When it comes to your van, everything should have a place. Unlike a stationary home where things can be left out on countertops and tables, a moving home needs appropriate storage to keep things from flying around. Also, if you plan on living in your van full-time like me, you’ll need to find a way to pack and store everything you might need for four seasons and multiple scenarios. In this article, I’ll show you how I manage to store my entire life in 80 square feet. I’ll let you know this: storage bins and Tupperware containers are my BEST FRIEND.
Main Living Area: Kitchen
For my kitchen area, I have two drawers and two shelves for plates, silverware, Tupperware, bowls, etc., and one cabinet for food storage. One drawer has all my silverware as well as knives, scissors, a bottle opener, and a can opener – basic kitchen utensils. The bottom drawer has mixing bowls, measuring cups, and a few Tupperware containers for food storage. My side cabinet shelves store my basic pots and pans, a cutting board, and my plates and bowls.
In my food cabinet, I have a box for dry food (bread, rice cakes, pasta, etc.) and a box for jars and cans (peanut butter, sauce, olive oil, etc.). On the bottom shelf of my food cabinet I store my propane tanks for my stove as well as aluminum foil, wax paper, and cleaning supplies.
On my kitchen counter, I have a mason jar that holds my spatulas and mixing spoons. The jar is attached to the counter using industrial velcro and so far it has kept everything in place! Behind my kitchen wall I attached a rack that holds a couple purses, umbrella, rain coat, and kitchen towel. In between this wall and the driver’s seat I keep my trash can and stove.
In the cabinet right above the sink in the kitchen I store the things I need access to most every day – my basic toiletries (contacts, glasses, and toothbrush) as well as my makeup.
Main Living Area: Bedroom
In my sleeping area, I have 4 cabinets, two sets of shelves, and one open storage area in between the shelves. I utilize three of the cabinets for my clothes – one for shirts and pants, one for jeans and sweaters, and another for miscellaneous items (pajamas, fancier items for special events, extra layers). In my fourth cabinet I use storage containers to hold my toiletries (lotion, shampoo, conditioner, face wash, Q-tips, toothpaste). My bedroom shelves I use like a bedside table. One shelf has books and notebooks as well as an outlet, another has my camera and jewelry, and another stores my electronics and charging equipment. Basically everything I might need access to on a daily basis is within an arm’s reach for me. In the space between my shelves, I have two boxes that store my bras, bathing suits, socks, and underwear.
Main Living Area: Cabin
To store my shoes, I attached a hanging shoe rack to the back of my passenger seat. This is also a great storage place for hats, scarves, and gloves. Underneath my driver’s seat I keep extra maps and atlases. I don’t like anything distracting me while I drive so I keep very little in the cabin of the van; I have access to a water bottle, sunglasses, a charger, and some change for tolls but that’s it.
Storage Area: Under the Bed
Some people install sliding drawers under their platform bed (a project for another day) but I didn’t quite make it there. Instead, I have 4 storage bins that hold the bulk of my things.
- Camping gear – Sleeping bag, tent, mosquito net, matches, Camelback, cooking grate, hammock, Crazy Creek, lanterns, and flashlights.
- Non-seasonal clothes – I planned on traveling and living in all four seasons, so I have the clothes I’m currently using in the main part of the van and other seasonal clothes stored underneath.
- Extra blankets – Again, since I planned on being in all sorts of environments, I knew I would need lots of extra blankets and towels. It’s also a good idea to have an extra pair of sheets.
- Electronics – This is a smaller container but it has all my camera gear, my projector, charging cables, and my hard drive.
In other smaller containers I have:
- Medicine and first aid
- A basic tool kit
- Art supplies (stay crafty, y’all)
- Houseware supplies (duct tape, extra velcro, extra cleaning supplies, rope, safety pins, extra magnets, batteries)
Behind my battery box I store automotive essentials (DEF, windshield wiper fluid, defroster, and jumper cables) and my laundry detergent. Next to the box I have a folding table that I use for camping as well as a guitar and a ukulele.
Basically, I travel with anything I might possibly need while living and while being on the road. Living full-time in your van requires a delicate balance of living minimalistically while also being prepared. With the right storage methods, you can do it all!