Teardrop Trailer Living Space and Storage Solutions

Continuing my series on tiny trailer living, today I’m going to address another common question: how do I handle having so little space? This can be broken down into two subjects, living space and storage space.

Living Space

The simple answer is, when your living space is tiny, you change your definition of it. It comes to mean the space outside your camper as well as within it – there’s a reason why it’s so common to see people with tiny campers have awnings and extensive outdoor setups.

If the weather’s good, I do many activities outside. I cook outside, eat outside, and relax outside. Last winter I finally gave in and spent more money on a very comfortable camp chair, and now that I have the teardrop I’m even more glad that I did. I also treasure time away from camp, engaging in activities that let me stretch my legs like sightseeing hiking, and tours.

My comfy chair and lovely outdoor room

Bad Weather

Most RVers try to follow good weather, but when you’re cooking and spending a lot of time outside, it becomes critical for a good camping experience. In the general sense, this works out to moving north and to higher elevations in the summer, and south and lower elevations in the winter. For example I spent much of this past summer in Oregon, Washington, and Colorado. Now that it’s edging into winter I’m working my to Arizona and southern California.

But even with the best planning, the weather is a fickle thing and inevitably you’ll end up stuck in rain or disagreeable temperatures. Or you may need or want to travel to the wrong part of the country during the wrong time of year for an event or emergency.

I’ve found that in the short-term, say in the event of a day or two of rain, that being stuck indoors is not much of a challenge for me. I have food on hand that doesn’t require cooking and a pass-through door in my squaredrop that lets me access parts of the galley where I store food without having to go outside. I’m content to laze in bed and work or read if the weather is foul and have enough headroom to do simple exercises in my rig to keep from getting stiff or sore. It’s not ideal, but it’s workable.

It’s also worthwhile to pick up the skill of paying closer attention to the weather. Even on rainy days, most of the time it doesn’t rain all day. I have a weather app on my phone that predicts the hourly forecast, and if it’s due to rain I keep an eye on that and look for the windows when it isn’t raining to do whatever it is I might want to do outside. Another facet is simply listening for the brief absence of rain on the roof to run to the bathroom.

A brief sunshine break on a snowy day

Heating and Cooling

It is possible to get A/C and heating for tiny trailers, and if you suspect you’ll be camping where it’s hot, it may pay to invest. Even when you aren’t spending as much time inside, being a comfortable temperature makes sleeping so much better.

My Hiker has circular vents at the front where I can hook up a portable A/C and heating unit from outside and duct the air in – this would require having an electric hookup and the unit would have to be stored when not in use. I don’t actually own the unit, called a ClimateRight, but I have the setup done in case I want to invest later, and in the meantime I can open the vents for additional airflow. I also kept my Little Buddy propane heater by Mr Heater from the Casita, and it works just fine. I just never leave it running while I’m sleeping not that that’s really necessary. With a space as tiny as mine, running it for a half-hour makes it plenty warm inside.

A better view of the black ports where I can hook up a ClimateRight should I choose to get one

Other teardrops might have a small A/C, usually mounted in the wall between the living area and galley, and small electric heaters can be used inside if you have electric.

But the best way to stay cozy when sleeping in a teardrop is to have warm bedding. It’s a small enough space that just your body heat warms up the inside considerably. Invest in a good sleeping bag, or buy a 12V electric blanket. Either will keep you plenty toasty.

Other Possibilities

Even with the best attitude, being stuck indoors during poor weather grows old eventually. Fortunately, having teardrop means your home is separate from your transportation, and there are plenty of indoor places where you can hang out for periods of time to escape bad weather. Here are a few of my favorite places to go when the weather has me bummed:

  • Libraries
  • Coffee shops and restaurants
  • Museums & other attractions
  • Movie theaters
  • Run errands (laundry, groceries, etc.)
  • RV park clubhouse or other people’s RVs
  • Moochdocking/driveway surfing

Libraries and coffee shops give me a change in scenery to work away from home. Restaurants, museums, and movies are good food and entertainment options on a rainy day. Errands might not be fun normally, but doing them on bad weather days gets you out of the camper and since they need to be done anyway, you might as well do them when the weather isn’t cooperative for funner activities.

Some RV parks have an indoor public space for hanging out, usually called a clubhouse. I rarely stay in parks these days, but I do often boondock with friends with larger rigs than mine, and on bad weather days it’s not uncommon to gather in the largest person’s rig for a work party or movie.

Working at a friend’s rig and enjoying the view outside

Another possible solution is to park in a friend or family member’s driveway, which is often referred to as moochdocking. This typically gives you at least partial access to a climate-controlled house, but you still have your own bed and private space which is nice for both you and your host. Of course, you don’t want to impose on anyone or overstay your welcome, but I’ve found this an ideal way to visit family and close friends no matter what the weather’s like.

Storage Space

The key to managing storage well in any RV is to find good ways to utilize what you have. And what you have in a teardrop is a rear galley, probably with large drawers and cabinets. Don’t be afraid to alter storage spaces to fit your needs by adding or removing shelves and putting in more partitions. This is the most common problem I hear of when people complain about their storage. They have the room… they just haven’t modified it to best suit their needs and leave a lot of dead space that could be used with the right system in place.

In the Hiker Trailer, the galley is flat and not very deep, more like a large cabinet than a typical galley found in a teardrop with a sloped back. There are three shelves, but that’s not nearly enough partitions for the size stuff I carry in the back.

And I do carry a lot in the back. Many teardrops have sinks and cook surfaces in the back but one of the things I really liked about the Hiker is that it did not come with these by default. As a full-timer, I didn’t want to waste precious rig space for preparing food, so instead I have a table and portable stove that live in the back of my truck and have my kitchen entirely outdoors, and the back of the squaredrop is just for storage.

To organize the back, I bought a lot of storage bins from Walmart, not the prettiest solution but relatively inexpensive and easy to change if I decide to down the road. I bought different sizes, so that I can make good use of my space, and all my bins are clear so that it’s easy to see what I have in each one.

Storage in the back of my Hiker

I also store a lot of stuff in my truck, which has a camper shell in the back – I always tell people the truck bed is my storage unit. I honestly could put a lot more in the back than I do, but I like it that way.

And one more thing. As a solo person, I did not have to devote the entire interior of my camper to bed space. Instead half of my interior is bed, and the other half is…. yes, storage. Right now I keep all of my clothes inside, all my electronics, and other things I need frequently. Things are still coming and going from the various storage places in my rig, as I figure out what I need where. But it’s coming together.

I hope this article helps you make the most of the living and storage space in your teardrop. Happy travels!

Previous posts on teardrop living:

Related posts:

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Becky

Forget about what the world tells you your life should be like. At IO I teach people how to ditch the status quo and go full-time RVing before retirement. Included at no additional charge: seizing your dreams, living boldly, and making a difference.

21 Comments

  1. Chuck Kimball on November 18, 2018 at 11:23 pm

    Tell us more about your chair. My chair finally succumbed after years of use, and I’m unlikely to find the same one again. The standard fold up camping type just don’t cut it for long term use.

    Thanks



    • Becky on November 19, 2018 at 2:12 pm

      I got it from Camping World, I believe they called it the “Club chair”, you can go look in one of their stores or on their website and find it, was about $55 for mine last year. Been happy with it!



      • Chuck Kimball on December 3, 2018 at 11:27 am

        Thanks! Safe Travels.



  2. Elisa on November 18, 2018 at 9:25 pm

    Great post, Becky. We just bought a used Bunkhouse motorcycle pop up camper that we intend to take out full time within the next year. My husband trailers it behind his motorcycle and I ride my own bike without a trailer. We did 6 months motorcycle tenting a few years ago but decided we no longer want to sleep on the ground so we upgraded to the pop up. Your information concerning storage helps a lot since our storage is limited to the basement of the pop up and our motorcycles. Anything is doable if the desire is there, but it helps to have an experienced person point us in the right direction.



    • Becky on November 19, 2018 at 2:11 pm

      I’m glad you found this helpful Elisa. I have a friend who full-times in a tiny teardrop pulled with a motorcycle, and she’s been doing it almost as long as I’ve been on the road. You’ll make it work I’m sure. 🙂



  3. Pamela Campbell on November 17, 2018 at 1:55 pm

    Hi, Becky –
    I enjoyed your post. I’m surprised by the good amount of storage you have in back of your Tracker. Sounds like you are excited about your new home. That’s great. I took my Casita to Michigan for a couple of weeks and moochdocked on friends’ property. Then I headed to eastern Virginia to visit family and camped right in front of my brother’s house. So nice when there are no restrictions. Then back to Houston at an RV resort and soon a visit to Lubbock to see family. Not sure if I’m going to AZ in January. Happy travels! Pamelab



    • Becky on November 19, 2018 at 2:09 pm

      Sounds like you’re having fun Pamela, thanks for the update!



  4. RGupnorth on November 17, 2018 at 1:01 pm

    They probably could have built in some additional storage cubbies on the non-bed side wall of the TD since you are only using one side.



    • Becky on November 19, 2018 at 2:09 pm

      They could have! But that would have been more money to spend. 🙂



  5. Tom Fitch on November 17, 2018 at 10:47 am

    Are you happy with the propane tank at the rear of the driver side? I’ve not seen this before.

    Can you stand up in the Hiker? If not, do you find this to be a pita?

    I think you could buy a sweet awning and mount to your roof rack. I love my awning! Do you wish you had an awning?



    • Becky on November 19, 2018 at 2:09 pm

      Yep I like having it there, good place for the table.

      My Hiker is not tall enough to stand up in, hence this post on how to to utilize other living spaces. 🙂

      I never used the awning on my Casita despite having it for 6 years. I’ll probably get one for the Hiker eventually but am not in a rush.



  6. Littoralis on November 17, 2018 at 9:23 am

    I think I’m looking forward to squaredrop posts more than I did casita posts . 😀 Not many full time in tiny trailers.
    I dismissed tear drops outright for the longest time and wouldn’t even watch related YT vids, but I paid more attention after some tiny house builders started producing some very creative 50 -70 sqft units.

    I really like the recessed storage bays in Vistabules that allow for traditional seating position when the bed is in couch mode. I’ve even considered a mini mate motorcycle trailer as a writing nook. It’s great that so many vendors offer such tantalizing choices and I love the vids that YTers like you share with us viewers.



    • Becky on November 19, 2018 at 2:06 pm

      Glad you’re enjoying IO, thanks for following along. 🙂



  7. AZ_Kit on November 17, 2018 at 8:55 am

    Great article! I still don’t have a trailer but spend part of each week in my car, couch-surfing with friends and relatives, and sleeping on-call at private homes where I work with the disabled. My favorite part of winter in AZ is being able to store dinner leftovers for the next day by wrapping them up and putting them outside/on the roof! I saved my leftover spaghetti dinner this way a couple nights ago, it was 36 degrees in the morning, nice and cold! In the summer time my least favorite thing is having to buy ice daily for my cooler if I want to preserve anything. In rainy/snowy weather I hate being outside, and have used the movie and Whole Foods methods of keeping warm. Whole Foods has a bar with televisions and although I usually end up spending way too much on food, sometimes I save money by just getting a La Croix flavored fizzy water.



    • Becky on November 19, 2018 at 2:05 pm

      Glad you enjoyed this Kit!



  8. Larry Parnell on November 17, 2018 at 7:25 am

    Becky
    While boondocking alone in an isolated area , what precautions to theft of your rig do you recommend ?



  9. Rob on November 17, 2018 at 6:45 am

    It looks too small for me these days. I have gotten by with a van but my “ideal” small space has a full time (never have to mess with it) bed, table, kitchen & a shower.

    Enjoy!



  10. Reed Martin on November 16, 2018 at 10:00 pm

    Agree 110% on moochdocking paragraph!
    To take it a step further, no matter the hour , if within 100 miles of my bed I’ll happily drive on……and will happily drive 1,000 miles not to stay with a relative lol!



  11. Wendy Bestward on November 16, 2018 at 9:55 pm

    Organizing is the key……I am finding that with my teardrop….and it just takes time to figure out what works best for you. Are you considering an awning for your Hiker for rainy days?



    • Becky on November 19, 2018 at 1:57 pm

      Yes I am Wendy. Still researching options right now. 🙂



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