Snowbirding 101

Big empty spaces: Outside compartments on your motorhome

Keeping things neat and tidy in the basement eases the stress of travelling

Bounder RV with storage compartments
RV storage compartments can help you manage all your belongings. — Photo courtesy Jonti Bolles

Question: When we got our new motorhome, I was ecstatic because it looked like we had so much outside storage space. We have one basement compartment that goes from one side to the other with a door on each side, one compartment that has a slide for the batteries and a number of other good-sized compartments. These are big empty spaces and we’re not sure what to do with them. Do you have any suggestions on how best to utilize the space we have?

Answer: You hit on the challenge most of us face: more stuff than space. Over the years we have discovered some solutions—some ours, some other RVers; some successful, some not.

  • Sort out your tools and take only what you need. Our first couple of years we travelled with at least two full toolboxes. Not only were the boxes heavy, they were filled with tools we would never use. We discovered the tools we used could fit nicely into one tool box: less weight, more space.
  • Find containers that fit into the compartments. When we started travelling, right-sized storage containers were few and far between. We managed to find a few of the big milk container boxes and a number of strong cardboard boxes that fit. Now, storage containers are everywhere. They come in dozens of sizes, shapes and forms. We have graduated to more substantial containers, but the important thing is that they fit. Another possibility for small items is stackable plastic drawer units. Be sure you anchor them in place so they don't shift around when you're in motion.
  • Organize your stuff into tasks. Sort what you carry into what you need for each task. For example, we have one container that carries all the water hoses we need to hook up to tap water. We separate the hoses we use for potable and non-potable water and secure them with bungee cords; another container carries sewer paraphernalia.
  • Make sure the containers are not too big or too heavy. Be aware of what you can lift. The last thing you need is to injure your back, legs or arms. If the task requires too many tools or equipment, put them into two separate containers.
  • While most towable RVs have a square rear bumper for sewer hose storage, most motorhomes do not. We attached a PVC tube under the rear bumper that accommodates the sewer hose.
  • The rear ladder has many different uses. What a great place to hang things. Ours carries our stepladder and lawn chairs when we travel, but many RVers use the ladder as a bike carrier.
  • Bike carriers can also be attached to the front of a motorhome.

Fill in the blanks

The blanks are the inside of the tow car if you drive a motorhome or the deck of the tow vehicle if you have a trailer.

Watch your weight. With all those additional items you're bringing on board, make sure your overall weight is still within legal limits.

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