Ask Melanie: Is our family too big to live in an Airstream?

Bambi living large in the Airstream.

Bambi living large in the Airstream.

Happy “half-way through the week” day! (Hump day just sounds gross.) Anyway, I often receive emails from loyal readers and people who just randomly stumbled across my blog. Many times these people will have questions about the logistics of living in an Airstream, downsizing and how we live. I thought it might be helpful to others to share those emails so all my sage advice (ha!) can be shared with a wider audience. So, I’m starting a new column called “Ask Melanie.” Our first email is from Laurel, her dilemma boils down to this, “Is our family too big to live in an Airstream?”

Hi Melanie,

I just found your blog this morning. So inspiring!

My husband and I would like to sell our house next year, when our last kid gets out of high school. We’d like to live in a trailer for a year or two. Our goal would be to stockpile some money to build a small house (by ourselves), on some acreage we’ve purchased and be debt-free. (either straw bale, earthship, cord wood) The downside is that we would have to live “in town” and pay a long term rental fee during that time, because the property we bought is about 2 hours from our jobs.

The dilemma: I think this all sound so exciting, it would force me to be more organized, it would be a good opportunity to purge the decades of meaningless junk, etc. However, the “reality” is that we have 3 medium sized cattle dogs and a cat (plus us-two normal-sized grown-ups). We (hopefully) would also have occasional visits from our “boys in college”. So, we have a big family!

I really think we could make a tiny space work for a defined amount of time (not forever!), even with all the critters. But, then I look at your trailer, with your one manageable tiny dog and think, “what the he** are we thinking?” We must be nuts!

Having lived your “small life”‘ life for a couple years now, what is your advice? Do you think we are “too big” a family unit to fit into a trailer for a year or two? Am I romanticizing this idea to the point of absurdity?

Thanks for your input!
Laurel in Colorado


Hi Laurel,
Thanks for reaching out. I hope you don’t take this the wrong way. It is hard to convey tone on the interwebs, but I think you would be the only person who could answer what is right for you. Do I recommend living in an Airstream? Yes, absolutely, if you have the right mindset. You must have problem solving mindset. You have to see the flaming hoops and know that you can jump through them.

Being a problem solver is the thing that has gotten us through this journey. Planning also helps too. We’ve trained our (yes, tiny, but active) dog to go to her “spot” when she’s underfoot. She has a set schedule and gets lots of time to play outside every single day. Rain or shine. No, I don’t have three dogs, but I did find this discussion on Tiny House Talk about living small with pets. Many of the people have large dogs, cats and kids!

In terms of guests, we’ve had quite a few stay at our home and people seem to enjoy the novelty. We’ve had people sleep on our “couch” and we’ve had people camp outside. Most people are surprised at how spacious our home actually is.

No, small living isn’t for everyone, but there are solutions to every problem and if you go in with that mindset, I think you will be fine.

Good luck!

Do you have any advice for Laurel? Let’s hear it in the comments!

Do you have a burning question? Email me asmalllifemelanie at gmail dot com!


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