There are things they don’t tell you when you consider living tiny. When you take that “small footprint” idea, and toss it on wheels, and haul it on down the road – things get even more real. Like most folks, I too am obsessed with looking at RV reno projects on Pinterest and checking out all the glorious dirt-bag-van-lifers out there who are truly living simply in order to experience something special. In between all of that, is regular old RV life.
I’m going share some of what I’ve learned in my close-to-one-year on the road. The last on this list is the MOST important, and maybe the most unpleasant reality of a living in a mobile home, so don’t say I didn’t warn you. But I do promise that they aren’t all bad!!
Don’t ignore the things you love most
In my regular home, I have a hoard of scented soy candles, MANY leopard-print items, tons of brightly colored vintage clothes and a pair of hideous metallic Birks that Heather hates. I left it all there (except one amazing soy candle because…lighting). And I regret it.
This may sound weird, especially given the whole tiny living thing. But, I’ve chatted with lots of other RVers and the consensus is the same. It’s the creature comforts you allow yourself that make the RV lifestyle doable. When I was making those crucial packing decisions, I chose mostly neutral colored clothing. Now, I don’t need my 80s orange leather jacket to be happy (wait, do I?), but if I had the opportunity to dress more like “me” it would definitely make me feel good.
Whatever makes you feel good and special, like maybe having a fancy whiskey on hand for a cocktail, or making the effort to bring (and protect!) your favorite funky heels, do it!
Whatever chore you hate, you’ll hate even more when you’re living in tiny town.
If you hate washing dishes at home, well, get ready to do it three times a day. I use this example because dish washing is my single most-hated chore. I can’t tell you why, other than that I drive myself crazy with it, and then I’ll leave ONE DIRTY FORK in the sink because I JUST CAN’T DO IT ANYMORE, which makes things even worse.
Whatever square footage you’re rocking, a few dishes in the sink or clothes thrown on the couch make a huge difference in how your space feels. You’ll clean every day, probably multiple times a day. The good thing is, it takes only a few minutes to wipe down, scrub, fold…whatever you’re doing. But just know, this life ain’t for the chore-averse.
Your stuff will get used hard
Now, this one makes me think of my sister in 4th grade who told me I could never keep a white shirt clean. I had to remind her that I was TEN YEARS OLD and perfectly capable of maintaining the pristine integrity of her American Eagle Tee.
When packing for this trip, we left everything valuable, breakable or irreplaceable in storage. But, we did bring our favorite stuff, because that’s what STUFF is for. Our favorite shoes, hats, and well-thought-out items like my favorite coffee making device. But the reality is, when you have ONE pair of comfy pants, they get washed all to heck and will fade like the dickens. And when you’re shakin’ on down the road, things will fall out of cupboards, and stainless coffee pots will rub against your single saucepan and look incredibly terrible and worn down. I wasn’t prepared for this, so just know that whatever makes the cut, and gets the super-special-picked-for-the-A-team prize, will be used HARD!
What’s happened is that I’ve shopped a bit on the road to replace some of these things, nabbing a few funky thrift store items to make me feel more like myself. I also make an effort to light only remaining Pure Integrity candle (again, obsessed), use our glowy diffuser and turn on my string lights to feel more homey, and because lighting IS EVERYTHING. I’M NOT JOKING.
Take it easy, tiger
Chances are, if you’ve chosen to live tiny you are probably making this leap with your beloved. And chances ALSO are that you’ve probably made huge lifestyle changes to begin this new life of adventure. Yay, you! Maybe you’ve left your 9-5 and figured out a remote job, or you’re FUNemployed for a bit. Double yay!
Chances ALSO ALSO are that you’ve never spent this much time with your one true love, all day everyday, hauling your tiny house down the road, navigating gas stations with a large behemoth behind you, or cooking in a kitchen that requires squeezing behind each other to move. Sound about right?
When we started this trip, I would randomly yell aloud I HATE THIS EFFING CAMPER because I would get so frustrated at the smallest thing. And I would constantly tell her she was going to ram the camper into a curb/gas pump/parked car, assuming I’m the only one with eyes in the car.
So needless to say, that didn’t go over well. And I have since learned to shut my freaking mouth and assume positive intent (my favorite phrase at the moment). Your spouse/partner/lover doesn’t MEAN to step on your heels while you’re lovingly frying eggs for breakfast when no one has yet had coffee, it’s just a tiny-a$$ space, so smile and bite your tongue. This also goes for strangers too, most folks just want the best for those around them.
So, take it easy tiger.
Never take plumbing for granted
I once wrote a crass post about our first couple weeks with the old camper, and some of the fun things that went down.
I promise I won’t write too much about this, but I think ALL RVers can agree that the black tank is the absolute, hands down most unpleasant part of RVing. In a regular house, you really never have to deal with your sewer system unless catastrophe strikes. We’ve all used the bathroom in old houses and been told not to shove wads of TP down the drain. FINE.
But in an RV…yeah…just get okay with the concept of throwing your TP in the trash can once in a while, and watching all that jazz flow through a CLEAR pipe on its way out of your home. Ignorance is bliss, folks.
This list is not meant to be negative, it’s just what I wish I knew before I left “home” for my tiny, wheeled abode. I hope it helps you plan your new big, tiny life!