Tiny Trailer Living Reflection – One Year

People are always keen to hear about how life in my Hiker Trailer is going and now another milestone has come and gone. The end of December marked one year of living in my 5′ x 8′ teardrop trailer (or squaredrop, really), so it feels time for another update.

In case you missed it, my six month review of tiny trailer living came out last summer, and it goes into the pluses and minuses of this particular setup and why I chose it. I won’t be going back over those points, so read that article if you want the full scoop.

This article is reserved for one rather big realization I’ve had about why I enjoy the simplicity of a teardrop.

While socializing with other RVers over Christmas and New Years, again and again the common RVing banter would come up: how long could everyone stretch their tanks while boondocking, who was having trouble with what on their rig, everyone’s battery capacity and solar setup, plans and progress on future or current rig purchases or builds.

Basically, all the specific little pieces of the puzzle that make the RV lifestyle possible. And I realized that none of that stuff pertained to me or interested me anymore. I’d moved past all that. I’d discussed all those things at length over the seven plus years I’ve been on the road, I’d answered all those questions.

The things I love best about RVing have little to do with the rig itself. It’s about how that motorhome, trailer, van, whatever, enables me to live.

I’ve been saying since I picked up the Hiker Trailer that I enjoy how simple it is, but December really drove home why that simplicity matters so much to me. I love not having to worry about how big my holding tanks are or the specifics of my battery capacity or about all the little nitpicky maintenance things that seem to always need doing on a large or more complex rig.

I don’t have a lot of comforts in the Hiker Trailer, but I do save time. Time I can spend hiking, reading, learning, exploring, and pursuing other interests and hobbies. And right now, I’m really valuing having all that free time. I imagine at some point the tables will turn and I’ll be craving more comfort, but for now, life in a tiny trailer continues to suit me very well.

It takes a certain kind of person to make tiny trailer living work.

Not many choose to travel full-time in something as small as Tribble, and the majority of people who do won’t stick with it for long. Every now and then a reader will write in wondering whether teardrop living could work for them, and I’ve given some thought to what qualities might suggest compatibility. For the most part they’re common sense things really.

  • Not attached to stuff
  • Care more about the adventure than the adventure vehicle
  • Mobile enough to maneuver pain free in a small space
  • Comfort is not a high value
  • Enjoy living primarily outdoors/ out of the “house”
  • Flexible enough to plan the day around the weather
  • Minimal need for personal space

No matter what your needs, no RV is going to perfectly meet them all.

Rig selection is less about finding the absolute perfect rig, and more about learning what negatives you can live with and which you can’t. That last item on the list above is the biggest negative for me, because I am a rather private person and I like having my own space. And this one is a bit less intuitive than the other items on that list, so let me explain.

In the RVing world, being outside your rig is like an open invitation for other RVers to come talk to you. People who travel in teardrops are going to have people dropping by to talk because we spend so much time outside, and because tiny trailers are something of a novelty and attract a lot of attention.

But as with many of the negatives of RVing, there are workarounds. To increase privacy I park on the edge of gatherings, and when I’m boondocking alone I travel farther out and look for camping spots that can only fit one rig. It’s not a perfect solution, but it works well enough to keep this a negative I can deal with.

And one last thing on tiny trailers, from a purchasing perspective.

Usually, my favorite piece of advice for any prospective full-timer looking to buy their first RV is to buy used and stay well under budget, since RVs depreciate so quickly and there’s no real way to know for sure how well this lifestyle (or any particular RV for that matter) will fit until you’ve tried it. (Statistically, over 50% of people buying their first RV will be in a different one in two years.)

With teardrops though, this advice falls a little flat.

Many hold their value better and are cheaper to purchase new than a larger, more conventional RV. Still stay within your budget of course, but new might not be out of the question. If you are going to buy new and want the best value for your money, you’ll want to be looking at smaller companies or home-built units, over the big name brand teardrops which all tend to be pricier. (And another interesting quirk I noticed when shopping for mine, the traditional teardrop shaped brands tended to be pricier than more square shaped ones. I’m not sure if the curved look is genuinely more expensive to produce, or if it’s just perceived as more expensive.)

Building your own is also an option. Teardrop Facebook groups are full of people who built or are building their own, and most find it very rewarding as you can make it exactly to your specifications. I’d say the biggest consideration here is time. Many expect to finish such a project in a few weeks, when in reality it often takes a few months. If you go this route, connect with other builders for advice, and allow enough time for the project.

And speaking of time, I’m running out of time to finish this post.

So in conclusion, yes, I’m still enjoying tiny trailer living. I’m loving the simplicity of this living arrangement, and the positives are continuing to outweigh the negatives. If you yourself are thinking of getting a tiny trailer, I hope this article helps you in some small way to come to a conclusion on whether it’s right for you.

Thank you for reading!

Teardrop Trailer Living series:

Looking for more information on small RV living? Check out my book, Solo Full-time RVing On A Budget!

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Becky

At IO I teach people how to ditch the status quo and travel full-time before retirement, and share stories of my adventures (and misadventures) to inspire future nomads and armchair travelers alike. Included at no additional charge: seizing your dreams, living boldly, and making a difference.

20 Comments

  1. Steve on January 26, 2020 at 9:46 am

    My recommendation to people under 30 is to be patient and save up as much money as you can to get whatever rig that you want.
    I see so many young people who jump the gun and it ends up costing them more in the long run. And do a lot and I mean a lot of research.
    And whatever you do don’t buy a real teardrop trailer. Those are all bed inside with no floor room. So unless you like peeing or craping in a
    pouring down rain or 28 degree temps their not worth it. And in case your wondering about my experience. 55 years tent camping and 12 years
    RVing all over the western U.S.



    • Becky on February 4, 2020 at 11:02 am

      Solid advice Steve.



  2. RGupnorth on January 26, 2020 at 7:00 am

    Pretty soon your going to have to start writing about your thoughts/research on a Bertha replacement – it might be a few years down the road yet, but you have already started to see the repair cost side of an older vehicle. Good TD trailer review.



    • Becky on February 4, 2020 at 11:02 am

      Glad you enjoyed this RG! There’s more about Bertha coming up in a couple posts…



  3. Quinn on January 24, 2020 at 4:05 pm

    Hi Becky! I see a lot of parallels with tiny trailer life and tiny houses. People are always going to be curious about a “different” lifestyle. I’ve lived in small apartments for a long time and I can’t imagine life in a huge house! I see YouTubers getting bigger rigs until they are essentially driving small houses. I think you are the only one I’ve seen that has gone smaller! Thanks for the update! I’m still waiting for a “tour” of the inside. 😉



    • Becky on January 24, 2020 at 4:17 pm

      You’re welcome Quinn! I know other RVers who have gone smaller, but not as many as decide to go larger. I suppose if I’m still on the road in ten years maybe I’ll be in something larger too, I mean, I can’t get much smaller than this, haha!



      • Randy on January 25, 2020 at 8:22 pm

        Great to hear from you!!, it’s been a while, glad things are going good, safe travels! !



  4. Trent M on January 24, 2020 at 2:31 pm

    Glad to hear that your little teardrop is working out for you.



  5. Michelle Thelen on January 24, 2020 at 2:30 pm

    Thanks for sharing your year-end review of Hiker living. I think you chose right. For a younger person it’s perfect. You can avoid high costs of RV repairs and towing too.
    I just reserved a spot in an RV lot near Jordan Lake in NC. It’s a beautiful spot near lots of hiking trails. I plan to spend a year or so there before cutting loose and doing more travel. I’m in process of RV shopping but focusing on smaller trailers.
    I’m older than you so will feel better having hookups and some stability.
    If you’re ever in this area, look me up for a hike or campfire.
    Michelle



    • Becky on January 24, 2020 at 4:15 pm

      You’re welcome Michelle and I’m glad you enjoyed this post. Enjoy NC! I love camping near hiking trails and I hope you have a great year there.



  6. Rhonda Markham on January 24, 2020 at 8:50 am

    Thank you for your thoughts and review of your Hiker after a full year of living in it. I’m so happy for you that you made the right choice for your wants and needs at this juncture in your life. So many folks spend *years* trying out different rvs (and spending a LOT of money doing so) before settling on something that *mostly* works for them. I am a small trailer enthusiast as you are for all the same reasons…ease of movement, fewer hassles to deal with, less expensive. My little Runaway is not as rugged as your Hiker but I’m only a part timer and don’t boondock so this little jewel works for me. Thanks, again, for your wonderful blog, Becky. I’ll never be a full timer but I love hearing from folks who are! Safe travels…Rhonda



    • Becky on January 24, 2020 at 4:13 pm

      Thank you for the lovely comment Rhonda and I’m glad the Runaway is treating you well! If you ever do decide to try boondocking, I think you’ll be surprised by what roads it can go down, even not being an off-road model. Technically, mine isn’t either. 😉



  7. Jim and Barb on January 24, 2020 at 7:25 am

    Your advice to prospective first time RV’ers is spot on. We have met several RV’ers who bought new and then a year later they were selling their rigs and not getting nearly what they thought they should.



    • Becky on January 24, 2020 at 4:11 pm

      I think most people don’t realize how fast RVs depreciate because they expect it to be like a regular vehicle, which holds value better.



  8. Michael on January 23, 2020 at 5:34 pm

    I will never forget the owner of a teardrop in a campground I was staying in who approached me and asked about my “R V”. I was sleeping on a cot in the back of my mule trailer and eating out of cans. He gave me a tour of his homebuilt teardrop and I remember thinking how fancy his rig was. ( ;



    • Becky on January 24, 2020 at 4:10 pm

      Haha Michael, it’s funny how relative it all is, isn’t it? People in 40′ motorhomes are considered to be living tiny by the average house owner, and to us that’s a mansion. 🙂



  9. Ray Mullen on January 23, 2020 at 1:25 pm

    How about a list of the negatives?



  10. Ken on January 23, 2020 at 1:08 pm

    I’m wondering why you didn’t just use the back of your truck as your new home instead of towing a trailer. Seems like it could be almost as comfortable and offer more benefits as far as simplicity and being able to travel more remotely.
    Sorry if you already answered this, just don’t remember you covering it.

    thanks,

    Ken.



    • Becky on January 24, 2020 at 4:07 pm

      I believe I talked about this before, but it was over a year ago so there’s no harm in asking again Ken.

      There’s a couple reasons. One, the back of the truck is not very weather resistant, the topper lets some water in so when it rains I’d had a wet bed. But that wouldn’t be terribly hard to fix, the biggest reason is that I love having the back of the truck for storage. As this is my full-time home and I don’t have a storage locker anywhere, I need a place to store stuff (clothes that aren’t in season, propane, my leveling blocks and chocks, chair, table and stove, etc).



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