Summer of (family) Love: Tiny Home Roadtrip Documentory

by Kirsten Dirksen

One of the most elusive goals in life is determining just what you need to live. As co-founders of a site on simple living (faircompanies.com), we’ve spent the past eight years examining the unencumbered lives of others, but this summer we had the opportunity to try out micro-living first-hand when we packed our family of five into a Westfalia campervan for a filming roadtrip through the Pacific Northwest.

Limiting ourselves to one backpack per person, the five of us moved into our 50-square-foot mobile home (a 1981 VW Westfalia “Westy,” purchased used off craigslist). We hit the road determined to cook all our own meals (propane stove and refrigerator included) and to create our home every night in a different location (RV parks not included, infant potty included).

family in the field

With no advanced reservations and only interviews to guide us, we visited the homes of regulars in the tiny house world. With each stop we picked up some new piece of wisdom about life’s essentials. Tiny house builder Dee Williams (Olympia, WA) asked us to consider: “What do you want to hold in your arms when you die?” Boeing engineer and Seattle micro-apartment designer Steve Sauer explained he’s less interested in simplicity and more focused on having control over the things in his life. Oregon Coast surfboard-maker Lanny Shuler thinks you can be happy anywhere as long as you give your mind time to heal through meditation.

Between interviews we found places to sleep on small side roads, downtown streets and even a Walmart parking lot (they’re well-known for being open to overnighters). We learned to live with our chosen basics: a frying pan, one pot, a wooden spoon, some utensils and a few plates, Swiss Army knife, castile soap (for dishes, body, hair), water bottles, sunscreen, a few changes of clothing and a smartphone (for navigation and communication).

13 Comments Summer of (family) Love: Tiny Home Roadtrip Documentory

  1. jaclyn tredway

    This is a wonderful experience for your family. I will soon be leaving for a road-trip, solo, that will last the rest of my (retired) life. It is not about minimalizing, but Living Life Large, Tiny. With the help of my handyman, I built a 8×24′ “Beach House” which actually included the beach on the porch. In about a month I will be starting off cross country, myself.
    I see the video includes shots of all 5 of you. Did you ask people along the way to take footage of you ?

    Reply
  2. Chrissy

    I have been an avid watcher of your videos on Youtube and loved your “Summer of (Family) Love” piece. Maybe we can get you to swing by and see our tiny home once we get it done. We are building now and can’t wait to get moved in. Once we committed, I wondered why we waited so long!

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  3. Wendy

    This is a wonderful adventure and your children will remember it for their entire lives. Good for you for taking this drastic but incredible journey.

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  4. Christina

    I really liked Kirsten’s documentary since it showed how difficult it can sometimes be to live on the road. Her family had issues finding places to camp and the space was a bit cramped for cooking…but they did it with no complaints. What a fun adventure! Next time you have to come to Nevada where you can camp out in the desert where no one will bust you for camping.

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  5. Karen

    Admittedly I am a Generation older than you all but I find this whole video a bit pretentious. You are living free and off the land…. Really, did you ask the farmer if it was OK to spend the night on his farm and let your children wander through his cultivated field? You may look at this as innocent fun but I see this as irresponsible behavior. There are lots of places you can legally camp, if you don’t like the formal camp grounds you can stay at the primitive federal lands but choosing to use private land at your choice is wrong.
    Face it you are on a vacation, people have been doing this type of trip with their families for generations, some, gasp, use only a tent. It amused me that your Westfalia was OK but a motor home made the people too far removed from the real world.
    As a fifth generation Oregonian I would hope that you would respect our lands , contribute to the local economy and leave the land as you found it.
    Congrats on your wonderful vacation, your small house living premis I find amusing. I can’t watch through to the end, maybe it comes up with a redeeming quality.

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  6. Kim

    Sounds like a great adventure but I can’t get past the fact that your daughters aren’t wearing seat belts. Unacceptable and against the law where I come from!

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  7. Mo

    I enjoyed the video. Having visited most of the tourist destinations featured in the video and having an interest in the small living I found the sights and commentary interesting.

    I was simultaneously envious and horrified by this young family’s willingness whimsically take on this adventure. The older I get the more I plan everything… having owned VW’s (older and newer than “westy”) I would NEVER choose one for such an undertaking – I was actually expecting a breakdown being part of the story.

    The philosophical perspectives were fascinating – oh to be young again…

    Reply
  8. lisa

    Thank you kindly for allowing us to share in your beautiful and simple trip of self discovery. We are living on a boat these days. We are in our 60s. We decided to simplify, keep essentials and focus on life, nature and each other. Many thought we were crazy to give up a beautiful large custom home. But, I can tell you that life is the most beautiful and enriching ever. We find great joy in watching the seals romping and fishing for their dinner. The sunrises and sunsets take your breathe away. We eat dinner and breakfast on the deck. It’s very hard to work because it feels like we are on an everlasting vacation. Our meals are simple, healthy and tasty. If wouldn’t trade small simple living for anything. We are still working but now we only do it to pay our daily expenses. There are families here where a family of 6 live aboard and are home schooled.the boating community is like a close knit family.
    I so enjoyed your Sharing. Thank you.

    Reply
  9. Patricia

    I cannot get past the fact that your children do not have seatbelts on, nor is your babies car seat secured!!!! What the H__l !!! If you had been in an accident and your innocent children were hurt due to your irresponsibility it wouldn’t have been the best summer afterall, would it??? Thank goodness they were not hurt. REALLY upsetting to see such blatant carelessness.

    Reply

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