Tiny Living Revisited

It’s pretty funny when one considers a thirty-five foot travel trailer as expanded quarters. But when I first moved in to my new trailer in September, it felt HUGE to me. That’s because I had spent the last two years and four months living full time in a much smaller motor home. I don’t need a lot but I was starting to feel the frustrations of constantly stepping over stuff or having to climb to get something. Having no floor space, especially when you are sharing with two pets, could eventually wear on the nerves of even the most strident minimalist.

If you look at the floor plans of the 24 foot motorhome vs the 35 foot travel trailer, you may at first not see a lot of difference. However, one of the major differences is the slide outs. Take a look again at the floor plans and now look at the floor space itself. The beds, toilets, dinettes are approximately the same size, but in the travel trailer, I actually have real floor space that I was lacking for over two years.

Now that I’ve been in my travel trailer for a little over four months, I began to make lists in my head of things that were different for me. I think it was one morning when I was standing near the heater by the queen bed and getting dressed. The thought occurred to me that I couldn’t stand up in the bedroom before and take my time getting dressed, with my clothes laid out neatly on the bench at the end of the bed. That’s because the motor home bedroom has no floor space! I felt quite indulged at this thought and revisited the appreciation of my new floor spaces.

Now here’s a funny difference. I was never able to use the toaster oven in the motor home without the smoke alarm going off, even when I had windows open and the stove fan running. That’s because the only counter space in the whole motor home is a little pop up shelf that is right under the alarm. Smart design, you’all.

In the travel trailer, I actually have enough floor space that I was able to buy a little kitchen shelving unit that matches the decor and holds my toaster oven, Instant Pot, and Vita-mix. I’ve used the toaster and its oven numerous times, with or without the fan running, and never had any problems at all. I’ve gotten quite spoiled and it will take a real re-adjustment when I go back to motor home living in the summer.

Finally, I never realized how much of a difference there is between 30 amp and 50 amp power supplies. I got in the habit quickly with the motor home of turning one thing off when needing to turn another thing on. For example, I was never able to run the AC at the same time as the microwave. And when I was running an electric heater (more efficient than the propane heater that comes with the RV when I’m hooked up to shore power and don’t want to keep filling a tiny little propane tank), I had to be very careful what else was turned on at the same time.

I even melted my power cord to the surge protecter one time when I’d been hooked up for many months during a hot summer and when I went to leave, couldn’t get them separated because the rubber was all glued together. I’m not sure if that was because I was running the AC almost 24/7 or because there was a malfunction with the power box.

I’ve become almost spoiled in the travel trailer. I still want to be mindful of my usage and I have a really nice, heavy-duty surge protector, but still, I can cook while the AC is running. I can do my laundry (yes, there’s a built in W/D) while running the electric fireplace. And while those are running, I can even go make some popcorn in the microwave without fretting about being conservative. I might have to be careful not to develop some bad habits but it’s so nice not to have to worry about all the little things.

So even thought the travel trailer is only a little under 36 feet long and 8 feet wide (with slides in), it still feels like a mansion to me. How have you embraced tiny living?

The winter abode

How Much Do You Really Need?

This is an editorial. Some strong opinions will be stated and you may agree or disagree and those who disagree may feel they are being personally attacked. For that, I’m sorry but if this also gives you a chance to reflect on the way you live your life and to maybe make some positive changes, yay, I say.

We’ve been brainwashed to believe that we must have “stuff,” and I’ll admit I was one of the guilty party. I spent thousands and thousands of dollars decorating my 970 square foot home. I bought new gadgets for the kitchen constantly because I loved cooking. I put in gardens in the back yard and then re-did it several times as I changed layouts and designs. I did the whole house in area rugs over wall-to-wall carpet with matching furniture, shelves, and knick-knacks and then re-did the whole house in laminate with different furniture when I discovered that one of my rescue dogs had a habit of peeing indoors.

I was a collector too. I had hundreds of books. I also started collecting mid-century American-made figural pottery in the early 2000s and had about thirty-six pieces by 2018. Those pieces also needed display furniture. I love shoes and had about forty pairs at the time I downsized. I had a garage full of tools and who-knows- what because I was a do-it-your-selfer. I refinished furniture, I made shelves and toys for my chinchillas and birds, I did a lot of the house remodeling projects myself. But my goal all along was to travel when I retired and to sell the house. What compelled me to buy so much stuff when I knew I would be leaving it all? I can’t explain other than the fact that we live in a “consumerism” society and it’s drilled in to us to buy more and better.

Here’s what I learned after two years of not having stuff. How big your house is and how much fancy stuff is packed in there does not define who you are. I don’t miss it. Sometimes I wonder how different things would be now if I’d saved all that money instead of spending it. I sure didn’t get much back when I tried to sell everything. Most of the things in the end were given away or donated. I’ve learned that I don’t need a lot of room. I’ve learned that I don’t need to be entertained with a big TV or hobbies. I don’t need to keep busy taking care of a house or yard.

Some people are natural savers and think small types. Can you imagine if most people were more comfortable living small? We would have resources galore. I can’t tell you how to live your life but I can tell you that it is possible to be happy without having a lot of stuff surrounding you. You might think that people who live in tiny houses or motorhomes full time are people of lesser means but that isn’t true. I was surprised to find out recently that one retiree who lives full time in a motorhome has a retirement income that is more than I made yearly for most of my working life. Imagine how much young couples could save if they lived in a nice trailer instead of buying a house and furnishing it?

Here’s the floor plan of my living quarters for the last two years. Of course, I do go out quite a bit for dog walks or just enjoying nature. And when I’m sitting inside, I still try to bring some of the outdoors in by keeping windows and the door open. I get the scent of pine trees, birds tweeting, and the occasional campfire. And at certain times of the year, I have the Gulf of Mexico in my backyard. What could be more perfect?

My words of wisdom to everyone is “don’t try to keep up with the Joneses.”