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Solo Female Living out of ’87 Toyota Van

Hi! I’m Kathleen and I’ve been living tiny for the past three years. For the first two years, I lived in a 1969 camper trailer that was mostly off the grid in a family’s backyard. I worked a full-time office job and the camper trailer was parked in one location. Living in a camper trailer helped me explore how I could reduce my environmental footprint in a smaller space. Filling up gallon jugs of water instead of having running water forced me to conserve. A composting toilet made me rethink my waste.

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As my job transitioned to remote work, I was able to travel more. And with that came trying out a bunch of mobile rigs. I spent several months living out of vans until one fit. That one was a 1987 Toyota van with a pop top, a rare beauty. I worked with Aaron of Run Away Van to build it out to feature a charging system, refrigerator, pull-out kitchen, fold-out bed and plenty of storage. Everything was built with 1/2 and 3/4 ACX cabinet grade plywood. All boxes were built with biscuits, glued and nailed to avoid wasting space with framing. It was trimmed with cedar and reclaimed snow fencing from the wild Wyoming prairie lands.

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It took us a month working long days to build the van out solidly. Storage behind the driver seat had to be designed perfectly so that they could be pulled out to access the engine and battery.

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I’ve been living out of the Toyota van with my dog Peaches for five months now and I couldn’t be happier. The van has taken us all over Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, California and down to Baja, Mexico.

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I would encourage others to travel to some wild places to feel a connection to the land. Maybe one of those trips might inspire you to live out of a vehicle you already own or repurpose an older vehicle like I did.

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Check out my Instagram @tinyhousetinyfootprint and explore my website at www.tinyhousetinyfootprint.com. I am also a co-founder of Vanlife Diaries which can be found on Instagram @vanlifediaries and online at www.vanlife.com.au.

Our big thanks to Kathleen for sharing!

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3 comments

  1. I would never go this route. I would go with a pickup truck with an enclosed rear bed and tow a 12 ft. to 16 ft. travel trailer. I would carry a canoe on the top of the truck. I would have so many more options than anyone would have living in a van.

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