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All Things RV,  Newbies,  Preparing to RV

Purging for Full Time RVing: Tips to Purging Stress Free

For anyone planning to RV full-time purging can seem an impossible task. Before hitting the road decisions must be about every single item you own. It is incredible how much stuff we accumulate during our lives. Once you decide to sell it all for full time RV life, it is hard to know where to begin. Here are some practical tips that will help you purge without feeling overwhelmed.

Stop Buying

Stop buying

It may sound simple, but it can be challenging to completely change your thought processes when it comes buying to stuff. Before you purchase anything, ask yourself this simple question: Will I move it into the RV? If the answer is no, then put it back on the shelf. In the long run, it will mean less purging before moving into the RV.

Start Early

The minute you decide to go full time start purging! Yes, even if it is two years out. Start today. The beauty of purging as soon as possible is you can take your time. Schedule one or two locations a week to tackle like the hall closet or your dresser drawers. The early purges should not be stressful. If you are unsure, keep it. Plan to repeat locations multiple times. Each time you purge an area, it will get easier to let things go.

Donate unwanted items.

Donate, Sell, Give Away

Create boxes for each of these categories and put them in a convenient location. Anytime you find an item that you are ready to let go, place it in the appropriate box.

Things You Forgot About

As you are digging through closets and drawers, you will find items you forgot you owned. These can be the easiest to purge because usually, they will have the least amount of emotional attachment. When you find a box that has been sitting in the back of the closet since you moved into your house (yes, this happened to me), donate it!

It Doesn’t Fit

Purge clothes that do not fit

Make this a quick run-through of your closet and drawers. If you are unsure, leave it for later. Anything you have packed away because it might fit one day pack up and donate. Once you move into the RV there won’t be enough room for several sizes!

Broken Items

If you have a stash of broken items you have meant to have repaired, now is the time to toss them. We all have these tucked into a closet or out in the garage. Don’t feel guilty about how much you spent on them. Just get rid of them. Put them in the trash or drop them off at a location that can use them for parts.

Multiples

If you have a collection or stash of multiples, it is time to downsize your collection. Gather them all together and donate or toss all but the favorite. For me, it was pens and scissors. I don’t know why nurses think they need 100s of pens. I had a gallon size bag of them.

Hang Clothes Backwards

Hang clothes hangers backwards to see what you are wear most.
Hang Clothes Backwards

Someone said that we wear 20% of our clothing 80% of the time. I don’t know how true this is, but I can assure you we did not wear most of our clothes! Although, before flipped our hangers, Phil swore, he wore all 100+ of his t-shirts! After you wear your clothes, hang them back in your closet with the hanger the correct way. After 3-6 months, you will see what you wear and what you can quickly purge.

Closets

Go through your closets, attic, garage or any other storage area. Purge anything you have not used in the past year.

Kitchen

The kitchen can be another challenging room to purge. All of those cool devices you thought you couldn’t live without, what do you do with them? How many can go with you? There is an easy way to figure out what items you use the most. Take all the implements from your commonly used drawer and place them in the drawer that is never used. Once you use an item place it back into the commonly used drawer. Purge anything that remains in the rarely used drawer after a month or so.

Cost

Purge even if it was expensive.

Don’t decide if you should purge an item based on what you paid for it. If an expensive item is sitting in a closet or drawer and not being used, then you are not getting your money for it anyway. So it is time just to let it go. You could try to sell it or give it to a friend who could put it to use.

Joy

Purge if it doesnt bring your joy
Check out this book for help purging. The electronic version of course! 🙂

If I had a hard time deciding on an item I asked myself does it bring me joy? You know those items that are sentimental, and you have been told to keep them forever. Yearbooks were our biggest item that was in this category. I had every single school yearbook back to kindergarten along with Phil’s yearbooks and our West Pac Cruise books from the Navy. We decided the yearbooks did not bring us joy. The only time we looked at them was when we packed them for our next Navy move. So we decided to recycle them. What you do with these types of items will be a personal decision. There is not a right or wrong here. Do what works best for you. Put them in storage, give them to family members, or toss them.

If you need more help with the Joy concept check out this book. It will get you motivated to toss everything that is not useful or important to you!

It Goes

If it is cracked, chipped, stained, or broken, toss it! You won’t have room for anything in the RV that will not be used.

Touch Once

Once you make a decision about an item and it goes into the trash, give away or donate box do not take it out. We call this the touch once rule.

Photos

Scan photographs

If you are anything like us, you will have a stack of photos sitting in boxes in a closet. What do you do with them? You can scan them and put them on the cloud or drives to preserve your memories. You could also scan them and create photo books with different online companies.

Decide Quickly

Decide if an item goes or stays quickly. If you are debating, keep it for now. This takes the stress and emotion away from the decision process. Each time you purge an area, you will be able to let more items go. Starting the purge process as early as possible will allow plenty of time to use this tip.

Sell

Sell it all

Sell your large items on Facebook market place or apps like Let It Go. You will get more money for them online than at a garage sale. Money that you can use to purchase those much-needed RV accessories!

Gifts

Don’t be afraid to purge an item just because it was given to you by someone you love. People love who love you give you things to make you happy, not to burden you with the weight of the item. Don’t let guilt force you to keep items that you will need to pay monthly to store for later. Do you remember every gift you have given to people over the years? They probably don’t remember either.

Curb It

In most areas, you can put items on your curb with a Free Take Me sign, and when you come home from work, your curb will be empty. It is an easy way to get rid of your stuff and allow others to put it to good use.

Garage sale
We had two garage sells while we were purging. We had a box of free items on the curb at each of them. The box was emptied out quickly!

CDs and DVDs

These items take up valuable space in your RV. With all the ways to stream movies and music, you don’t need to carry these items with you. I allowed the kids to choose which DVDs they wanted and donated the rest. I have purchased several movies on iTunes that are not available on platforms such as Netflix. Whenever I want to watch them, they are always available.

Books

Purge books for electronic versions

Books take up a lot of space in the RV. They can also add a lot of weight. Unless your book is very special to you, such as my Dad’s Bible, donate it to a library, school, or thrift store. Switching to digital editions will take up less space, weigh less, and save a few trees!

Electronics

This is another category that is difficult to purge. We spend so much money on our electronics and a year later a new version comes out making our item worthless. When purging electronics don’t focus on what you paid for it. Find out what your item is selling for online to get an idea of its current value. Don’t forget to wipe your devices of any personal information before purging them.

Purge old electronics

Throwing your electronics in the trash may not be an option. Many electronics contain chemicals harmful to the environment and states have laws against throwing them into landfills. Look for recycling centers such as Best Buy that will take your electronics for free.

Estate Sale

If you want to sell a lot of items with less hassle think about an estate sale. I know several people including our friends from Our Epic Field Trip who had very good experiences with estate sales.

Gift Experiences

After all your hard work you may look at stuff differently and your buying habits may change. We stopped buying stuff for our kids after our purge and now purchase experiences. They have received gifts much more valuable and longer-lasting than many of our previous gifts. Some of our gifted items include: season passes to Six Flags, car repairs, cell phone payments, Groupon gift cards, and gas cards. Think outside the box store. What experience could you gift someone you love? Share some ideas in the comments of experiences you have gifted.

Warning

I have to warn you purging can become addicting. Once I got started, I couldn’t stop. Every time an item left the house, I felt lighter! I knew we were one step closer to our goal, and it was exciting.

Good luck as you start purging for full time RVing! You can do this! When purging gets hard, decide what you want more your stuff or a life of adventure.

Author Stacy, You, Me & the RV, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, 2019

19 Comments

  • Avatar

    Dan Q.

    Hello Stacy, & Phil. I’m new to your site so I don’t know about Phil’s surgery but my thoughts and prayers go out to both of you.

    As a single 54 y/o guy with many thousands of RVing miles traveled in everything from a 40 footer, to my latest camper, a 16’ travel trailer. Big enough for me n my pup. It’s fully stocked with everything I’d need for full-timing. Right now, I’m in a furnished rental after purging from a big house. I’m literally down to 21 plastic tubs. Now it’s time to purge some more and make the move. 😳 I’ll stand by, gather encouragement, read your blog, and ponder “Make Today Your Someday”.

    Thank you.
    Dan

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    brian

    Our purge is in full swing. Model trains are my achilles heel for purging. Seems like I have fits a stgarts doing it. Purging is an exercise in switching from being burned out by the stress and recouping the energy to go at it again. Sounds like the definition of insanity.

  • Avatar

    LuAnne

    I’m sitting here in an empty living room knowing we are going to start a whole new adventure. The house is closing Monday. The travel trailer is too full, but I’m purging more this weekend. Excited and a little scared.

    • Avatar

      Youmerv

      That is very exciting!! I am so happy for you. It can be very scary to walk away from everything and jump into something new. I wish you the best and hope you love it as I do.

    • Avatar

      Tony -N-Traciann

      Well, we started to down size our house 2 years ago. We also started slowly getting rid of stuff the last 2 years and now I think my wife is addicted to it. I have told people that I have my underwear drawer locked, because I think if she could get $10 for them she would sell them. It has been amazing how much money we have made on things I thought a seagull would not want, but ONE PERSON JUNK IS ANOTHER PERSONS TREASURE. I was reading about your post on pictures. Here is what my wife did. We bought a small Epson scanner and scanned every picture that we wanted to keep into a portable hard drive. It worked great, so out to the dump with the hard copies. Look for to chatting.

      Tony-n-Traciann

      • Avatar

        Karen Wood

        Almost done purging! House closes in 5 weeks if all goes as planned! Waiting to the very end so my kids can get uhauls and take what they’ve claimed. Boxes in this corner for kid #1, another corner for kid #2 and a third corner for kid #3, bags in the spare room for good will, piles in the garage for trash and piles in the craft/sewing room going in the rig “Margie”. She’s a new to us 2016 Bounder 35k which will be our home soon. I’m so freakin’ excited/terrified!
        We love your videos- you’ve inspired us to get ‘on the road’ and hope we’ll see you out there soon!

  • Avatar

    Beth Barton

    We have been purging our old house over the past year & are convinced we were hoarders. LOL. Facebook Marketplace has been VERY good for us. We look at everything & ask ourselves if this brings joy & is it worth paying five years of storage fees to keep. VERY little is being kept. And my old house is feeling & looking so open! We have maybe two more months of purging before the house hits the market. Once it sells, we will move our “keep” stuff to storage & have an estate sale to get rid of the furniture needed for staging. It’s unbelievably freeing.

  • Avatar

    Shelley

    This is great advice Stacy. While I was reading this article I said to myself “we did this, we did that”. Thanks for putting it into words I’ll share on my Facebook for those that follow us on our Facebook page

  • Avatar

    Brenda McDonough

    I have already big purged my clothes i had a full walk in closet i hot in one time and fit in a 32 inch suit case 2 skirts 2 dresses 4 Jean’s and shorts I do have about 15 books but you can not get them electronic I have computer tablet flip cell that is my phone i have another smart phone to read on if out take pictures and video i am looking my DVD’s on line as i do i donate every thing is tagged that will leave as t love seat fabrics sewing machine but I quilt so will stay till there made if not I have 1 month if there not there gone to my only thing i am on edge about is my baby dolls there real burns and reborn there about 2,000 for one and was 8,000 for the other one was free but I had 20 I am down to 3 I have all my cast iron I use I have mothi g else I cook with I also open fire cook. I do have a few book on decluttering even this book

  • Avatar

    Brenda McDonough

    I have already big purged my clothes i had a full walk in closet i hot in one time and fit in a 32 inch suit case 2 skirts 2 dresses 4 Jean’s and shorts I do have about 15 books but you can not get them electronic I have computer tablet flip cell that is my phone i have another smart phone to read on if out take pictures and video i am looking my DVD’s on line as i do i donate

  • Avatar

    Bonnie Coakley

    We are purging right bows. Hubby and I were watching (as we do) your YouTube channel one time while we were purging, Phil looked in the camera and said start purging. We both cracked up and said, hey he can see us!

  • Avatar

    Robert Konigsberg

    Wow that is one heck of a garage sale!
    All good points and we are in the process now. Much harder to do when living abroad. But this week we unloaded our Jeep, some electronics and two folding tables.
    Lots of showings over the last couple of weeks so fingers are crossed again.
    Bob K

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