Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Storage and How We Store Things in the Roadtrek - Part 2


We have had many readers contact us to write an article with photos of how we store things in the Roadtrek when we travel. Meryl is a master of finding a place for anything to fit - in the house, in the car, and especially in the Roadtrek. I asked Meryl to write this article. Here again is Meryl...


Next we move to the drawer.  We have assorted small items that we might need during the trip - kitchen scissors, a day of the week pill box that has OTC medications in it - aspirin, acetaminophen, etc. Not that we take them daily, but different meds are in the different days for convenience and so that we don’t need to buy bottles of each for the rare times they might be needed while we are traveling.  Hooks to go on either side of the Roadtrek and a rope to go across from them for laundry or drying towels are in here. Anything else like this is in here for easy access.

We move now to the back part of the Roadtrek.  The overhead cubby next to the kitchen holds 3 plastic boxes that stack on each other.  One box is items that we pack into our last minute bag as we go to bed the night before and get up in the morning before our trip - spare eyeglasses, prescription medications, etc.  The other 2 boxes stay in the Roadtrek and each of us has one.  This is the stuff we need to pull out at night for getting ready for bed and for getting ready in the morning.  Toothbrushes and paste, hairbrushes, combs etc.  We each put in our box what we decide we need.  I keep a spare charger for my cell phone in mine, husband (you know, "Me" in the site title) does not.  Next to these boxes in the cabinet there is a small open top plastic crate.  This holds items we might need during the evening or the morning, such as husband’s razor, that are a little too big for our individual boxes.  By having an open top crate they do not fall out when the cubby door is opened.  We also keep a lightweight tarp that comes in a case in here so we can easily throw it on the bed below so that if we need to go on the bed in our street clothes the bed is protected.  On top of all these boxes we keep a folded plastic shower curtain, which we use to cover the back of the bed if it may rain, so that when we open the back cargo door in the rain the bed will not get wet.  By keeping it on top it keeps the items below it from shifting (except when we need it on the bed of course).  We keep these items in here as it is easy to reach them from the aisle and they are near the kitchen counter, where most of them will end up.

The next cubby back on this side has odd items.  In the back area of the cubby we keep spare tee shirts to sleep in case we are cold at night.  There is a spare set of pillow cases in case they are needed.  All of these are in plastic zip bags to keep them fresh.  There is also a small plastic pail to use when we go to the shower at a campground to hold items needed for same.  In front of this, in the opening of the cubby door, I keep our spare shoes.  The spare shirts and pillow cases are out of the way, but can be relatively easily reached from the bed, which is where they would be needed.  The spare shoes are generally only used if the weather changes.  Generally we know about the change and can switch our shoes from the bed in the morning, but since they are in the door area, they can also be grabbed from the aisle in front of the bed if needed.  I have 2 plastic mattress covers on top of the shoes.  These are to cover seats if it is raining heavily and keep them dry and also helps hold the shoes in place.

In the cubby on the passenger side is all the TV related equipment as the TV is on this side.  To the rear of the cubby I have shower towels and washcloths also in zip bags.  I find this cubby is harder to reach as it is slightly higher than the ones on the opposite side as it is above the DVD player shelf.  So these items can be accessed for use, but during the night it would harder to reach stuff in here quickly than on the other side.  The pail on the other side should logically be in here, but since there is electronic equipment in the front I did not want anything which is not soft to prevent damage to the equipment.  

Now to go backwards a minute, I have under bed storage.  Since we do not have the automatic power bed/sofa we have extra storage.  We have a bench seat along each side of the Roadtrek, with an area filled in between them across the aisle at the rear of the Roadtrek.  Under the seat area on the driver’s side, next to the section with the water heater, etc. we have a cubby.  This serves different purposes depending on the trip.  Often it travels empty.  If we have the bed broken down while going for service, etc. it holds laptops and such.  If we are on a long trip it holds a laundry bag with an additional week’s clothing and after switching, the laundry bag with the dirty clothing.  A matching cubby on the opposite side already has items, such as the jack, in it and I keep a handheld vacuum in here.   Note that these 2 cubbies are where one would put one’s feet if one has one seat across the back that opens to a bed automatically.  In the cubby which sits opposite the water heater section there is the indoor water tank along the inside of the outside wall.  I keep a spare box of tissues, roll of paper towels and toilet paper in here between the water tank and the door to this cubby.  I basically keep items in these cubbies which are not needed on a constant basis.  I am the only one who can access these items when the bed is set up and anything in the center storage section (next paragraph) has to be pulled out to get to them. There is a cubby door to the area under the area filled in between the 2 bench seats at the back of the Roadtrek, but we have this area filled from the back and I don’t use this area for anything we need from inside.

When the bed is made up into a king bed (as opposed to making up the bed area as 2 twin beds) the area between the bench seats under the bed makes another storage area.  We have a 2 section holder that we bought at Harbor Freight intended to be used in car trunks, which is just short of the height of this section and takes up about 80% of the space across and 80% of the space front to back. 


 I put our "last minute" bag (stuff we need at home up until we leave is all tossed in here to come out to the Roadtrek for a trip) in here, sometimes laptops, stuff we buy en route, etc.  I also use the space to the side of it for laptops and a travel printer on some trips (leaving more space inside it on those trips) and the space in front of it for my backpack if I bring it.  This space, like where food is stored, varies on each trip as to what is traveling where.  Items here are a bit large to find other places to keep it in the Roadtrek.  I use 3 of the tension curtain rods across the front of the items (which may be further in than the front of the section) to help hold the items in place.  If I need to access the cubby under the driver’s side of the bed the holder needs to come out (and I need to climb under the bed in this opening to get to the cubby to get stuff out).  If I need to access the cubby with the spare paper goods I just need to move whatever is in the front.  The holder can be folded down for storage or if we need to get something else large into this area.  On one occasion I managed to get 2 cast iron flower pot holders into this area, on a diagonal mostly under the stuff there normally, and protruding out the front of the section into the aisle.

On the bed we put the laundry bag during the day and evening.  It is moved to the third seat when we use the bed.  We also have small plastic baskets that we put eyeglasses, cell phone, etc. in at night and these are left on the bed with a few items not needed during the day.  Items left on the bed are pushed to the side and placed behind the kitchen and the toilet cabinet so they don’t fly forward in a fast stop.

There is a cabinet which hangs over the bed on the passenger side and has the TV attached to it. (Older model Roadtreks had the TV on the driver's side.)  It has 3 shelves.  The top shelf holds 2 plastic boxes, similar to those used for food (again, crumpled plastic garbage bags helps keep these in place).  One holds first aid supplies and the other sewing supplies, both for emergencies.  The rest of this shelf is DVDs that “Me” (husband) has put here.  The middle shelf has an assortment of fabric zipper bags that “Me” has put in, that hold electronic accessories, chargers, camera related items and computer related items, as well as a box of latex gloves for use in dumping or anything else messy.  On the inside cabinet wall along this shelf to there is velcro which holds the remotes to the TV and DVD player on the cabinet wall when they are not being used. These items are here as they are easy to reach and fit the space.   The bottom shelf, which is considerably larger than the others, is one of those areas which holds different items on different trips.  In it normally is an empty gallon water bottle for use when we need to fill the toilet when we want water to flush the black tank without hooking up to the city water.  There is a battery operated lantern and the rechargeable power pack for the lantern.  There is a small, Bluetooth keyboard.  On various trips it will also hold camera equipment, sweatshirts, my embroidery case, etc.  (If this section is full with something else my embroidery case will go in the same section as the towels already mentioned.)  What goes on this shelf is stuff we need to be able to access and is too large to go in the smaller sections/shelves.


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Storage and How We Store Things in the Roadtrek - Part 1

We have had many readers contact us to write an article with photos of how we store things in the Roadtrek when we travel. Meryl is a master of finding a place for anything to fit - in the house, in the car, and especially in the Roadtrek. I asked Meryl to write this article. May I introduce Meryl...

Hi.  This is Meryl.  I was asked to write about where  I store stuff in the Roadtrek and why I store stuff where I do.  Remember different Roadtreks are in different formations and yours may have different storage areas.

I have found that storage space in the Roadtrek is limited and that it is not always sized conveniently to use for what one needs to store in it.  This can result in something not fitting into a space or there being too much empty space left around the items in a storage area.  The trick is to maximize the storage space and fill in empty spaces around stuff so that the stuff does not shift around and break or make noise when one is traveling.  This often results in some odd combinations of stuff stored together and stuff not always in a place which makes sense.

I will start just behind the driver’s seat, because I have to start somewhere.  There is a closet that is designed to have about a dozen hangers in it.  We put in a set of hanging shelves that are intended for sweaters and such.  The shelving unit is about 6 shelves in length, but there is only room for four of the shelves, the bottom two are collapsed.  We each use 2 shelves.  I find that the shirts for each of us will take up a section and a spare pair of jeans and underwear and socks for each of us will take up the other 2 sections.  I can fit up to a week’s worth of clothes in these shelves by careful planning and squeezing of stuff.  We plan to replace the hanging unit with shelving which would allow us to use more of the space and fit more clothing, but have not had a chance to do so.  On the shelf in the closet above the hanging area we keep our slippers.  On top of the closet is an electric fan.

Next back is the kitchen.  We do not cook in the Roadtrek.  I, therefore, only need to have foods for snacks and occasional lunches from farmer’s markets, although I do bring a couple of cooking pots and dishes just in case.  Under the sink/stove/counter we have a small cabinet with 3 shelves.  The bottom shelf, which is the tallest, we have put a plastic drawer in.   

When we travel on longer trips I put soup cans, and such in it.  I use Snapware boxes for food storage so that it is sealed off from attracting animals and usually put a larger box (10 in x8.5 in) with saltine crackers either in the drawer (if I don’t have soup and such) or on top of the drawer as I could not figure out how to put stacks of crackers in the limited size top sections where I put food.  If we are traveling in winter without water in the tanks, I put a box on top of the drawer that we put in the sink at night so that we can wash, etc. and not have the water in the sink. The next shelf up has a large plastic box without its lid, which holds pots, paper plates and cups and other kitchen items that we do not normally use on trips. I put pot holders between the pots to keep them from banging together.  The top shelf also has a large plastic box without its lid.  I don’t keep the sink counter insert in the sink and keep it under this box.  This allows the box to slide like a drawer.  It has the more common kitchen stuff we use when traveling - cups, napkins, plates,  silverware, a plastic measuring cup that I use in the microwave for heating water.  I put paper plate between the regular plates to keep them from hitting together.  If we travel in cold weather without water I will generally switch the paper items from the lower box to the top one and the real plates and cups to the lower one as the top box is much easier to pull in and out for use.  On the sides of all three shelves I have boxes of plastic bags - mostly zip locs in different sizes.  This uses the wasted space and keeps the boxes and drawer from sliding around.  Next to the drawer on the bottom shelf I also keep a collapsible dish pan.  Crumbled shopping bags are in both boxes around items to keep them from shifting about.  In the box on the inside of the door of this cabinet is dish washing liquid, liquid hand soap and mouthwash in plastic bags.

I made a double pocket holder for the microwave to keep the plate safe - one pocket holds the plate, the other the turning piece. The pocket was made from bath towels, sized and stitched together. I keep the roll of paper towels currently in use in here as it is convenient and helps keep the microwave plate in place.  I also have a piece of swimming pool noodle which stands up and down between the plate and top of the microwave to keep the plate in place when traveling.

I have 2 thin sections at the top of the kitchen section for storage.  The lower one is shorter across, but is taller.  The top is longer across as it sits above the microwave, but is very short in height.  

 I have found that Snapware food units are very good for storing food.  I was told to make sure that food is sealed airtight so that it does not attract any sort of vermin or animals and these do a good job.  I use 4.25 in x4.25 in (1.25 cup), 4.25 in x 6 in (2 cup), and 6.25 in x8.5 in (4.5 cup), all of which are 2.25 in. high, boxes in both of these sections.  I also use taller versions - the 4.5 cup in a 4.5 in. height which is 10.8 cups, and the 2 cup in a 6.25 in height which is 7.3 cup in the lower of the two sections as these do not fit in the top section.  I use different sizes for different items, for example, tea bags go in the smallest size, snack bars go in the 4.5 cup and cereal and applesauce cups go (separately) in the 7.3 cup size.   I don’t use round boxes as they waste space.   I sometimes use both sections and sometimes use one or the other section depending on the length of the trip and the amount of food (snacks) we have brought.  Our last trip I put all the food items in the lower section.  This time we are away a couple of days less and I did not have enough of the food containers to properly fill the lower section, so I lined them up in the upper section.  They never fill this section across completely, so I stick crumpled plastic shopping bags to fill the extra space.  I have a tension curtain rod (from Walmart, they are like the tension bars sold for RV refrigerators, but cheaper and easier to deal with as they are not doubled) and I put it across the top of front of the lower section to help keep the containers in place.  I also stick crumbled up plastic shopping bags around any spaces in this section.  When we travel on longer trips I fill both sections.  Every time I use these sections the boxes fit differently as different ones are used.  When I use only one section for food the other section will be filled with whatever fits and needs to be stored - the fabric bags I use to bring the food items in and out of the Roadtrek, laundry bags (we bring our clothes into the Roadtrek in them and then use them for laundry) or even sweatshirts. I use Snapware as they have flat tops and stack well (and I bought 2 sets of them on sale at Costco).  I have similar boxes from other brands that work as well and use them in other places in the Roadtrek.  The Snapware company has recently changed them and new ones may not fit in the space the same or have the same volume.

I think that why the clothes and kitchen items are where they are is fairly obvious, so I offer no further explanation. I offer no explanation about the refrigerator for the same reason, other than to mention that I use a tension curtain rod, as previously mentioned, on the front of each of the 2 shelves in our fridge to keep items from sliding forward and out when the door is opened after driving.