The Trouble that is Living Tiny and Traveling

Sarah's Thoughts Self Sustainability Simple Living + Minimalism Travels and Trucker Life

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It seems to spike everyone’s interests when they hear that myself, my husband, and our medium sized dog, live in a semi, permanently. It’s not always easy, (or pretty,) so let’s get into the Nitty Gritty of it!

Our biggest issue is not a lack of space, but a lack of water

We don’t have a sink, a toilet or a shower. At all. Our only water source is the water we buy and carry in 1 gallon jugs. We only keep two at a time, because of a lack of space. That has to provide for us, our dog, our plants, and our cooking/cleaning habits.

1).        This means that we rely solely on public restrooms to ‘go’ and wash our hands. As the girl who ‘held it’ for up to 10 hours a day while in school to avoid public restrooms- this was a big change for me. We have to visit a Love’s or Pilot truck stop to shower. Not only this, but we also have dishes to wash (more on our cooking later), and laundry to do. Our laundry gets done at truck stop laundromats. Our dishes are a little more complicated. We either use up both of our gallons of water to wash them, or we carry them into the shower with us, and wash them using our plastic tub, using their unlimited water.

2).       In the meantime between sinks, showers and dish washing, we have to get creative with baby wipes, paper towels, our limited water, and soaps. I’ve learned to brush my teeth sans water. It’s not luxurious, but it does work for us.

Cooking is a Challenge.

It makes so much more sense to cook than to eat out. I did some calculating, and we save more than $10,000 annually by cooking rather than eating out 7 days a week (which is very easy to do when you’re at 2-3 truck stops a day). So it definitely is worth the hassle of cooking and cleaning to save that amount of money. Initially, I started with a hot plate range burner, a teflon pan, and a slow cooker. My storage consisted of a tiny refrigerator, and a tiny pantry. So here’s the dynamics of how all that worked.
1).     The Mainstays single burner hot plate we purchased worked, but it didn’t heat quickly at all. The teflon pan had to be held the entire time while the truck was in motion, otherwise it would bounce off the plate. Cooking a hot soup is a nightmare, it’s always trying to slosh out and burn you. To cook simple bacon, eggs, and sausage for two people, took approximately 45 minutes. It had a very difficult time holding temperature, which was honestly a nightmare. 

2).       Recently, we just replaced the burner & teflon pan with a Bella electric skillet. That is a much better option, hands down. It is one piece rather than two, and it reaches (and holds) temperature much more efficiently. Now it only takes about 15-20 minutes for our breakfast foods to be ready. I still wouldn’t recommend making soups while in motion. The Crock Pot slow cooker is still an awesome and useful investment, however is does take up quite a bit of crucial space. 

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3).       Another struggle is gathering the ingredients. Truck stops have instant foods, not ingredients. Plus, their prices are ridiculous. Just to give you an idea, it’s $3.25 for a single Ramen Noodle packet, compared to $0.15 at Walmart. The other issue is, certain grocery stores, including Walmarts, do not welcome truck drivers to park their rigs long enough to shop.Because of this, our food supply needs to last us at least two weeks, because that’s sometimes how long it is before we can find a nearby, easy to get into, welcoming grocery store. Our personal favorite stop is an Aldi’s or at Al’s Oasis Grocery Store in South Dakota. 

4).       Next issue? Buying the *right* ingredients. I still don’t have solution I’m completely content with here. I need ingredients that last for up to two weeks (because it is difficult to get into a grocery store), don’t occupy much space, and are versatile. Here is my last buy,and it also included two boxes of cereal that weren’t in the picture. I use a lot of pasta, hamburger and sausage since those are relatively versatile to cook with, and easy to keep.

Keeping a Dog in the Truck

is actually a bigger issue than I ever imagined. I had no idea how much time I’d spend with him, or how many little issues would pop up.

1).       He needs to go to the restroom, sometimes in inconvenient places. Many places you deliver in the semi, are not dog friendly. They must stay in your truck during your entire time there. How long are you there? It depends. Some places have you out within 15 minutes to 4 hours. Other places are severely lazy, unorganized, and/or understaffed. We once were stuck at a farm in Washington for almost three days. Luckily, they were dog friendly, but that could’ve been a disaster.

2).      Dogs are not welcome in truck stops, unless they are service animals. That means we don’t have access to a bath for our dog, unless we visit family or purchase a dog friendly hotel room. To overcome this challenge we bought CHI, a waterless dog shampoo. It is a serious blessing!

3).        You are with your dog about 23 hours a day, 7 days a week. I HATE listening to people or animals eat or drink, and that does not pair up well with an obnoxious dog. He also loves to snort, chew his toys, lick his lips, and lick about everything in sight (including my window).

4).       He is also very clumsy, bless his heart, which means he knocks a lot over with his body or tail. Drinks are not safe. Neither is your phone and phone charger. That thing you set on the bed for just a second? It’s on the floor now, and scattered for extra measure.

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5).       Being with your dog all the time also takes a toll on him. He gets very accustomed to you being with him all the time, and when you leave for a few minutes to use the restroom or get a shower, he becomes upset. He will steal all food he can reach, scatter the trash, or eat an expensive GPS to voice his distress.


The Lack of Privacy is Suffocating

Even for an extrovert. I’m within 3-4 feet of my husband almost all day.

1).       He knows exactly how much I eat, how much and how long I visit the restroom (because he has to make a special stop for each visit), and how much *wiggle* it requires for me to squeeze into my favorite jeans.

2).        Last month I had food poisoning (truck stop chicken y’all) and I was violently vomiting into a travel mug right beside him for a full day.

TURN” *vomit* “UP THE” *vomit* “RADIO” *vomit* *sobbing* *vomit* is a pretty accurate description of how that went down.

3).       For storage’s sake, we use the top bunk to hold our dirty laundry hamper, our shower bag, crock pot, electric griddle, sleeping bags, and now Spud, my guinea pig, in his cage. Because of that, we share a bed, which is nice, but it’s only a twin. Yup. Two adults, who are about 400 lbs together, sharing a twin bed. I’ve always had a full sized bed, for just me, so this took quite a bit to get used to. 

4).       We also share the same speakers, and television. He knows how much I love watching Modern Family, and I know how much he loves his Outdoor Channel. Also, if one of us gets on a music kick and wants to repeat the same song- the other just person bravely suffers through. We are much more patient with each other now, and I believe this is a large reason why.

5).       Probably my biggest privacy issue, is my exposure to the public’s eye. I’m constantly surrounded by people it seems like, which can be exhausting. Public restrooms, always being on the highway surrounded by people, having to walk my dog with people watching, it just gets old fast. Even when you draw the curtains closed and lock the doors to go to sleep at night, you’re surrounded by people at truck stops. Prostitutes and the homeless will knock on your door at all hours for money. It’s absolutely exhausting. I never liked the idea of staying in a hotel until recently. It seems like that is the only place I ever feel like I can enjoy some privacy.

There are random little things you begin to miss while traveling in a truck.

1).      Being able to lay down on the floor. Strange right? But in the truck, you can either sit in your chair, or lay in your bed. There isn’t any other option, and sometimes, it’s easy to miss lounging on the couch or laying on the floor with your dog.

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2).       Being able to lay down in a bathtub. Truck stops only offer private showers, not tubs (not that I’d ever want to take a bubble bath at a truck stop anyways- eww).

3).       The ability to wear gross clothes. Like I said, I’m in public, literally 24/7. I can’t wear my favorite stained sweatpants and still be comfortable around people. That is a strange luxury I most definitely miss.

4).       Having a yard for my dog. Look, I love Blair, but it’s really a pain to try to find dog friendly places to walk him, to always be watched while I walk him, and to have to inspect his waste several times a day. I’m used to just opening the door and letting my dog go do his business in private- and I can’t wait for that to become my reality again.

5).       I also feel pressure to be near my friends and family. I want to be out here, loving what I do, but I also miss my people. I want to tell them when I’ll be home, but I’m never quite sure, and that can be upsetting. I want them to know I love them and miss them, and I’m not putting them off. It’s just difficult to get a route back.

6).      The one assumption people make is that I’m bored doing this. In reality though, I’m the furthest from it. I have my husband who I never run out of things to talk about, a blog to operate, a dog and a guinea pig to care for, supper that needs to be made, scenery to watch, books to read, satellite to vegitate in front of, XBox One to play, and a smartphone with all the wonders of the internet.

Now with all that said, realize that I absolutely love what I do. I get to be with my newly married husband, travel the country, and blog as I wish. 

(If you’re interested, here’s my complete guide to traveling for free, or even getting paid to do so!)

I’m very thankful for this opportunity. The closer we get to having our dream house, the more bittersweet I feel. I know I’m really going to miss this lifestyle, but at the same time, I can’t wait to see that next chapter of my life when it gets here. 

If you’re interested in the Life of A Truck Driver, check out here. If you already are a truck driver, check out this helpful resource.

How do you feel about living tiny or being on the road 24/7? Would you have any advice for someone new to this lifestyle? Would you ever want to do this? As always, thank you for reading! 

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