishable items (bread, milk, eggs, etc.), and certain things we have a specific plan for, we figure on making occasional trips to the grocery store, just as we'd do at home.

So normally, the only things we take from the house to start a trip are food (as described above) and clothing we expect to need, plus cameras, maybe a guitar, and books to read. Everything else remains in the coach. Granted that we're not gone for 6 months or more at a time, but were we to do so, we'd plan in advance to shrink what we had in the fridge for a week or two prior to departure, and we'd still only take the bread, crackers, etc. from the pantry.
 

ArdraF

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Feb 12, 2006
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10,693
As you know we're like you, fewer trips of longer duration.  When we get home I wash any dirty linens and clothing.  The linens are returned to the motorhome.  Clothing varies with each trip depending on where we might be going and the season so only a few pieces of clothing and shoes stay in the motorhome.  Most of the dry goods like paper goods,  tea and condiments stay out there.  Perishables go in the house.  Except for our laptops, all the office-type "stuff" stays out there like a small copier, scanner, pencils and paperclips.  Tools and such stay in the motorhome.  Things like extra oil stay out there.  Also toiletries and pharmacy-type stuff.  I empty the refrigerator, clean it with soapy water, dry it, and prop the doors open until the next trip.

When it comes time to pack it's mainly food and clothing, although there are extras like relevant maps, current reading materials, gifts, cameras, computers, etc.  We try to avoid carrying things into the house that can stay out there.  We're lucky to be able to leave so much out there because it's kind of like a backup pantry, office, or whatever.  We're especially lucky to have an air-cooled garage so we can keep things at a reasonable temperature and don't worry about critters getting into things like when you're parked outside.

Overall, the idea is to minimize loading and unloading.

ArdraF
 

allenb12

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Sep 2, 2016
Posts
77
The only thing we pack is food.  Everything else is RV specific and stays in there.
 

BikerFlex&HappyJen

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Mar 25, 2017
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178
We also keep the tt plugged in while home during the camping season. I find the movement of the bed linens the most frustrating, so I think we are going to buy an extra set of pillows and blankets specially to stay in the camper. Hope when all we need to pack is food and clothes it will make camping much easier and simpler. Right now I?m trying to minimize meal so it easier as well.
 

Utclmjmpr

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Sep 14, 2009
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Location
Cedar City, UT
Like Ardra, we have an 1800 ft. garage that is insulated and the M/H stay's ready all the time,, winter and summer..We keep frozen stuff in the freezer and rotate it with the house freezer so everything stay's fresh
  The fuel tank stay's full and fresh water stay's full as well..  Fresh bedding and clothes are M/H specific and ready to go..  I am in the habit of making short notice decisions and like it that way.  Keeps life interesting.>>>Dan
 

garyb1st

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Dec 31, 2010
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Southern California
Thanks for the replies.  Lots of good info.  I'd be willing to leave a some food in the refrigerator but the DW doesn't like that idea.  Her opinion trumps mine on food stuffs.  But leaving food in the RV during periods of extreme heat is probably not a good thing to do.  Our neighbors outdoor thermometer indicated 121? one day this past June.  That's unusually warm for our area, but 90+? is typical for late June and most of July and August.  With the extreme heat, canned goods might spoil.  We also keep about 150 cans of cat food in the RV.  Before heading out, we usually buy in bulk and stock up at Costco for us and Chewy's for the cats.  Probably not a problem for the dry goods but that's not a big problem.  Most of that stuff is pretty light.  But the combined weight of the canned goods and food in glass containers is a pretty good tug. 

The RV is not garaged, there is no shade and the afternoon sun can be brutal.  On our current trip we turned on the refrigerator 3 days before leaving.  While then temps stabilized at 35-40?, just opening the door several times to load food caused the inside temp to increase to 60?.  That was with the generator and AC running for several hours, which lowered the temp in the RV to the mid 80's. 

There's also the risk of theft and while I like the idea of leaving the tools in the RV, the locks on the bay doors don't give me a warm fuzzy.  Not sure if the locks can be upgraded but that might be a possibility for one or two bays with the high valued stuff. 

For those of you who do keep clothe in the RV, what do you do to keep mice, spiders and other critters at bay?

 
 

SargeW

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Where ever we park it!
We were "long timer's" for 8 years before starting back full time a year ago. Diane's policy on food was that everything came out, every time. And I assume you have a gas refer, so if it hiccups with any food in it, things get nasty quick.  And if you don't  know that it happened and consume a slightly spoiled item, it quickly becomes a terrible idea. 

Critter's getting into the rig is always an issue depending on where you park.  I had parked my rig on a driveway pad at my last stick house for months on end without issue. It was in front of the garage area and on cement. My buddy parked his rig in my back acre for about 6 months and didn't visit it much. Mice got in and had a field day building nests and tearing things up.

So the short answer is there are no guaranteed ways to stop them. I set a few traps around the tires on the outside and caught a few which helped.  I had a pest control guy that showed up monthly and sprayed around the house and rig for ants and spiders. It was cheap insurance and kept both the house and rig pest free.

The other answer for me was I was in and out of the rig almost daily, checking things, doing little maintenance stuff, and tinkering. Hands on was always my best answer to stopping a problem before it started. 

If your rig has the usual "507" bay door cabinet locks, I would replace them too.  Most locks can be replaced fairly inexpensively with "barrel" type key locks that are much harder to get into.   
 

blw2

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Aug 9, 2012
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Saint Johns, FL
Larry N. said:
That's a lot to take. And our RV fridge isn't as big as the one in the house (not to mention the freezer). As for pantry, no thanks. ....

i was thinking the same way.  My paradigm is a very packed and cluttered fridge and pantry.  Lots of stuff. (If it was just me in the house I'd like to think that it would be packed and organized  ;))
but then I remembered some folks live more short term, grocery shopping almost every day...  I guess that's more of a European thing to do...
 

UTTransplant

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Jul 20, 2014
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Cedar Falls, IA
We now have a residential refrigerator as big as the one in the house. I do keep it running since the storage unit we have has electricity. I could always tell if it lost electricity because the ice would,be melted, a good indicator. We do pretty much empty the home frig into the motorhome because we are gone for 3-4 weeks at a time, minimum. We have a standard collection of pantry items we keep in the motorhome, and we make sure we have some of our favorite items that are harder to find in small towns. We leave linens, towels, etc in the motorhome at all times.

As for pests, we have never had a problem, but those are famous last words! The new storage building is right next to a big field, and I think it will look very inviting to rodents come cold weather. I am thinking of putting something out in the storage unit itself, not in the motorhome. We have a cat, and I worry she would find something we forgot to pick up. Will that be effective enough?
 

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