Tiny Shiny Home Blog 2019-10-22T21:31:50+00:00 https://tinyshinyhome.com/feed Tiny Shiny Home hello@tinyshinyhome.com https://tinyshinyhome.com/laundry-day-on-the-road Laundry Day on the Road 2019-10-08T05:00:00+00:00 2019-10-08T18:21:25+00:00 Ashley Longnecker https://tinyshinyhome.com/

Laundromats make doing laundry on the road so easy. I first thought I'd hate using the laundromat, but now I've come to love getting everything washed in just two hours!

Storing all our clothes in just 2-3 packing cubes each has been a game changer. Packing cubes allow us to store all our clothes neatly in a very tiny space. Keeping things neat and organized is key to traveling full time!

Don't forget to like the video and leave a comment on YouTube if you enjoyed it.

Oh, and make sure to subscribe so you don't mess the next episode!

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https://tinyshinyhome.com/airstream-family-travel-day Airstream Family Travel Day 2019-09-30T05:00:00+00:00 2019-09-30T18:46:31+00:00 Jonathan Longnecker https://tinyshinyhome.com/

We're traveling from Saskatchewan to Winnipeg in search of warmer temperatures. Here you'll get a glimpse into what a typical travel day looks like for us.

A special thanks to @natecroft for some of the rad tunes. Check out more of his music at http://natecroft.com

Don't forget to like the video and leave a comment on YouTube if you enjoyed it.

Oh, and make sure to subscribe so you don't mess the next episode!

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https://tinyshinyhome.com/why-is-self-care-important-when-living-tiny Why is Self Care Important When Living Tiny? 2019-09-25T05:00:00+00:00 2019-09-25T23:33:03+00:00 Ashley Longnecker https://tinyshinyhome.com/

Self Care. Even saying those words makes me feel guilty. Is this just a new catchphrase that moms are throwing around to make them feel better about spending time away from their family to do something for themselves?

The truth is, I really thought this. It’s still new to me that taking time to do something for myself isn’t necessarily selfish. I’m not talking about taking an entire day to visit some fancy spa and spend hundreds on facials and massages…though that does sound amazing.

I’m talking about taking time to do something that feeds your soul. That makes you remember that you’re a person, not just a mom and a wife. Things like signing up for that pottery class, buying a plant that makes you smile every time you see it, doing some yoga, or going to a coffee shop alone and ordering your favorite spice chai drink that you don’t have to share with anyone!

Living in 220 sq. ft. as a family of six, as you can imagine...we are close. Physically. VERY. CLOSE. We spend nearly all day every day right next to each other, and we love it. But it's easy to get caught up in taking care of everyone else's needs, and it's even easier to forget that you, too, have needs.

In the last few months, Jonathan and I have been making it a priority to let each other have one day out of the Airstream alone. Yes, that usually involves us working, doing laundry, or going to the grocery store, but it’s a start right?

This week I took it a step further. I’ve gotten up each morning (I know it’s only Wednesday, but still…) to take a long walk. We’re visiting Saskatchewan this week and fall is here to stay.

Campground in Saskatchewan

I’ve discovered a new podcast (Practice You) that is giving me life. Elana Brower's voice has a way of making all your troubles melt away. It’s been so great to have an hour to walk, and listen, and think, and find myself again. After listing to an episode with Eddie Stern, I downloaded his breathing app and after my walk I’ll take time to lay down in the hallway, AirPods still in, and just breathe. Even just having 5 minutes of intentional breathing makes me feel like a new person.

There’s something to be said about taking time for yourself, mommas (and dads). Be it 5 minutes or an entire day. We are not just moms. We have needs, we have desires, we have goals, and we need time to dive into our passions. We can’t possibly expect to be the best versions of our selves if we don’t take time to do things that give us life.

What makes you feel alive? Is it a walk in nature? Catching up with a close friend? Traveling? How are you making time for you? My hope is that we, as mothers, wives, partners, stop feeling guilty about taking time for ourselves.

I'd love to hear how you make time to do things that fill your soul. Leave a comment and let me know below.

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https://tinyshinyhome.com/boondocking-etiquette Boondocking Rules, Etiquette & Just Plain Common Decency 2019-09-16T05:00:00+00:00 2019-09-16T19:29:15+00:00 Ashley Longnecker https://tinyshinyhome.com/

Okay friends, let’s talk.

If you’ve been around here any length of time you know our preferred method of camping is boondocking on public lands.

In fact, we love it so much we even made an in-depth video course to teach others how to do it!

But today we're actually here to vent. That's right, these fun-loving, congenial Tiny Shiny Homies are fed up. And if you know us, it take a lot to do that.

  • Maybe it was the huge rig that parked so close we couldn't even fit our truck in front of our trailer.
  • Maybe it was 10th pile of dog poo we stepped in.
  • Maybe it was 20th bag of trash we had to pick up from the last site to even be able to use it.
  • Maybe it was that contractor style generator blaring all hours of the day and night.

Whatever it was, something snapped. And before I knew it, my fingers were furiously typing these words.

The short version of this rather long rant? Be kind, courteous, respectful, and grateful for the opportunity to camp for free in these beautiful, remote areas. It truly is a privilege. Same goes for overnighting in a business' parking lot.

The long version? Well, let's get into the nitty gritty of boondocking etiquette, rules and just plain common decency, shall we?

In Parking Lots

Get permission first

It's amazing that many Wal-Marts, Cabelas, and Cracker Barrels allow RV's to stay in their parking lots overnight. But you have to call ahead and get permission first. Don't rely on apps or hearsay on the internet, either. Pick up that phone and (gasp!) talk to a real person. Sometimes it's not even that the business doesn't want you there - many cities are passing ordinances against this, and you might get a knock at your door from the local police at 2am asking you to leave. Always clear your stay with the store manager first!

One night only

This should be obvious, but unfortunately it’s not. These businesses are allowing you to stop over on your way to your next destination. Do not set up camp here! Don’t pull out your camp chairs and grills. It's not a tailgate party, people! Leave those for football season. Arrive late and leave early. Don't take up their valuable parking spaces for their customers.

Buy something

These are businesses, and you staying in their parking lot costs them money. It’s common courtesy to go in and buy something while you're there. Make it worth their while. Let them know you appreciate that they are offering their parking lot to travelers for the night by spending some cash at their store and even saying thank you!

No dumping

Don't dump gray or black water in someone's parking lot! This should also be obvious, but we’ve seen people washing their dishes outside of their RV and leaving their leftover noodles on the ground. I'm serious. Like, what the heck? Treat their space like you would your own, and leave it better than you found it.

Keep it down

Seriously folks. It’s one night. There should be no need to pull out your noisy generators in a parking lot with other travelers who are tired from their drive and just want to get some sleep. Often the area set aside for RV's is small and everyone is close to each other so keep it quiet and be respectful.

On Slides and Stabilizers

There's a common refrain out there that you should never put your stabilizers down, disconnect your tow vehicle, or extend your slides while in a parking lot. While we get what they're saying, it's not always realistic. We have 6 people in a vintage trailer. We have to put stabilizers down for the safety of our frame. Many newer RV's with slides aren't even usable when they're in. And sometimes you genuinely need to run an errand to somewhere else in town. Use common sense, and try to stay on the down low!

On Public Lands

Boondocking on BLM

Obey stay limits

Listen, these beautiful lands are not being set aside so that you can camp for free in the same spot for months or years at a time.

Most BLM and National Forest land have a 14 day limit for good reason. Imagine how difficult it would be to find a boondocking spot if everyone setup shop for 2 months in the best spots?

We’ve seen our fair share of RV’s that are obviously setup for the long haul with dog pens, multiple vehicles, tables, chairs, and even decks! We know homelessness is real problem in some areas of the country, but as with any neighborhood, those kind of campers make the area less desirable and less safe.

Pay attention to the stay limit and obey it, please! Otherwise these beautiful locations may get shut down.

Leave some space

Give people their space! This is what prompted us to even write this post.

True story: We recently set up for a week in a beautiful location outside of Yellowstone National Park, but just hours later a big rig comes in and parks right in front of our trailer. I mean, I could understand if it was one night and there was no where else to park, but there was a ton of room for them to back up a hundred yards or so. And they stayed there all week! It was annoying to say the least, especially since our ‘bedroom’ is right in the front of the trailer.

We could barely park our truck in front of the Airstream!

Leave some room between you and other campers. The whole point of boondocking is to get out of cramped campgrounds and enjoy nature. We can't do that when you park right outside our front door.

Park only in designated sites

I shouldn’t need to say this, but we’ve seen it so here goes. This is not your land! You do not get to decide where a new campsite should be.

Only use designated or dispersed sites. They are often marked by a big area of bare land and a fire pit or fire ring. Do not cut down plants, trees, or grass to make a new site. I don’t care how perfect your view would be. This is not your decision to make.

Say it with me….BE RESPECTFUL!!

Turn out the lights

Please, for the love of God, do not leave your outside lights on all night.

If you’re on public land, people are out here for the scenery, the night sky, and the solitude. It’s hard to fall asleep with your bright lights shining in our windows all night. If you're not using them outside, please just turn them off. Especially in the designated dark sky parts of this country.

Side rant - leave them off in campgrounds, too! For all the same reasons!

Drive slow!

Yes, it’s public land, but that doesn’t mean that you get to fly down these dusty roads like a crazy person. Slow down! Kids could be outside playing, dogs could be running around, and you’re throwing your dust in our living rooms. Slow it down, man!

Quiet hours

Okay, so there are no set quiet hours when you’re boondocking in the middle of public lands, but the theme of this post is…. BE RESPECTFUL.

If there are other campers around they don’t want to hear your explicit music blaring all day and night. This goes for generators, too. Pretend like you’re in a campground and run it during the day.

Leave no trace

Again…obvious, right? Unfortunately…not to some people.

I will never understand why people leave their trash, break bottles on rocks, and treat our public lands like a waste facility. As much as we love bagging up your bullet casings, please just pick up after yourself!

We’re constantly picking up other peoples trash, and you should, too. Help us clean up this beautiful land so that others can enjoy it after you.

Even better, make sure you're not leaving anything there to begin with.

Say hello!

This one is for us, because we’re introverts :)

If you’re in close proximity to other campers enjoying the same land, just say hi when walking by. You've already got one thing in common, and people out here are usually super kind and help look out for each other.

Say hi, introduce yourself, and you may have just made a new friend you’d like to meet again on down the road.

Clean up after pets

Ugh, how many times have we stepped in your dog’s poo? Too many! Please, please, please - clean up after your pets.

I’m not saying you need to go out in a field of cactus or overgrown grass and clean it up, but right there in the campsite should be cleaned for the next people to enjoy!

Put out your fires!

Really? Do I even need to say this? People…. PUT OUT YOUR FIRES! Like, LOTS of water and make sure it’s completely out. Wildfires are a huge problem in some areas of the country. Keep an eye out for burn bans, and don't be the one that takes out an entire section of the forest because you were lazy.

End Rant

Whew, thanks for sticking with us through that. We feel so much better :)

If we sound frustrated, it's only because we care so much about these amazing locations.

We want these areas to be available for others to enjoy for years to come - so respect the land, respect the rules, and respect others out here enjoying the land, too.

High fives to all you doing your best to make these areas better for others. We appreciate you!

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https://tinyshinyhome.com/family-fun-in-medora-nd Family Fun in Medora, ND 2019-07-09T09:00:00+00:00 2019-07-26T17:06:27+00:00 Jonathan Longnecker https://tinyshinyhome.com/
This post contains affiliate links or compensated reviews. Please read our disclosure for more info.

When asked what I wanted to do for my birthday this year, for once I already knew. I wanted to go to Theodore Roosevelt National Park!

Driving through South Dakota last year we threw around the idea of heading north for a weekend to ‘check off North Dakota’ on our state map. Little did I know that North Dakota would turn out to be one of the prettiest states we have visited so far!

After lots of research, we finally decided to make it happen. A 10 hour weekend drive got us there just in time for my birthday. But the party was just getting started!

We had a fun-filled week working with the adorable town of Medora, ND. We stayed at the Medora Campground which is unusual for us, but being a quick walk from all the activities in town was a huge bonus!

The showers and bathrooms were very well kept and the employees were super helpful and extremely friendly when there was a little mixup with our reservation. Overall, the close quarters were worth the close proximity to everything this town has to offer!

Medora is full of charm and there is so much to do that we’ve broken down some of our family's favorites…

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Obviously! Visiting Theodore Roosevelt National Park the first week of July was perfect. It was so green! We’ve seen several badlands in our time on the road but this one takes the cake! I mean...grass, bison, wild horses, prairie dogs, rattlesnakes… what more could you ask for?

The views just don’t stop. We drove most of the loop (part of it was closed) and just couldn’t get over the views. Green prairies as far as they eye can see, speckled with badlands popping out of the wildflower fields. It was incredible!

And of course we did the Junior Ranger program and the kids got another badge!

Perception Medora

Medora Perception Medora Perception

We’ve seen several of these spots popping up lately but we’ve never been to one until our visit to Perception in Medora. The kids really enjoyed the optical illusions. The best part was the house! As soon as I stepped in I felt like I had vertigo, but it was still so fun to see and experience. I felt like I was walking crooked the rest of the day, but it was worth it.

Cute Downtown Shops & Playground

Medora Playground

There are so many cute shops in this little town. You can easily walk to every one in just a few hours. We were lucky to find one of the magnets for TRNP (we collect all the magnets for the parks) that we were looking for that wasn’t available in TRNP gift shop. Score!

If you have little kids (or even big kids) make sure to walk over to the playground! It's right near Perception and could easily kill a couple hours there. Very well made and a great location makes it a no-brainer to visit.

Homemade Ice Cream

Medora Icecream

The kids made it their mission for the week to find the best ice cream in Medora! There are several places to choose from and they’ll be doing a report on which one was their favorite. Homeschool for the win!

As for Jonathan and I, our favorite was the Coffee Brownie at Hatlee & Brae followed by a close second of Maple at Marquis De Mores. YUM!

Medora Musical

Medora Musical Medora Musical

Okay friends, I admit that I had little expectations for the musical because the only musicals I’ve been to have been high school productions. All I can say is wow! We were totally blown away by the Medora Musical. Amazing singers, expertly executed, and an overall flawless production.

In the middle of the show, after the intermission, we were treated to the funniest magician we've ever seen. His energy was higher than you could imagine and had us rolling in our seats. We haven't laughed that hard in a long time!

You could tell everyone was having a blast! The audience was captivated and we left stunned. I cannot stress it enough, you simply HAVE to experience the Medora Musical yourself. It was worth the trip to Medora even if all you have time to do is go to this musical.

Pitchfork Steak Fondue

Pitchfork Steak Fondue

You had us at fondue! If anyone is cooking meat in a pitchfork, sign us up!

When we arrived, the line was incredibly long, but this wasn't their first rodeo. We were picking up our tray of food in no time and shocked at how smooth the process was for moving that many people through the lines!

Pitchfork Steak Fondue was a buffet style of fixings full of fresh veggies, garlic toast, baked potatoes, and fresh fruit. Once we filled out plates with all the sides we picked up our hot-out-the-pot 12 oz steaks! You heard me! 12 ounces of delicious, juicy, flavorful meat from a pitchfork!

We all got the steaks and honestly there wasn’t much left behind. This is a meal that should not be skipped when visiting Medora. Just head right over to the musical after and make it an evening you won’t forget!

Medora Riding Stables

Medora Riding Stables Medora Riding Stables

After getting rained out a couple of times, we were finally able to make it to the Medora Riding Stables. This was the kids first real horse ride and though they were very nervous at first, they were all glad that they went and had such a great time. The scenery was spectacular and the horses calm...and hungry;) it was the perfect way to close out our time in Medora.

Walk with Theodore Roosevelt

Medora Teddy Roosevelt Walk

This town is full of drama - in the best way! Joe, AKA Theodore Roosevelt, met us for a little hike and history about TR! It was super informative and I was happy I got to skip a history lesson for the week! His passion for this town and knowledge of TR was contagious and has me looking for biographies of Mr. Roosevelt! Make sure to check out A Teddy Roosevelt Salute Medora while you're in town.

4th of July Parade

Medora, ND Parade

Last, but certainly not least. If you're lucky enough to make it there for July 4th like we did, make sure you go to the parade!

An adorable mix of cowboys, tractors, firefighters, and local businesses put together this magical little parade that all the town comes out for. Our kids had a blast picking up candies that were thrown at them.

And if that wasn't enough, make sure you stay up late enough for their fireworks show! If you try to fall asleep, you'll quickly be woken up by the thunderous booms echoing off the badlands surrounding the little town. We just walked a little bit up the ways from our campground and caught the show on the side of the road. The best way to end our time at this adorable town of Medora, North Dakota.

Medora Fireworks

Thank you Medora, for a week that we will not soon forget!

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https://tinyshinyhome.com/avoiding-burnout-while-traveling-full-time Avoiding Burnout While Traveling Full-Time 2019-06-26T08:00:00+00:00 2019-06-26T15:29:32+00:00 Ashley Longnecker https://tinyshinyhome.com/

It’s going to happen.

You’ll find yourself surrounded by natural beauty and you’ll feel trapped, or depressed, or irritated at the thought of looking at another canyon, mountain range, or waterfall. You’ll think to yourself… 'it looks just like all the other waterfalls I’ve seen over the last 4 years' or 'it’s just another canyon'. You’ll know in your head that it’s special and you should be enjoying it but you just can’t. That my friends, is travel burnout.

I’d venture to say that the last half of 2018 was like that for me. Nothing felt special. I didn’t care to see another mountain range and if I had to hike one more canyon I just might scream. So…what do you do when that happens to you?

First, let’s look at the root cause. Are you tired? Do you miss family and friends? Are you getting enough rest? Are you stressed about work or deadlines? Finding the root cause may help you understand how to adjust your travel lifestyle to better accommodate your needs.

Maybe you just need to slow down. Or you need to meet up with friends. Do you need to Skype with your family more often? Perhaps you need to adjust your work schedule.

But what if it comes out of nowhere? Maybe you just need a small break. There are several ways to get through a burnout period while traveling full-time. Here are some ways to change it up and hopefully avoid the dreaded burnout.

Have some alone time.

alone time

Have your spouse take the kids to a movie or go explore for half the day. It’s amazing what a few hours alone can do for your mental state. Put on your favorite music or podcast. Take a shower. Make a favorite drink. Open the windows. Take a nap. Just do whatever makes you feel relaxed and happy.

Go somewhere familiar.

Camping at Lost Dutchman

Sometimes it’s nice to go back to a familiar place. You know where you can get water, groceries, gas. You don’t have to use GPS to get you around town. Sometimes it’s nice to have a break from all the research that goes into traveling full-time. And there's a lot of research!

Get a hotel!

Jax's Birthday Hotel

Rent a hotel room for a night or two. One with great beds and clean showers! Sometimes changing your surroundings completely makes a huge difference. Everyone gets a little break, and when you get back to your RV you’ll likely have a whole new appreciation for it.

Meet up with friends.

Camping with Friends

Sometimes this is a lot harder to pull off. Traveling full-time you meet a lot of people, But it's hard to keep track of where everyone is. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to coordinate with friends to have some quality time together.

Try a new hobby.

adali and macrame

I used to have so many hobbies at our house. Creating is a huge hole that’s not been able to be filled while traveling. Supplies take up too much room and we just really don’t have the space for lots extra supplies. However, if you can plan a head, try taking a class on something you’ve been wanting to learn. Pottery, glass blowing, stained glass, wood carving, painting, etc. Sometimes I find that just learning a new skill lights a fire deep inside that just makes me incredibly happy. Maybe it will for you, too!

Go shopping!

Copper Bells

Okay, hear me out on this one. I don’t mean, ‘go out and buy a bunch of useless crap that you don’t have room for.’ What I mean is...look for something that makes you truly happy every time you see it. Just last week I took the kids to the small town of Grand Lake, CO and found the most adorable copper bells that I couldn’t live without. These bells are now hanging in our Airstream and it makes me so happy every time I look at them.

Go on a date.

Date Night

I know, I know…some of you have small kids and can’t quite make this happen. But when Jonathan and I can, we love going into town for a quick sushi date, or we’ll go grab some ice cream and just sit in the car and talk. Sometimes we’ll even take an iPad and watch an episode of a favorite show. But don’t think you have to get away. Many times we’ll just let the kids watch a movie in their area while we chill in our area. Yes, we’re only separated by a curtain, but sometimes you just need to have some time alone without anyone asking you questions! Living tiny forces you to get creative to find alone time.

Splurge!

Float Tank

Jonathan and I splurged and went to a float tank once. It was the most relaxing experience. We were able to clear our minds, have some time alone, and we left feeling so much better. Maybe float tank isn’t for you…maybe you can splurge on a massage, a night on the town, or a weekend getaway. Make sure you’re taking care of yourself so you can take care of others!

Make a list.

Thankful for...

I hate lists! But sometimes I just need to list all the things I'm grateful for. Make a list of the incredible things you’ve seen on your journey so far. The animals. The natural wonders. The people you’ve been able to meet. Sometimes we get so caught up in the negative it’s hard to see the positive. Making a list will help you see just how lucky you’ve been to experience so much.

And friends….don’t be afraid to take a break!

Just because your interests change, or you find out you need something that you didn’t think you did…that doesn’t mean that you aren’t cut out for a life of travel or adventure. People change, we evolve, our needs change and that’s okay. If you want to have roots, settle down. If you want to take shorter trips, do it! If you want to sell it all and try something new…make it happen! You are more than just a full-time traveler! You’re an adventurer…and that doesn’t just go away. It’s a part of who you are, no matter where you are.

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https://tinyshinyhome.com/four-years-on-the-road Four Years On The Road! 2019-05-06T07:00:00+00:00 2019-05-06T17:39:49+00:00 Ashley Longnecker https://tinyshinyhome.com/

I can hardly believe it! Last week, on May 2, we celebrated living on the road for FOUR YEARS! It’s so fun to look back at where we started and everything we’ve done. And how big that 5th wheel was! Geesh!! I'm so glad we decided to renovate this 47 year old Airstream!

We’ve seen some pretty incredible places, but seeing them with our kids by our side has made this journey the absolute best. And look how much they have grown!

kids on bench 2015 Img 0666

I never would have guessed that we would be on the road for this long. But it turns out, our kids enjoy it just as much as we do.

Snow in the Sonoran Desert

Sure, we’ve discussed settling down and finding a place of our own in the desert, and that will likely happen, but for now…we travel.

Joshua Tree Hike with Kids

We will continue to explore new places, hike new mountains, learn new lessons, visit new states and hopefully run into new friends along the way!

Monterey Bay Tide Pools

Over the last 4 years we’ve explored in 34 states and visited 55 National Park Systems (which include monuments, seashores, parks, recreation areas).

Grand Canyon Jr Rangers

With just 16 states left to visit we’re excited to see how many we can squeeze in this year! We’re now accepting donations for gas money and flights to Hawaii ;)

kids at monument valley

We have had the most incredible time on the road and it has been an absolute pleasure being able to share our journey with you all! Thank you for your constant support and encouragement. We are so grateful to all of you who've opened your homes and your driveways for us, and especially those of you who've taken the time to read our stories here, comment on our photos and spend time keeping up with our little family adventures.

We love you all! Cheers to more adventures!

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https://tinyshinyhome.com/tiny-standing-desk Tiny Standing Desk - How to Work Remotely in an RV 2019-03-27T07:30:00+00:00 2019-04-09T00:13:25+00:00 Jonathan Longnecker https://tinyshinyhome.com/
This post contains affiliate links or compensated reviews. Please read our disclosure for more info.

Those who don’t know us often assume that we get to travel full-time because we hit the jackpot or retired early. Yeah, I wish!

The truth is, I still have to work and make a living from the road so we can afford to do this. Thankfully, I already owned my own design and web development company so transitioning to working remotely was easy.

My clients were located around the country - and some even out of the country. They didn’t care if I was in Tennessee or Brazil. But supporting a family of 6 with your own company is hard - and we knew when we renovated our 1972 vintage Airstream that I was going to need a workspace to call my own.

Cramming 2 adults and 4 kids into 220 square feet was a major feat of design and planning in itself. How would we make space for me to get my work done, too?

Multi-function is the name of the game here. Our kids bunk beds were designed to fold into couches during the day. Our master bed becomes our dinette. Could we make a workspace that disappeared or turned into something else at night?

Let me tell you, we tossed around A LOT of ideas over the 6 months we renovated that trailer. But surprisingly it was the simplest that turned out to be the most effective.

My Mobile Workspace

A quick background on my setup. Since I do design and coding work at FortySeven Media, having a large, color accurate monitor is important. I’m clutching onto an Apple 27” Cinema Display until it dies a fiery death because Apple stopped making them, and the combination of color accuracy, camera, speakers, and peripheral support is perfect. Plus it looks dang good.

Monitor Mounted

Connected to this is my trusty 13” Macbook Pro. It’s small, light and portable - perfect for taking into town to work for the day. And it’s long lasting battery means I can save on power usage while camping off-grid. I keep it stored in a TwelveSouth BookArc. This is a great little product that matches the aluminum finish of the laptop, keeps it upright to save space, and creates better airflow.

Shelf Desk Angle

I also have an Apple Wireless Keyboard, a wireless Logitech mouse, a pair of AirPods, and a Traveler’s Notebook. You’ll see why these are important in a minute.

Oh, and I’ve been doing the standing desk thing for years so we knew we could save a ton of space not having to create an actual table and chair kind of situation. There are plenty of health benefits to not sitting all day, too - but I won’t cover that here.

Mounting the Monitor

This was the easiest piece of the puzzle. Apple displays (or most monitors) can be converted to a VESA mount for attaching to the wall. Combine that with a NewerTech Pivot Wall Mount and you can literally push your monitor up against the wall or extend it over 20” and all ways in between.

Because of our tiny space and rounded walls, measuring where to mount this was the hardest part. Here’s a few ways we store it when not in use.

Monitor Against Wall Angle Monitor Against Wall Flat Monitor Against Wall Vertical

It stays folded up out of the way until travel days where it’s easy to slide off the mounting peg and put the whole thing on our bed. Just it case it were to start swinging around in transit. Plus, that 30lb monitor bouncing up and down on the road isn’t the best idea.

Pro Tip: Make sure to attach the base of the mount to a stud or very secure wall. That might be hard to find in an RV.

The Portable Standing Desk

Coming up with a standing desk area was the hardest part. In our 5th wheel trailer, we pulled out a cabinet on the wall and built a little shelf that folded out (kind of like this Ikea table). But this little corner of the Airstream didn’t allow the space for something like that. Not enough flat wall, and I needed to work at an angle because I didn’t want to be crammed in the corner. The rounded ceilings on these vintage trailers limit you a bit :)

Speaking of this corner, in our renovation we needed to have a small “chase” to run wires through so we built a small shelf on top. Originally our counter top was going to stop at the fridge, but we realized I would need a place for me to put my laptop, mouse, keyboard, etc… so that I wasn’t having to mess with that every day. There’s something to be said for having a workspace that is easily accessible.

Chase And Shelf

Around the same time we also realized we didn’t have a space for a trash can. How did we miss that? The simple solution was to extend the kitchen countertop, but drop it down and put a trash can in it. A picture is probably easier.

Shelf Trash Can

Obviously that counter top does’t work for standing - or sitting even. And this was where we got stuck. How do we create a table top that comes up and out - at an angle no less - for me to stand and work at?

After lots of research and false starts, I ran across a company called Tether Tools. They make temporary laptop stands for photographers in the field and use camera tripods for the base.

Honestly, I didn’t really like any of their actual tables, but I did notice that they sold this Aero LoPro-2 Bracket which would fit perfectly into a standard Arca style quick release plate receptor.

That’s where the lightbulb went off. We already had a heavy duty tripod with an Acrca mount. It could fold up tiny and fit in a drawer. I could take the same wood we made our shelf from, make it the exact size I needed, and mount the bracket to it.

Tether Tools Bracket Bracket Arca Plate Adapter

Instant standing table!

Standing Desk Straight On

This Standing Desk is Insanely Flexible

The coolest part is just how versatile this setup is.

There’s the basic setup. Keyboard and mouse on the standing desk and monitor on the wall. When in this position, the wireless AirPods let me listen to music or podcasts without worrying about a wire getting snagged on something.

Standing Desk Underneath

There’s the wrap around version. The arm is so flexible I can move it around the corner facing the other way if I want to give everyone more room up front.

Standing Desk Wrap Around

Notice that box on the back of the monitor? That's a Segate 4TB Hard Drive mounted with some Command velcro strips. This keeps it out of the way, but makes it easy to remove if we need to take it somewhere.

Here's what it looks like from the other angle.

Standing Desk Wrap Around Front

Then there’s the low power version. If we’re boondocking (off-grid) and need to save power, I’ll just set my laptop and mouse on the standing desk and shut off the monitor.

Standing Desk Laptop

If I feel like sitting, and our dinette hasn’t been converted to a table, I can make the tripod shorter and sit at the edge of the bed to work.

Portable Sitting Desk

In “Theatre Mode” we all pile on our bed up front and use the big monitor pulled out from the wall as a TV to watch movies, Netflix, or Hulu.

Pro Tip: make sure you have a robust traveling internet setup.

Kids Watching Movie

Hiding the Standing Desk Away

At the end of the day, my laptop, mouse, keyboard, and notebook all go back on the shelf over the trash can, the tripod gets put back in the drawer, and the table top sits discreetly in the corner out of the way.

Desk Put Away

Shopping List

Want to make your own tiny, portable standing workstation? Here's a handy list of everything we used.

Note: you can search Amazon for "tripod laptop stand," however, many of them either aren't tall enough to stand at or the table aren't wide enough to fit a laptop, mouse, phone, etc... Even worse, many have a lip to keep things from sliding off, but that could easily get in the way when resting your hand on the table to use the mouse or type on the keyboard.

For now I'm recommending you piece together your own, but if you find a solid tripod laptop stand that comes as one product let me know and I'll add it here.

For a more detailed look, check out our Airstream renovation tour where we show you full details about the standing desk and it's multiple functions!

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https://tinyshinyhome.com/eating-whole-foods-while-traveling-full-time Eating Whole Foods While Traveling Full-Time 2019-03-26T11:00:00+00:00 2019-03-28T19:04:02+00:00 Ashley Longnecker https://tinyshinyhome.com/

It’s. A. Struggle!!

Honestly I thought it would be easier to eat healthy on the road. Little did I know that we would fall in love with camping off-grid in remote areas which usually results in a lack of decent grocery stores. I mean, finding out that the local grocery store is also a the hardware store is not something that even phases me now. At first it was shocking, but now I’m like… "Okay, that’s normal."

We’ve relied on granola bars for hiking and way too may processed foods to make it easier for us to spend less time in the kitchen and more time exploring. But that’s about to get flipped upside down. As of April first things are going to drastically change here in this Tiny Shiny Home.

My goal for April is to eat all real food. You heard me right! A long time ago, back in 2014 we did Whole30. I still remember how amazing I felt, but I also remember how incredibly hard it was for me. However, since we’ve been really good at intermittent fasting over the last year, I’m hoping that it won’t be as bad this time around.

Committing to something like this is huge for us. Especially when we’re in a different location each week or two. Finding a good grocery store is hard, food prep in a tiny space is maddening, but I’m determined.

I will make a meal plan each week and do my best to stick with it (something I'm not very good at). I’m hoping to share our journey both here on our blog as well as on our Instagram stories. I’ll be linking to recipes and sharing photos as well as what we thought of each meal. We have one kid who may struggle a bit so finding things that he’ll eat will be a challenge but I’m committed to making sure we have meals that all of us will like. Fingers crossed!

So, if you’d like to join us for the month of April in eating real food, we’d love to have you follow along! Comment below if you'll be joining us, and check out our stories on Instagram for meal ideas and how we'll be prepping food in such a tiny space! Use the hashtag #tinyshinyrealfood when you share your meals and we'll feature your post on our stories!

Since I already have a good idea of what I’ll make the first week, below you’ll find my grocery list and links to some recipes I’ll be trying the first week of April. Let's do this!

Meals

Grocery List

Somethings I need for these recipes I already have on hand. But here's what I'll be buying for the first week.

Meats

  • Chicken thighs - lots
  • Beef Strips
  • Ground Chicken
  • Ground Pork
  • Ground Beef
  • Flank Steak
  • Bacon (without sugar and bad stuff)
  • Applegate Turkey Lunchmeat

Produce

  • Avocados
  • Onions
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Small Red Potatoes
  • Cauliflower - 4
  • Bell Peppers
  • Limes
  • Fresh Ginger
  • Pineapple
  • Garlic
  • Jalapenos
  • Cilantro
  • Green Onions
  • Cucumber
  • Zucchini
  • Tomatoes
  • Basil Plant
  • Dill
  • Spaghetti Squash
  • Broccoli
  • Red Cabbage
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Sprouts?
  • Pears
  • Bananas
  • Strawberries

Frozen

  • blueberries
  • strawberries
  • mango

Cold Stuff

  • Butter - to make ghee
  • Eggs

Bottles/Canned Goods

  • Coconut Milk
  • New Primal Buffalo Sauce
  • Avocado Oil Mayo
  • Can of Green Chilies
  • 8oz Tomato Sauce
  • 6oz Tomato Paste
  • Pickles

Spices

  • Onion Powder
  • Garlic Powder
  • Parsley
  • Pink Sea Salt
  • Dried Dill
  • Chipotle Chili Powder
  • Liquid Smoke

And there you have it! That looks like a lot of stuff! I'm sure our grocery budget will increase a bit, but we'll just dip into our 'eat out budget' since there won't be a whole lot of that going on!

This won't be easy. I'll likely want to punch strangers in the throat the first week, but I won't do it. I'll smile, I'll make delicious, real food and make each meal a celebration of health and happiness. So, who's with me?

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https://tinyshinyhome.com/why-do-we-love-to-boondock Why Do We Love to Boondock? 2019-03-13T05:00:00+00:00 2019-04-09T00:11:23+00:00 Ashley Longnecker https://tinyshinyhome.com/

Hello dear friends. If you’re reading this, chances are you know who we are and you know why we travel full-time. You probably know all our kids’ names and that we have a weird obsession with boba. And if you’re still reading this, you probably even know that we love to boondock. And if you’re new around here, that just means camping off-grid (usually on public lands designated for us nomads).

But I don’t think we’ve ever discussed WHY. Why do we prefer to live in the middle of nowhere without electric hookups, unlimited water, flushing toilets, and regular showers? The simple answer is FREEDOM!

From our very first boondocking adventure we knew that this was how we wanted to live. Incredible scenery right out our front door.

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Adventure is always just a few steps away.

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We enjoy the stillness, the solitude.

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We know this is not most peoples preferred way of living, but for us…it’s a little slice of heaven. There are no 6 page rules to sign at check-in, no reservation fees or extra kid tax, no neighbors so close that they can smell what I’m cooking for dinner.

Freedom.

Our first year of travel was stressful in so many ways. Towing a huge 5th wheel on interstates was torture let alone parking the dang thing. Campground fees were astronomical, and we essentially traded our fancy suburban life for a less fancy suburban life. We were still right next to 100s of other RVers, no space to call our own, and if our kids were having a good time (and heaven forbid, laughing loudly) they were occasionally scolded by grumps who didn’t want kids as neighbors. Not cool.

Boondocking allows us to choose our ‘neighborhood’. And it typically looks a lot like this.

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Or this.

Grand Tetons Mountains

Or this!

Yellowstone River

It's not only about the amazing locations though. Saving money is also a huge part of why we choose to boondock.

When we first simplified our lives, we chose to live with less so that Jonathan wouldn’t have to work 9-5. Having his own business for 13 years, he’s always been able to choose his hours. By having less expenses and a simple lifestyle, he's able to work less so that we can adventure more!

Freedom.

Less time working on client jobs means we’re able to spend more time investing in our own creative pursuits. We started creating more YouTube videos about our travels and we’re currently working on a course to help others who want to know the ends and outs of camping off-grid.

We spend a lot more time diving into hobbies like macrame, watercolor painting, reading, photography, and hiking.

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Not everyone can live off-grid, run their house off of the sun, create a nerdy internet setup, or renovate a 46 year old trailer!

However, most of us do have the ability to get outside, explore our own backyards, or take a trip somewhere new. Being nomadic just makes it easier for us to do what we should have been doing all those years stuck in a traditional home…explore!

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So...get the kids dressed, grab a backpack full of snacks and water and go outside! Take advantage of the time you have with each other and go adventure together and experience your own kind of freedom!

For more information about how we renovated our Airstream for life off the grid, check out our Airstream renovation tour below!

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https://tinyshinyhome.com/short-visit-in-san-diego-ca San Diego, Torrey Pines, Cabrillo National Monument, and the Seal Tour 2019-02-27T05:00:00+00:00 2019-02-27T18:45:02+00:00 Ashley Longnecker https://tinyshinyhome.com/
This post contains affiliate links or compensated reviews. Please read our disclosure for more info.

Oh, San Diego. It's was so nice to meet you!

After leaving Hollywood, CA we headed south and scored the best site at a little site at a place called Lake Jennings Campground. The campground itself was pretty run down which is a shame because it has so much potential, but the views were incredible!

Lake Jennings View

We opted for a dry campsite (no hookups) so that we would have an amazing view. All the other sites with utilities had very restricted views and cramped next to one another. I think we made the right decision.

lake Jennings

We came to San Diego to explore Torrey Pines and to find Sea Lions. And we managed to do both! Plus we saw that Cabrillo National Monument was there so you know we went to get another Junior Ranger Badge!

We want to give a special thanks to Old Town Trolley/SEAL Tours of San Diego for making it possible to see some Sea Lions!

Check out the short video above of some of the fun we had in San Diego!

Don't forget to like the video and leave a comment on YouTube if you enjoyed it.

Oh, and make sure to subscribe so you don't mess the next episode!

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https://tinyshinyhome.com/tiny-water-tools-you-should-have-while-boondocking Tiny Water Tools You Should Have While Boondocking 2019-02-22T05:00:00+00:00 2019-02-26T03:07:47+00:00 Jonathan Longnecker https://tinyshinyhome.com/
This post contains affiliate links or compensated reviews. Please read our disclosure for more info.

If you camp off-grid often, you know the water struggle. Where can I get it in this town? What kind of connection do they have? We’ve already covered the basics in this article (like bladders, hoses, jugs, etc…), but here are a few more indispensable tools to help you level up your water quest.

Water Bandit

Water Bandit

If you need to fill up your tank or bladder with a hose, but the water spigot you’re trying to use doesn’t have a threaded connection, you’ll find the water bandit to be super handy.

It’s basically a rubber funnel with a threaded connection the end that you can jam onto the spigot and fill up without any muss or fuss. I definitely could have used this over the years and I’m glad I have it in my arsenal now.

Shutoff Valve

Hose Coil Spring Coupler + Shutoff Valve

Many times I find myself filling up and transporting water by myself, and having a shutoff valve makes it so much easier to fill various containers without making a mess and wasting a bunch of water. Just combine a coil spring coupler hose and a shut-off valve and you’ll have a magical little tool that lets you stop the flow without running all the way back to the spigot.

Pro-Tip: Combine this with a drill pump (see below) and water bladder to transfer water from the bed of your truck to your fresh tank all by yourself.

Water Key

Water Key (Sillcock Key)

Many commercial buildings or gas stations will have water faucets on the exterior, but no knob or handle to turn it on. This makes sense, they don’t want a bunch of people stealing their water and running up the bill.

That’s why a water key (or sillcock key) is more of an emergency or last ditch effort kind of thing. We always want you to ask permission before filling up your water jugs, and stealing isn’t cool. That being said, this is a good tool to have at your disposal for weird situations like a zombie apocalypse.

Washer

Extra Rubber Gaskets

I know, these little guys aren’t an earth-shattering revelation. But we’ve found that having a few extras of the mundane things that are prone to breaking or getting lost can be the key to enjoying your time camping instead of heading to the hardware store.

Yes, these little hose washers get lost all the time. They fall out. They fail. They stretch. Then you’ve got stuff leaking all over the place and making a mess. Grab yourself 6-pack and never worry about it again.

Drill Pump

Drill Pump

Have a big bladder full of water and need to transfer it to your fresh tank? Have a cordless drill? Then grab yourself one of these bad boys. This little $12 self-priming transfer drill pump has been a game changer for transporting water. Before we just had to let gravity do the work and it took forever!

Now we hook it up to a hose, connect our drill, and pump the water right out in no time flat. It’s pretty amazing little gadget, and totally worth it if you find yourself transporting water a lot like we do.

Pro Tip: Combine with a hose to hose connector (pictured), and a coil spring coupler hose to pump it by yourself without needing an extra set of hands.

And now, my friend - you are equipped to be a fresh water ninja. Go forth, obtain your water, and flourish!

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https://tinyshinyhome.com/travel-route-2019 The 2019 Tiny Shiny Home Travel Route 2019-02-18T05:00:00+00:00 2019-10-08T18:16:42+00:00 Jonathan Longnecker https://tinyshinyhome.com/

Below you'll find a map showing our travel route in 2019. Click on a marker to get a link to any articles we've written about that area. We'll keep this post updated so you can follow along with us. Enjoy!

Locations in this post

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https://tinyshinyhome.com/our-first-visit-to-universal-studios-hollywood Our first visit to Universal Studios Hollywood 2019-02-14T05:00:00+00:00 2019-02-15T02:20:58+00:00 Ashley Longnecker https://tinyshinyhome.com/
This post contains affiliate links or compensated reviews. Please read our disclosure for more info.

I’ll admit it. I wasn’t super excited about visiting Universal Studios Hollywood. If you know us, you know we’d rather be hiking mountains alone than stuck in a city surrounded by thousands of people. I get anxiety when we have to be in large groups so putting me in the middle of a theme park just sounded like the worst idea.

However, this adventure is not about me! It’s about our family and more specifically, OUR KIDS! We just spent the last several months listening to the Harry Potter audio books with the kids after the older two had both read all the books. Then we watched all the movies so you may say we became Potter Heads. I’d heard great things about The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood so after much research, we decided to surprise the kids with tickets!

We counted down the days, did lots of research, and we were so excited when the day finally came for us to explore Hogsmeade. We got there right as the gates were open and went straight to Olivander’s Wand Shop. We waited 20 minutes to go to the Wand Experience where you’re in a large group of 20 people but only one gets chosen to get fitted for a wand.

Let’s just say, ours were only our kids in our group, so our chances were pretty good. Ada was chosen and I cannot even tell you how special it was. I teared up as the Wand Master spoke to her so kindly and made the whole experience purely magical, but that was just the beginning. Every interaction we had with the workers there was amazing. Everyone stayed in character and was so friendly and helpful.

After all the kids picked out their wands…or rather, after the wands picked our kids…we went straight to our first ride. The Flight of the Hippogriff. It was the kids very first rollercoaster and a great starter for our day. They LOVED it and were excited to go on the next ride, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. Woah. I wasn’t prepared for how cool that was going to be.

I thought you just sat in a chair that would move a bit in front of a big screen…NOPE! It was so much fun. We really felt like we were flying with Harry and all of his friends. So incredible.

We promised the kids after their first rides that we would grab some Butterbeer. We were told that the frozen kind was the way to go, but we had to see for ourselves. Yep, they were right…however, we got one frozen and one fizzy and drank them simultaneously and our minds were blown! THAT is the way to drink Butterbeer!

After wandering around the shops for a bit we grabbed some lunch at the Three Broomsticks and whoah! I had no idea that a theme park could have such amazing food. Like real, delicious food. We got fish and chips (which were probably the best I’ve ever had), herb roasted chicken, and chicken tenders. Everything was so fresh and good. Oh, and the fizzy pumpkin juice was awesome! Pricey? Heck yes, but you are at a theme park. It was worth it for the experience of the whole day.

We decided to let our food settle as we took the Universal Studio Tour. I didn’t realize that it was also a ‘ride’ of some sort. It was so fun to see a little bit of the behind-the-scenes and see how some of the movies are made. I didn’t expect to get wet on a bus tour, but my pants got soaked in an earthquake! The tour is a must. It’s an hour long but worth it.

After a few more rides we decided to go back to Hogsmeade so that the kids could cast some spells with their magic wands. They had so much fun with those wands.

We bought some postcards at the Owl Post to send to some family and friends. Of course another round of Butterbeer to close out our day.

It was the most incredible day. We couldn’t stop smiling and Ada hugged us every chance she got in between spells and swigs of Butterbeer. She proclaimed it to be the best day of her life, and I may agree.

Thank you Universal Studios Hollywood for making our first visit an experience we will never forget!

Watch the video about our trip to Universal Studios Hollywood! If you liked it, please leave a comment on YouTube after the video and give it a thumbs up! Thanks friends!

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https://tinyshinyhome.com/quick-tips-for-staying-safe-while-boondocking Quick Tips for Staying Safe while Boondocking 2019-02-13T05:00:00+00:00 2019-02-13T21:57:36+00:00 Jonathan Longnecker https://tinyshinyhome.com/
This post contains affiliate links or compensated reviews. Please read our disclosure for more info.

We get asked all the time about how to stay safe when camping off-grid. While we’ve never had a problem - and while you’re much less likely to encounter one in the middle of nowhere - we know it’s something many of you are concerned about.

So here are a few quick tips for staying safe while boondocking!

Wickenburg Overhead Drone

Unpaved Roads are Tricky

First things first - always drop your trailer and scout a boondocking location before you try to tow anything down a rocky dirt or sand road you’re not familiar with. You’ll keep yourself from getting into sticky situations and you’ll probably find an even better spot than you would have towing.

We recommend having a vehicle with 4 Wheel Drive just in case there’s mud or deep sand. We should know - our first boondocking experience with our 2wd dually ended in disaster!

Consider adding a lift to your trailer. Roads to off-grid spots are often rocky and uneven. Raising up a few inches really helps to keep from bottoming out.

Antenna Relfection

Reliable Internet

If something dangerous does happen, it’s important that you can make an emergency call or get directions to the closest hospital. Having a reliable internet connection while camping off-grid is essential.

By combining a cell phone plan, booster and antenna you’ll be well on your way. Learn more here.

Friendsgiving at lake mead

Send a Message

Once you’ve found your perfect boondocking spot, you can take a few simple precautions to send a message if someone comes up to your RV.

Adding an alarm sticker is the oldest trick in the book - people even do it for their houses. But it feels a little more authentic for a trailer in the middle of nowhere. I’d just guess it came as an add-on when purchasing. Keep in mind that gun stickers might be counter-productive if law enforcement or border patrol pulls you over.

In the same vein, you can add a small LED light near the door or step to look like an alarm is set. And if you’re alone, put out multiple chairs or pairs of shoes to make it look like you’ve got backup.

Las Cruces, NM

Lock Your Junk Up

Besides locking your doors and windows, try adding a deadbolt for extra security. Those little standard latches are pretty easy to break.

Did you know that most RV storage compartments use the same keys? If a thief has a set of them they can easily get in. Take a few minutes, replace the locks and get your own keys.

Finally, consider locking your wheel chocks or adding a wheel boot so that someone can’t run off with your tiny home.

And that's it! Want to learn even more about staying safe? Check out the Boondocking Collective.

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