Saturday, September 23, 2023


Downsizing… or not? An RVer’s struggle of what to keep and what to leave behind

After living 12 years in Alaska, I had quite the library going. Four large bookcases were full of pages I loved unconditionally. I did not read every title, but I loved the thought of them and the people who wrote them.

Then we decided to leave Alaska and hit the road. At the time we still had our 19-foot travel trailer, which we used to get there. I could sit at the table and put dishes in the sink without getting up. No couch or extra storage. I guess you can say it was “quaint.”

We pulled it with a six-cylinder Toyota Tacoma, so weight was always a concern.

The yard sales began, which brought back memories of how we sold everything before heading up to Alaska from Colorado 12 years prior.  At the time, you could figure it costs $1 per pound to ship, so we analyzed every. single. thing. we owned.

We shipped a few belongings north, which included some of the beginnings of my library. I felt they were worth about $1 each on average.

But as we were leaving Alaska, we decided to limit our costs. Still, the books made it into the shipping crates.

If you have ever made the leap to go full-time in an RV, you know what I am talking about. I had to change my mindset. Every time I picked something up at the store, I asked myself, “Will it fit in the trailer?” The answer was always “No.”

It was the year 2000 when we sold our home and most of the belongings in it and drove off to Alaska. In 2012, we sold all the furniture we accumulated over 12 years and got back into the 19-footer and headed out of Alaska. A few items came back down to the Lower 48 with us but landed in a storage facility.

In 2014 we decided to plop for a while to help Mom, whose health was failing. We rented furnished places at first and shipped our storage things from Utah to Tennessee. Books included. After a year we decided to buy furniture and move into a small apartment. Now the trailer was the one in storage, only coming out for work trips.

The process began again in 2016, when we got the trailer out of storage and made a major trek from Maine to San Diego and back to the east. That journey ended in 2018, back in Colorado for various reasons. My hubby drove to Tennessee and brought our storage stuff to Colorado where we stayed in a furnished place of friends.

We always had good intentions to stop and stay put, but if you are a wanderer, like we are, it is not an easy task. The road keeps calling. But so did my books!

In the summer of 2019, we bought this new 31-foot Class C motorhome. My pictures, memorabilia, and books are still in a storage facility in Colorado. When the pandemic hit, we were close to that facility, so we decided to stop in.  We moved it across the valley to a less expensive spot that was easier to get to.

But I was taking up a lot of valuable space in the motorhome with books – only about 150 of them. So, I decided to pull out 50 or so and list them for sale on Facebook Marketplace. They sold that day. Who wouldn’t buy 50 business books for $35? A few were donated to a library, and I sold some at bookstores. But others ended up in the storage shed. Even after downsizing, about 10 boxes still live in that 5’x10′ space.

I still have books with me, but I asked for a Kindle for Christmas last year and have not purchased a paper book in almost two years. Now I am on a quest to buy the digital version of all my favorite books and donate the paper versions. It is a very difficult thing for me to do.

Silly to mourn books, but, hey, it’s still a lost love.

I am not sure that I will ever have a complete mindset change when it comes to books. Bookstores call out to me, but when I enter I have to say, “It won’t fit in the motorhome.” And living this life is much more attractive to me than a stack of books in the corner.


Tip: Different ways to get rid of all that “stuff” to downsize

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing (The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up) (Kindle Edition, of course)



  1. Prior to going fulltime in 2010, I had a few hard cover books on various subjects plus the entire Louis L’Amour 120+ book, hardcover collection. We also had over 900 VHS & DVD tapes. We sold it all & each got a Kindle in 2011. Due to space restrictions, we never re-built our video collection.

  2. We have lived in a fifth wheel for 10+/- years. I still carry paperback books. I also have books on my iPhone and iPad, but real paper books are still my first choice. I do recycle them at RV parks, libraries, and senior centers, where I also pick up other free books that I haven’t read.

  3. Bookstores are my obsession! I love visiting all the independent bookstores as we cross the country and will allow myself to buy a book or two, knowing that I can read them and pass them along. I do have a lot of books in the rig, but am making my way through them to pass along. A few pretty or signed books stay at my mom’s for that day when we eventually stop RVing full-time, until then, I get ebooks and audiobooks from the library, but allow myself a few books in print.

  4. Part of our downsizing effort was to eliminate books in favor of an e-reader. It isn’t the tactile feel of a book, but the content that we love. Both of us have completely transitioned to reading only electronic books and magazines. We donated 1600 hardback books to the local library. I found out ages ago that I no longer use the dozens of cookbooks we owned. I look everything up on the internet. We bought the RV and stayed at a local resort for a couple of months before selling the house. What we had in the RV was all we needed. Everything else we got rid of. The only thing we added was a portable washer and dryer to avoid the expense and waiting at campground laundry facilities. We have far fewer clothes than before, but it’s nothing to do a load of laundry every couple of days. It worked out well!

  5. I can totally relate to your book obsession! I have tons of books! I am considering selling my house and hitting the road in a small RV. Downsizing the books will be a tough thing to do! I don’t like reading books on my phone or laptop. I like the feeling of the book in my hand and turning the pages. It will be a challenge for sure!

  6. O M G Books, too much space, too heavy – we love them. On the coach we have some cookbooks a couple of religious books and an atlas. Finally got rid of the Spanish-English/English-Spanish dictionary. Google does that and Hebrew-English just fine. In our apartment we still have the fine art books collection, they are really too heavy and too large to move, We visit them once a year. When we went full time (our definition) we downsized from 3500 Sq Ft to 1400. Most of the books we left behind in the sale went in the trash. We weren’t there to see it, but who buys a 30 year collection of paperback SciFi books? I use a kindle cloud reader on a small Surface computer and my wife has a tablet. Overdrive at the library is a fine source of good reading material as is Amazon, yes we still buy books, but only in digital format.

  7. To bad you could not find a book scanner or place that would do the books for you. You could have all of them scanned and put on a CD or DVD or even a set of thumb drives

  8. I am a member of the local library. I download books to my Paperlight Kindle. I LOVE this system. Free, light book I can read without needing super strength (haha) Easy to take with me as the kindle fits in my purse. When some one gives me a paper book I hate not being able to read in a dark room, adjust the font etc..

  9. We got kindles and got rid of all our books but map books and have never looked back. Plus if you have a I-pad you can link to a library card and read thousands of books for free. We are in our 70’s and have been avid readers our whole life. Sometimes change is good.

  10. I’m slowly winding down my love affair with books after 30 years of collecting. They are mostly non-fiction as I’m a historian, museum professional and all-around technical nerd. I started last year keeping one on my nightstand and generally reading a chapter each night. When I finish one it doesn’t go back on the shelves but on a stack that’s purposely in plain sight to constantly remind me that they have to go away. Did get rid of some at a garage sale. Had to make sure they were listed as history books in our ads so interested buyers would show up.

  11. *Most* of my library I’d be happy enough to have in electronic versions. But there are a few–maybe a couple dozen–for which that just won’t do.

    • I have a group of books also that I won’t scan. This includes a “Swiss Family Robinson” from about 1890 or so. It has 1 color plate and 5 or 6 black and white plates in it. I don’t remember the exact copyright day as the book is old and worn and the page with the copyright date has disapeared.

  12. i, too, understand. It has been a mission for me to move my books on to others who can enjoy them. Donated some, sold some, gifted some. Now, when I finish reading a book, I share it with others and the instruction is always the same—-pass it on.


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