Taking a Big Trip in a Small Trailer

As I pack for a big trip in our small trailer, I feel like I’m playing a game of Tetris. Let’s see, if I put this in the corner, can I add more to this cabinet? If I twist this over there, can something else slide into that space? By the time we head out, our camper is packed as tightly as a can of biscuits.

Squeezing a family of four into 150 square feet of living space for a long journey isn’t easy. Despite these spatial challenges, our family loves going on big road trips. With some trial and error, we have figured out how to make our trailer fit our needs, making it possible to travel for three to four weeks at a time.

If your family has primarily used your RV for weekend trips but is thinking about going farther, here are some tips for taking a big trip in a small trailer:

Stay Out of the RV as Much as Possible

On a big trip, primarily think of your RV as a place to sleep. Plan to spend most of each day exploring destinations instead of hanging out in the RV. Once you’re back in the campground each evening, treat the outdoors as an extension of your living space and sit outside on the patio rather than crowding into a small space.

In fact, you can treat the whole RV park as your extended living room. Hang out at the pool or playground with the kids, or take a walk around the campground. You may find a game room or camp store to explore. Consider heading to a nearby town to relax at a coffee shop or restaurant.

Pack light

Heading out for a big trip often involves packing a mountain of stuff into your small space. Minimizing the amount of items you have in your RV will maximize how roomy it feels. You’ll have to make some tough choices about what stays and what goes. Over the years, we’ve started questioning whether each item will be used enough to justify the space it takes up. Also, develop an organizational system so everything has a place in the RV. In our small trailer, each cabinet has a different purpose. We know we have limited room, so we only take the items that will cleanly fit in the storage bin in each cabinet.

Give each other space

Taking a road trip means you’ll have plenty of family time, so it is okay to take a break from each other when needed. One parent might take the kids to the pool, while the other enjoys some quiet time in the camper. This is especially necessary if anyone is working from the road. A little separation may help you recharge your batteries. You might even find your quiet space while completing a useful task. I enjoy taking a book to the laundry room, where I can relax while I work.

Be Flexible

A small trailer is not optimal living space for a full family for an extended trip, so you’ll have to go into it with an open mind and a willingness to put up with some inconveniences. If our whole family tries to get ready at the same time in the morning, we end up stepping on each other’s toes. We have learned that we have to take turns. You might also realize that a small trailer often has an even smaller cooking space. This was a source of stress for me while prepping meals, causing me to get annoyed. We often ban our kids from the trailer while we are prepping food. Over the course of a long trip, pay attention to the trouble spots and develop new routines.

Keeping these tips in mind will help your family have a wonderful big trip even if you have a small trailer.


Happy travels,


Kerri Cox enjoys traveling near and far with her family and travel trailer. She blogs about her adventures at travelswithbirdy.com


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  1. Anonymous

    Good advice! We have had many extended trips (including 9 weeks in an English caravan) with our kids when they were little, now a class B has all of the room just the two of us need. We have been living this advice for the past 32 years. Really the only time we felt REALLY cramped was in an 8′ popup in Disney World (no ac in popups backs then) and a tropical storm blew through, couldn’t go out, couldn’t open the windows (rain was pouring down). That was a bad experience. Good luck on your travels, enjoy hearing your blogs and appearance on RVFTA.