Teardrop USA & Minimizing for Life

Issue 25 of the Tiny House Magazine has an article about Austin and Nicole Barkis, a Southern California couple who sold nearly all their belongings, purchased a teardrop trailer from Craigslist and hit the road with Bowser and Yoshi—their rescued Pomeranian Chihuahuas. All four of them are now enjoying life in 4×9 trailer towed by a Mini Cooper S.

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While you can find out more about the couple and their teardrop trailer life from the magazine article or from their website and Tumblr blog, this post covers their minimizing and simplification process and how they live their life out of 36 square feet—with a few thousand miles as their backyard.

Austin and Nicole decided to simplify after questioning their lives in Southern California. High rent and bills were draining and unused stuff was piling up. After viewing a TEDx video by Adam Baker of Man Vs. Debt, the couple put their personal belongings on Craigslist and looked for a trailer that could be towed by their Mini. Austin runs his own business and Nicole telecommutes for her software job, so both knew they could make money on the road.

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When minimizing their belongings to maximize their lives, the couple realized that the process of getting rid of things had to have a forced deadline. Storage units and cabinets were still full until the very last second before hitting the highway. That’s when the virtual fire was lit and stuff began to get tossed.

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“When we first began, we had a ton of stuff sitting in the teardrop trailer (which is just the bed inside) and we had bags and little boxes of stuff overflowing everywhere,” Nicole wrote on their blog. “It got to the point that when we were loading the last few things, we just started throwing stuff away in the nearby Dumpster of our old apartment complex. It’s fascinating, you plan and you plan, but once it’s finally there and you have your trailer and you see the reality of the space vs. what you thought you could keep, you stop caring. All you want at that moment is to get on the road.”

It only took until the second night to realize what they really wanted to keep on their journeys. Along the way nonessential items like throw pillows, extra shoes and even a potted plant were given away.  They kept a few items for comfort and fun, tools for the teardrop and Mini (located in a storage box on the front of the trailer), computers, food and cooking items, and some bins of clothes that will be minimized even further. The Mini trunk and a storage area under the teardrop bed hold items not immediately needed.

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Austin and Nicole’s mission is to live minimally yet to the absolute fullest degree possible. If you are struggling to minimize your life, just imagine having to pack it all away into a teardrop trailer and a Mini Cooper.

 

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Photos by Teardrop USA

By Christina Nellemann for the [Tiny House Blog]

Handmade Matt’s Truck Camper

The December issue of the Tiny House Magazine has a story about handmade, wooden truck campers in it and one of most talked about versions on the Web is the whimsical truck camper designed and built by Handmade Matt. Matt is a craftsman and tiny house enthusiast from Surrey, England and is currently available as a consultant for anyone looking to build their own tiny house—on or off a 4×4 truck.

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Matt’s step-by-step process of the camper build is available on his website, and while the camper has been sold to a new owner in Sweden, Matt has recently finished up a new design. The vision for the first camper was to create a traditional looking removable camper with modern comforts. The camper is fully insulated, has solar power with 12v outlets and inverter. It contains a full kitchen with running water from a 13 gallon tank and a refrigerator, a two burner stove and a heater. There is an emergency composting toilet for when a public bathroom is not available.

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“I wanted a four wheel drive camper and I have woodworking skills. It was the cheapest and most stimulating option,” Matt said. “The design was inspired over the years by all the things I have seen, a lot from Lloyd Kahn’s books. I am actually featured in his latest book, “Tiny Homes on the Move” with another cabin that I have built. I make no real plans when building, it all comes from my imagination. I make it up as I go along, no drawings, limited forethought. The projects just evolve.”

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Matt said his favorite part of this particular build was the finishing touches.

“It’s when the magic happens and the whole vision comes together,” he said. “It’s finally when other people can see what was in my imagination all along. It’s a way of getting something that is inside me to come out into the world.”

Matt and his girlfriend took the camper all over the UK, through the southern English counties and into Wales. It did just fine in the mountains and also served as a home for his girlfriend who worked at various festival events.

For future builds by Handmade Matt, keep an eye on his website or the Tiny House Blog.

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Photos by Handmade Matt

By Christina Nellemann for the [Tiny House Blog]

Tiny Trailer Camper from Casual Turtle Campers

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by Peter Pavlowich

Here’s a new model that I’ve been wanting to build for a while. It’s in the size and tradition of a teardrop, but in Casual Turtle Campers style – dead simple, cedar, domed roof, with lots of windows. In fact, it’s quite a bit roomier than most teardrops – and by leaving the entire trailer area as living space, the cabin feels damn near palatial! Not really, but it is a nice little space that two people and a couple dogs could be perfectly comfortable in.

As an unsolicited build, I had planned to insulate and finish out the interior myself – but then I thought it might appeal to someone looking for either a dead simple, lightweight little camper, or someone looking for a project. One could add nothing to it and have a very comfortable, capable, simple camper – or features could easily be added to their desires – storage, gear hooks, bed platform, etc. And I’m perfectly happy to discuss building out an interior for someone.

Peter inside of it

Here are some of details… It’s built on a very nice, custom 5’x8′, fully boxed trailer frame with 13″ tires from a great manufacturer here in northern Colorado. The cabin’s frame is mostly western Hemlock (1.5″x1.5″), with Western red cedar siding. The bottom of the cabin has a 90 mil PVC membrane covering, and the roofing is a fully adhered, 60 mil, ivory-colored TPO membrane – thermally welded at the seams. It has four opening windows with screens, and two large fixed windows (forward bulkhead and door) for pretty good through-visibility. It weighs 840 lbs, with about 110 lbs of tongue weight. There are more specifications/details on the website –casualturtlecampers.com.

I really like this camper, and I can see using it just as it is – or with a more developed interior. Either way, its a great platform for someone looking to get into a very easily towed, comfortable, unique little camper. At 840 lbs, this model could work with a wide variety of tow vehicles. The forward bulkhead is short enough (66″) to tuck in well behind most crossover and small SUVs. I even towed it around town with our little Subaru Impreza.

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I’ve included a couple photos of the camper with my big ass in it for scale. I’m 6’2″ and 195 lbs. As a shell version, the walls and roof assembly are left open, showing the OSB roof deck’s bottom side – though it could easily be insulated and closed in. If anyone has any thoughts/ideas/questions please email me at casualturtlecampers@gmail.com. I’d be happy to discuss this camper or something similar/different that you might be interested in. And I’m also happy to discuss full or partial delivery from Fort Collins, CO for a rather nominal mileage-based fee.

Thanks for having a look – and please share it with anyone you think might find it interesting. I’m tentatively calling this model the Hatchling, but any other ideas for a model name would be welcome, too!

Price – $6,250

Peter Pavlowich
Casual Turtle Campers
casualturtlecampers.com

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Tiny Camper

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by Jane Price

I wanted you to know that we are delighted with our Aspen Ambassador mini-pop up camper. We were looking for something that could be easily pulled by our car and not degrade our MPG too much, we found the perfect solution as it is designed to be pulled by a motorcycle (it weighs less than 400 lbs). It can sleep 4, has room for a table inside and it wired for electricity. We have a 1998 model that was made by TrailMaster http://www.trailmasterinc.com/aspen/asphotos.html (they did not produce any in 2014 due to a supplier change though the company says they plan to restart production in the spring of 2015).

While doing my research, I found some very innovative options out there, I liked the TimeOut Deluxe that can also be easily pulled by small cars. http://www.timeouttrailers.org/Pages/TimeOutDELUXE.aspx

These tiny campers are the perfect solution for those who enjoy camping while sleeping off the ground and want to maintain a small footprint.

I love the Tiny House movement and the work you do!

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How To Live The Full Time RV Life

Truck and TTIf you float around the tiny house community you may already know three things about me:

Perhaps you don’t know though that I am an advocate of all tiny houses and small spaces. I love cabins. I think yurts are very cool. I am fascinated with live-aboard boats. I think RVs are the fleas knees. I gave my heart to tiny house trailers some time ago. And I even think sometimes about restoring a Pullman train car. I like to note the similarities and the differences and everything in between. So it is only natural that at this time in our life we are quite happy with a travel trailer adventure in which we can go from Point A to Point B based on work, leisure, events, and relationships. It is an exciting time but certainly isn’t one to enter into lightly or without some caution. Over the past 4-5 months I have put together (and adequately addressed) a list of things to think about when committing to the full time RV life. I would argue that these are also things to think about (or most of them anyway) when preparing to live any sort of life that is location-independent, a bit “out of the box”, or just plain weird to the masses. I think once you read my list you will agree.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Before we purchased our travel trailer my towing time on the road was fairly limited. I have pulled a 5th wheel camper one time for about an hour. I have hauled several utility trailers but nothing longer than 18 feet. I towed our tiny house a couple of times but only with a very experienced hauler in the passenger seat to be my co-pilot. I toted our riding lawn mower around more than a few times but only in a trailer that was about the size of an American bathroom. Living on the road and hauling your home around is a different thing altogether. It involves driving, organizing, scheduling, budgeting, setting up, breaking down, and more. In this case practice trips is the whole she-bang from hitching up to hauling home and everything in between. I would encourage all those thinking about the mobile life to try it out first. See if you are prepared to leave a number of things behind in exchange for some exciting new adventures!

Downsize

A tiny house of any kind only has so much space. The tiny house community and its included blogs feature posts upon posts about downsizing, minimizing, space saving, and the like. A boat is no different. A teepee is probably no different but a bit more extreme. An RV is no different. You must weight out need -vs- want. The rest must go. It can be sold, given away, donated, etc. You need to trim the fat from your belonging. If this sounds difficult, proves difficult, or just causes stress you may want to consider a different living option.

Health Insurance

This doesn’t apply as much to tiny housers who are going to be parked for an extended amount of time or houseboaters who intend to be moored for a long time but certainly does apply to those who will call the road their home. While medical insurance is an awful subject to talk about and certainly not  something discussed in polite company, there is a distinct possibility that you or a member of your family will get sick on the road. When we first tried out full-timing in early 2013 over the course of 4 months we had 2 doctor visits, 1 soft cast, 3 prescriptions, and even an MRI. Thank goodness we were prepared with comprehensive insurance through my company. Perhaps you don’t have that benefit or haven’t been able to get a decent plan because you are a full timer. Luckily there are companies that offer insurance for full-timers. We avoided a lot though by having a robust first aid kit, using doTERRA essential oils regularly, eating as healthy as we could, and just being a bit more careful in general.

Obtain and Maintain a Permanent Address

This is definitely one of the largest obstacles when choosing to live a tiny house lifestyle. With a tiny house trailer you can easily live in someones backyard, in a remote, rural spot, or even on an RV site. It doesn’t, however, change the fact that all states require proof of residency to operate a motor vehicle which is needed in most cases to maintain a nomadic lifestyle. (NOTE: line changed from original after further discussion and dialogue) If you don’t intend on operating a motor vehicle, opening a bank account, maintaining any sort of utility account, you may not need to have a permanent address other than one for mailing purposes. If you choose though and once you do establish a permanent address, you can get a post office box. It was no easy task for us when we first moved to our home land. The workaround is that a number of full-timers take advantage of mail forwarding services such Many full timers take advantage of Mail forwarding services, such as EscapeesMyRVMail.com or Camping World’s President Club. One advantage of full time tiny house living is that you can claim residency in states with no income tax.

Stay Connected

Campgrounds are notorious for advertising free WiFi but having dismal service beyond the walls of the camp office. A number of live-aboard sailers rely on 3G and 4G (and some LTE) cell data or connecting when in port. Tiny house trailers typically land some place where they can piggyback off a neighbors WiFi or even a local cafe. But if those options don’t suit you you can look into purchasing a MiFi system, special antennas, boosters, and more. A great post on the subject can be found here and you can purchase a book on the subject here. In today’s world staying connected will allow you access to email (personal and private connection), social media (great for reviews and recommendations), eBills (who needs a bank anymore?), and even photo galleries (travelogue anyone?)