Trailer Days: 6 Practical Lessons Learned Living In A Trailer

I lived in small spaces through most of my 20s and 30s. I’m talking 100-300 square feet. I warmly refer to those days as my trailer days. Living in a trailer isn’t so bad. Sure, it’s a small space, but that keeps you thinking about what’s important enough to keep around. My trailer days taught me a thing or two about how to live simple.

rust-20291_1280 Trailer Days: Photo of rusty trailer hitch on a log

What can you learn from living in trailer? I could write a book about it, but I’ll stick to 6 practical lessons. Keep in mind that these lessons are as much about what you learn to do outside of your trailer as inside your trailer. Living in small spaces isn’t for everybody, but if you’re going to do it, here are some things to keep in mind.

6 Lessons Learned From Trailer Living

  1. Get outside: Living in a small space can be cozy. It can also get old. You’ve heard the term cabin fever? It’s real. After a long winter living in a trailer, you’ll want to spend some time outside. When I lived in a trailer in the middle of an apple orchard off Doghouse Road, near Wenatchee, Washington, I spent as much time outside as possible. I walked or rode my bicycle everywhere. I hiked regularly. I spent a lot of time just sitting by the river and meditating.
  2. Get creative: Living in a trailer didn’t leave me much room for indoor hobbies. Still, I was able to get creative. I owned a guitar. I spent hours playing and writing songs. I also used to doodle and write poetry. Just because the space is small doesn’t mean you can’t be creative. My trailer days are greatly responsible for some of the best songs I’ve written. If you’re thinking about living in a small space, consider hobbies like writing, photography, or knitting
  3. Read: I didn’t have a TV in my trailer. I didn’t want one. I prefer to read. I went to the library regularly. I read about everything from radio to religion. I read the Bible four times. Living in a trailer offers a great environment for you to curl up with good books.
  4. Stay Social: I had a great social network during my trailer days. I had several neighbors who I played music with. I worked at a local restaurant and bar. I spent many evenings out with friends playing darts or pool. If you’re going to live in a trailer, don’t live out in the middle of nowhere. It gets lonely. That will drive anyone crazy after a short time. Make sure to have a support system. Go out and enjoy the town from time to time.
  5. Stay organized: If you live in a trailer, you don’t have much room. This means that you’ve got to keep your stuff together. Have a specific place for everything. I kept all my clothes in two cabinets, and my books and music in another. I kept my dishes in a cupboard above the sink, and my pots and pans in one below the sink. My guitar slid perfectly under my bed. My trailer was always neat and tidy
  6. Live small: I didn’t own much throughout my trailer days. I had three or four sets of clothes and a couple pairs of shoes. I had about 30 cassette tapes and a small stack of books. I kept three sets of dishes, a frying pan, and a sauce pan. I never had more than a few days worth of food. If you live in a trailer you might have to grocery shop a little more often. Buy foods in small containers and packages. Consider a lot of dried foods, like nuts and raisins. Buy fresh foods every couple of days

Even though I now own a small, 3-bedroom house, I still use the lessons learned from my trailer days. I still spend a lot of time outdoors. I still make time for creative hobbies. I still limit how many things I own. I still live simple. I hope this post has given you a few ideas about living simple, too. 

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  1. I like this post a lot, but I was hoping to see more of how to prioritize what you own and what you don’t own when you’re living in a small space. I’ve been desiring to down size for awhile now but my problem is trying to figure out how to make those decisions about what to keep and what to let go. Of course these days living small isn’t what it used to be. 900 square feet is considered living small. 😉 Anyway, I enjoyed this post.

    I found it via the Jeff Goins 7-day blog challenge, by the way. Just in case you were wondering. Hope to see more of your writing soon as I have time. Cheers!

    1. Thanks Jade. I prioritize based on what I need, what I use regularly. If I don’t really need it or haven’t used it in over 6 months, there’s a good chance I would let it go. And yes, the new small is bigger. I now live in a 1200 square-foot home, but I still practice keeping things to a minimum. You might find some of the other posts about decluttering insightful. You can see the full contents of the blog at

  2. Great perspective, Dan! It’s great how living in a trailer showed you these lessons & helped you know how to be content. A lot of people keep chasing bigger & better these days, but when they get it, they’re probably not as happy as you were in those trailer days. Seems like they aren’t anyway since they race for the next big thing.

    1. There are days I miss the trailer living. I have a kid now, and need more than just a trailer or studio apartment, but who knows, I might return to something very simple after my daughter gets older. Thanks for stopping by, Daisy!

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