Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Living in the Roadtrek - How We Make the Bed

I have been asked by one of our readers about what it is life to actually live in our Roadtrek day to day. This is a great idea and this is the start of a series of articles about just that. These articles will be mixed in with other articles week to week. One request was how do we make the bed.

Meryl makes the bed in our Roadtrek and would rather that I do not help, as when I tried to I just got in the way. Lesson quickly understood and learned. Now, I stay in the front lounge seat and keep out of the way as much as possible as Meryl makes up the bed. Meryl wants me to make it clear that her method only works in a Roadtrek 190 Popular without the power bench seat/bed. Our Roadtrek has the optional twin bed configuration which consists of a wooden platform along each side in the back connected in the middle at the back in front of the rear van doors with another platform. It is also important to know that Roadtrek changed the shapes and sizes of the cushions that make up the bed in the 2011 model. When one looks in the manuals - right through 2010 the cushions for the non-power bench bed are completely different. In fact, Roadtrek does not have a manual for the 2011 190 Popular and we don't have an "official" diagram showing how the cushions are to be arranged to put the bed together. We were shown at the dealership and later this arrangement was confirmed to me by email from Roadtrek.

First, when the Roadtrek is not set for sleeping, the cushions are positioned so that the long wide cushion serves as a seat on the side platform - both sides the same, though one is shorter in length than the other side. On that cushion as a backrest sits the long, thin cushion which is weighted on the back with a wooden board. There is also a little z shaped cushion that fits in the back corner as a arm rest - one on each side of the van. There is also a square cushion that fills in the middle across the rear platform in front of the van doors. This cushion is not used for the bed and must be removed before you make the bed. We removed this cushion permanently and store it in our home, as it was always in the way inside the Roadtrek - it is only used if you use the back platform as a seat while driving and this is extremely uncomfortable to do and dangerous as there is no headrest and if in an accident one's head would go into the rear van window. The back platform has a wooden board that runs the width of the van - which is the backrest to the rear "seat" and serves as a headboard. Below that cushion there are two seat belts bolted through the wooden platform into a steel frame underneath. Under the side cushions on the platforms are two wood boards that will fill in the space between the two side platforms to support the middle of the bed.

You can sleep in the 190 Popular bed in one of two directions - across the van or back to front. This method putting the sheets on only works for sleeping back to front.

You get in and out of the bed from the foot. The sheets have been set so that you get in and out from the center. This way you are not crawling over anyone to get out or in.

Here is Meryl's method step by step to make the bed into a KING. You need two mattress covers with elastic corner anchors, four flat twin sheets, and two twin blankets.

1. Start with either of the two sides. Remove the two wooden boards under the cushions and put both aside in the aisle so that they are out of the way. You will use these later in the process.

2. Pull the wide cushion out to the middle open aisle so that you can push the long, thin cushion between the bed cushion and the wall with the wood side down.

3. Place the Z cushion into the back side corner so that it fills in the open space in the back corner. Think of this as a jig saw puzzle that you are going to sleep on.

4. Take a mattress cover - we purchased two at Ikea for twin beds and picked this one because it is only a top with elastic corner anchors rather than the more common fitted mattress covers that surround the mattress top and all sides.

a. Start at the end of the bed nearest the kitchen or bathroom and lift the thin cushion and clip one corner of the mattress cover around the end of the cushion's corner.

b. Next clip the other anchor at that side on the corner of the wide cushion sticking into the aisle.

c. Next put the anchor elastic at the top corner of the top of the wide cushion sticking in the aisle.

d. Next you are going to take the remaining corner of the mattress cover and SHOVE it in to the corner at the top of the bed over the Z cushion. Any extra mattress cover in length can be tucked in at the top (facing the rear doors). (If you tuck the excess at the foot of the bed it will keep the bathroom door or the refrigerator door from closing.) Now the mattress cover is on one side of the bed.

5. Bottom Sheet -

a. Take a flat twin sheet, open it and start again at the same corner where you started the mattress cover - the corner at the foot on the wall side, and tuck it in around the corner.

b. Work your way across the foot of the bed tucking the sheet between the cushion and the cabinet.The side of the sheet is going to hang loose into the aisle at the side of the cushion.

c. Work your way along the side wall tucking up to the top.

d. Tuck in the top of the sheet between the headboard and the cushion. SHOVE any excess up here - and be careful not to hit your head on the ceiling as it is lower back here.

e. Where the Z cushion is at the corner - again shove the sheet in around the cushion.

f. Go to the rear of the aisle and tuck the aisle side of the sheet under the cushion where it sits on the rear platform. The remainder of the side will be tucked in later.

6. Top Sheet

a. Repeat 5a. to 5 c. with the top sheet, except when tucking in along the wall stop where you want to be able to fold back the top sheet when in bed.

b. Smooth the top sheet down over the rest of the bed, as made so far.

7. Blanket

a. Repeat same as top sheet.

b. Take the top sheet and the blanket along the aisle that is hanging down toward the floor and fold it up onto the top of the cushion so that it is out of the way of the aisle. Just leave the bottom sheet hanging at this point.

AT THIS POINT YOU HAVE ONLY MADE ONE SIDE OF THE BED, BELIEVE IT OR NOT. (Now you see why I stay out of the way!) NOW IT GETS COMPLICATED.8. Take the remaining wide cushion and put it on the finished bed in the same configuration as it was when it was in position as a seat.

9. Put the side thin cushion (wood side down) and the Z cushion against the side wall on the remaining platform into position.

10. Take the mattress cover, hook it again on the bottom corner in the aisle as in 4a. Lay it over the thin cushion at the wall toward the rear of the van and then tuck the other end into the corner over the Z cushion as in 4d. Smooth it out over the wooden platform - you have not put the remaining bed cushion into place yet.

11. Bottom Sheet

a. Lie the bottom sheet against the side wall, over the thin cushion. Tuck it in at the foot of the thin cushion and along the side wall and over the Z cushion at the top. Smooth it out onto the platform OVER the mattress pad. (Again, no wide cushion is in place yet on this side.)

12. Repeat 11a. with top sheet and blanket and
stop where you want to be able to fold back the top sheet when in bed.
13. Lift up the mattress pad, the sheets, and the blanket on this side of the bed that you are making now, and place it ALL on top of the thin cushion along the wall. Fold as necessary to keep it out of your way.

14. Take the wood boards that were stored on the platforms and fit one across the aisle from cabinet top to cabinet top. It sits on a little ledge built into the cabinets in the bottom of the platforms. Push it to the rear to meet the back platform. It will go under the sheet that is hanging off the bed side that you have already completed. Tuck the bottom sheet of the finished side under cushion now sitting on this board.

15. Take the other board that you removed when you started and put that into place in front of this last board. You have now closed up the gap in the aisle between the two platforms. Again, tuck the bottom sheet from the finished side under the cushion. The two boards have created the middle platform supporting the bed. Some Roadtreks may only come with one board - in that case the rear table takes the place of the second board in the set up of the king bed.

16. Pick up the wide cushion that is sitting on top of the finished side a
nd fit it into position between the finished side and the thin side cushion. This take a LOT OF SHOVING AND SMASHING to get it into place. It will be VERY TIGHT. It is necessary to lie down on it to fit the top into place. It helps to lie down on it while you are fitting it in along the side.

17. Lift the mattress pad that was on the thin cushion and spread it out now over the remainder of the bed. You need to roll back and forth between the beds to get this into place. Tuck the anchors under the back and front corners at the middle of the bed. Readjust the mattress pad as necessary.

18. Spread out the bottom sheet and tuck it around the large cushion edges.

19. Spread out the top sheet and over that the blanket. Tuck them in at the bottom only.

20. The longer cushion side of the bed - the bottom sheet is going to be hanging off the middle corner as the wood board is not long enough by design to reach the foot of that cushion. Sit on the floor in front of it in the aisle with a safety pin ready and tighten up the sheet by pulling it under the mattress and pinning it to itself around that corner.

THE BED IS MADE. Note that the top sheet and blanket have not been tucked in on the center of the bed between the two large cushions so that you have access in and out of the bed in the middle. You have actually made two separate beds side by side. Pull up the sheets where the two sides meet to get cozy and close.

Set your pillows in place at the top of the bed and you are ready to go to sleep.

Now, this is a long and complicated process but by trail and error Meryl figured this puzzle out. It takes about twenty minutes to a half hour to make the bed. We make the bed once and leave it made up for the entire trip. If you want to have use of the back of the Roadtrek and sit or use the rear table on your trip then you must make the bed up every night. Lots of luck.

You could also forget the thin cushions and use only the wide cushions set in the middle. This makes it a little easier to make but you have a smaller bed. The Roadtrek bed is 6 feet long by 6 feet wide.

The 190 Popular can also make up as twin beds. Leave the aisle open and make up the wide cushions with sheets on top of the platforms leaving the aisle open to get in and out like a regular bed. This is not a standard size twin and is a bit narrow. There is no room to move your feet toward the middle to clear the cabinet ends as you can with the King set up. This is a problem for some on the short side.

Again, if your Roadtrek has the power bench/bed in the back, making the bed is completely different and when using sheets on that bed, much more complicated. The cushions are not like mine at all. Any year before 2011, none of the cushions will be like mine either.

Some do not use sheets at all. You still need to put the cushions in place just as described, but instead of sheets some use a sleeping bag or something called a "sleep sack" which is basically a sleeping bag made up of sheets and a comforter attached on top. It is made in such a way as to keep you cool in the summer or warm in the winter depending upon which side of it you sleep on. This is the recommended way to sleep with the power bench/bed.

So there you have it. Meryl says that she will answer questions - just leave your question in the comment section and she will do her best to give you an answer in a follow up comment. Don't ask for photos of the steps in making the bed - there is no room to do this task and get into any position to take photos - there is just not enough room.

All of this just to go to sleep - but after all, that is what you have the Roadtrek for, sleeping at the end of a fun day of sightseeing or camping!

There will be more Living in the Roadtrek articles to come - heating and cooling, cooking, using the bathroom, and more.

Diagram of cushions in place for sleeping.


  1. A photo of the bed made up would be helpful. Enjoying your blog very much.

  2. It is too close quarters to get even a wide angle of the whole bed made up. Once made up it pretty much looks like any other bed - pillows at the back at the rear doors, sheets and blankets coming to the front.

    On our next trip, if I can get a photo of the bed made up that actually gives a decent view, I will post it.

  3. There is now a photo of the bed made up at the end of the article. The blankets are pulled up over the pillows to keep the pillows clean when the bed is not being slept in.

  4. I realize that everyone has a favorite way of making their bed and we tried both the twin beds and the king-sized bed and much prefer to have the twin beds with the middle drawers between. We had a really hard time getting to the storage cupboards above the beds, too, when the large bed was in place. So, I made a "travelsack" for each bed. They are quilted on one side with just a sheet on the other and 2 large zippers joining them on each side (4 large zippers altogether.) I velcroed removeable sheets inside the covers. They stay on the beds all the time, covered with a furry blanket. We never have to make the beds, can reach the storage compartments easily, keep a lot of important "stuff" in those drawers, and also use the top for a table when we don't need the larger tables (breakfast & lunch etc.) We can also play games on the top and keep our t.v. there, too. This works very well for us.

    1. Hi Jean,

      This is Meryl. I was told about your post, but just now had a chance to get on the site. Which drawers do you keep stuff in? We have 3 compartments over the beds (2 on driver's side, 1 on passenger) and 1-1/2 sections underneath, 1 behind the water controls compartment and 1/2 behind the inverter compartment. (Also there is a compartment door to the back on the floor, but we have that set up to access from rear.)No drawers. Our back table is,at least I think, larger than our front one (even before we took the front one apart). We rarely use the front table and find it big enough for us. By closing in the bed to the king and leaving it that way, we have a fairly good size storage compartment under the bed. I put stuff in the compartment behind the water controls compartment which we will not need often during the trip, such as clothes for the second half of a long trip, and other stuff, such as spare soda, laptops, sweatshirts, etc. under the bed in this center section. I use some tension curtain rods across the front of the stuff to keep it in place while driving.

      As for the compartments over the bed, I use the rear one on the driver's side and the one on the passenger side for items we do not need to reach as often - changes of shoes, sleeping close in case it is cold, spare towels, etc. The front compartment over the bed on the driver's side is fairly easy to reach from in front of the fridge. (On older models I think this compartment is a cabinet.) When I need to get stuff from the back cabinets I have a tarp that folds really tiny in a bag and put it on the bed and go on the bed on my knees.

  5. My wife would be very happy to just make up twin beds - we tried it twice and I could just not get to sleep on the smaller than twin bed that the RT has. So, Meryl has gotten real good at crawling under to the bottom under the bed that we use for storage traveling and we have worked out ways to get to the upper cabinets putting a drop sheet over the bed when we need to.

    At some point I am going to write about the tables - a mod on the front table in the 2011 and the useless rear table due to where it is positioned in the 2011 without the power bed/sofa.

  6. We have a 2002 190 Popular with "wide" cushions and back rest cushions along the walls and without any seating against the back door. To make a king size bed, we put the removable 2-drawer storage cabinet (at the back between the beds when made up for sitting) temporarily out of the way on the driver's seat. After lifting the back door end of the cushions, there is a flip-down panel that folds forward to make the middle support for the beds. Where it came from supports the top 1/3 of the bed. We then use the rear table to support the bottom 1/3 of the bed and then put the cabinet back under these. The directions say to now put the wide cushions against the wall and place the back rests in the space in between (running longitudinally). You are supposed to place them in the form of an inverted V and then flop down on them to force them into place. Of course, being not attached, they do not want to cooperate. AHA, I've have a plan. I'll put the backrests in place upside down, i.e., with the plywood backing up, and belly flop force them into position (except being upside down). I'll get 4 hinges at my friendly neighborhood Home Depot/Lowes and attach them over the space between the backrests using a long straight-edge to insure they are perfectly parallel. I'll choose hinges that are wide enough so that the screw holes are not near the edge of the plywood and do not have both ends of the hinge pin swaged into place - therefore it can be removed and replaced. Once the hinges have been screwed into place, I'll remove the hinge pins and return the backrests to their normal position for travel. When making up the bed, I'll put the backrests in place upside down, insert new hinge pin nails that are just a bit smaller in diameter than the original hinge pins, flip them over, position them between the wide cushions, and do only (hopefully) one belly flop to place it. With reference to Meryl's sheet process, since we are making up a king size bed, we've used two twin-size fitted bottom sheets and one king size fitted top sheet. The top sheet has had the elastic at one end and the sides removed, making it fitting (pardon the pun) to use as a top sheet that is fitted at the bottom; it is relatively easy to put on while standing in front of the shower.

    Thanks for blogging it helps everyone, especially us newbees!

    Note: The blog editor will NOT accept my name and URL - Larry Schwartz,, so I had to use Anonymous.

    1. Thanks so much for sharing this! I have to have Meryl come and read your process. If you use a king on top, doesn't that make getting in and out of bed harder than having the sheets open down the middle?

    2. Hi Larry,

      This is Meryl. Since Robert doesn't make up the bed and I shoo him out to have room to do so, he was a bit confused by your description and knew that I would understand what you were talking about.

      The bed assembly since 2002 has changed and the size of the bed may have done so also.

      The night table is not included any longer. Where the night table used to be located between the head of beds there is now a removable cushion and 2 seat belts. Using the thin, long cushions one can make a seat back along the headboard and 2 people can sit there while the RT is driving. Since we do not need this seating space we have permanently left this seat cushion home.

      There used to be 2 sets of thin cushions (one set short and one set long) which combined to fill in the center of the bed between the 2 side seat cushions. Now there is one set of longer cushions and a set of 2 small "S" shaped cushions to add to the bed. The side seat cushions push to the center of the bed and the thin and "S" shaped cushions go to the outside of the bed. The "S" shape cushions match the shape of the side seat cushions at the head of the bed (back of the RT) and fill in between the side seat cushions and side, with the thin, long cushions continuing to the foot of the bed from the "S" shaped cushions.

      There is no fold over panel from the back nor is our table top involved in the set up. There are 2 wood panels that store under the side cushions and slide into place between the 2 seat frames to support the center of the king bed. (Actually there are 3 as there is also a piece that is not as wide front to back as the other 2 and we have no idea what that is for, possibly used if one has the automatic seat instead, and we have also removed it permanently to the house.)

      Our bed is 6 feet long on the passenger side and 6 feet, 3 inches on the driver's side. One of the reasons I decided to make the beds up separately was to deal with this difference. I also figured, correctly, that it would rather simple to get out from the middle of the bed during the night as opposed to getting out of the bed against the wall and climbing (or rolling) back to the middle to get up. I decided to use the flat sheets as the mattresses are much thinner than bed mattresses are and thought that the fitted sheets would be too large for the mattresses. I know that I have considerable excess flat bottom sheet when making up the bed both in length and width, which I presume would exist with a fitted sheet also.

      As you said, it would be simple to put the top sheet fitted bottom on from the aisle, but how how do you put the fitted twin sheets on and do they fit? Do you find it awkward to get out from under the king top sheet on the sides and get to the middle of the bed to get out?

      Always great to hear how someone else does something. I may try one of our single bed fitted sheets from home to see what happens.

  7. I agree with keeping the bed made up for the entire trip. The first time I did it we had clothes stored in the compartments under the bed and it was a challenge crawling under and getting them out. We just took the wardrobe out and put the 3rd captain's chair in as we will be picking up our granddaughter from camp. It took us a while to figure out how to make up the front twin bed in our 2008 Popular. I hope she sleeps well in this arrangement.

    1. If we are on a long trip - more days of clothes than the front wardrobe closet will hold - we put the second half of the trip's clothes under the bed down the aisle. Then it is only one trip under there (Meryl has getting under there pretty well down) to switch that bag with the full laundry bag and then we refill the closet.

  8. just want to mention that you have to be careful storing things under the bed to make sure you do not block the propane (or is it co 2) monitor that is under the bed in many roadtreks including my 190 popular. I would like to know if anyone has added seat belts later. I remember being told I could add two more and did not but considering now. Any suggestions. thanks.

    I am thinking of full timing and would like 210 so I can sleep crosswise instead of having whole back lost to me for bed as I also will not make it up every day for sure! Anyone know how or where to get seat belts added to 190 popular.

    One of the things I use to get things from part of back overbed cabinets that run next to air conditioner is I put stuff in plastic container there and attach a bungee cord i bring forward then easy to just pull it. Also use this for hte deep part of under bed storage from back doors.

    1. The CO detector is above the bed on the wall. The propane detector is at the corner of the front cabinet under the edge of the bed and out in the open.

      The problem with adding seatbelts is having a secure frame to attach them to. The sofa bed Roadtreks have seatbelts for the full seat. The non-sofa bed 190 has two seatbelts in the back bolted to the metal cross frame of the bed at the rear. It is intended to seat two here but the area to sit (between the side cabinets) is very small and anyone sitting there has their head right in front of the cargo door window glass.

  9. A reader posted this comment to this page but a wrong click and the comment and my response was deleted-

    When we went to set up the full size bed this time, the smaller wooden support was too wide for the opening. What happened? We will go out and take everything apart and try again. Wonder if wood swelled or is something set up wrong.

    My response: Wood can "move" - swell and shrink with temperature and humidity. My question here is was the fit very tight to start with or was there always some gap. It is possible that the board did swell but it would not swell a great deal. And the nature of how these boards are constructed there should be very, very little movement in the wood. My suggestion is to rearrange the boards and see if they fit better in a different order - including reversing boards (turning them 180 deg) for a better fit. Once you have that order established, make a small mark on each board indicating position. Also the rear table may be used to replace a board as it should fit between the two sides in the lip for the support boards for the bed.

    Apologies to the poster for the deletion - Blogspot has been acting a little off today.

  10. We have a 2008 19 Popular with the power bed. We use it as twins and I made sleeping sacks of sorts using fleece blankets lined with flanelette. Takes 15 seconds to make and the same to unmake.the beds. Since we found the bed a little hard for our liking, we put a one inch memory foam underneath the sleeping bags. When not in use the memory foam slides down behind the seat, and the sleeping sacks along with the pillows go in the cupboards directly above the beds. No mess, so when we head out , there is no sign of sleeping sacks or pillows or memory foam.

    1. With the power sofa there is not much alternative than to use either the commercial sleep sacks or make them as you did. To put sheets on the power sofa and additional cushions takes a lot more than hot it can be done without the power sofa. We travel with the bed made up all of the time and use the front to lounge at night. With Meryl's method of making the bed it is just like sleeping in a bed at home and with the quilted mattress pad that she found, there is no need for a memory foam pad. In fact at one point early on with everyone recommending memory foam mattress toppers in their Roadtreks I bought one - fit it temporarily in, laid down and found I suddenly was closer to the ceiling than I really liked plus I did not like sinking into the foam and we returned it. We find the Roadtrek cushions made up as we do extremely comfortable. With our security curtains that we close when we leave the Roadtrek, no one can see anything inside.

  11. Thank you for such a helpful blog! As a newbie with a 2008 Roadtrek 210 Popular, I'm reading all of your posts. :)

  12. Dave here. My wife likes to have the table set up each morning, so I have to make and unmake the bed each day. We have a 2003 Roadtrek Popular, so it has. King-size bed.For this model, I completely took out the drawer set and kept the board that has the hinge - but I removed the hinge. This description only makes sense if your Roadtrek still has the drawers at the back. In any case, on to making the bed. We roll up our bedding so that it is conveniently stored along the back door behind the table. I take the table down and slide the unhinged board and table top to form the middle part of the bed base. Arrange the cushions to make the bed mattress. (Not easy, but doesn’t take long) Unroll the bedding. Toss pillows in place and bed is ready. In the morning, roll up the bedding, rearrange the cushions and make up the table.

    1. Dave - does your 2003 Popular not have a front table? Seems that you could leave the bed made up and put up the front table before going to bed and set it then for the morning. There are also portable tripod stands for the RV table that would let you set your table up in the front for the next morning if you don't have a front table. At some point in the non-power bed configuration Roadtrek deleted the drawers in the back and and the hinged board. All the boards are loose and store under the cushions when the bed is not made.

    2. I had each cushion covered in flannel sheets duplicating bottom sheet concept (with elastic) for each cushion--took 2 king sized flannel sheets and a seamstress. We can now just arrange cushions and cover up with a quilt. No making the bed each night. I then make up the dinette (installing table) and cover the cushions up with denim material. We do this to protect the sheets. Not super inexpensive but super easy to solve the Roadtrek dinette vs full time bed issue. The denim cover protects our sheets against dust and our dog.