Even by full-time RV living standards, my travel trailer is considered tiny. At 160 SF of space, it looks like a teardrop next to the mammoth-sized RVs driven by retirees. Even so, my tiny trailer packs a punch. People are often surprised to see how big my bathroom is, for instance. It has a small tub, a full wardrobe, storage for Shadow’s litter box, and can fit two toilets. I also have a small but full kitchen, a dinette, a sofa, and a bed.
Still, when I first transitioned into RV living, I thought I was going to have a very long adjustment period. Thankfully, going from 620 SF to 160 SF was a breeze. I actually felt like I had more space, because the RV has a much more functional design than my old home. If you’d like to see the 360-degree tour of a newer version of my RV, you can find that here.
Nevertheless, living tiny isn’t a bed of roses. There are quite a few things that took some getting used to. These are the top five — in no particular order!
1. Shorter Ceiling Height
Some tiny homes have higher ceilings to make up for the lack of floor space. This is as true for RVs as it is for homes built on a permanent foundation. My tiny home didn’t get that memo. The interior height is 6’5. I’m 5’9, so that means I can’t even stretch my arms upward when standing. I was continually bumping my hands into the ceiling for the first month. Now, I hardly notice the height — or lack thereof.
It’s worth noting that I chose a short RV on purpose. Taller RVs are more top-heavy and, therefore, a lot less stable. You also have to be more careful when towing under bridges or manoeuvering at gas stations. My RV’s total height is only 10’5. I can fit under just about anything, except standard garage doors.
2. Weird RV Plumbing
I knew RV toilets were different, but I didn’t realize how different they were until I bought one. About a week before I left Atlanta, I started looking up videos on how to use the toilet. My parents were equally confused, so I sent them the video ahead of time to avoid any mishaps on our road trip across the country. The 12V pump for off-grid use was also insanely loud to me. To add to that, I had to learn how to manually manage my sewer system. This didn’t just mean dumping the tanks. It also meant knowing when to dump them.
For example, I learned not to flush the toilet with the seat up when it was near full, because you might get splashed! I also learned that the toilet “burping” meant it was almost full…..and that the greywater will back up in the tub when it’s full. And worst of all, the sensors are perfectly useless because they are rarely accurate.
3. Hassle of Moving the RV
Before I bought my RV and hit the road, I did a lot of research. For some reason, learning how to hitch up and unhitch the RV wasn’t one of the topics that caught my attention. I was busy looking at floorplans and wondering how on earth I was going to learn to back up a trailer. I also worried about trailer sway from high winds generated by Mother Nature or larger vehicles. I actually don’t get trailer sway and I can back up an RV pretty good for someone with a three-year-old driver’s license.
Well….it wasn’t until I bought the RV that it occurred to me that hitching up was not going to be a walk in the park. Securing everything in the RV isn’t easy either. Trailers have a lot more bounce than tow vehicles or motorhomes, so things get thrown around quite a bit. It takes me roughly 30 minutes to 45 minutes to hitch up, put everything away inside, put Shadow in the truck, and complete safety checks. It then takes another hour to set up at camp.
4. Responsive Body Clock
I knew before I ever spent a night in an RV that my sleeping habits were going to change. RVs have a lot of windows and so do many tiny homes on permanent foundations. Large windows reduce the closeted feeling tiny homes would otherwise have and they let in a lot of natural light. I was 100% sure natural light would wake me early in the morning and I was right. For the first month of RVing, I was up at 7 AM every morning. Prior to RVing, this was when I went to bed!
The primary reason I get flooded with light in the morning is Shadow. The largest window is by the dinette, which is where he spends most of his time. Consequently, I leave the blinds up for him at night and Mother Nature shouts at me in the morning. But, I can’t complain. I had insomnia for all my 30 years before I started RVing. I haven’t had insomnia since my first night on the road.
5. Tight Spaces
Of course, the biggest adjustment to tiny living is the smaller size. Even though I never felt confined or like I was missing anything, I still had to adjust to tiny living. I cannot tell you how many times I bumped into the dinette or hit my head on a kitchen cupboard that was left open. I can no longer buy in bulk and have to be mindful of the height of things I buy, because they might not fit in the fridge or cupboards. Additionally, tiny spaces get messier faster, so my morning routine begins with cleaning.
To make matters worse, my RV is dark brown and dark colours make spaces feel smaller. RV manufacturers have since realized that millennials do not cherish the outdated tastes of our RV elders and now make RVs with lighter-coloured decor. My RV must have been the last dark brown one on the production line, because it missed the memo despite being a 2018 model. I tried to paint it today and it would not adhere, but my quest to de-brown the RV continues!
Have you ever had to transition to a much tinier space than what you were originally used to? What were some of the things that took you some time to adjust to? Tell me all about it in the comments, below!