While ads and articles are full of “must haves” lists of gadgets, gizmos and accessories for your RV, you probably already have everything you need for storing, decorating, cooking, and happy camping right at your fingertips. Find RV treasure by repurposing, reusing, and recycling old stuff you have at home to save money – and spare the environment.
The Upcycle Kitchen
Before outfitting your RV kitchen with fancy new cookware, shop in your own kitchen. Whether you’re in an all-season destination trailer or a pop-up without an outdoor grill, your kitchen is a storehouse of camping treasure.
When it’s hot, go beyond microwaved meals to keep things cool and cook outdoors – without a fire. Before you consign that toaster oven to the next yard sale, consider it as your new camping best friend. In sizes big and small, toaster ovens can be a lifesaver – turning out toasty treats, crispy snacks and hot dinners without heating up the camper, smoking up the site and making a big mess.
Before buying any new pots and pans for your camper, pull out your old cast iron pans. Cast iron cookware is an ideal choice for RVers; it works inside the residential-style kitchens of big RVs, on a camp stove, and is perfect for searing the day’s catch over an open fire.
It’s tempting to rely on the quick-cleanup of disposable knives and forks during an RV trip, but it’s wasteful, costly, and doesn’t do the environment any favors. Before you ditch those mix-matched bits of flatware in your home kitchen, pull them together for your camper. Thrift store finds can round out your flatware set for pennies, and you’ll be able to set a funky-mismatched table with real flatware that holds up to grilled steaks and hearty bowls of stew fresh from your cast iron Dutch oven.
Avoid paper plates by re-0purposing that old set of unbreakable dishes that were headed to the donation box. Old-timey melamine and tempered glass dishes are cost effective, durable and withstand the rigors of outdoor life, as well as being easy on the environment.
Trash is truly treasure when it comes to meal prep in your RV. Upcycle used containers, jars and dispensers and you’ll never need to spend money on fancy RV “storage systems.”
Hold on to those empty Tic-Tac containers; the space-saving containers are perfect for storing and dispensing herbs and spices on for your next adventure.
Crystal Light fans can hang onto those frosted plastic containers; they’ll keep napkins orderly and safe from the wind as you’re traveling or eating outdoors. Keep your disposable wipe containers; they’ll make a trip-worthy dispenser for plastic grocery bags. Coffee cream dispensers are perfect for small grains and rice.
Mason jars are fancy, but well-cleaned and sanitized used pasta sauce jars are cheaper and do the same work. Premeasure ingredients into the jars to be combined, shaken, stirred and prepped at a moment’s notice.
Turn plastic coffee containers into airtight canisters for your dry goods. A coat of spray paint, washi tape, decals, or chalkboard labels will turn trash into stylish and functional treasure.
Hold on to those cardboard egg cartons; candle stubs and dryer lint; they’ll be next trip’s fire starters. Pack each pocket of the egg carton with lint; melt the candle stubs and pour over the top. When it solidifies, pull the 12 fire starters apart. Get your fire starter going by lighting the corner of carton.
When it’s time for fun around the campfire, don’t waste money on expensive hotdog and marshmallow roasting kits when wire coat hangers are clanging around in the closet. With a few snips (to get off the parts that will never straighten out) and bends, you have a reusable roasting stick. Put a small bend on one end to keep your dogs or marshmallows from sliding off and use a panhandle holder or old potholder stitched in half to form a heat-safe handle.
Give old twin sheets new life and keep the campground picnic table under cover. Repurpose a twin fitted sheet into a table cloth that will stay put even on the windiest of days. When there’s a big mess, it rinses out quickly and will dry while you’re out adventuring.
Tired of staggering around a dark RV site in the dark? Upcycle terra cotta pots and dollar store solar lights. Invert the pot, enlarge the drainage hole for the light and use it as the base for a stable and cute pathway light.
If you’re tired of hunting around the site for outdoor cooking tools, keep them hanging around by upcycling a garden trellis with a fresh coat of rust-proof paint and a set of S hooks.
Keep the rest of your outdoor supplies organized and easy-to-get to with an upcycled three drawer storage tub that can do double duty as coffee table and light stand. Spray paint formulated for plastics can give a blah plastic storage container an entirely upscale look.
Decorating and Cleaning
When you’re tired of the factory RV look, add a touch of upcycle pizazz for just pennies.
Make meals a moveable feast when you dine on great memories by upcycling old tourist maps and tired placemats into colorful map placemats that memorialize some of your great travel memories. Trim, glue, Mod-Podge and varnish your way to a fresh new look.
Give tired baskets a new life and your RV a new look by upcycling the baskets into hanging storage for lightweight items. Use command strips to hang the baskets for bathroom hand towel or tissue storage.
Transform cereal boxes with scissors and contact paper into upcycled magazine and map holders that keep your RV organized while adding a dash of color.
Even if your kids have outgrown their toy broom and dustpan, don’t toss them out; take them on the road. The downsized tools are perfect to reach into the tight corners and nooks and crannies of your RV, where full-sized brooms and mops won’t fit.
Finding a space to spread dish towels, socks and other small items out to dry is always a challenge in an RV, and without a clothesline, the campsite can be overrun with laundry. Create a space-saving drying rack by salvaging a broken umbrella. Carefully remove the fabric from the frame. Hang upside down in your RV or outside for an old school clothes dryer that folds up to nothing when it’s not in use.