Traveling With the Whole Gang: Leveling Up on Space

Here’s Bojack’s layout — for the 2016 Palomini 179RDS — when the slide is extended. Not bad for two adults and a dog…but not great when you add in the two full grown kids.

This past weekend’s trip was the first one where our entire family of four, plus our dog, came along. It was a really tight fit. So tight, in fact, we kicked our youngest son (who is 6’1″) out to the neighbor’s Class A camper. They had plenty of room over there.

Dave and I knew all along that it’d be a tight fit for our sons. We weren’t planning to bring them on all of our Bojack trips, so Dave and I got a camper that would comfortably fit the two of us and our dog. After decades of tent camping, we knew the meaning of working with tight spaces and a minimum of amenities. Our sons are also well-experienced this way: they did a 74 mile, 10 day backpacking adventure at the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico in 2019.

Philmont Scout Ranch’s 2019 Itinerary #28. If our sons could handle this, which they did in 2019, then, I assure you, they can handle the tight quarters of a 22′ camper.
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Our sons, back from their Philmont adventure in 2019.

 

Refer to the image at the very top. the dinette set can turn into an 80″ bed, but the sofa sleeper “jackknifed” into a flat bed that was only about 60″ long.

Uh oh. This is why we had to figure something out for our youngest son. He might be able to fit on the floor with the dog…and perhaps in the future that’s a consideration. Our friends at the site next to ours offered to take him in.

We had figured the boys could toss a tent outside of Bojack if all else failed. Unfortunately, the campsite we stayed at last weekend didn’t allow tents. Boo!

Our oldest son stayed in Bojack with Dave and me, and he simply slept in a sleeping bag on top of the dinette cushions. He didn’t find it terribly uncomfortable, although he reported that the center cushions, which are the back cushions repositioned to the middle of the bed configuration, often slid around and popped out of place.

This is not Bojack himself, but I found a photo of how the dinette table can be lowered to accommodate the back cushions as another sleeping location.

In addition to the challenges with sleeping space, traveling with 4 + dog also meant packing more clothing and food. We made a point to bring less perishables, and more canned and shelf-stable foods. We have a small fridge and that accommodated what cold foods we needed to bring, but then we also needed to use our cooler with ice to keep the drinks cold all weekend.

As for the additional clothing and linens, that led to a discussion about storage solutions. When my friend Suzy took a look in the camper, she was able to point out quite a bit of under-used space and made some recommendations on how to take advantage of it.

Not Bojack, but the same layout. The tall cabinet on the left could be used more intelligently, that’s for sure. Photo credit: Country Roads RV Center.

One example is our pantry cabinet: there are two shelves, with the top shelf being able to accommodate things up to about 3′ tall. What pantry items do I have that are 3′ tall? Not much. We did see a skinny rod at the top, as if the pantry space could be used as a wardrobe. So Suzy recommended a hanging storage shelf for linens….or an adjustable shelf, such as what you see for student lockers. I chose the latter, at least for now:

Most of Suzy’s recommendations were assuming that we would be using Bojack for longer than weekend excursions. For 2021, the longest trip we planned was for 3 nights away. All 5 of the trips planned are in Colorado, and all at locations that had to be booked well in advance…not knowing what the COVID situation would be, we were hesitant to venture too far outside of the state. So for this season, storage hasn’t been a big problem…even with both kids and the dog, we did okay. When it’s just Dave and me, it’s not bad at all.

Our discussions did get us thinking about longer trips. As you can see from the map (on the right side of our blog), there are some wish list locations that will clearly need multiple days of travel to get there and back. Which means we need to be able to pack and store provisions for upwards of a week.

Another consideration is how to store clothing and toiletries. As of now we’re living out of duffel bags, moving them from bed to couch daily: on the bed during the day, and then to the couch while we use the bed. Not sure if Bojack has space to store clothing, unfortunately. We may just need to stick to that M.O. for as long as we own Bojack.

With all of this, I need to think more strategically about our space usage. As I have done with many other things that I need help brainstorming, I started a Pinterest board!

Again, this is for long range Bojack planning. I don’t know when we’re going to be able to take our trailer out for some serious travel…it’s going to take some deliberate planning…and some more vacation days!

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