The Lord recently provided the funds needed to purchase a travel trailer for our deputation ministry. Once the pandemic is behind us, we’re looking forward to hitting the road in it.
Since we didn’t have any experience, we decided to do a trial run. We stayed for three days (and nights) while set up in the driveway.
It was definitely a great learning opportunity. We learned so many practical things that will help us once we hit the road. Here are ten of those lessons.
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1. We Use So Much Water
We’re a family of 11, and the grey water tank in our trailer holds just 30 gallons. That’s less than three gallons a person.
Prior to our trial, I didn’t realize just how quickly we used water. Then our grey water tank got full after only one day.
So, after emptying it and refilling the fresh water tank, we made it a point to conserve water. That helped.
Here are some specific ways we cut down our water consumption:
- Changed how we washed dishes to minimize the water use
- Reuse water when bathing the younger kids by starting with the cleanest one and working out way through the most dirty
- Using bottled water for cooking and drinking
- Using paper plates
- Cooking pasta in the Instant Pot since it uses much less water than boiling it on the stove
We’ll keep experimenting with water consumption the next time we do a trial run!
2. We Need to Focus on Storage
We definitely need to purchase some storage containers to help keep things organized. A lot of the cupboards have vertical space, and we didn’t use it very well.
The current couch also doesn’t have storage underneath. It’s a Hide-a-Bed style so the mattress takes up all the room under there.
We’ve been watching several organizational videos on YouTube, and have learned so much. We’re planning on getting some of these over-the-door shoe organizers. We won’t use them for shoes, but they’ll be handy for all sorts of odds-and-ends. We’ll also buy some plastic shoe boxes that stack, and use those in the cupboards.
We’re also on the Command strip bandwagon, and purchased a few packs. They’ll work well for hanging coats and towels.
We decided to to take out the couch and do a custom build. I can’t wait to share more details with you in the coming weeks!
3. The Slide Out Is Such a Blessing
When you walk into our trailer with the slide in, there’s not much room. But, as soon as we put the slide out, it is a completely different space. It’s one of the super slide styles, and not a tiny one, so it really opens things up. When the 11 of us are in there with the slide open, we all fit nicely.
The kids really enjoy watching the slide go in and out. They’re always amazed at how it changes the inside of the trailer.
4. Our Meal Plan Needed Some Changes
Once a year, in July, we make an annual meal plan. The kids help pick the menu, and we stick with it for the year.
We quickly realized that many of our meals weren’t going to work in the limited kitchen in the travel trailer. For instance, we had breakfast pizza on the plan for Thursday mornings. But, in the trailer we can only cook one smaller sized pizza at a time. That really makes breakfast pizza an impractical menu item.
Pizza for lunch also isn’t going to work – which is what was on the current plan for Fridays. There were a few other tweaks we needed to make.
Here’s a quick overview of the changes we made:
Loaded scrambled eggs instead of quiche
Mac n’ cheese instead of homemade soft pretzels
Oatmeal instead of breakfast pizza.
Hot dogs instead of pizza
Everything else should stay the same, at least until July when we change it all up again. We decided to keep these changes all the time, instead of trying to switch back and forth between trailer menu and home menu.
5. Homeschool Supplies Take Up a Lot of Space
Since we homeschool our kids, we need to continue doing so on the road. Which means our homeschool supplies need to come along. Currently, we use a lot of book based curricula. We quickly learned that these books and supplies take up a lot of valuable space in the trailer.
So we’ve been trying some new online options to try to consolidate. My second grader is trying out Time4Learning, and I see some definite potential there. (I’ll be doing a review on this soon!)
And honestly, we learned it wasn’t just homeschool supplies that take up space. Everything does. And with space so limited on board, we need to seriously evaluate every item that makes it into the trailer. It will certainly take some creativity and planning to make it work.
How We’re Using This Quarantine to Prepare
While the pandemic has shut down much of the nation, we find ourselves with a little extra downtime. We’ve lost a couple of scheduled meetings, but we know the Lord isn’t surprised by any of this. And we know that we can keep trusting Him.
So, we’re trying to use this time to get our travel trailer set up. We want to spend several more days out there and make sure we really do more troubleshooting. It’s a blessing to have hook-ups at the house, so we can have everything we need to do trial runs while still abiding by the stay-at-home order.
Here are a few things we’re doing over the next couple of weeks:
- Taking out the current dinette (we already removed the couch)
- Doing a custom build in this slide space – with a twin bed that’s used as a couch during the day and has storage underneath, and a different table with more storage
- Ordering Command hooks and storage containers
- Making lists for packing
- Continuing to adjust to cooking in a much smaller kitchen, on a gas stove
It’s such a blessing to have a few extra weeks to prepare. We are very thankful for this time, even though it’s not how we originally planned to spend our April.
Travel Trailer Tips?
Do you have any travel trailer tips you could share? I’d love to hear from other more experienced travelers, as we’re still very new to this whole thing. Thank you!