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storage tips for the van dweller, RV!er and mobile traveler
COPYRIGHT NOTICE 2009
Copyright 2009 by Becky Blanton and http://beckyblanton.com. All rights reserved. You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, display, or in any way exploit any of the content, in whole or in part, including posting it to other websites or emailing the PDF to anyone or any website. Except as expressly permitted by the copyright laws, no copying, storage, redistribution or publication of any content is permitted without the express permission of Becky Blanton or the owners of such content or their authorized persons if other than Becky Blanton. Thanks! Becky Blanton
and an internationally known journalist. he said. the reason he decided to add a chapter on forgiveness to his book.” and how I got out of the van.com) to TED Global 2009 in Oxford. The response from TED attendees was amazing and overwhelmingly positive.” I walked into a bookstore. former moderator for Meet The Press. working homeless. was talking about me on C-Span and a variety of national media outlets. “Sage. But the freelancing didn!t work out and I had to get a 9-5 job. found Tim!s book.About “biners & bags” When my father died in 2006 I quit my job as a newspaper editor for a small. It was. Never Settling for what Life Puts on Your Plate. I chose to live in the van and make it a “city camping” experience. When I went to move back into an apartment I couldn!t ﬁnd affordable housing that would allow me to keep my pets.” “Staying Hungry” is a book about inspiring people. working fulltime and learning what it meant to be homeless. “Wisdom of Our Fathers. to freelance and to camp.. I was selected to speak about my experience as one of the “invisible.com . I was a writer! I was a WRITER! I quit believing that I was homeless and “less than” for living in my car and started writing again. But somewhere along the way so many people decided that anyone who lived in their car was homeless. Thank you for supporting the dream! http://beckyblanton. Colorado and moved into a stripped out.“Staying Hungry. until I found out he had terminal brain cancer. was in Russert!s book (page 141). My essay about my father. 1975 Chevy Van with my Rottweiler Koko (right) and my cat. three times a week newspaper outside Denver. I spiraled into a deep depression before just happening to hear that Tim Russert.S. to travel. worthless and not deserving of respect. I decided to move back into the van for a year. England. that I believed them. I moved into an apartment the following year. I!m ﬁnancing the trip with the sale of this. and my forgiveness of him after 15 years of not speaking to him. as well as a hard-copy book. reread my essay and had an epiphany. whatever they are. So. and attempt the venture again. This time I!m focusing on writing and documenting the trip and the people. When I returned to the U. In 2009 I won an all-expense paid trip (http://johnnybunko. and future ebooks.” The plan was to grieve. Lessons from Sons and Daughters. and the characteristics that make them survivors who have been homeless and gone on to follow their dreams. we lived in the van in a Wal-Mart parking lot (among others) for more than a year. Rather than give them up or put them down.
table of contents D-Rings & Carabiners Bags for Storage Tips & Tricks Zipper Pulls & Fun Stuff http://beckyblanton.com .
And I found some great zippered tool bags with snap hooks and D-Rings attached so construction workers could hang them on their trucks or belts or job sites. I could slid things over the D-Ring hanger if I wasn!t using it and it was laying ﬂat. There!s nothing more aggravating than dragging out a box in the middle of the night looking for some little thing you KNOW is in there somewhere. People who spend a great deal of time on the road. REAL old. So. van dwellers and anyone who has ever had stuff in a vehicle go crashing to the ﬂoor. usually because heat and the sun had melted the adhesive.d-rings and carabiners A lot of stuff will ﬁt into drawers and boxes and crates. I started looking around Home Depot and Lowe!s for solutions. Not only would the D-Ring Hanger hold more weight. It wouldn!t snag my clothes.com . But then a package of D-Ring hangers caught my eye and life was never the same. That gets old. One of the most frustrating things for me when I started living in my van was having velcro pull lose. people. RV!ers. Wandering on over to the hardware aisle I thought I!d pick up some eye-bolts to use as anchors. and RV!ers know that the secret to staying organized and uncluttered is securing your load. moving their mobile homes. it would lie ﬂat against the wall. Bungie cords were and are great for big bulky things. me included. but what do you do with all the little stuff you accumulate? http://beckyblanton. but ﬂat wall space in a vehicle is usually at a premium. start buying plastic containers and stacking them 2-and-3 high and riﬂing through something the size of a small packing crate looking for things. or poke me or jab me. So. into a window or onto the ﬂoor knows what a hassle it is to secure a load INSIDE a vehicle. or the ﬂoor! I could move it out-of-the-way when I wasn!t using it. like van dwellers. truckers.
It stays hidden and functional. The D-Ring hanger came in a variety of strengths and sizes and would double as a both a hanger for the zippered bags and as a latch point for any bungie cords I wanted to use! I could install them on any surface. They!re amazing things. No more digging in boxes or crates! With my system you can stay more organized than ever with the little crap you have! And if you!re really crafty. or d-rings. backpack or house to act as lashing points (like the eyelets on a shoe) for running cord or twine through. but they wouldn!t shake loose when the van was in motion. The bags I had At the time I found the D-Ring hanger I had a Toyota too. Note it can pivot to either side if needed to hold a cord or hook. I could mount them UNDER a table surface. So I wandered down another aisle and found 99-cent carabiners in six colors! Not only would they ﬁt through the D-Ring hangers. vans. Unlike velcro. They did duty as curtain anchors. I was able to screw in D-Rings to the plastic sides in the car to hold curtains there as well. They were as useful on the ceiling as the ﬂoor or wall. wood. or as light-weight as an umbrella! I started putting the D-Ring hangers everywhere and using them as anchor points for bungie cords. they stayed put no matter what temperature it was. They can be utilized in RV!s. Really. plastic. http://beckyblanton. D-Ring hanger under a table top in my van. you can make your own bags to ﬁt the unique needs of your vehicle. to show you the rings and bags. trucks. So I decided to write this ebook and show you some photos of the systems in my van. metal. I think I!d even put them on a snowbmobile. and the loops on my zippered bags.com . and would hold something as bulky as a backpack. on the side of a surface or on top. inexpensive and as adaptable as the DRing hangers. but some of them had loops. I have yet to ﬁnd anything as versatile. But more importantly. cars. for hanging bags and for securing everything from my ice cooler to my make-up bags. even on a bicycle if you wanted to lash something to a frame without a lot of weight or bulk.found had snap-hooks already sewn into them.
some with two holes. some brass.d-rings & ‘biners These are the “heroes” of this ebook . D-Ring hanger on ﬂoor of van holds a bungie cord that keeps the drawers to my Chest-of-Drawers closed. These rings can be easily screwed into wood and even into the plastic of car interiors to give secure hooks. The one hole ring can be left a little loose (just back the screw off 1/4 turn) to allow it to swivel so it will face in the direction you want or need. It moves enough to stay out of the way of the drawer behind it. Carabiners make up the anchor system for bags or larger items.the D-Ring hangers. some smooth. They come in a variety of styles. some with one hole. and yet turn enough so the hook of the bungie cord can be hooked into it easily.com . See ﬂoor ring below. See the bungie cord upper left? http://beckyblanton.
Look for bags that have inside pockets or compartments where you can put related accessories.bags & bungie cords Narrow bags that hold tools. (right) http://beckyblanton. I like the DRing on this too. like velvet.com . make it easy to spot a particular tool. like this one that holds my socket-and-wrench set. The loop on the back makes it easy to slip onto a tool belt if I ever need to carry it around for other jobs. I link it to another bag with a snap TIP: Pick small bags. This bag holds a set of sockets and two small rachets. hardware and small items you can put inside a larger bag. cloth or leather dice or coin bags for things like coins.
make-up and small items you want to be able to see at a glance. Tools and hardware items. Cooking items. spices and things I might use in the “kitchen.” or around food are tan. pencils. there are more companies making all-mesh. knives.bags: color coding. The solution? Bags with mesh screens that allow me to see items without having to open each bag! (above). Teal. I prefer the mesh. oily or stain go into black bags. shower and hygiene items go in gray bags.for medicine. or that will get dirty. Dick Blick art supplies and hobby and craft stores have 100% mesh bags in a variety of colors that are great for pens. but it off-gases noxious chemicals that have been shown to be harmful to your liver. like toothbrush. or see-through plastic bags. but I still don!t like searching through four or ﬁve of the same color bags to ﬁnd a certain item. silveware. Thanks to Homeland Security and the obsession with security and see-through bags. (see TIP right). all my make-up. For instance. personal items and what might be considered bath. green and other colors are all color coded too . things I!d need to work on the van. It makes it easier to ﬁnd things when they!re color-coded! I color code my bags to make it easier to ﬁnd things. soap containers or whatever.com . Mesh bags are also great for items that might be damp or wet. the dog etc. http://beckyblanton. kidney and brain. The plastic not only gets stiff and cracks too quickly. white or light colored because I wash them and tend to use bleach to sterilize them. mesh & security TIP: Group like items in the same color of bag.
Attach it to a post or item in your vehicle and use it for storing valuables. http://beckyblanton. It won!t stop a determined thief. particularly by Workforce. but I haven!t found one yet! A heavy. I use several for tools. chances are they won!t have the time or tools to crack open a heavy duty bank bag. or cut the loops to steal the bag. Not only are they easier to snap on and off. these bags. tend to wear a little more than the snap loop. but for the casual burglar who is going to snatch and grab or toss your vehicle quickly. Determine what sizes you!ll need and for what items. They seem to be very oil resistant too. I have a bag for First Aid items and am looking for a patch with a red cross on it so I can spot it quickly. If you have a bag without a loop or It!s hard to say which you might prefer. corner of the bag with a grommet and ring kit. A red bag would be even better. I tried a variety of bags to see which hooks.com . loops and styles worked best for me. the swivel keeps the bags from twisting and breaking or wearing. and then smaller bags for things like soap/shampoo/shaving razors and make-up. That!s not a big consideration for most. toughly sewn and incredibly durable! They can be washed. safe deposit bag with a keyed lock would be an ideal bank/safe bag. The most heavy duty bags I!ve found are are home supply stores like Home Depot and Lowes. The snaps ﬁt any size D-ring and are easier to work with barehanded in cold weather! But the loops can be strung on a thin metal dowel or cable to make a somewhat more secure bag. loop or snap? There are all kinds of bags in all kinds of sizes. are well made. you can also just add a grommet to one loops (above) when used with a carabiner. Look for bags with a swivel snap if you can. and tossed in the dryer overand-over again. Made for heavy tools and the rigors of construction sites.hook. snaps and loops for attaching to D-rings or other hangers. The swivel. Someone wanting to steal the bag would have to either empty it. sharps resistant. Use a punch and grommet kit to create a sturdy hole to string a cable or lock through. but it!s something some folks might want to think about. and materials with a variety of hooks.
Look for straps like the one above that have a lock with teeth that grip the cord and allow you to cinch down heavy loads better than with velcro. the elastic cord with wire hooks (right) works as well as it ever did. Velcro is still an option. weights The old stand-by. it!s great! The secret to selecting the right length of bungie cord is to measure the distance between the two points you plan to lash something and subtract 2-3-inches. but for heavy cords.bungie cords • • Don!t stretch bungie cord beyond 50% of its unstretched length. They may break and you can lose a load or worse! Rubber cords are best. so check them often and replace them when they show wear or stop being elastic. do it as soon as you can. Get solid rubber bungies for really big or heavy loads. Replace bungie cords when they don!t “snap back” after you remove them from a load. • TIP: Bungie cords and elastic straps come in more styles than ever! If you haven!t checked out the selection.com . Depending on the elasticity of the cord you!ll have enough tension to create a secure tie. including 10-12-inch and 14-21-inch cords. Don!t store bungie cords in a stretched position. but more expensive. They will wear out faster. the attachments and the possibilities. thicknesses and weights. keep a bag full of various sizes. If you don!t want to have to worry about length. Get as many has you can in a variety of lengths. http://beckyblanton. Heat and sun rot the elastic.
Most work at least part-time. It means being self-sufﬁcient. Characteristics of van-dwellers are much like that of the entrepreneur or heretic. or van-dwelling part-time. Could you be a van-dweller? Only if you cope well with constant change. if not every night. skills and talents.com . Some just like the lifestyle of working less and doing less. read about it ﬁrst! Google “Van dwelling” or “van dweller” and start exploring life on the road and the freedom to carve out your own way. in parking lots. There are as many female van-dwellers as male.van-dwelling What is van-dwelling? More than living in a van camper or small RV. driveways and wherever they can ﬁnd where they don!t draw the attention of neighbors and the public. Don!t lump all van-dwellers into the homeless category. creative and able to tolerate and even enjoy long stretches of time alone!! If you think you!d like to try it. Most CHOOSE the lifestyle and enjoy it. getting lost. “Van-dwelling” is an attitude and a life-style. It!s not for everyone. and risk. since women are more likely to live out of their vehicle than out of a shelter.” by parking stealthily on the street. safe parking and the kindness of strangers in a strange place every week. They are stubborn. state or privately owned campgrounds. self-sufﬁcient and generally comfortable being alone and ﬁnding their own solutions to things. They consider themselves free-spirits and independent souls. Some like to travel. But even if you just enjoy camping on the weekend. They pay for the privilege to live in their vehicles. People who consider themselves full-time RV!ers typically spend much of their time parked in commercial. on the other hand. Van-dwelllers. you!re part of the van-dwelling tribe! Be glad! http://beckyblanton. They live free or on the cheap. The life-style is ﬁlled with challenges. tend to spend most of their time “city-camping. ﬁnding jobs. There!s always the risk of vehicle breakdown. creative. Most renovate their own vans with their own time. independent. Some are homeless.
I have a hard time getting up from the bed because of a bad back. plumbing. deck material. Wire baskets. Think about what else you can use it for. paint cans. I ﬁnd it easier to reach up with one hand and grab this screen door handle I mounted on the ceiling.com . PVC pipe can become shelving when cut in short lengths and glued or bolted together. For instance. bolts.. Open your eyes! Adapt it! http://beckyblanton. Carabiners are wonderful TIP: Spend time in a hardware store looking at hooks. It!s a perfect handle not only for doors. or in coming up with new uses for old objects is in seeing them in ways you!re not used to thinking of them.. pipe. but for grabbing for support. And.. molding. since it!s on the ceiling over my bed.tips & tricks Part of adapting to living in a van. it makes a great place to hang my LED light when I want to read at night.it can all be adapted and used to create new and creative containers or ways to secure your stuff. crates. handles and whatever catches your eye. styrofoam. bath and kitchen hardware.
it will give you a ﬂat surface for the items in the basket. clothing or things you need to reach for often. If you can!t ﬁnd a wood-bottomed basket. Use baskets for bulky items. Silicone or other durable sealer before installing to keep the basket weave from pulling apart over time. DryWall Screws Not only will a thin piece of wood keep the weave intact longer. Use large washers when attaching baskets to a wall so the screws don!t tear through the basket weave. cut out a piece of wood to ﬁt in the bottom over the weave. but look for sturdiness so you don!t spend a lot of time replacing the baskets. TIP: Re-enforce basket seams with Gorilla Glue. Screws are better than velcro because of weight issues.And. For bulkier items. use baskets. It holds the books I!m currently reading and stays upright because it!s tightly fastened with two short 1/4-inch long drywall nails. http://beckyblanton. screws don!t get hot and melt in the summer heat like velcro glue often does. or for a more rustic look.tips & tricks Rustic. Use washers under your screw heads so the screws donʼt rip through the weave of the basket. You can ﬁnd them cheap at yard sales. I like a wood-bottomed basket because the weave won!t tear.com . Bulk and Book Storage My “library” consists of a wood-bottomed basket screwed to the table top underneath it. ﬂea markets or dollar stores.
only . I just slip the bags onto the lower curve. When camping it will hold a lantern. It!s sturdy enough to hang my circular saw from a hook in my storage shed. Carabiners come in a variety of sizes for a variety of purposes. trash bag. use cord or shoe laces and tie your own using an overhand knot.75 cents apiece. If you like really cheap. then looped back over itself and pulled through so the attached knot looks the one right. And I!ve used it to hang heavy bags of laundry from a hook on the top of the van.zipper pulls & fun stuff Monkey Knots Call them an extravagant pleasure. but if you like unusual zipper pulls these great looking pulls are available through Red Oxx.com . or double as any one of a dozen things depending on what I need. last time I checked. It was designed to hold heavy equipment and electrical cords and I use it for that sometimes too. from calculators to sports gear. or make your own from items you can get at a craft or hobby shop. Available at any home supply store. They!re pretty affordable . This giant carabiner is used to carry plastic grocery sacks! The rubber handle makes the load easy on my hand and doubles as a handle. http://beckyblanton. The zipper pull is threaded through the zipper!s hole. Go to any ofﬁce supply store or kid!s department or toy store and you can ﬁnd all kinds of zipper pulls.
there!s also the water-bottle "biner. ﬂat climbing webbing Check the kid!s section at Wal-Mart and other stores. The metal or rubber gasket on the end of the strap ﬁts over the neck of your water bottle. clamps and ﬂat webbing that can be combined to make your own innovations. They often have unusually shaped carabiners that make useful frames for other things . there are also things like clips. Look for other shapes and let your imagination roam! Attach things like a calculator or bottle-opener or keys to a mini-carabiner too. Just knowing the stuff is out there if you look hard enough is a way to ﬁnd it! http://beckyblanton. Attach a pen or pencil to one end. or your keys. or any item that tends to get lost or dropped inside your vehicle.like the starshaped carabiner that is great for holding earrings. Look for these in your neighborhood party store or online. Think about the FUNCTION of the carabiner and you!ll be able to think of more things you can do with it.bottle ‘biner & fun stuff You don!t have to look far to ﬁnd cool and interesting things people are doing with carabiners! This “Bottle Biner” is just one example of how you can have your carabiner and your bottle opener too. Remember. Speaking of bottles. After all. You can then snap the "biner on your belt or wherever it is you carry your water. I like having one by the bed where it won!t tip over and is easily accessed during the night! There are mini-carabiners with “reels” that have a cord that goes out and winds back up inside the "biner.com .
This is what has worked for me. cooking equipment and whatever. The advice on my rear-view mirror is sound: “Enjoy the journey. Knowing that you have a tool and where to ﬁnd it makes it a lot less scary on the road. Knowing what your boundaries are. bags and things to help you stay uncluttered. That!s all I want to be able to say about my life too. organizing tools. I can ﬁnd the stuff I need and it looks pretty neat and tidy when it!s packed and hung properly. inspiration and whatever makes your storage. This e-book is about the containers. where you!re headed and what it will take to get there make the journey less frightening as well. Things stay attached to my van walls and don!t go ﬂying all over the place when I!m in motion. boxes.Have fun. what you want. I hope it!s helped give you some ideas. hooks and bags you can use to compartmentalize your life and make it easier to ﬁnd the things you need. This is a short and simple visual ebook with pictures of my van and what makes it fun and easy for me to stay uncluttered. It!s not meant to be an exhaustive ebook on getting organized. Add whimsy. bags and zipper pulls FUN. Part of getting organized is taking an inventory of what you have.” Enjoy the Journey!! http://beckyblanton. There are no rules. Same thing with life. it occurred to me that doing that with other parts of my life might be a good idea too. There are hundreds of containers. crates.com . As I started going through the van and doing that.
They will be MUCH more expensive because they are designed and made to hold hundreds if not thousands of pounds of stress. You!ve been warned! Zip Bags WorkForce is my favorite maker of zip and storage bags.Carabiners Carabiners come in several sizes. money bag. To ﬁnd weight bearing carabiners go to a climbing site that caters to climbers and extreme sports. shopping bag. Don!t limit your search just to zip bag. When searching the internet use terms like: “tool bag. well-constructed and has heavy duty plastic swivel hooks already attached to make it easier and cheaper to hang the bag from a D-Ring. ﬁrst-aid. sewing and odds "n ends type items. durable. but typically any frame shop. daybag. Dick Blick. another great site for art supplies which can double as vandwelling innovations. will have them and call them “D-Ring Hangers. D-Rings Lowes and Home Depot. back-pack. but they also have a minimum $20 order. They may be called different things. varieties and types.com. You can also order rings from Amazon. mesh bag. rappelling or other activities! They will NOT support your weight! These carabiners are for holding bags and lightweight items in a storage capacity ONLY. But look around. make-up bag. kit-bag. The material is heavyweight. K-Mart and Sears all seem to stock D-ring hangers. pencil bag. cloth container.” Their original use is for hanging picture frames. ring hangers. The Hangman Store also has some variations on the hooks. bank bag. water resistant.” and so on. art or hobby shop etc. If you!re a climber and/or depending on a carabiner to hold human weight during climbing or other activities buy a WEIGHT BEARING CARABINER designed for those purposes! DO NOT USE decorative or light weight carabiners like you ﬁnd in a hardware or home supply store for climbing. like picture hangers.com has them as cheaply as . even pen and pencil bags available at Staples and Ofﬁce Depot are less expensive and ﬁne for lightweight items. http://beckyblanton. Dollar Stores and other retail locations like Target. ﬁshing bag or tool box. containers. Sites like: http://govart.55 cents for two rings.com . Bags used for construction tools.
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