Tiny living. It’s everywhere. AND it’s growing.
If we want, we can chalk it up to millennials not being able to afford housing or to pay off their student debt (cough cough). However, I think most people will agree that there’s something bigger there. Google tiny living, tiny house, or minimalist lifestyle. You’re going to find a billion articles on the benefits of downsizing and minimalism. I’m completely guilty of the fad and a lot of the cliches behind it but, quite frankly, I’m super proud of it.
Since we started living in our van full-time, we’ve been having a lot of conversations about what the best part of living out of a van is, what’s the worst part, the most challenging part, etc. Something that I don’t hear about as often is what makes tiny living work. How do you live with less? How do you go about a normal routine still? What are your tips for making tiny living work? SO, here I am. Brainstorming ideas of what makes tiny living for me work (on a very literal basis). As a 25-year-old female living out of a van full-time, here is my advice to you.
Hook your kindle up to your public library account.
I read, a lot. It’s my favorite hobby and I could never just have a handful of books in my possession. I made the hesitant transition to a kindle last year and it’s been one of the best decisions I’ve made as a reader. My kindle is hooked up to my public library account through OverDrive. I can read my checked out content on my kindle, laptop, and even my phone. Everything is synced so I can pick up any device and start right where I left off. When a book needs to be returned, the electronic version is automatically removed from my account (no late fees!) I can place books on hold and the moment they’re available and I have a wifi connection, the content is automatically downloaded to my account. It really is a game changer.
Start drinking boxed wine.
This is geared more towards people my age, but still worth noting, nonetheless. Wine is expensive, especially in bottle-form. Bottles also take up so much space, when being stored and when in the recycling. If you live on the road, the clattering of bottles alone will drive you insane. We made the transition to boxed wine early on in our trip. It runs roughly $20 per box and contains as much wine as 4 bottles. You can find it just about anywhere and usually, there are a variety of types to choose from, both white and red. Our absolute favorite is Black Box’s Cabernet Sauvignon.
Go electric with your bills.
If you’re still into receiving paper bills, there’s no shame in that. But if you’re looking to simplify, this is an easy trick. The clutter of paperwork both Evan and I had prior to living in a car was ridiculous. The one thing I got rid of the most when downsizing was boxes of paper I’d never looked at twice. All my bills are online, as well as setup for automatic payment. I receive email notifications when things are due and when they are paid, but I don’t have to worry about the clutter of extra paper or the worry of paying any bills on time. (If you want to go an extra step, set up automatic payment to a credit card with benefits! We’re currently racking up points for a future international trip.)
Ditch the beauty standard.
Okay, okay…this seems out of place here. But I got rid of so many flipping beauty products when we were downsizing. When we moved into the van, I packed almost zero beauty products. I did bring my general makeup (we’re talking 10 drug-store items MAX), but I’ve only worn makeup a handful of times on this trip. It has allowed me to actually enjoy my mornings, something I never did before living on the road. I’m ready for the day in 2-minutes, and I truly feel better in my skin than I ever had before. I even stopped shaving, which is surprisingly liberating. I want to expand on this a little, but feel free to skip over to #5 if you’d like. You won’t hurt my feelings 🙂
If you’re obsessed with coloring in your eyebrows, try temporary dye.
The one thing I can’t get over about dropping makeup is my eyebrows. They are white. Like actually white/see through/non-existent. My dear friend Allie introduced me to Godefroy Tint Kit. It costs like $20 on Amazon. I use the light brown color.
3 products I still swear by: I still use a few products for practicality.
It’s a 10: miracle leave-in product. I wash my hair, MAYBE, twice a month right now, sometimes less. This stuff keeps it from getting too dry, frazzled, or frail. I use it when I wash my hair and I even spray it on the lower half of my hair (when dry) every few days.
Neutrogena alcohol-free toner. I don’t wash my face anymore (except when I shower, which is never). I use a bit of this with a cotton ball daily.
Schmidt’s natural deodorant (my favorite is lavender + sage). I really wanted to find something that was more natural, wouldn’t irritate my underarms, and that still smelled good. Shoutout to my girl Anna, who dropped off multiple Schmidt products for me when I was home.
You really don’t need that much exercise equipment.
We started out with just running shoes, resistance bands, and a resistance tube. Eventually, we purchased a kettlebell, which has really made a difference, and I plan to grab my yoga mat when we’re home over the holidays. We throw around the idea of buying a cheap gym membership pass to also have access to showers, but for now, I’m able to get a solid workout in when I want, without hauling around a set of weights or much else. You can always just go for a walk or a hike too!
If you’re an avid movie-watcher, invest in Netflix (or steal somebody’s password).
Evan and I end every single day with a movie or a show. Not most days, all days. A streaming plan is only $9.99 and Netflix is constantly updating their inventory. Also, not having to haul around a bunch of DVDS opens up space for other belongings we want in the van. We do front the money for a hotspot though. It’s similar to the cost of internet in a house but it’s worth it for us (neither of us have unlimited data).
Plan out your meals/grocery list.
We shoot for between 4-5 days but always overbuy. We’re usually able to stretch out our meals for at least a week. Luckily, neither of us are that picky and the only “real” cooking we do is for dinner. We have cereal/granola for breakfast, and chicken salad for lunch, every day. We’re learning to branch out our dinners and in doing so, have gotten into a routine of detailing out our grocery lists (learned from my momma). I usually break them down by category: produce, meats, dairy, breads, spices, miscellaneous, canned, etc.
Buy a MoviePass.
I’m not sure how I never knew this existed but we recently signed up for MoviePass and I’m so excited. This glorious couple we met on the road (hi Jake and Shannon!!!) introduced us to the idea. It’s basically a card, $9.95 a month, that gives you unlimited access to movies/movie theaters around the country. You use an app to load the movie ticket (one per day) onto your card and present it like a movie ticket at the theater. HOW COOL. It’s going to take date night to a whole other level and piggybacks #6 on this list.
If you are living a minimalist lifestyle or are currently living on the road, what are your tips for tiny living? We can always use suggestions in this constantly changing lifestyle. Get in contact with us by clicking the “Let’s Touch Base” button on our menu. Until next time!