I actually think it’s probably less than 200 square feet but I’m not sure of the exact size – just that it’s small. Still, it’s not as small as some peoples’ living arrangements and it’s been really good to us. If you missed my last post about why we decided to sell everything and move into our travel trailer, you can catch it here. As I’ve thought about what to write about my thoughts on living in a travel trailer, they could be summed up simply as this:
The best part about living in a travel trailer: it’s small.
The hardest part about living in a travel trailer: it’s small.
And there you have it!
End of blog post.
But if you were hoping for a little more detail, I’ll expound.
Some of the best parts about living in our travel trailer, in my opinion, are that my loved ones are close by, it’s cozy in the winter and not too much to keep cool in the summer, it’s fairly easy to clean, it forces me to be organized (it’s the only way our belongings will fit), and it’s portable.
Let’s talk about that last point first. It’s so fun to be able to pull the slide-outs in, hook up, and take our home anywhere. No matter where we end up, it feels like home – because it is. We don’t even have to pack! We just secure a few things and move a few things around and sometimes, if it’s a long trip, unpack a few things and move them to storage. On road trips, we don’t use public bathrooms anymore – we just open the trailer and go in the comfort of our own little bathroom. As a mom, that is a mighty nice feature.
I actually really like that it prevents us from having more belongings for a season. It’s been a rather sweet time of learning to focus more on being and doing than having. And yet somehow, even with minimalism in mind, we acquire things quickly and I am regularly going through everything we have to get rid of what we don’t need and find places for new items. The limited space makes me think before buying something – do we really need this right now? Do we have room for it?
A few people have asked me where I store all my clothes so I thought I’d show you(left pic; right pic is pantry to show some storage). In-season tops I wear regularly go in the wardrobe next to the bed. Tank tops, undergarments, and socks are in the canvas box on my nightstand and in the wooden box/drawer in the cubby under it. Pants, shorts, and t-shirts are in the cabinet above my bed and under the bed are bins for nice shoes for the whole family, dress clothes for the whole family, and workout clothes for Cowboy and I. We also have travel bags and totes and some other things under the bed. There is a hook in each of the girls’ cabinets for necklaces and I found a neat little travel jewelry box at the Container Store that I keep my jewelry in inside my closet. We have out-of-season clothes put away in clear plastic bins in storage – I like the clear plastic bins because I can see what’s inside of them. We put jackets in the coat closet right inside the front door and hats in a cabinet right above it.
In the kids’ room, each kid gets two shelves for clothes and a drawer for socks, underwear, and pajamas. They each have a hook on the wall to hang purses, hats, etc on, and they each have a cabinet for just their fun stuff. One thing I noticed while looking at travel trailers is that a lot of them have faux storage (like fake drawers, etc) or deceptively not as much storage as they appear to have. We chose this travel trailer in large part because it actually has legit good storage! The entire island in the kitchen underneath is storage. It has a nice-size pantry and cabinets under the stove and fridge. I took a picture to show some of the storage in the kitchen. There is also storage beneath and above the couch, under the seats in the kitchen, and under the tv.
Sidenote: We haven’t gotten television since we’ve lived here (we have some movies) and we don’t miss it! I love that watching a movie is a special occasion – it is intentional time spent. Cowboy and I noticed a while ago that the shows we used to watch together, especially when life was such chaos and we were trying to hear from God, really didn’t help bring us peace or joy. We both feel they contributed to an underlying current of anxiety and for me, it made it a lot harder to live by faith when I was pummeled with the opinions and images the world wanted to show me. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe television is bad or it’s bad to watch it. Like anything, it has its advantages and disadvantages. I’m just saying we don’t miss it and I’m glad we don’t have it right now. Cowboy and I have read a lot of books over the last couple of years!
Now, for the harder parts of living in such close quarters. I can’t, in good conscience, call them “hard” but they are definitely a little harder than living with some of the small luxuries most of us Americans are used to. Again, size is obviously a factor here. When we are inside, we are all pretty darn close to each other. All. The. Time. The downside is, sometimes it’s hard for this introvert to feel that I truly get alone time. We have a door to the master bedroom and a door to the kids room for which I am extremely thankful for! I feel that for every downside I find there is an upside and the upside to this is we have been forced to work on things that would otherwise be easier to sidestep. We are here, close together, and if a conflict arises, it’s best to deal with it quickly.
I mentioned above that the travel trailer is fairly easy to clean but there are a couple of caveats. The first one is, I don’t know who designs travel trailers but there are some spaces that are just really hard to clean! Like in the crack in between the shower wall and the bathroom counter, the ridge that goes around the bottom of the shower, and under the bed in the kids’ bedroom. I’m keeping my eyes out for these hard-to-clean-areas when we go shopping for our next travel trailer.
The second reason cleaning isn’t always a breeze is that there is a lot of traffic in a small amount of space – we bring the dogs in at night (to protect them from predators), someone doesn’t always take their shoes off inside, and the amount of dust outside could fill a small beach. It usually takes at least 1-2 good sweeps of the floor each day to make it feel clean enough to walk on barefoot and dusting doesn’t last nearly as long. It feels sometimes as if it’s never really clean – now that I think about it though, my house never felt like it ever stayed clean either!
Let’s talk storms in a travel trailer. In Texas, we get our fair share of storms and tornadoes and when we are nestled in the midst of trees, it’s usually not a huge deal – rarely by the time a storm gets to us are the winds significant enough to worry about. I wouldn’t want to park long-term in a wide open space with no other place to go for shelter, though.
Once when we took a business trip to Amarillo, we were parked in an RV park that was basically a flat parking lot when a large storm blew in with 70mph winds. We awoke to the camper lifting off the ground with each gust of wind and Cowboy had to scramble up to literally hold in a slide that was flapping in and out. We just looked at each other in wide-eyed terror, me kneeling by our bed trying to focus on Psalm 91 and him standing in the middle of the travel trailer trying to physically hold it together. We did end up making it to the concrete bathroom nearby and our camper was okay but it was an adventure! We have a running joke now that goes something like this. Cowboy: “There’s a storm coming.” Me: “What will the winds be like?” Cowboy: “It looks like they might get up to 40 or 50mph.” Me: “We’ve done 70mph. We’re good!” Rainy days in the travel trailer are still not our favorite – it’s a different experience than being inside of a house where you can just observe the rain and maybe hear a light pitter patter. When you’re in a camper, it sounds like you’re right out in the rain. Cowboy has mentioned that an aluminum siding trailer would be more cost effective for travel but then we remember our trip to Amarillo and what those winds would have done to a lighter trailer and are thankful that we had this one while we were there. I’ll tell you what, this trailer has been really good to us!
A few things that I miss and am really looking forward to having again are a full kitchen with a full fridge and counter, an oven large enough and accurate enough to bake in, having access to everything we own (like office supplies) easily, and a toilet seat that doesn’t cut off your circulation if you don’t finish your business in under 3 minutes. Other than that, I really can’t complain about our little home in the woods.
If you’re thinking of living in a travel trailer long-term, here are a couple things I would definitely want to consider:
- Read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Konda – Marie Kondo is a professional organizer who employs the kon marie method of decluttering and organizing. Someone asked me how we fit all we need to in a small space and I answered, “we kon marie the heck out of it.” It works very well! There are a few minor philosophy subjects mentioned that I may not agree with 100% but it’s a great book for determining what to keep and how to store it.
- Command Strips & Hooks – lots of them. For inside cabinets, behind doors, on the bathroom wall, and mounting small things on the wall.
- Look for a travel trailer with real, usable storage. Even few inches of counter space next to the bathroom sink or an extra six inches of kitchen counter make a huge difference. Then you can employ various bins and shelves inside to maximize the space in whatever storage you end up with!
- Consider how easy the travel trailer you’re looking at is to clean. Are there lots of little nooks and crannies that require special equipment to clean thoroughly? This probably seems silly to most people, but if you’re the one cleaning them regularly, it’s worth taking note of.
- If you have children, I highly recommend the split bedroom design!
- This is just personal preference, but I wish we had a window above our sink so I could watch the kids while I’m making meals. We have no windows in the main living area that face out the front of the side of the camper that the door is on so if I want to see who is at the door or check on kids, I have to run to the master bedroom, scoot around the mattress and peek out the window in there.
- I don’t know if it’s even an option in travel trailers yet but I would love to forego carpet and just have the laminate flooring if it ever becomes one!
There you have life in a travel trailer from a female’s perspective. I’m sure if you asked Cowboy, he would talk more about the logistics, like the special light bulbs he likes or helpful additions to have for upkeep, but as a female, these are the things that make me happy or frustrate me.
I hope this helps anyone thinking about staying in a travel trailer long-term! It’s a simpler life but not a boring one. Many day to day things take a little longer and aren’t as convenient as they would be in a house, but it also provides a unique opportunity to be mobile, simplify, and if you are willing to work at some things, it can be great for bonding, too. I am looking so forward to moving into a house again but I will always look back on this time as a sweet one. Not easy, but definitely sweet.