Gypsy Cargo Trailer

by Chinle Miller

There’s not a lot you can do to a cargo trailer, or so I thought when I bought mine. Then, I got a wild idea to paint one wall a deep sunburst yellow, and one thing led to another. I ended up painting the other wall a Taos blue, which I initially thought might be a bit much, but then decided since I was going to live in it, why not make it like I wanted?

cargo trailer

When it was all done, I added a handmade quilt a friend made for me, and it all matched perfectly, though I hadn’t planned it that way. Serendipity! It’s kind of cozy, like a gypsy vardo. I run everything on solar, and the trailer is insulated so it stays warm in the cool weather and cool when it’s hot. After a certain point either way, I do have to turn on the propane heater or my 12-volt fan.

kitchen area

After doing a bit more research on converted cargo trailers, I was pretty amazed at some of the things people have done. Some were simple, and some were as nice as anything I’ve seen. At 6 ft. by 12 ft., mine’s pretty modest, but the storage under the bed is great. I’ve now full-timed in it for a couple of months, and I’ll say it’s much more livable than any of the half-dozen other trailers I’ve had, which include a Casita and an Aliner. It’s also very easy to pull, and I can stealth camp in it about anywhere—I actually camped in a Montana DMV parking lot once when on the road.

living area

Living in a converted cargo trailer feels much more like living in a little cabin, except I can change the views when I want. It feels more substantial, more sheltering, than living in a trailer. And what I really love about it is the simplicity. There’s nothing to break or need repairs. I cook outside (unless it’s too windy), and I use a solar shower and porta-potty.


Life is simple and I can devote my time to writing, hiking with my three rescue dogs, cuddling with my three cats, and watching the sunrise and sunset. People think I’m crazy when I tell them I live in 70 square feet with six animals, but everyone’s happy. We get to be outdoors most of the time, even the cats, as I have a special cat-tent for them. I also take them for walks on leashes.


I’ve owned several nice houses (with the bank) and used to work in a high-paying professional field (computer consulting), but one morning I just flung it all over my shoulder and hit the road, traveling and living in a tent. Sure, being a nomad can be hard sometimes, but the benefits more than make up for it. I can live on almost nothing, and I find myself wanting little. I take great pleasure in things that some would consider unimportant, like watching the bluejays eat the nuts I throw out.

I’ve discovered that having a nice place to live, like my gypsy cargo trailer, gives me the underpinnings to enjoy a life of simplicity. Who could ask for more?

wall detail

Our ALiner Restoration

Guest Post by JoAnne Leonard

Our story about our little 1998 Aliner camper started two years ago when my husband and I brought home a funny camper with a rotted floor and got the evil eye from our neighbors. We salvaged it from its destiny of the dump from a couple camping friends of ours. They were getting older and had given up on most camping and didn’t have the time, energy or desire to fix the rotting floor, a known problem for this model and year. They had offered it to us a couple years prior, but we didn’t really have the means to deal with it. We were very happy camping in tents as we were lifelong campers ourselves and wanted to keep it simple. But this camper was different, it was simple, a basic popup but without the hassle of canvas, a unique triangle profile and a small foot print (6’3”x12’).

We’d bring the subject up to each other every once in a while until we decided to just go get it. It sat in the furthest corner from their house, the tires sat almost half way to the ground from sitting for so long, a branch had pierced a hole in one of the vents from a bad ice storm the year before and the floor was now growing things under the linoleum that was keeping it together. Looking back now I am not sure how it made it through the 30 mile trip back to our house. Continue reading

Sandi’s Aliner & Route 66

Sandi Wheaton of Windsor, Ontario recently lost her job in Detroit. Instead of looking for a new job, she decided to use the  time to fulfill one of her dreams: traveling and photographing Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles. Sandi is living this dream in an Aliner pop-up trailer. She decided to document the famous highway using a digital camera, a camera with infared film and another camera which follows her route with a shot every few seconds. She hopes to have her photos published in a book and a DVD or website.

Sandi Wheaton, her Aliner and her Campfire in a Can

Sandi Wheaton, her Aliner and her Campfire in a Can

Her trailer is a 1998 Aliner which she bought specifically for the trip. She initially wanted to travel in a T@B, but her Jeep could only tow a low-profile pop-up design. She is thrilled that she does not have to unhitch every time she sets it up. She also mentioned that she likes the Oliver trailer, like the one owned by Cherie and Chris of Technomadia.

“I love this trailer, especially for this purpose,” Sandi said. “Since I am traveling alone, unhitching is a pain. With the Aliner, I don’t need to unhitch in order to put it up. Plus it is up literally in a minute!” Continue reading