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Hobbies for RVers: Yes, you can make yours work in a small space

The American author and Pulitzer Prize winner Phyllis McGinley once said, “A hobby a day keeps the doldrums away.” I agree. Wholeheartedly. But what hobbies can an RVer do inside their rig? After all, we have very limited space.

Hobbies I have known

My husband and I shared many different hobbies over the years in our stix-n-brix home. My favorite? Furniture refinishing and/or upcycling. We scoured local garage sales, flea markets, and auctions to find “just the right piece” of furniture. Then, we’d bring it home, clean it up, and often as not, rebuild and refinish it for a new purpose. The entire process was fun, and I loved the challenge and creativity this hobby required. Obviously, there’s no way to refinish furniture inside the RV. This hobby requires space for supplies and tools. You can’t strip paint or apply varnish inside, either. Our furniture refinishing hobby is restricted to our stix-n-brix garage when we’re at home—not traveling.

I also did a lot of sewing during our “pre-RV” years. But now? I have yet to find a good place in our RV for my sewing machine to “live.” Not only that, but where can I lay out yards of fabric in order to place patterns and cut? Crawling around on the RV floor to cut fabric seems more like a hassle than hobby to me.

Now what?

So, what now? What kind of hobby can an RVer have inside their limited space? I’ve been researching. And guess what? I found several hobbies that seem not only doable but actually suited for the RV lifestyle. Before we look at specific examples of hobbies, it’s important to know some basic principles of pursuing a hobby while living in a small space.

Basic principles

Downsize the hobby

Sometimes you can simply downsize your hobby. For example, I enjoy sewing but may need to downsize this hobby to better fit our RV life. Rather than lug along my big sewing machines, it makes sense to downsize to a smaller sewing option, like embroidery. (Here’s a small sewing machine Nanci Dixon recommends.) I can still work with fabric and be creative by learning new stitches, implementing a variety of colors, and producing new items.

The principle of downsizing the hobby can apply to most every hobby. For example, if you enjoy playing your tuba but your RV space makes that hobby difficult, think about learning a new (and smaller) instrument.

Identify hobby traits

The hobby of refinishing furniture has many different traits: creativity, carpentry, painting, etc. If I focus on these particular traits, I might find a new hobby that fits (literally) into our RV lifestyle. For example, I’ve recently discovered “dot painting.” (You can check it out here.) This kind of painting originated in India and requires no special training. I started out using some leftover craft paint I had at home, used a new pencil eraser as my “dotting tool,” and experimented dotting on some scrap paper. Guess what? I really enjoyed making patterns, swirls, and free-form shapes. I ordered dotting tools and some paintable bookmarks and began a hobby that takes up very little space inside our RV.

Limit the number of hobbies

RV life gives us the ability to do many things. When it comes to indoor hobbies, limiting these special interests is important. Why? There simply isn’t space inside your rig for you to pursue more than one or maybe two hobbies at once. For example, I can paint, and I can embroider, but if I try to do both hobbies concurrently, I’m soon tripping over thread or searching for a flat surface where my paintings can dry.

The more people who travel with you, the more you will need to limit the hobbies you do at one time. After all, they may need space for their special interests, too!

What to do with hobby results?

Another thing to consider when choosing a “small space” hobby is what you’ll do with any completed projects that result from your hobby. For example, my dotting hobby produces decorated bookmarks. It doesn’t make sense for me to keep every bookmark I make. So, I give some of the finished bookmarks to folks to distribute on church mission trips. I also give some bookmarks to our local library to give away. And I keep some bookmarks to tuck into books that I give to my grandkids for birthdays and holidays.

If your hobby produces something tangible, figure out what you’ll do with the hobby’s result. It will give you purpose and incentive to do your best. It will also prevent your RV from becoming cluttered or even overrun by “stuff.”

Indoor hobbies for RVers in a small space

Once you understand and implement the basic principles for small-space hobbies for us RVers, your choices are almost limitless. Check out these hobbies that RVers can do. Then, please add your own indoor hobby ideas in the comments.

  • Culinary hobbies. If you enjoy cooking or baking, consider making it your hobby. Learning about the science behind the different processes can be fascinating!
  • Jewelry making. The only challenge here is to find secure storage for your collection of beads, wire, and tools. Results can be stunning.
  • Writing. All you need is a laptop computer and your imagination. Get busy writing the next great American novel. Or begin an autobiography for your kids and grandkids.
  • Leather-working. Keep your projects small, like bracelets or key chains, and let your creativity soar. Check online for hints and tips.
  • Music. Singing or writing music can be a lifelong hobby. Your results might find their way onto the “Talent Night” campground stage, as well!
  • Magic. Perfect your sleight of hand tricks. YouTube can provide guidance for this hobby, too!
  • Gaming. Learn how to play the video games your kids enjoy. Then challenge them to play with you online.
  • Paper crafts. Check out online videos for origami projects. Learn, and then teach your grandkids.
  • Chess or checkers. Get your travel buddy involved in these or other board games. Then, work to perfect your strategies.
  • Programming. Learn to code or set up websites. It’s educational and challenging, too!
  • Knot tying. This hobby can really come in handy as you RV. Who knew rope could be so much fun!

Endless list

Please add to this list of hobbies for RVers. I would love to hear how you “hobby” inside your RV!

##RVDT1951

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Anne Oelke
11 days ago

I am among the thousands of RV’ers who quilt on the road. I take my big electronic sewing machine and my vintage hand crank. If I were super concerned about space I’d limit myself to my Singer Featherweight, a Janome Gem, or a Pfaff Passport. As a snow bird with a sticks and bricks home, I kit up my quilts before leaving home. This past winter I pieced 1 queen, 1 twin, 1 table runner, several lap quilts, and about 10 potholders. This was in addition to working 9 weeks on NOMADS mission work projects.

eric kaminsky
16 days ago

Many years ago I read of a man who carried a model railroad in his RV. It consisted of three 1’x8’ boards laid end to end on which he could have trains go back and forth, adding and dropping of freight cars as various “industries,” He could dissemble it and put it away when traveling. There was also a man who had a garden (G gauge) railroad that he could assemble outside of his RV in the park (e.g., outside the front door). He also took it apart and put it away when traveling. Given the various sizes of models (“scales”) available, one could have a model railroad in a space as small as 2’x4’. Of course, anyone can just assemble kits while traveling. This would take just a few tools, glue and possibly some small cans or jars of paint. That would not take up much space.

When I was in Germany in 1964 I saw for the first time very small (N gauge) model trains. I like to believe I was the first and perhaps the only tourist in the world who traveled with a model railroad in his suitcase!

Chuck C
16 days ago

While my wife and I are home or on the road we take our hobbies with us. I take my woodcarving and my wife takes her pixel art.

Gene Cheatham
16 days ago

Amateur (aka “ham”) radio. Great hobby for everyone of all abilities and ages! Talk around the world our across town. http://www.ARRL.org the American Radio Relay League is the organization to get familiar with this engaging hobby.

Diane Kenny
16 days ago

So you got me curious- I wonder if you’ve considered trying your dot painting on fabric, even smallish sections of fabric, and then piecing dotted and plain sections together to create a beautiful jacket for your self, or some other garment or accessory. Whoa-oa-oa-! It could just be TOO much fun!!!

Gail
13 days ago
Reply to  Diane Kenny

Hmm. Maybe I’ll try it! Thanks, Diane.

Grace Wilfong
16 days ago

Genealogy could be a good hobby for RVers.. Although it often generates a lot of paper work, if you kept everything on a computer and then backed it up, it would not take up much room. And with an RV, it would be easy to go to various places your ancestors lived to do research. Even if you couldn’t, there are thousands of online sources (a lot of them free). Download a free program like RootsMagic or Legacy (you can pay for the upgrade whenever you want), check out http://www.familysearch.org and http://www.cyndislist.com and have fun. There are even online webinars, podcasts, etc to help you get started.

Jan K
16 days ago

My husband and I are full timers entering year 4 on the road. My hobbies include jewelry making and quilting- yes quilting! From baby size to queen size it simply takes creativity and organization. Be realistic but don’t limit yourself.

KellyR
16 days ago

My hobby, when home, is to maintain and upgrade our home. When on the road, my hobby really doesn’t change much – smaller home, but … it is always something.

Cheryl Sheldon
16 days ago

If I were to start full-time RVing I would work on photography and digital scrapbooking.

Jana Allen
16 days ago

I knit and crochet. I do need storage space for my yarn, but most of what I make goes to others as gifts.

Diane Mc
17 days ago

My husband’s hobby is vintage car racing. Not only racing, but rebuilding engines, rebuilding cars and all that comes with it. Has numerous old race cars, one is his first one, so more than 60 yrs old and all the parts to fix them. 1600 sq ft shop. Why we are only part timers😂. Not taking that hobby with us. Although we take motorhome to the races pulling a trailer with a car. On our non race trips he will watch YouTube videos about rebuilding engines, etc. So he does kind of take it with him. I like reading, crossword puzzles and games I can play on iphone/ipad solo or with friends. Much easier😊.

Steve H
17 days ago

My wife has tried both quilting and paper crafting in our RVs. But she really only enjoyed it when we were snowbirding, so stationary for a month or more. She now crochets little stuffed animals that she donates to a non-profit child care center that my sister is a board member for. Even our younger grandkids seem to love playing with the fanciful elephants, giraffes, tigers, rhinos, polar bears, and snowmen she has made. She can do those at night even when we are just stopping for an overnight at a Flying J or boondocking. And, important for RVers, all of her supplies fill only a small plastic storage box with a locking lid!

Teresa Simons
17 days ago

I enjoy spinning on a spinning wheel. I can do it inside or out in the fresh air. I then use the yarn I make and knit or crochet with it.

patti panuccio
17 days ago

when my husband passed away, I put my cats in the RV, bought some yarn, and took off. 3 years later the space under the bed was full of items I had made. I bought enough yarn for the project and had very few leftovers. Great therapy.

Marilyn M
17 days ago

Diamond art with the finished product donated as a raffle gift.

Larry Lee
17 days ago

Karaoke is a lot of fun, and I have found that just a little practice at the RV can make me into a hit on Saturday night at our campground karaoke. All I need is the Karafun app on my cell phone to practice so no storage space required.
I also get to do lots of repairs and upgrades on our RV, but that is debatable as to whether it really qualifies as a hobby according to the IRS rules. 🙂

GERALD B CRAWFORD
17 days ago

I very much enjoy my amateur radio equipment (ham radio ) while traveling in the rv. 95 percent hf operating and a bit of vhf/uhf at times.

Gene Cheatham
16 days ago

I just posted about it! Work in process getting my license and a life long ambition.

David Buck
17 days ago

We are full time and my wife quilts and we know several people who do. It does require a space to set up her machine and she takes a lot of cabinet space to store her material. She does tend to make a lot more smaller quilts.

Tom
17 days ago

Amateur Radio. Small equipment with Worldwide Reach. Talk to Locals, find the local restaurants.
Support disasters.

Ron T.
17 days ago

To be honest, my hobby is traveling in my RV. No extra equipment required and the memories produced fit neatly into my brain and can be shared with others.