Making North America Your Backyard

October 27, 2015

It’s not everyday you see a pickup truck trailing a miniature home behind it. For Guillaume and Jenna constant pictures and stares are something they’ve gotten used to after driving their 20' by 6' 8'' home around North America.

Over a year ago, Guillaume and Jenna left the rat race in LA to pursue a more minimalist lifestyle on the road. With no previous construction experience, they bought plans from Tumbleweed Tiny House and got to work. They used an eco-friendly mindset to build a custom home using recycled materials and installing solar panels, a composting toilet, small water tanks and energy efficient appliances. In just over a year they covered 21,000 miles, driving from Southern California to Eastern Canada down to Florida and up to Alaska. They’ve become travel journalists and have taken it upon themselves to document the Tiny Home culture. As outdoor enthusiasts, we wanted to learn more about how they built this home with no experience and what it’s like to live in a125 square foot home.

“We like to joke that North America is our backyard and we never have to mow the lawn.”

Scroll through the slideshow below to follow their adventures.

Being in the tiny house and on the road, we’re conscious of the resources we use. It’s been fun to change our routine a bit and use the BioLite!" 
“We had no building experience whatsoever when we started, so there was a big learning curve.”
“We tried to build the house as green as possible with reused materials and good insulation so that we aren’t burning a lot of fuel to keep it warm.”
“One of the critical things with the tiny house is that we designed and built it to fit our own needs. It’s completely custom.”
“The tiny house gave us more time to enjoy the outdoors. We can be somewhere and decide that we’d like to stay longer, explore farther.” 
“We’ve had nearly 10,000 people walk through our home. It’s been fun to watch them walk through our house and daydream a bit.” 
“There are several ways people travel with tiny houses, we are an exception. Usually people will live in a tiny house and it won’t move.” 
"We don’t have that much storage, so it’s good for us to have some gear that can be used in a variety of situations and help us minimize."
“One of the greatest experiences we’ve had is towing the truck to Alaska. There is something special about having to work hard to see a place.” 

You're making the outdoors your home (and we're jealous), what is that like?

It’s a pretty amazing experience. The fact that we can go almost everywhere in the comfort of our own house is great. You open the door and the view is always changing. The house itself has not only changed the way we think about our resources and lifestyle but also gave us more time to enjoy the outdoors. We can be somewhere and decide that we’d like to stay an extra day or extra week, whereas if you’re in a regular lifestyle schedule, it is awesome but on Sunday morning you have to hike back down and get home.

We see people travel in campers and vans a lot, how is traveling in a tiny home different?

One of the critical things with the tiny house is that we designed and built it to fit our own needs. It’s completely custom and very comfortable for us. We didn’t purchase an existing camper that was built a certain way and had to figure out how we’d use it. We thought about everything we put into the house so it has a purpose and works for our needs.

Have any secret spots we should know about?

Our favorite spot at this point is Alaska. Driving through Western Canada was magnificent. It was completely remote and rugged. It took a lot of effort for us to get up there which makes it that much more special. One of the greatest experiences I’ve had on the trip is when we went up on Dalton Highway, a 400+ mile gravel highway which goes all the way up to Deadhorse Prudhoe Bay. We stopped at the Arctic Circle and stayed over night. It took us 8 hours to do a couple of hundred miles. We went to that spot and stayed overnight and it was just something else.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone about to hit the road in a tiny home, what would it be?

Think really hard about what you’re going to use the tiny house for. If it’s for travelling, make sure it is built to be road ready and not excessively heavy. Our house is about 10,000 pounds when it’s fully loaded. That is about twice the weight of a camper of the same length. If you’re going to use it all of the time you’ll need a truck as well and that is built for that amount of travel.

If you want to do weekend trips once a month or so and that is its only use, I would recommend getting a standard camper because it’s better built for that purpose. But, if people want to live in comfort, the thing that is really built a lot better and choose the materials, go with a tiny house.

Guillaume and Jenna are parking their home in Colorado for the winter and are deciding where to head next! If you are looking for tips and tricks to set up a Tiny House, check out Tiny House Giant Journey’s blog

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