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How Camping Can Teach You About Tiny House Living

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Guest Post by Laura LaVoie

We just returned to our tiny house from a week long camping trip (and two week total vacation). We are so happy to be home in our little space on our mountain. We have camped before, often at festivals and typically for at least four days at a time.

This was our first 8 day camping trip and we only made it to the 7th day; we were simply ready to go home. We had a great time and I would do it again. I miss all of our friends and the community we built for that short time.

What found interesting were the number of parallels between tiny house living and long term festival camping. Here are some of the things I learned.

    • Have the right equipment. When we downsized our lives to move into in the tiny house we made sure we had all the necessary things to live comfortably but not take up a lot of space. One of the things we’ve struggled with is pots and pans. We were given a small pot and pan set which appeared as though it wouldn’t take up much space but it doesn’t stack or store well. While we were camping our friend had a nice set of stackable camping pots which worked great. We were excited by the idea that we can replace our current set with the ones that stack so they store better in the tiny house. Looking at luxury camping equipment for your small space is a great way to get the things you need and have them be as functional as possible.
    • Don’t skip the comfort. We don’t actually camp at these festivals, we “Glamp.” Glamping is a portmanteau for glamorous camping and we don’t skimp on anything. One night we made a six course meal and hosted a very successful dinner party. Our tents were nearly as comfortable as our homes with real bedding and as much organization as we could muster. Our kitchen and bar were well stocked. Living in a tiny house, even one off the grid like we do, doesn’t mean you have to trade comfort for simplicity. We have a nice mattress and a comfortable sofa for relaxing. We’ve nearly finished building an outdoor kitchen to make use of our mountain as much as we can. Just because we have a small house doesn’t mean we have to hide inside all the time.

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Camping and Tiny House Living
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  • Be respectful. When camping with a large group of people you have to keep a lot of things in mind. We had 10 people at our campsite but the festival hosted over 1000. Be respectful when people are sleeping. Clean up after yourself when you’ve been cooking. Be responsible for trash. Pitch in to help with setting up or taking down. Chances are you aren’t living in a tiny house with 10 other people, but being courteous of the person you do live with or just the space in general is good practice. We do the dishes and put them away after every meal. We keep all of our personal items neatly put away where they belong. It is easy to come inside, kick off your shoes, throw your keys and mail on the table, and ignore it. Instead, take a moment to put the shoes in the closet, the keys on the hook, open and distribute mail appropriately, and straighten up before relaxing. It really only takes a few minutes especially in such a small space. Also, divide any daily or weekly chores up so no one becomes frustrated that they are doing all the work.
  • Always have fun. I was really impressed with the positivity that everyone in our camp possessed. Even when things were going wrong, no one pouted or got overly upset. We all just did what we needed to do to solve the problem. When you’re living and working in a small space every day staying positive is key. This is not to say you won’t have a bad day now and again, but dwelling on the negative never helped anyone.

Living and working in a small space can be very rewarding as long as it is the right move for you. Never shoehorn yourself into a situation that isn’t right. There are lessons to be learned from camping or tiny house living that can be applied to any lifestyle. Stay positive, comfortable and neat and you’ll find things are much easier. 


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Alex is a contributor and editor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the always free Tiny House Newsletter. He has a passion for exploring and sharing tiny homes (from yurts and RVs to tiny cabins and cottages) and inspiring simple living stories. We invite you to send in your story and tiny home photos too so we can re-share and inspire others towards a simple life too. Thank you!
{ 12 comments… add one }
  • sesameB
    July 5, 2012, 5:02 pm

    This is a good article. Thanks.
    Barefootin’ in rural south central sunny Arkansas

    • July 19, 2012, 2:26 pm

      Glad you liked it! Hope you’re doing well.

  • Kat
    July 6, 2012, 4:18 pm

    Great advice, thanks for writing it in such an easy manner. Love the “be respectful” aspect of both tiny living and camping. In all the years we have been camping, that is the one that seems to be missing from the “vocabulary” of many campers. “Take only pictures, leave only footprints!”

    • July 8, 2012, 9:58 pm

      Thanks for the positive thoughts! Because most of the camping I do tends to be in groups I think it is one of the most important things we can do.

  • LaMar
    July 7, 2012, 1:24 pm

    “Living in a tiny house, even one off the grid like we do, doesn’t mean you have to trade comfort for simplicity.”

    This is an important point that many people that do not live in small homes mistakenly think living small means you have to go without nice things and suffer.

    I have running hot water, full shower, toilet, electricity, fridge, stove, furnace, two flat screen tvs, stereo, lights, game system, computer, wifi, cell phone and satellite and most of the same gadgets everyone else has in their homes.

    The only difference is my power comes from solar and I use propane for some appliances.

    I have a full size bed and couch, dining area, kitchen and a large master bedroom and office. I have hosted diner parties for 9 people with no space issues.

    Living in a small home does not mean you have to be a minimalist and go without things and technology like internet, cell phone and satellite makes living off-grid just as easy as living on grid and I also run a business that relies on those services.

    Living in a small house does not have to be like camping all the time and if the house is properly designed it is really no different than living in a large home except you don’t have to walk as far to get your stuff 😉

    • July 8, 2012, 9:59 pm

      This is absolutely true. Even though our house requires some additional chores that someone in a conventional house wouldn’t need to do, it isn’t like living in “Little House on the Prairie” or anything.

  • Michele
    July 7, 2012, 7:32 pm

    Funny you should mention. I am currently camping at a music festival with over 10,000 people, with easily 3,000 people camping. I should know, because I have spent the last week coordinating the public campers. I am also
    Camping in a new-to-me camper – my VW Van being in the shop. It’s been as challenging as moving in to
    a new home. I am learning some valuable lessons: tables that convert to beds don’t work for me. I need a table always! Also, I must have bedside storage. I have also found that I need more counter space than
    Exists in this small Moho. These are all important lessons to note BEFORE I build my tiny house. Thanks for this post.

    • July 9, 2012, 9:37 am

      You’re completely right – camping like this is a great way to fully understand what it is you need or don’t need in a tiny space even before you live in one.

  • GW
    July 8, 2012, 11:35 am

    Can you tell me which high end pot/pan set you are referring to?? I really need a good stacking set!

  • Ben Comeau
    July 8, 2012, 11:39 am

    Great article. You mentioned something that I’ve been thinking about and maybe it would make a future article for you: Outdoor kitchen. And how to do it on the cheap. I have a decent charcoal grill and I’m thinking about building a brick rocket stove like I’ve seen on the web. Not sure what else I can do. First heard of outdoor kitchens during a tour of an old home in Jefferson, TX (bed & breakfast capitol of TX!). Apparently they were a necessity in the Texas heat before the days of air conditioning. Anyhoo, I’d love to hear your experiences.
    Love & Cheers,

    • July 8, 2012, 10:01 pm

      Our outdoor kitchen is very economical and not at all what most people expect when they hear the words. Right now it is just a nice table/counter surface but we plan to add the charcoal grill and eventually build a brick oven. I don’t know when we’ll do that, but I’ll keep you updated along the way.

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