Our Version of Minimalism

Minimalism is a hot topic right now, and one we're glad to see trending. We hope it sticks around and that more people begin to think about the impact human beings have on the earth. We're often asked for our advice on living with less, which makes sense. After all, in the past four years, we've downsized twice and have lived (off and on) in 160-200 square feet. Yet when we share our "methods", we notice the crestfallen looks. We don't have a one-size-fits-all methodology or a hard and fast rulebook. 

When we decided to travel, it wasn't an experiment in living with less (meaning minimalism wasn't a driving factor). In our case, our reasons for traveling full-time were from a deeper, emotional place that wasn't tied to the amount of stuff we had filling up our home. It wasn't until we began the work of eliminating the clutter and excess so we could downsize to live in a tiny home that we began to notice how much lighter and freer we felt. Now, that's our story. Your reasons for minimizing may be tied to deep, emotional reasons, and that's one-thousand percent okay. 

The important thing to remember is that you don't have to follow KonMari or live with only 33 things to be a minimalist, though if you are the type of person that needs a structure to get started, we highly recommend finding a guide that best suits you. We've definitely read Marie Kondo's book and flipped through Project 333's guidelines, but we find that our particular way of doing minimalism doesn't look very minimalist. We love thrifting and have a constant in-and-out of beautiful ceramics, wooden implements, art, rugs, and textiles that we pick up and then sell. We travel with a truck load of tools for work. Our Airstream home is rarely clean or organized, and if we each lived with only 33 items of clothing, we'd only wear ripped, stained, and threadbare work clothes because most of our job is physical labor. Yikes - not into that. 

What does work for us is keeping our home tiny, along with other things I'll go into below, and to accept that minimalism is a practice, not a destination. We are constantly learning and reminding ourselves of not only this, but that it's okay to want things sometimes. It's okay to sometimes have an impulse buy. It's okay to have a dress in the closet that I only wear once a year because I love the way it makes me feel when I wear it. It's okay to love thrifting, but to be mindful of the purchases when we go...and that keeping a little vintage shop on the side to sell some of those finds is really fun and serves a purpose for us.

Minimalism should look different to everyone, but we find that the driving factor behind the practice is sustainability. We have friends who practice zero-waste, while my insanely busy life and demands keep me happily recycling as much as I can and taking my own water bottle with me to yoga class. For yet others, minimalism is voting with their dollar: buying only fair-trade, ethically produced clothing and wares for their home as opposed to fast fashion, while some shop purely secondhand for clothing and wares. For the record, we buy secondhand more often, as that's what's in our budget, but I do buy cheaper clothing sometimes for my kid when I can't find a secondhand item she needs. She goes through clothing so fast, it's hard to rationalize spending $100 on a dress for a growing child. We donate the clothing she grows out of to local charities wherever we are. 

When buying an item, I do think about it's use, though it doesn't always have to have a specific function. The use, for me, may be making me smile or bringing warmth into my home, like a framed vintage photograph I found of the mountains and saguaros here in Arizona, taken the year of my birth (1985). I am a collector of pieces like this, found buried in stacks at flea markets or secondhand shops, artwork created by someone once and likely changing through many sets of hands before finding its way into mine. 

Minimalism can be an incredibly therapeutic and mindful practice, yet I'm 4.5 years into my minimalist lifestyle, and I'm still learning what it means to me, and I still slip up even within the rules I've set for myself and the rules we've set for our family.  If I had a big house again, I think that I'd likely be more of a maximalist and fill the space, though I'd maintain my personal goal of not buying mass-produced things and instead wait for the perfect vintage, secondhand item, just as I do now in my tiny space. There are times where I feel overwhelmed with the amount of vintage I've accumulated, and I know it's time to host a flash sale for it all. I go through my two drawers of clothing about four times a year and pull out pieces to donate, and we've digitized all of our bill-paying and the majority of our business, save our business cards and postcards, which are printed on 100% recycled paper. Even our client contracts are digital, and we use DocHub for signatures. Some of our decisions are influenced by our tiny space: our daughter reads like crazy, and can go through a 150 page chapter book in a day. Getting her a Kindle and a subscription for Kindle Unlimited keeps stacks of books from piling up around the Airstream. In my case, however, I can't read on a screen for anything and I buy used copies of the books I want to read, and then pass them along when finished to friends. These are just some of things that we do, which are quite intentional, to hold ourselves accountable to the standard of minimalism that we've set for ourselves and to maintain our own practice, which ebbs and flows just like anything else does. 

Minimalism can - and should - be your own journey and practice, just like ours is. It doesn't have to be perfectly lined up and matching organizers in a big walk in pantry and hangers spread finger width apart with clothes in color-coordinated order, no matter what blog or catalog is telling you it should be. You needn't be a fan of neutrals or black, white, and grey to be a minimalist. You don't have to have a capsule wardrobe or live in a tiny house or apartment. You can do all of these things, of course, but it's not a requirement for minimalism. Minimalism could be letting go of a deceased family member's clothing you've been holding onto that makes you sad, or streamlining your wardrobe to only the things you actually wear and finding your true style that makes you feel amazing. It could be cleaning out the clutter under your bathroom sink and purchasing less product, and finding the ones you do use and sticking to those. It could mean buying things slowly, waiting until you're absolutely certain you can't live another day without the item in question. It could mean downsizing your 3,000 square foot home to something more manageable, like 1,200 square feet (like my parents just did!), with less space to hide things away. 

Whatever your version of minimalism, practice it with intention and mindfulness, and give yourself grace and time. Minimalism isn't achieved in a weekend, it's an ongoing practice that often requires great diligence and emotional sorting in addition to the physical work. Start your journey by figuring out why you want to minimize, and identify small but definite steps to take to get started. 

 

To Renovate or Not: The "Right" Way to Get on the Road

Lately I've noted quite a few discussions in comment sections on IG, on blogs, and on profiles of Airstreamers/RVers/vanlifers over the past few months, and it's largely centered around how travel/adventure should be the reason for the rig (if you aren't using it as a stationary residence), and that the focus should be on the end goal: getting on the road. 

 First Airstream renovation, April 2015. We were broke as a joke, which is a big reason our first build was so simple in execution and amenity. 

First Airstream renovation, April 2015. We were broke as a joke, which is a big reason our first build was so simple in execution and amenity. 

I agree. 

I could be wrong, but what the discussions are skirting around (without actually coming out and saying it), is that it would seem some people are renovating for those juicy before and afters on Instagram and get their fifteen minutes. I believe that the critique largely circles around people who are using the RV/caravan/Airstream/#vanlife trend to get famous, and as RV life has skyrocketed in popularity the last couple years, there are people out there who are building out caravans for the sake of starting lifestyle blogs and getting big followings and free stuff.

Yet I also believe that there are far fewer of those folks than there are hard-working people who are full of hope and excitement and who willing to put in the crazy tough work and sacrifice to give this travel thing a go, and those people deserve understanding and support from anyone who has gotten on the road ahead of them, no matter how they got there. 

 Ellen grinding rust off the chassis, June 2014. Shreds of subfloor RESTING in the belly pan, it was so rotten that it just fell apart. 

Ellen grinding rust off the chassis, June 2014. Shreds of subfloor RESTING in the belly pan, it was so rotten that it just fell apart. 

The issue I take with people slamming everyone who takes the time to build their rigs out from the get go is pretty simple. 

Everyone's story and circumstances are different.

As I stated above, I fully believe that if your goal is to travel, that adventure should absolutely be the driving factor to live in any type of adventure-mobile. I also believe firmly that reasons to chase the adventure should come from the heart, not vanity or celebrity. In our case, we decided to travel before we knew we wanted an Airstream. The Airstream idea came into play several months into our research and planning stages to get on the road. The question that I posed to Ellen is right here on our website: 

What if we sold everything, bought a bus, and traveled

It was always, always about the travel and the reasons behind it. Hell, that's why we travel to our renovations now, which isn't as dreamy as it sounds. It would be a million times easier to have a studio and shop somewhere, but we want to live on the road, or at least get as close to that as we can, even while renovating. 

Four years ago, our reasons weren't much different than they are today: we wanted more from life, we wanted to find a place we fit (hint: we found it), we wanted to be together more, we wanted to explore, we wanted to create art and shape our own lives, to break the mold we'd been not-so-gracefully trying to fit ourselves into. During the stretches where it felt like nothing was happening toward our goal, even though we were working our asses off, all I could think about was what it was going to be like to finally get on the road and how our lives and hearts would undoubtedly shift and change. I would make lists of places we wanted to see, and hung a map above our bed that we studied at night. Everything I wrote was about the goal. Every song I listened to made me think about travel, and the word rolled off my tongue multiple times a day. Yet there were concrete steps that we had to take to get on the road. 

Was I jealous of other travelers who were able to buy new rigs and already had jobs that allowed them to be mobile? Abso-fuckin-lutely. But that was not our story, and those were not our circumstances. For us to travel, we had to figure out how to make it work in every aspect, not just one or two. We turned our ENTIRE lives upside down. When all was said and done, our new travelin' life was a completely different one than the traditional, "American-dream", convenience-filled life we left behind. We had different jobs, a hefty savings account, and an adventure-home we'd designed and built ourselves. That kind of change doesn't happen overnight: it took us a year and a half to slowly make change happen that would allow us to safely and responsibly get on the road. 

 mE, ABOUT 30 POUNDS HEAVIER THAN i was when we finished the renovation. The work was so laborious that I shed weight without even having to go to the gym. Also, I remember thinking at this point there was no way this trailer would ever look good again. 

mE, ABOUT 30 POUNDS HEAVIER THAN i was when we finished the renovation. The work was so laborious that I shed weight without even having to go to the gym. Also, I remember thinking at this point there was no way this trailer would ever look good again. 

In our case, I had just closed a photography business on a sad and indebted note. I was freelancing when I could and nannying part time for $400 buckaroos a month to make ends meet and build out our Airstream and save for travel. Ellen was teaching, and one of our (many) reasons for deciding to travel was largely propelled by our inability to have a life outside of working, commuting, and living paycheck to paycheck. That didn't go away with the decision to travel. We still had to live paycheck to paycheck...and now we had to figure out a way to bring in extra cash, buy an RV of some kind, and also figure out how to make money on the road! Ellen couldn't exactly bring the teaching job with us, and I couldn't be a nanny from the road either.

We had a real mountain to face, and knew that our expenses weren't going to be drastically cut because we were traveling: we had to figure out how we were going to make travel AND building our rig out happen financially. Living on the road isn't as inexpensive as one might think: sure, you get rid of your mortgage, but you pay for campsites (BLM land isn't everywhere, there are portions of the country where you've gotta suck it up and pay, especially with large rigs that aren't exactly suited to stealth camping in public places). $30.00/night x 30 nights = $900.00 (that is more than our mortgage at the time, which was $680/mo.). You get rid of your bills, but you've gotta have mobile internet and pay for gas. You still have to have insurance and for us, we had student loans and credit card debt as well. 

The only way we could afford to get on the road was to buy a cheap trailer and then cheaply fix it up over time without a single amenity on board: we had no hot water, no heat, no AC, no fridge, no stove. We couldn't afford those things. In order to buy our first Airstream and get started on the work, we held a series of yard sales to sell all our stuff and sold Ellen's 1994 Toyota pickup truck. The sale of the truck was $4k, and that's what we bought our first Airstream for: $4k (we haggled down from $4800). We bought a 1957 Airstream Overlander in terrible condition because that's what we could afford and that's what we could find. 

It's important to see perspectives and stories outside of our own.

There are reasons that you may not know for why someone may have to spend a year or even longer renovating before they even get to get on the road. In our case, we'd work as long as we could on the money we had, stop, save more, work again, stop, save more...you get the idea. 

If we'd had money up front, we could have done things differently, like buy a newer rig that didn't need as much work (though we live in a 1994 now, and it needed to be fully gutted, just FYI). If we'd had money up front, we likely would have been able to finish our renovation a lot faster. There were months that would go by where we couldn't work because we couldn't afford supplies. There were many weeks as we got closer to finishing the Airstream renovation and our house was under contract that we had to eat on $25 a week for a family of three (which meant Ellen and I didn't eat breakfast or lunch for weeks on end so our daughter could) just so we could buy supplies and make our dream happen.

Some people have to sacrifice a lot more than it may look like from an outside perspective to go after their dreams. I think that a good bulk of people who do their renovations up front do so because they have to, and it's not just the renovation that they are transforming over time: it's their entire livelihoods and lifestyle. I think that's worth commending and respecting. 

 I took this picture in March 2015, after we'd been working toward our dream for a little over a year. we'd sold almost everything we owned, had an interested potential buyer for our house (they'd later back out), and we'd taken a dilapidated old trailer and turned it into this. I remember just sitting on the floor with grateful tears pricking at the corners of my eyes.

I took this picture in March 2015, after we'd been working toward our dream for a little over a year. we'd sold almost everything we owned, had an interested potential buyer for our house (they'd later back out), and we'd taken a dilapidated old trailer and turned it into this. I remember just sitting on the floor with grateful tears pricking at the corners of my eyes.

I think it’s admirable when one must have patience and puts in the work to get to where they want to be. That doesn't make someone less of an adventurer or full-time traveler. It might - just might - mean they wanted it more, because they had to wait for it and strive for it and deal with the emotional rollercoaster that is transforming an entire life and an old trailer for a long period of time. It's easier to give up when you have to wait a lot longer than others had to and your work and efforts aren't paying off yet. There isn't instant gratification, and that can be trying. Pushing through the tough lot over and over again, like we had to, isn't an easy thing to do. We admire those who have to do this tremendously, because we've been there. Hell, we're still there. We're still not making very much money and we are still working toward the freedom to travel where we want, when we want. 

 On the road, July 2015. We'd made it, and we had a beautiful home we loved. We'd accomplished everything we'd had to, and we'd overcome all of the obstacles we'd faced. It felt surreal and we had just incredible gratitude for it all, and pride for our gumption and hard work. It had been worth every single trial to wake up in places like this. 

On the road, July 2015. We'd made it, and we had a beautiful home we loved. We'd accomplished everything we'd had to, and we'd overcome all of the obstacles we'd faced. It felt surreal and we had just incredible gratitude for it all, and pride for our gumption and hard work. It had been worth every single trial to wake up in places like this. 

If you're someone who got to get out right away or quickly (i.e., a few short weeks or months after deciding to travel), your circumstances were likely different from someone with less mobility in their job/a smaller budget/kids, etc. You're perhaps waiting to renovate later on and make your space reflect your tastes after you've gotten some road life under your belts, while someone else may have to save money and work to find a mobile job and build out their rig over time and on a strict budget. There are pros and cons to each way, and not having to wait doesn't make you better, it doesn't make you a superior traveler, it doesn't mean that you're right and someone else is wrong. It just means your story, your circumstances, your budget, your job, your family life...looks different from someone else's.

As long as someone is getting on the road and doing so for real, heartfelt reasons...it doesn't matter how they got there, or how long it took them, and it really doesn't matter that it looks different from what you did.

Have a beer around a campfire with the ones who had to wait when they finally get out on the road, victorious and fresh and excited, and let them share their story, and you share yours, and then all agree that half the adventure is getting to the adventure, no matter how long it takes, and the adventure is worth every step it took us to get to it, and then raise a glass in gratitude that we are all just living our versions of our best and most beautiful lives, and working to keep them alive, no matter what. 

#willingdiscomfort

When I wake, I stretch my legs to my right and plant my feet squarely on the aluminum wall. It's a strange habit to have, but there it is. I gauge the temperature outside pretty quickly this way, if it's not already apparent in the Airstream itself (it usually is). The inch and a half gap between the interior and exterior skins, though insulated, is still only an inch and a half gap sandwiched between thin sheets of aluminum. I have felt it icy, the same as I have felt it baking. 

 Louise in Wyoming. Breathtaking boondocking site. July 2015. Most insane mosquitos I've ever experienced - but there were just as many wildflowers, so it evened out. 

Louise in Wyoming. Breathtaking boondocking site. July 2015. Most insane mosquitos I've ever experienced - but there were just as many wildflowers, so it evened out. 

Yesterday, between the hours of 11:30-4:30pm, when the sun rose overhead and temperatures climbed from 93 (early morning) to 105 (midday), our AC tripped the breaker, per the usual. After a couple resets, I gave up and peeled off my clothes and plunked my kid in the shower and ran cool water over her and then myself. 

Our current living situation is unlike other travelers in that we are in one set and predetermined location for our renovation jobs. We arrived mid-February and will finish the job in mid-to-late July, when temperatures in southern Arizona will climb to 120. We are parked in full-sun with no shade trees available, and do not have the ability to move on simply because the weather isn't to our liking (like other travelers can) until we finish our job. 

While in some regards it is easier to be stationary (hookups!), we are at the mercy of our location until the job is done, which means we have to lean into the discomfort. There is discomfort on the road too, and that's what I'm slowly getting around to: 

This lifestyle was never about being comfortable. 

It's a strange thing to be a designer of caravan interiors sometimes, as my job is to create spaces that ultimately look far more comfortable than they actually are. When building, we also incorporate function for comfort and ease. Locking mechanisms on drawers to stay closed in transit, 12v pumps for water when off-grid. Yet no matter how stunning the interior, no matter how plush and luxurious it may seem: the facts remain. This is still a camper, it will still be hauled down the road and the insides will be shaken up like boots in a dryer. 

 Hot springs off Highway 395, summer 2017 with June. Sites like this one are accessed via washboard roads and don't have hookups. Just the way we like it. 

Hot springs off Highway 395, summer 2017 with June. Sites like this one are accessed via washboard roads and don't have hookups. Just the way we like it. 

Though we live in an Airstream, albeit an unfinished one, and we have what a lot of folks would consider bells and whistles, we are still living in a trailer on wheels that comes with limitation and discomfort.

It's part of the package. We knew what we were signing up for.

As we have learned more about ourselves and living tiny, we've upgraded our space quite a lot from our first Airstream, which was more like #vanlife in it's rudimentary amenity. We had a bucket and water jug for a toilet, one small sink in the kitchen, curtains to divide the spaces, and converting beds. We didn't have an oven, refrigerator, hot water, or heat/air-conditioning. 

What we had instead were basics. The elements we needed to provide shelter and exist as a family. Our must-haves were different then: 

  • Ellen wanted to be able to stand up (she's 5'9"). 
  • I wanted to be able to use the toilet in my own home, because public bathrooms creep me out and if we're being totally honest, my belly is SO sensitive and I want to be able to get sick privately. 
  • We both wanted a separate bed from our daughter, who might be the most violent sleeper there ever was. You'll lose an eye sleeping next to her.
  • We chose a trailer as opposed to a small RV/bus/van so our daughter could be safely in a car seat in a truck and we could detach our home to go off road exploring. 

That was it. 

Those were our requirements when we built out Louise four years ago, for who we were at the time and what are our needs were then. Our budget played a huge role as well, we couldn't afford appliances, and got on the road without them with the hopes we could install them over time. 

As our family expanded (we have not one, but two lab rescues now), and our daughter grew up, and we opened our business, our needs changed. We needed different things on board, as well as more space. Our business keeps us crazy busy - we're in the second quarter of year two - so we wanted to add some elements and amenities to cut down on time spent on daily chores so we could grasp at what precious little time there is to just BE. Here are some of the reasons we sold our second Airstream build, June, which we only lived in for seven months, and decided to live in a 1994 Airstream while we renovated it (outside of being crazy people, that's a given):

 What our Airstream looked like the day we moved in. 

What our Airstream looked like the day we moved in. 

  • Our daughter is 8.5 and we don't see giving up living in an Airstream any time soon. She has already started craving more space and privacy, and the pre-teen years are just around the corner. She wasn't a fan of having to convert the dining table into her bed every night. She loves lounging in bed with a good book in the morning, so we didn't have a space to sit with our coffee or laptops for our morning work meetings if the weather wasn't great outside. Having a separate space for her bed and our dinette will allow us to keep living in an Airstream as our daughter grows up.
  • We have a ventless washer/dryer unit on board. Is this a luxury? Absolutely. Yet our reasoning for buying one was absolutely practical. We renovate Airstreams for a living and contrary to what some people (okay, mostly men who send us shitty emails) think, we do ALL the work ourselves. Which means we're often covered in polish and oxidization residue, grease, dirt, grime, etc., AND we live in 213 square feet of Airstream with very little space to store clothing, which includes options to wear while working, AND work 12 hour days because we're a new business and there's only two of us doing everything that's gotta be done for business and life. We have very little family time or self care time, so you bet your sweet ass that not having to drag our laundry to the laundromat multiple times a week has helped us get some precious family time back. Instead of someone or all of us sitting at a laundromat for hours, we pop a load into the unit every couple of days before we go to bed and wake to clean clothes. This has given us evenings and weekends back to be together as a family. 
  • We have a shower and a hot water heater. Same reasons as above. This work is DIRTY. When we're not renovating, we're happy as clams to go without showers for long stretches of time (our record is fifteen days while in Alaska three summers ago). Grease is different than dirt. 
  • We have a private bedroom with a door. Does this one really need to be explained?
  • Our fridge runs off DC and AC power and will keep our food cold while in transit. It's 8.1 cubic feet, has a separate freezer, and we are able to go grocery shopping for longer stretches of time (one to two weeks instead of every couple days). Once again...we are busy. For those of you that have done Airstream renovations, imagine condensing it into 3-5 months and then add in running a business on top of it...and then add in renovating another Airstream on top of that. We are all about finding time wherever we can so we can feel like humans (not robot builders, which is how we feel most of the time). 
  • Last but not least, our Airstream isn't just our home. It's our mobile on-site office. We have clients come inside for ordering, for explaining how things work, as a showroom, etc. I have a desk that is separate from where we eat and where we sleep so my laptop is always out and available. The desk cabinet holds samples for client project designs, files, receipts, sketchbooks, business cards, etc. Having a designated space from which to run our business has changed the way our business runs. It's become much more efficient to have everything accessible and in one place...all the time. 

Yet that doesn't mean we're without discomfort. Once again, you could have every luxury on board and you're still living in a vehicle/trailer. There are still limitations to what you can do that are bound by the confines of your camper. Campers, in and of themselves, are supposed to blur the line between indoors and outdoors.

There will be dust and dirt in every nook and cranny. I dust off my desk and laptop every single day before I sit down to work. In hot temperatures, though the AC is on (we do not have a heat source, by the way, outside of cheap electric space heaters, and try to avoid cold temperatures like the plague) and the thermostat is set to 72, the inside temperature is still 90+. As I write this, the breaker tripped again and the temperature inside is a wonderfully stagnant 105. The single pane windows and 1.5" thick aluminum walls don't do much to block the scorching sun in Arizona in May (Reflectix in the windows and skylights, along with extending all the awnings and keeping the rock guard down on the front panoramic windows does help some). When we go to shower, we have to run the water for about 15 minutes to get the scalding hot hose water out first, or wait until late at night to grab showers when the hose water has finally cooled. Why write all of this? I'm not complaining, I'm sharing the truth about what it's like to live this way: quite simply, it asks of us to continue to live and thrive amidst uncomfortable circumstances and situations. 

 4Runner buildout. Slept at a KOA in Missouri as we hightailed toward the sunshine out West. We like KOAs when we're in a hurry to get somewhere because they're right off the highway and have nice showers in heated or cooled bathrooms. Also, this was our first night with this setup and it did not remain this clean or tidy. 

4Runner buildout. Slept at a KOA in Missouri as we hightailed toward the sunshine out West. We like KOAs when we're in a hurry to get somewhere because they're right off the highway and have nice showers in heated or cooled bathrooms. Also, this was our first night with this setup and it did not remain this clean or tidy. 

A few years ago, we traveled/lived out of the back of our 4Runner (we've actually done this twice). We just wanted to be on the road again, and took off and zipped west as fast as we could. We built out the back of the 4Runner with a couple pieces of plywood, creating a platform for a bed up top, with storage underneath for a "kitchen". We installed drawer runners on a piece of plywood to pull out and create a counter, since we knew we'd largely be boondocking and wanted a place for food prep. 

Over the course of those weeks living out of the back of our small SUV, we realized for certain that traveling in that small of a vehicle really wasn't for us. We'd tossed around the idea of a van occasionally in the past, but it's just really not for our family. If I was single? I'd totally do it. 

The trip we took in the 4Runner was a few years ago when our daughter was a lot smaller (though still a violent sleeper), and we brought our then one dog, who is older and calm (we now have a 1.5 year old pup). We were able to leave our cat at home with a friend, but we travel with him now and his litter box is tucked away under our bed. Though I was able to dig a hole and shit in it with the best of 'em, and was able to prepare meals on the plywood, and able to (sorta) sleep at night and had no qualms about changing clothes outside (even in 25 degrees), it wasn't my preference. I was much more comfortable and able to feel like my best self with more space. My introversion, my ability to focus on my work, my desire for privacy...all of these things add up to wanting a bit more space, not to mention the reasons listed above. 

I like the ability to compare and contrast the different experiences we've had, because I don't see that many differences between living out of the back of an SUV and living in a 213 square foot Airstream. Oh, they are certainly there. Instead of peeing on the ground or into a water bottle, I instead pee into a composting toilet urine bucket that we then have to go dump once a day (mmm...urine scents). Instead of sleeping in a 52" wide bed with my head a few inches from the ceiling with a 55-pound dog and a kid and 5'9" woman, I sleep with a 70-pound dog and cat and 5''9" woman in a 60" bed and I don't hyperventilate at the claustrophobic feeling and sometimes sleep through the night (until the dog kicks me in the head). I still get outside and want to be outside, even with more space and "luxury". We don't sit inside all the time just because we have more space to do so. 

Everything is always dirty, just the same as it was in the back of the SUV. I pull out clothes from the bin under the bed and they're covered in dust. So while this may seem like luxury to some, Pinterest worthy or not, it's still a camper that is meant to blur the line between indoors and outdoors. It still means sacrifice, one which we make willingly (gotta bold that word, because someone inevitably will think I'm complaining about my life, when I'm actually so fucking grateful for it). It means discomfort. Choosing this life means choosing inconvenience. It means things won't work all the time. If you renovate yourself, or even have someone do it for you, the work doesn't end once you move in. It is continual. You can have the dreamiest, most Pinterest-worthy home on wheels, but it's still a camper, meant to blur those lines and get you outside. The air and the dirt will get in, so you get out and actually breathe it in and sink your feet into the earth. 

It really doesn't matter how luxurious you make your rig out to be. The whole point is to shake things up and challenge yourself, to live outside of expectation, to work to keep the dream of living on the road alive. So while our home may seem dreamy and luxurious or ostentatious to some, let me be the first to say...we're very much happily blurring the line between indoors and outdoors, accepting discomfort, fixing broken shit, peeing in a container, and we're hot when it's hot, cold when it's cold, and willingly making the sacrifices necessary to live tiny, to be mobile, to work for ourselves, and to live for ourselves.