It is no surprise that going tiny and living like nomads is a fad sweeping across the nation right now- from van builds to retro motor homes; from literal tiny homes to 5th wheels- it seems as though everyone knows someone who has gone/is going tiny.
And we are no exception! We've dreamt about being on the road from the very beginning of dating. Trevor (my now husband, then boyfriend) asked me in 2016- "There's a short bus for sale up north. Should we go for it and buy it next weekend? I want to jump on it and start planning on how to get it home if we do."
At that time, we were only together for 3 weeks- but as they say, when you know, you know.
Long story short- after a grueling 16 hours of buying the bus, trying to get the bus on the trailer, realizing the trailer wheel guards were too high for the bus to sit on, getting wood to heighten the bus to sit properly, realizing the bus was too heavy and the trailer guards were rubbing on the wheels- and then saying "dude, lets just drive the bus home. It runs" We got it back to my house. When we started to gut it, and reality caught up quickly. Trevor's job became more demanding, my weddings were picking up and the weekends we had free were virtually gone, and the bus needed major work. So we sold the bus, sold my 1st house and bought a home together closer to his job (adulting, right?).
So fast forward to November of 2019- Trevor is offered a new job in Rhode Island which would force us to sell our home in Michigan and uproot us in an entirely new state not knowing a soul. But like above, we love a good adventure (and an even better story) so we jumped on it and became RI residents as of December 30th, 2019.
I don't have to tell you about the shut down of March 2020. It's kind of incredible how a pandemic can effect everyone, but affect everyone-- differently.
When the pandemic first started, I was my cheerful self saying this will pass making light of how we would all laugh and say, "this was an over reaction but totally necessary." But as the weeks kept going, I slowly felt my optimism fade away. My morning yoga and reading "The Universe Has Your Back" grounded me. I knew we were away from family + our friends for a reason, and I wrote in my journal one night, " We will be back in Michigan. We are here for a reason- that being our careers and our paths."
Trevor and I had our good days just exploring parks and getting take-out in Rhode Island. We would have our bad days where we would cook frozen pizza and wallow on the couch about how we wanted to hug our parents. We would have our bittersweet days when we would Zoom our friends to play darts- and have devastating days, like when I watched one of my closest friends get married over Zoom and not being there for her drive-by celebration.
We decided to head back to MI for a few weeks and see our friends and family in June 2020. It had been almost half a year without a hug from my mom, and I was NOT okay.
Prior to it (specifically on the bad days) Trevor and I talked about working really hard for a few years, saving up, paying debt, and being able to move back before long. We talked about moving into a less expensive apartment because we honestly were paying an arm and leg to live in downtown Providence when all festivities that pulled us there was cancelled. We talked about moving to a different town so our rent was less, but Trevor's drive to the office would be a bit further. We talked about a million different ways we could live, but it all came back to living consciously, being near family, or likewise.
A week before we left for MI, Trevor had his 6 month work check in.We joked saying his work would give him a million dollar raise, let him work wherever and we would be able to move home to Michigan. We kept joking about it over and over again and kept laughing because it would be a dream, and it also seemed far fetch. We didn't know that we were manifesting it into the Universe, but by golly- we truly were.
I left Trev to head to a Doordash food shoot the day he had his check-in. He was nervous.. and honestly I was too. I headed out the door as his call began, and I told him to call me when it was done.
You know when big news happens, you know exactly where you were and what the scene looked like? Well, I was driving up I-295, the rocky edges of hills were showing, the sun was bright on the road, I had a high vibe podcast playing and it was a beautiful day. He called me. He sounded in disbelief. And I asked jokingly, "well- are we millionaires?" He laughed and said "No, but- there's a possibility I can work from home.. forever. Meaning we could for real move back." and he giggled a little and it sounded like he was about to cry.
Our stay in MI was wonderful and we were so excited to tell our friends and family about the news! When they asked when we would move back, we really didn't know. We obviously needed the greenlight from Trevor's CEO + boss, we needed to figure out where we were going, and I now had weddings booked in Rhode Island. So really, things were up in the air, but we knew I had to be in both MI + RI for the weddings booked for 2021 so we would maybe have to stay for another year.
When we got back to RI, it was right around the time "Down to Earth" aired. My best friend Casey texted me and urged me to watch it. 2 weekends later, Trevor was invited to a little guys weekend by his friend, Matt. He went and I hung out with Onyx at home. So I figured, why not I will give it the show a go. I watched the entire series nearly 1 day. I dove in DEEP- I started to think about how living small will impact not our footprint, but also impact us- completely. We would spend more time in nature. We would be more likely to eat locally + from farmer's markets. We would explore and enjoy all that this world provides us that day in and day out we take for granted. We would save money and be able to pay things off faster. AND if Trevor really could work from home... We could be on the road.
LIGHT BULB WENT OFF- ...and then we don't have to worry about the whole, "where do we live while I have weddings in both areas!"
And.. then I started looking up blogs about HOW to live on the road. I looked up how much RVs normally cost. I looked up tons of things, like how to get internet and how to get your mail, and how to live off grid- and what does that actually mean? THEN I looked up (and started following) people who are full time nomads, their reasoning on why they "hit the road" and if it really saved them money.
The things these bloggers said resonated deep with me from mentioning how day in and day out we are so consumed by electronics- and breaking away from that. When you have a small interior, you'll feel more opt to be outdoors. Some people mentioned how they made the switch to start putting money towards debt and how they got things paid off in no time because their "rent" was cut in half (if not more).
I sent everything to Trevor and I stated "we will talk about it more when you get home, but I wanted to send you this so we can look at it later."
Trevor was leary (good man- he keeps me balanced especially when my ideas are off the wall) but open minded. That next weekend, we went to the drive-in theater and we put a blow-up mattress in the bed of his truck and watched The Goonies. I stated, " I could get used to this- living simple- but I would miss my car..." Then I stopped.. "But it's just a car.. There's others that I can buy. It's just material things. All things I can buy again later. But this- living and exploring and happiness. That I can't get back. I can't have an emotional connection to a hunk of metal like we can to nature."
^THAT mindset sunk in and stayed. And persisted, and bugged on (thank goodness).
I kept talking about it and Trevor started to come around. He reminded me not to get too excited until he had the official word he was able to work permanent remote. And as we waited, we read more. We figured out we would want a trailer VS an RV or motorhome because if I have to go to a shoot, I can just take the truck, not our entire home. And if the truck needed to be worked on, we could still have our belongings and not worry about hotel fees. We figured out that 5th wheels tend to weigh more than travel trailers, and their mounts took up most of the bed of the truck, so we decided TT it is. We really wanted an Airstream because they are lightweight and you can get a bigger square footage without the weight like the new ones. We knew, however, finding an Airstream would be really difficult.
I was all in and ready to move right into our travel trailer (that we didn't have) as soon as our lease was up in January.. in the winter. Trevor told me we probably should look for a short term 6 month lease so we would at least move in the spring. Again, good man- logical thinker!
We waited until September to finally get the word Trevor was approved to work from home! This is where we finally were able to start planning and preparing. We got to work purging a lot of stuff- Selling a king size bed + box spring, couch, desk, lamps, chairs, plates, coffee table, etc. Then we went through our clothes (what feels like once a month) to first sell what we could to Plato's Closet + Poshmark, then donating the rest to Salvation Army.
In October, I had a few weddings in MI, so we drove and brought back our lawn furniture being they take up a bit of room. The week we were in Grand Rapids, we went to check out a truck just to see what it was about. It just posted on Auto Trader and didn't have a price. We figured it would be above budget, but worth a shot to see. My visual sign from the universe when I am on the right path is a multi-colored gecko (think Florida- best way to describe it!). It wasn't like this was something I picked because I love geckos- not to say there's anything wrong with them- they're just not my favorite but it was the first thing that popped in my head when I was reading about signs. So, we checked out the truck, it ended up being right in the right price, and we went to talk numbers with our sales person. On his desk sat a photo of his daughter.. next to.. a GIANT multicolored Gecko. So, we unexpectedly found our truck that would allow us to purchase a travel trailer up to 9,900 lbs. on a Monday while in town totally unprepared but we were NOT going to walk away without it.
When it came time to move into our winter rental off the ocean, we were essentially packed, things in storage or back at our parents, and ready to plan and wait for Spring. We ended up renting fully furnished so when it got warmer, we could move our storage unit to Michigan, come back to RI to finish up some projects, then move our plants, DJ decks + clothes back.
When we were back again for Christmas, we sold my VW Sportswagen + purchased our travel trailer all in one week! Jolean, our travel trailer was nicknamed "a poorman's Airstream" which we thought was equally hilarious (and true) because Airstreams are so expensive. Things were moving fast, and things seemed to just fall in place perfectly.
Jolean, our TT is an '93 Award Classic 34. She is fiberglass + Aluminum making her ultra light (only 7200 lbs). She is a whopping 34 ft long and roughly 8 ft wide. She brings in a ton of natural light, and is a low profile camper making her a little more aerodynamic.
We did have a few issues the first 2 days having the TT- one in which- the trailer was NOT winterized and we had frozen pipes. It was Jan 1st and we were leaving bright and early on the 2nd. So we spent all day learning the ins and outs of our new home, learning the furnace kicks on and is piping hot. Learning the fridge can run on battery or electric (and gets cold FAST). We spent a lot of time familiarizing how the layout is, what renovations we needed to do, and had a crash course on campers from our buddy Jerad (thanks man!!). That one day we learned more about our home than any previous house we've been in for years. Not even joking.
The time we spent separated from the camper allowed us to save, plan our camping spots, plan out our desks, find materials, buy a trailer hitch and sway bars, etc etc etc.
In March, when we moved our storage unit home, we renovated a lot. We kept the existing cabinets, but scrubbed everything up. Took out the burgandy couch, carpet, and valences. We prepped the floors and took out at least 1,000 staples. We primed and painted the walls, fixed a little water damage spot in the back, sealed the entire trailer (thanks dad!), and put in new LVP floors. We left feeling really confident in our choice, and was eager to get back and move in!
Before moving the rest of our stuff to MI, we condensed the plants down, went through our closets yet again and donated more stuff, finished a handful of jobs in Rhode Island, and said goodbyes to a few really good friends we made (with promises to see them at the end of Summer).
So here we are today, 3 weeks in our adventure loving what it means for us. We now spend more time together and outdoors. We are strengthening our relationship and what our future looks like. We are realizing time on our phones takes away time spent being goofy in fresh air. We are realizing just because it's the weekday doesn't mean we can't go kayaking at 6PM, or can stargaze at 11PM, or wake up to catch the solar eclipse at 5:30AM (although it was cloudy and foggy, and ultimately we went back to sleep). We are getting back to a better life/work balance much like we read in the bloggers we follow.
Q- How often do you move?
A- usually every 2-4 weeks. We found this gives us things we wanted. 1. Security in our place. We hop from campground to campground which is where we feel safest and have a community from friendly seasonal RVers, to the weekend families passing through. Plus! There's usually events happening at the campground which will give us a little extra fun (like the live "party" DJ a few weeks ago to bingo last Saturday). 2. Time to explore. Trevor and myself are both working throughout the week Monday-Friday so not moving around on every weekend gives us a chance to go kayaking, explore new parks, finding farmer's markets, and swimming. 3. We also don't want to spend that much time in the Tundra. I can only imagine how quickly you can be burnt out after moving around every 3-4 days.
Q- What are you doing for internet?
A- We looked into a TON of options from Mifi Jetpacks, to antennas + satellite, and boosters- you name it, we probably looked into it. BUT we found out that if you have a device, like an ipad, that can have cell service on it, then it runs like your phone having unlimited data. Trevor's laptop has a SIM card slot, and I have my iPad so it works perfectly for us. Plus, it is only $20/device each month. Really can't beat it. We do have personal hot spots on our phones as a back-up.
Q- How did you find your campgrounds?
A- I did a ton of cross searching. So, because we need reliable service for work, I used Campendium to filter campgrounds with the Verizon service (something you can do with their paid version), partial or full hook-up, and good reviews. From there, I would check the specific campground names through Good Sam to see if we had a discount, and then finally through RA Campground to make sure they had availability on our dates and dog friendly.
Q- Do you have a path you're following?
A- Yes and No. So with the Pandemic, a lot of my 2020 weddings in Michigan postponed to 2021. While this had happened, I was still booking weddings for the New England Area. So, we are kind of following along my wedding schedule, and I am filling in the extra dates with family mini sessions, content days, and retreats!
(Honestly, it makes picking our next destination really easy.)
Q- How long are you going to travel for? Where w