10 Tips for Living in a Rialta
Now that we’ve lived in this sucker for close to two years, we know our Rialta pretty well. And like any new relationship, some of the things you thought you were going to like end up being less important, while some other things you love just as much as you thought you would. Then there are a few surprises that you never saw coming. Here’s 10 things that I totally would recommend and absolutely love:
1. The curtain behind the captain’s chairs. This is so huge. I realize more than ever how critical this is. We use it constantly just to have a little privacy without going to the trouble to put a curtain all the way around the windshield. We regularly leave it up even when driving, which means the girls can be back there sleeping or even using the bathroom (mostly they’re buckled up, but hey, stuff happens). And it can go up or down in literally one second. It usually hangs to one side, and to put it up we just snap up the other side. Bam! Done.
2. Anything by Icebreaker. We love Icebreaker merino wool products. We have underwear, T-shirts, pants, socks, jackets, sweaters….you name it. The quality is quite good, (I *HATE* spending money on clothes only to have the buttons pop off or the stitching come apart and with Icebreaker this is almost never a problem, but if it is, you just take it back or send it back and they’ll replace it – no questions asked!), it looks great, they don’t hold odors (important if you have less-frequent opportunity for laundry), the colors hold up well, and if it gets damp it dries astonishingly quickly (super important if you live in an RV during the winter months in the Pacific Northwest!). We have learned a few tricks though. First off, don’t pay full price for this stuff (it’s ridiculously expensive). Like any place, they regularly have clearance sales where you can get things at a fraction of the full price. Also, buying out of season can save mad cash! The other thing is, buy darker colors. I have a dark gray sweater that I wear constantly and it looks about as good as the day I got it. Carissa got a similar sweater on sale but it was off white. Hers has held up OK, but it looks dingy and old. Our girls got hoodies (normally $129 on sale off season for $20) in dark purple that they wear almost daily and frequently to sleep in, and they still look great. Finally, DO NOT DRY THIS STUFF in a dryer. I probably don’t need to elaborate on that.
3. Wood Floors. You can read here about how we installed high quality maple flooring in our RV. We absolutely cannot imagine living in here on carpet. Especially during the rainy season. Wood floors look great, and even if we track in mud or dirt, they clean up easily and look as good as new. Living in such a tiny space, it’s important to feel like it’s nice, and the wood floors is the one thing we’ve done more than anything else that makes the whole space feel nice.
4. $1 Clip Lamp from the Dollar Store. Last Christmas my niece Zoe gave one of these to Trinity for a gift and we literally used it til it fell apart. It costs $1, uses no electricity from our precious batteries, and puts off a perfect light for making beds or getting dressed when you’re trying not to A) Wake up the family or B) Let the neighborhood know a family is knocking around in that RV that just parked in front of their house. Once we destroyed that one Carissa found more of them at the Dollar Store. Score!
5. Verizon Wireless Hotspot. Most smartphones these days have the option of a hotspot, which amazingly turns your phone into a WiFi router, meaning you can then use the signal to power your computer or iPad. This absolutely revolutionized our life. Verizon’s plan doesn’t have an additional charge, you just have to select a data plan that is sufficient for your needs. I love this because it isn’t a one-size-fits-all which for us means we’re probably paying for something we don’t use. And if our usage goes up, we just adjust our plan for that month. Signals and speeds are usually excellent. I love 2014!
6. North Face Dolomite Sleeping Bags. We all sleep really great in the Rialta. The beds are nice and firm, which gives us a good nights rest, and it’s plenty of space for us. The only drag is that we have to completely put away all bedding every morning and pull it out every night. To help make this more efficient we each have a North Face Dolomite 20 degree Sleeping Bag (the kids have the youth version, which in itself is very cool since they come in fun colors!). These are rectangular shaped, which means you can use them as blankets, zip them together and have a double sleeping bag, or just sleep in them like regular bags, which is better for cold nights when you don’t want to run the heater all night. To this day, these are still the bags we’d get tomorrow if we had to do it again.
7. Our Skylight (Where the A/C used to be). Since we’re constantly stealth-camping we frequently have the blinds down. But even when none of the side windows are open, we still have a 14″ X 14″ connection to the outside through the hole in our roof. Usually this means we are looking at trees, but sometimes the sky or buildings or whatever else is up there. But it always means that we feel less enclosed, and has the added bonus of letting in lots of light right over our living and eating area, which means we use less electricity.
8. Turn the TV shroud into a bookshelf. Here’s another “duh” thing that took me a minute to figure out, then totally changed my life. We ripped the old TV out and it left this gaping hole. At first we removed the shroud and just covered the hole with some material. But eventually I figured out I could put the shroud back without the TV and it makes a perfect bookshelf. And a bonus? I dug out the cable that used to feed the TV audio into the surround system and discovered it’s a standard 1/8″ jack which means you can plug your smartphone (or other audio device) in there and stream your music right in!
9. IKEA Saucepan. We picked up a stainless steel saucepan from IKEA that was cheap and AWESOME. It is perfect for lots of things, but most significantly it has pouring spouts on each side so you can pour soup into thermoses or hot water for pour over coffee. Love. It.
10. And speaking of coffee…. You gotta have good coffee, people! For me that means Chemex or Beehouse pourovers, and of course my Camano Coffee Mill for hand grinding coffee. I would be dead without these items. I make amazing coffee and use zero electricity to do it. It’s a little extra work, but like most things that require extra work, it feels a little extra good when it’s done.
And that’s a quick overview of some of my favorite things. If you have learned a few things about life in an RV I hope you’ll share them in the comments, and as always, thanks for reading!