Saturday, January 5, 2019

Keeping Organized in a Tiny Trailer

Cooking while camping with a tiny trailer requires organization.

When fall weather advances toward winter, I find more occasion to do camp chores inside my tiny trailer. Not all, though, because I'm also finding that my tolerance to cold weather is greater than I had assumed (especially if I dress for the cold!) Whether inside or out, what I have found is that the colder weather has focused my mind to act in a manner that keeps the camp organized.

Here are some basic operational concepts that, when put into action, have helped me keep the chaos at bay while tiny trailer camping.
  1. Multiple uses My wife articulated this one, and I think it's fundamental common sense. The best means to utilized space well is to have less stuff. Therefore, if you can find a way to use one pillow or pot three ways, that's much more efficient use of space than bringing three pots or pillows. I'm not advocating, of course, hitting the road with only one pot and pillow, but perhaps it isn't necessary to have eight pots and pillows!
  2. Research thoroughly I try my best to research well and still find myself buying something and then discovering a different size or brand would have been better. It's part of the process, I guess. I'll provide two examples from our personal experience, one positive and one negative. The positive is choosing a heating source for the trailer for cold weather. I researched online but finally decided to try what we already had at home. My first heater was a small electric heater, which I found to be really noisy. The second choice was an oil heater, which we have found to be quiet and efficient. The heater also has three output settings, so we can choose to use the lower two (and mostly the lowest) to keep our wattage pull as low as possible. The negative example of research is our purchase of an ice cooler. Having researched, we decided to go with the Yeti brand, a 70-quart size. We have nothing negative to say about the ability of the Yeti to keep things cool; however, it is too heavy. My wife and I can manage it together, but she feels it would be more practicable to have two smaller coolers. I agree, especially when I am camping alone. I suppose a variation of the old carpenter's saying applies: Measure twice, cut once. Research thoroughly, buy once. I think this will be difficult to always be successful at, but it's a good idea to remember when standing in Cabela's and ogling all the equipment.
  3. A place for everything; everything in it's place We've found this to be true because every day we convert our bed into a table so my wife can have her mobile office. I've also found putting things away to be crucial in the cold and wet weather when I began cooking more inside. As an example, the other day I baked vegetables and feta cheese inside in the toaster oven. The process that worked best went something like this: Cut one vegetable and put it in the mixing bowl. Cut the second vegetable and put any extra away (and so forth). Mix the vegetables with Herbs de Provence and oil (having a paper towel on hand). Place vegetables in baking dish. Clean hands and take dirty dishes outside. Prepare feta and place in small dish for adding to veggies later. Clean the trailer and then get out the toaster oven. Bake. There just isn't room to leave vegetables and used dishes around inside the trailer, or to get the oven out early. Taking it once step at a time worked well, even though it took a little longer.
  4. Establish a camp routine This last point is more general but still applicable. Having good camp habits cuts down on the chaos. One day while cooking lunch outside, the wind was fiercely blowing. I had left the lid to the grocery box loose, and the wind swept it into a poison ivy patch. Putting unused items away and securing loose equipment is essential to maintaining camp order--at least for me.
When cooking inside a tiny camp trailer or teardrop, complete one stage and then put those materials away before beginning the next step.
It takes time to establish a routine that works. It's a process, and we should make sure we enjoy the process. Nobody's paying us to camp; it's not our job, for crying out loud. Establish what's good for you, whether that you is singular or plural. Having a camp routine that utilizes the best equipment for you, and having efficient storage organization is really helpful, I think. Having said that, someone else could camp using methods the opposite as mine as still be happy as a clam. My most important rule is to be at peace with myself and my camping partner--and, if possible, to stay out of the poison ivy!

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  1. Get a cart for your Yeti. It will make your live SO much easier.

    1. Sherry, this is a very helpful response. Thank you. I would still have concerns about lifting the Yeti into the back of the SUV with the wheels on. How easy is it to remove the wheels?