The realities of living in a box

Our home for the time being is 6.25 metres long. Its still pretty surreal saying that, and im not sure ‘long’ is the best word to come after 6.25. Maybe it should be short, or even small. Well, compared to a house, any house of that matter with bricks or mortar, it’s tiny. You definitely cannot swing a cat in this house. It would get pretty hurt!

So our pictures may say wow what a life they are living, and yes the vistas and places we get to stay are pretty amazing, but the true realities of living in a small box are quite different. It’s not all glitz and glamour! Pretty much the opposite!

Here are some of our top 10 realities of living in a motorhome with your family and things to bare in mind if you are considering the move:

1. Water

Yes, that free-flowing water you get out of your tap, when you run a lovely hot bath, or simply flush the toilet, is heavily rationed in a motorhome. We have just an 80 litre tank of water on board, so long gone are the days of hot showers, slowly taking my time washing my hair, or simply washing up without concern, now we have to check the water tank to see what’s possible!

In Spain, so far we have been able to fill our tanks with water from petrol stations or on the rare overnight stay in a campsite. However, normally this is a good half-hour task as the water from petrol stations is usually from a very small and slow hose. We tend to do this every few days meaning showering isn’t as regular as we’d hoped for! You also carry all your waste water until you have to organise a proper place to dispose of it. There are plenty of carparks and free stopovers that offer these services.

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Fill up stations at Aires campsites

Another thing we have to remember to do each day is to turn the boiler on. So many times we have been left without hot water as we’d forgotten upon arriving at a new location. It then takes ages to warm up! There are certainly no showers that day!

Bad Hair Day!

We believe this to be a contributing factor to Ethan having a bad hair day, lol!

2. Moveability 

So your cooking dinner and your husband needs to use the bathroom. Ok, that already sounds pretty gross and yes, the kitchen in our motorhome is right next door to the bathroom. Not only that, but also using the bathroom whilst cooking takes some serious moving and shuffling, and more shuffling and elbowing. Then the obligatory, ‘coming out’ call before exiting the bathroom in case of a hot pan , or even a small toddler getting in the way is required. We are pretty used to it now, but when you’ve been woken up early and all you want is a cup of tea, and the other has pushed the door into your back as they go in the bathroom, it takes for a grumpy, ‘get out of my way’ morning.

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Highchair for entertaining, and keeping him to one space!

3. Dining room to Bedroom in 15 minutes!

Who else can say their dining table turns into a bed! Wow, pretty cool I hear you say. Well, it’s a bloody pain in the arse. After filling your boots with dinner, mopping up the floor from everything Ethan’s decided to brush off his highchair, and doing the washing up, you can’t just sit back and relax but you desperately want to. You need to make the bed.

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Our bed is a massive jigsaw puzzle which took some getting used to. We even had to take a picture of the configuration as it started to get silly with the amount of time we were left confused by what cushion went where.  You have to move cushions from one seat, to then pull out the table to go somewhere else etc. etc. You catch the drift….

Every morning the routine of Jen making breakfast whilst Terry turns the sleeping space back into a dining/living room again begins! This isn’t totally necessary with our motorhome as we do have an overcab bed, but due to having our little munchkin with us, that is mainly used as a storage area full of toys and bedding.

4. Mess

Need I say more?

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Not only are we living in a tiny space, but we are sharing this with a toddler, and with toddlers there comes mess!

As much as we have a shoes off at the door rule, the motorhome still gets filled with mud, rocks (somehow), dust, dirt and bits of food everywhere! It takes pretty much daily sweeps, even twice daily, and a regular 4 hour spring clean (when Terry gets the time!).

When it comes to teaching your little one how to use a spoon things go from bad to worse! You have to become very relaxed in the mess department, knowing that everything can be cleaned up.

Wet wipes become your best friend!

5. Wardrobe Malfunctions

So, you pretty much know and tell yourself before you leave to pack, and then half what you think you want to take. ‘You just wont wear it all…’, we’ll it’s true and we are gutted we didnt listen to our own advice. We have soooo many clothes, and too many to keep in one place so most are now shoved to the back of the overcab.

We did devise a cool little plastic tub on top of plastic tub idea in the main cupboard for our clothes. Seemed genius at the time, although the reality of having to move out each plastic tub as you need a pair of socks from the tub right at the bottom comes to bite you in the butt. It’s annoying!

Best idea is either shelves or nudity. Whichever is easiest (and more appropriate).

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Full waterproofs including wellies!

6. Wifi

Could you live without wifi or 3g? We certainly can’t and hate being cut off. We’ve had one night so far where we had zero signal on both, and it was strangely nice, but at the same time took some time to switch off. Wifi is hit or miss every day on the road, and you dont have anyone to call and complain too!

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Walking around to find wifi!

7. Loo duties

Totally Terry’s department. We didn’t even discuss it or toss a coin, it just became his job automatically. My stomach couldn’t take it! Yes, unfortunately motorhome living means no flush and forget. It means flush and then remember how many times you have flushed, for fear of overflowing the flushed down flushables.

Once every few days, the toilet does need emptying. It’s the worst job but someone has to do it!

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8. Co-sleeping

As a new mum in the modern world, I was always brought to think that when your baby reaches a certain age they should have their own cot, and then their own room, and that co-sleeping was either a dangerous thing to do, or a bad thing to do in terms of attachment. Well, there are only a few options to give Ethan his own space in the motorhome and none of them seemed to have worked so co-sleeping it is. And I love it. Well, when he isn’t kicking me in the stomach or putting his finger up my nose and giving me a nosebleed.

We created a cot guard for the overcab to start with, thinking we could put him up there whilst we still had time to watch movies etc in the main space. However, it was pretty cold when we started out and what with him wriggling constantly, he wouldn’t keep any covers over him so we were too worried he would be too cold. That was that option gone. We then tried putting him on the sofa next to us with a bed guard, however it was too late. This option came weeks after we were already co-sleeping so there wasn’t much chance of him sleeping through without us! Eek.

Co-sleeping would probably be much better if 1. we had a bed that was at least the size of a double 2. Terry wasn’t so big 3. Ethan didn’t wriggle so much. Oh well, can’t complain too much, it’s lovely to wake up next to my two boys in the morning.

Bed also becomes a play area!

9. Laundry

We are constantly asked, well how the heck do you do your washing? Well, the large Iceland cool bag we have justs builds up and up, and we re-wear our clothes at least twice if not three times (or probably six times in Terry’s case), unless they are desperate for a wash. Some we handwash and then put all over the bathroom in the hope they will dry but when we are lucky and can find one, we head straight for the laundrette!

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10. Living VERY close together!

Terry and I backpacked together for years so are pretty used to being in close proximately. Plus we have pretty set roles in our relationship. Terry runs logistics, security, finances and cleaning, and my role is planning, creative and cooking. This works perfectly in the van and we get things done a lot more quickly. You have to like each other as a minimum, and be pretty relaxed whilst letting little annoyances go over your head. Smiling a lot helps, and we get a lot of time to smile now!

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So there you have it, some of the realities of motorhome living! It’s small so it makes you live minimalistically (is that a word?)! For all it’s faults and daily chores, it’s a good life :).



  1. Great truthful account Jen! I should know as I’ve experienced it with you for a week! You work well as a team and that’s what counts! Looking forward to joining you all again for another week in April in Portugal! Xxxx

  2. Love this post and love co-sleeping ? Alex is pretty much every night in our bed. Although we have 3 bedrooms I still think it’s the best thing ever. Being able to feel tiny little hands wrapped around your neck at night! Watch him wake up and cuddle for half an hour before finally getting up! Priceless ?

  3. I certainly don’t miss the toddler-dinner-time-mess. I don’t envy you that. We do have to empty our loo more often though, with five of us in crammed into our box, so touché!

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