Organizing your pop up camper is tricky business. We totally get it. Space is at a premium. You’ve probably all seen the pictures of our pop up camper makeover by now. I’m pretty proud of our hard work, so I show them off a lot. 😉
But I get asked quite a bit if this is what our camper really looks like when we camp, and how in the world do we pack a family of five in a small trailer for a 3-week road trip. The answer is no, the camper definitely does not look like this when we camp. I loved dressing our little PUP up for her glamour shots, but using the camper like this isn’t practical for us. For one thing, we have three kids. I would spend my entire trip cleaning up after them if I wanted the camper to look nearly this nice. Having three kids means we need the dinette to be used as a bed more than a table, and we really need to utilize that counter space for storage. For those of you who wonder how we organize this little PUP for our road trips, this post is for you.
CLOTHING AND LAUNDRY STORAGE
This is how our camper actually looks 90% of the time. Not nearly as glamorous, I know, but it works well for us. Our two girls share the full bunkend and our son gets the dinette bed. Each person in the family has a plastic 3-drawer “dresser” to store their clothes. We bought Sterilite 4-drawer carts from Target (you can also get them on Amazon here), popped off the lid and removed one of the small drawers, then put the cart back together. These little dressers fit down on the floor between the long cabinet and dinette when we fold up the camper. The top drawer is for underwear and socks, the middle drawer holds shirts and jackets, and the bottom drawer holds pants, shorts, and pajamas. We pack enough clothes for five days, which means we have to visit a laundromat a couple times during our long trips.
When our clothes are dirty, we throw them into our pop-up hamper, which we store in the kitchen area (unless we are using the heater). The handles make it easy to cart along to the laundry facilities when it’s laundry day. It also has pockets to store laundry detergent and fabric softener. When the hamper is empty, it folds up for storage, which I love. Another thing I love is that it came with a smaller hamper, which we use for shoes.
We often keep our shoe hamper outside the camper, but we do allow shoes inside. I love the mesh sides, because I can give the hamper a good shake and most of the dirt and sand falls through. When the weather is bad, we move the shoe bin indoors, and it fits perfectly atop the dressers.
KITCHEN AND FOOD STORAGE
We have quite a bit of storage space in that long cabinet. If you’ve been following our blog for awhile, you’ll know that we enclosed the wheel well and built a shelf to make that part of the cabinet into usable space. I purchased cute plastic shoe box containers to hold our games, sunblock and bug spray, laundry supplies, and camper repair items. I also keep a tackle box first-aid kit in that cupboard. A few of these Command Hooks hold our cooking utensils in place inside the doors. I also store our hampers in here when they aren’t being used.
I’ve got two large drawers in this cabinet, too. The first one holds our pots, pans, collapsible bowls and strainers (I like the Squish brand), and other small cooking items. These collapsible bowls are great. They fold flat and give you so much room, but they are also pretty sturdy. We use them all the time. Lastly, I store this small waffle iron in there for when we are camping with hookups. I love this thing, because not only is it compact, but it works beautifully. It’s awesome for quick breakfasts in the morning, but we also like to cook hashbrowns, cinnamon rolls, and cornbread batter in it. Ever had cornbread waffles with chili? Yum! Such an easy camping meal… but that’s for another day. 🙂
The second drawer holds my pretty plates , cups, and bowls, my paper supplies, plastic storage containers, our roasting forks, and an electric hot water dispenser. I actually purchased this one from Target on clearance and only spent $5 on it! Score! It’s great for hot chocolate, tea, coffee, and soup–when we have hookups, of course. I’ve actually got quite a bit more space in this drawer, so I’ll have to work on filling it up.
We’ve also got a good deal of storage space under our dinette, and it is easily accessible now that we have built doors on the dinette benches. You can read all about that here. I store extra large pots, a basket of wash rags and hand towels, our lanterns, paper towels, our Thermocell lantern, our Trash-Ease hanger, tablecloths, and some other odds and ends in one end. In the other end (and I forgot to snap a picture), I keep a dishwashing tub full of our city water hookup items–the hose, filter, pressure regulator, etc.
We camp in bear country a lot, so we don’t keep any food in the kitchen area. We also don’t cook inside unless the weather demands it. That means all of our food gets stored inside the back of the car. It actually works out really well for us, since we are constantly on the move when we camp. I don’t have a big camp kitchen to pack up, and if we are on the road, the food is easily accessible for lunch and snack breaks. (Want more info on camping in bear country? Be sure to check out this post.)
I use two large Sterilite plastic drawer systems to hold most of our dry goods. Smaller plastic baskets inside each drawer hold our loose items–like cooking oils, spices, syrup, peanut butter, etc. This also works well at containing any possible spills. We did once have a jar of honey tip and leak out all over the place. It was contained in one of those smaller plastic baskets, though, so it was a quick and easy clean up. All of our refrigerated items are stored in two ice chests just behind our dry good “pantry.” We can reach the ice chests easily from the back seat of the car, which again is a lifesaver on long trips. 😉
Inside the camper kitchen swing galley, we have a small drawer where we keep our flatware, measuring spoons, knives, kitchen scissors, a butane lighter, and other odds and ends. Yes, I have nice flatware in my camper, but in my defense, it was really, really cheap. Gotta love the clearance aisles at Target… If you are getting the feeling I spend way too much time at Target, Mr. TypeTwoFun would probably agree with you. 😉
We also have a bit of storage space under the sink. This little spot is perfect for my little dish drainer, drying mat, and soaps. I put them up on the stove when I am using them, and store them away out of sight when I’m not. I actually use a drainer really similar to this one (yup, you guessed it… Target!), but I am lusting after a collapsible one. I’m just too cheap to fork out $20 for it, so this one works just fine for now.
BATHROOM AND TOILETRY STORAGE
We built tension rod shelving (tutorial here) above the cassette toilet cabinet, which serves as our bathroom of sorts. I grabbed smaller Sterilite 3-drawer units for the bottom shelf, and each family member has his/her own drawer for toiletries. We have a shared drawer for toothpaste, floss, contact solution–things we all share. I was worried it would be too heavy, but it actually works out really well.
Little baskets from the dollar store hold things like toothbrushes and cotton swabs, so the drawers aren’t a complete mess. We use Steripods on the toothbrushes to keep everything sanitary.We keep all our shower stuff organized in these handy shower bags. You can read all about how we organize our shower supplies here. You might remember I made shower lanyards for each family member. We still use them on every trip, and they are awesome. Theu are great for keeping everything together, so we don’t have several big bottles of shampoo, conditioner, body wash, etc. to find spots for. That has helped corral the clutter quite a bit.
The bath towels are hung on our handy little towel bars under the bunkends (tutorial here). Wet shower lanyards also hang here until they are dry. I love these towel racks. They are so convenient. Obviously, if we are in bear country, scented items don’t get left out while we aren’t around. Once everything is dry, we move it to the bear box. 🙂
The last little space I utilize is the cabinet where the cassette potti is housed. I have a little 3M basket that attaches to the door to hold my sponges, toilet chemicals, and disinfecting wipes. Behind the toilet, I can stash our privacy curtain, toilet paper, and a few boxes of female supplies. (Sorry guys! 😛 ) There is actually quite a bit of room behind the cassette, so I stash as much as I can back there.
And there you have it! Most of this stuff (with the exception of the toiletries and clothes) stays in the camper year round. After a trip, we will wash all the bedding and either put it back on the beds or stash it in these big Ziploc comforter bags. It makes packing up for a trip easy.
I will do an occasional inventory check to make sure everything is stocked and in good condition, and of course, I will give the camper a good deep-cleaning twice a year as well. You can read all about that here and here. It really doesn’t take much work, and we are ready to head out camping at a moment’s notice. The biggest part of the trip preparation is meal planning… but we’ll save that for another day. 🙂
So how about all of you? Got any great tips for organizing your pop up camper you’d like to share? We’d love to hear them! Drop by our Facebook page or leave your best ideas in the comments section below.
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