RV Relationships – How’s your clutter tolerance?

What to do About Clutter?

When you live on the road, almost every aspect of your life impacts your RV relationships.  Clutter can be a minor irritant or, a major battle.

Can I assume that many RVers chose this lifestyle as a way to break away from lives of material saturation?  Did you break away from a conventional lifestyle because materialistic values no longer motivated you?  I love it that RV life requires us to remain mindful of how much “weight/baggage” we carry around!

So, we’ve all downsized to simplify our relationship to stuff and live a more minimal lifestyle as we travel.  Then how is it that we still find ourselves coping on a daily basis with our possessions?

One way I’ve chosen to think about it is: any clutter that piles up in our small space keeps me mindful of wanting to live as free of the limitations stuff imposes as possible. 


“Out of clutter, find simplicity, from discord find Harmony, in the middle of difficulty lies opportunity”

Albert Einstein

I asked people to comment on various Facebook groups as to how they handled untidiness in their small space.  In the responses, often, one person in a couple was more minimalistic than the other.  That would bring up the need for negotiation.  (If you’re interested, I write more about negotiating here.)  Compromise with our partners (someone called it campromise which I thought was pretty clever) came up over and over again.

Early on in our RV dwelling, one of our sticking points was Stephen leaving cupboard doors and microwave doors open and walking away.  At first, I would come unglued because of the chaotic feelings it unleashed in me.  I would loudly demand that he shut the cabinet doors.  Well, that didn’t work.  It just made him defiant. 

Later, after I explained in a calm voice how much it bothered me, he made more of an effort.  I appreciated that and said so.  It’s easy to make each other feel like a scolded child.  Remember the basics: treat each other with fairness, respect, and kindness. 

One blogger wrote, watch your wording and your tone.  There’s a world of difference between asking, “Can we throw this old thing away?” and asking in a neutral tone of voice, “Is this a keeper?”

 I liked another respondents awareness that she has to pick her battles.  I know what she means.  You can’t be nitpicking over every single thing that irritates you, or you won’t get any cooperation at all from your partner.

On a positive note, clutter tolerance also seems to bring out peoples creativity!  Some RVers allow for a certain amount of buildup in a designated space.  When that becomes full, it’s time to go through and remove what isn’t serving their lives. 

I’m always scanning our RV scrutinizing how to streamline our storage needs as well as making our living space more aesthetic.  No doubt about it, it’s an ongoing challenge.

I share one problem with another RVer: the shoes and detritus of everyday life that gather at the door.  We have a little shelf area for shoes, but they don’t always make it up onto it.  My motto for controlling my emotions about shoes out of place is “Always we begin again.” 


It’s hard for my partner to live with so many rules, and I have to remember we both are trying our best to maintain order.  Also, these baskets on this shelving are a place odds and ends gather.  Stephen needs tools at hand that I think should be in the storage area, but they usually end up here. (Audible sigh.)

Some RVers that responded counted on moving day to necessitate clear-outs.  Everything has to be put away, and order is restored as you roll down the highway!  Having everything shipshape adds to the elation felt when starting your newest adventure!  Others have a rule that if something new comes in, something old has to go out.  It’s as if your RV is always on a strict diet!

When I see disorder starting to take over in the coach I have to stop and think, “Is this the life I want, managing my stuff?”  Is the quality of my time spent here in my tiny home being compromised by this unconscious accumulation of small consumer goods?  Our stuff causes clutter and reminds us of our choice to live a simpler life. 

Having too many possessions gives me a feeling of being overwhelmed.  I like a tranquil environment and find serenity is created in my internal world when I reside in a place of calm and order.

Fortunately, we live so much of RV life outdoors.  Usually, all we have to do is go outside, and the natural world serves up big helpings of beauty and order.

Here are some other thoughts I share from another blogger that might help you cope with the differences you and your partner have for clutter tolerance if you have any.  Read more here.



I think my need for minimalism is a little out of balance, so I work on my tolerance for chaos/clutter in my space each day.  Also, if I’m the one that wants to see stuff not left out on the counter, I can decide to please myself by putting it away.  I try to think of it as an art project.  I’m creating visual beauty – a sort of “still life” to please my eye.


I often introduce new methods for storage and order.  I can’t tell you how many baskets I’ve added that look nice with my RV decorating. They hide those pesky items that end up lying around like; pens, glasses and odd assortments of tiny things.  It’s amazing how many little things there are to manage – not just the big obvious ones.

Finally, we have the opportunity to learn that excess baggage burdens us with too much chaos, preventing the creation of order!  Each partnership has to decide how they want to live together in relationship to their stuff.

“Replace Clutter With Freedom” 

I think the bottom line here is, are you living the life that brings you the most satisfaction?  Or, is your untidiness creating friction that’s unnecessary and keeping you in a crazy loop with the material things of this world. 

Noticing our clutter and how it affects the quality of our RV relationships can bring us into a more examined, mindful life.  Self awareness contributes to the rich experience you and your partner are pursuing!

“Self-reflection is the first step to decluttering because it’s not about the stuff!”

Author unknown

8 thoughts on “RV Relationships – How’s your clutter tolerance?

    • Thanks Donna and thanks for subscribing! Please join the conversation – engagement with my readers is why I do this.

  1. Great bit of prose! Clutter masks alot in relationships. We can have so much stuff going in and stuff piling up that we don’t even see each other or have time to be with each other. My wife and I say “Time for air and water”. That’s our clue to decide what is most important and leave the rest to wait. That may mean putting up with some clutter to care for what matters most – us and how we be loving, kind, and caring for each other but not putting stuff and things to do ahead of us!! We matter more than our stuff!

    • Thanks Wendy! It may a little more complicated when living in a space of 300 sq. ft. or less. But, we always have the great outdoors in all its glory literally right outside the door. No better place to turn toward when refocusing is the thing to do.

  2. I am finding that to have less space for my “stuff” forces me to get real about all of my possessions (especially sketchbooks, art books, photographs, family albums and objects of art that I like to look at in my environment).
    I am weeding things out in every room every day……………even the bathroom and the hall closet. I can’t say that
    anyone would miss anything that I’ve donated this past month but it is taking a concerted effort on my part to keep at it!!!! I have a lot of paperwork to sort out, too which I am excited about getting into……and getting rid of as much of it as I can. More later.

    • It’s hard for me to understand adopting this lifestyle without a minimalistic mindset. They seem to go together to me. I like that the essence of living is what is left after ridding myself of the need for stuff.

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