Coffee Time With @keepingittiny_
Names: Dee, Ben, and our cocker spaniel Willow
Youtube: Keeping It Tiny
We are Dion, Ben, and Willow (our overly excited Cocker Spaniel).
Taking on one of our biggest challenges yet, building our own Tiny Home On Wheels.
@keepingittiny_ on IG.
We currently live in Wet and Windy Wales. Our journey down the ‘alternative living’ route, has been nothing short of invigorating. It started back in 2015, when we decided to buy a Mazda Bongo Van in Brisbane and travel throughout Australia. When we finally ran out of dollars we decided to come back home to Wales to work and save up, knowing that it wouldn’t be long until we would be booking flights out of the country again.
In 2017, we decided to rinse and repeat, we booked our flight to New Zealand with a few stopovers in Sri Lanka and Aus. It took us all of four days to find a job and buy yet another van when we touched down in Auckland. We soon put the jandal down and got out of the city!
So yup, you guessed it. Our lifestyle choice stemmed from our travels.
Tell us about your favorite beverage and why?
Our favourite drink would have to be TEA! And not just because we are British ha ha.
Flat tyre? Let's have a cup of tea. Engine blowing up? Let's have a cup of tea. Van door falling off? Let’s have a cup of tea.. you see where we are going with this. (Yes all these things did actually happen when we have been living on the road) 😀
What is your current living situation and how did you decide to take up that lifestyle?
We currently live in our 2002 VW T4 Van which we have kitted out ourselves, it’s a simple but perfect conversion, that suits our needs. Parked up on our little slice of land, next to our half-built Tiny Home.
What was your inspiration or key motivator that led to your choice to live an alternative lifestyle?
We have always been inspired by alternative living. Living in multiple vans over the years has shown us how important it is to us, to live simply and sustainably. As you can imagine, we came across many options but a Tiny Home fitted the bill perfectly.
Can you tell us a little bit about your home?
Our home is based on a 28ft x 8ft trailer, which seems HUGE compared to the van. We have gone with a simple layout, kitchen, living space, and bathroom downstairs and our bedroom will be in the loft.
We have based the exterior of our home on the ‘Rustic cabin in the woods’ design using Waney edge larch cladding and shingles to give it that homely feel.
It’s difficult to share our ideas with you as we are still in the early stages of our build but if you follow our Youtube Channel ‘Keepingitiny’ (link above), we aim to take you along on our project. Check it out and let us know what you think!
Many people want to live an ‘off-grid’ lifestyle and find ways to become more sustainable. Can you tell us about how you power your home?
We set out on our Tiny Home build with every intention of running everything off solar, but after some research, we realized that it wasn’t going to suit us just yet. (financially and lack of space for a ground-mounted array). It’s certainly on the cards for the future though.
What is your favorite part about your home and you could not live without, why?
It's early days but, Ben’s favourite part is the two big Velux windows that we have in the roof so that we can spend countless hours stargazing from bed, which I totally agree with.
And I am just blown away by the whole build but if I had to choose one thing, it would be ..
The Separett toilet! I know I'm strange right, but I've waited so long to get a composting loo ha ha.
What is the one thing that you regret about your home and how would you do it differently now?
So far, we don’t regret anything with our design but I'm sure we will come across a few hurdles when we move in.
How do you support yourself financially on the road?
This is the first time in a long time that we have actually put the pegs in the ground, so even though we are living in the van we both have full-time jobs. Ben is a carpenter, which has come in super handy with the build and I am currently setting up an online Eco shop, selling plastic-free alternatives for your home and lifestyle. Come and show us some love. (www.earthvibration.co.uk; @EarthVibration_ on IG).
Can you take us through a typical ‘Day in the life”?
Our typical day looks a bit like this at the moment.. Wake up, tea. Work on the tiny home, tea. Cook and eat some awesome vegan grub, tea. Walk willow, tea. Bed, tea.
While we are all drinking some coffee reading this post, can you tell us a story or event that happened to you while living your current lifestyle?
So many stories come to mind when we think about things that have happened to us whilst living in a van but seeing as we have mentioned it already, I'll give you a bit more insight into the ‘van blowing up’ moment.
We were all new to the van lifestyle and we had only touched down in Aus for a few weeks, life was great. Until, the dreaded moment where we were somewhere on the East Coast making our way down to Melbourne and our engine actually blew up!
Neither of us knew a great deal about van engines and both of us had missed the last sign that we had passed (probably because we were too engrossed in our sing-along) which didn’t help us at all when it came time to ring the breakdown guy.
It took them ages to find us and when they did find us and locate a mechanic, we had no option other than to call the mechanics garage home for 5 days in a strange little town with nothing about. You can only imagine how much tea we drank ha ha.
But we were lucky, we got out of it unharmed and we are here today to tell the story.
What is your favorite spot that you have traveled to and can't stop thinking about, why?
We don’t think we could give you one answer but New Zealand is definitely on the top of the list, it’s the most incredible place that we ever did road trip. It has the most beautiful scenery anyone could ask for and it’s as if the whole country is made for camping.
If someone was considering changing their lifestyle and living more like you.. What would be your best advice to take the first step?
Do it! Van life is the best, at least we think it is.
Our advice would be to just do a tonne of thinking on what sort of lifestyle you want to achieve, whether it’s a tiny home, a van, a bus, or a boat! They all have pro’s and con’s but there are so many options, you will find your place.
It’s never too late and anyone can do it if they really want to.
Also, never get put off by people judging your way of life because most of the time, they are just jealous 😉
Getting rid of things and going tiny can be a really difficult thing for people looking to live tiny. How did you successfully pair down your stuff and do you have any suggestions for someone struggling to go tiny?
Oh, ok so we're not going to be much help here because since we got together we have always lived simply, most of the time we have all of our things in a rucksack but one thing I will say is that if you cannot think off the top of your head exactly what is in that cupboard or in that drawer, then you probably don’t need it. Only keep the things you need.
A lot of people might be concerned about their own personal safety living a mobile lifestyle. What are some of your best safety tips for someone living on the road?
We have been super lucky with living a mobile lifestyle in so many places, we have never (touch wood) had anything stolen from us or lost anything significant but the mindset we have is the less stuff that you have the less chance there is of it getting stolen/lost because 9 times out of 10 you can carry all your belongings with you, at least all the expensive gear. Just always have your wits about you and never be taken in by anyone's tricks.
If you were driving from the east coast to the west coast what would you be listening to for the drive?
We both have very different tastes in music but when it comes to road trips, we both agree that Newton Faulker, Jack Johnson and Bob Marley are our go to, with a bit of Artic Monkeys thrown in there to keep it interesting.
What is one thing that transitioning to a simplified lifestyle has taught you, good or bad?
Living simpler has shown us what is important to us. We find a simple life to be very fulfilling, we certainly have a lot less cluttered minds & possessions, which can only be a good thing, right?