Tiny Home Talks: From Truck Camping to Bus Life
After being inspired by hiking the Appalachian Trail, Katie lived in a truck with a topper for four years until recently moving into a Skoolie. Read her story below on those differences and what she’s learned on the road.
Abe: How did you get started doing this lifestyle and what inspired you to do so?
Katie: I got started in 2018 after I hiked the Appalachian Trail. After six months in the woods, it got really hard to have this idea of living in a house again. So I wanted to do vanlife and then I realized how expensive it was building and all that so I got an F-150 instead with a Leer topper on the back. I lived out of that for four years.
It's kind of this magical thing that happens when you don't really have anything I don't know…you appreciate things more. So like things get exciting…showers got exciting and meeting people on the road and sharing experiences. It became this whole other way of living.
Abe: And how long have you been living in your bus?
Katie: I've only been in the bus for two weeks but I was in the F-150 on and off the last four years.
Abe: Yeah, I don't know how you did that [laughs].
Katie: I know! It's like I said, it made me appreciate things so much more so, like things like standing.
Abe: Do you have more possessions now than when you lived in the truck or did you keep your life consolidated?
Katie: I do have so much more because I got excited about having room so really overcompensated. Yeah, the truck really had minimal nothing. I just did a little campstove like a Jetboil. No way of bathrooms. It was basically just for sleeping in there.
Abe: Besides the big things like say a refrigerator and a bathroom what would be the one thing that you added or can now carry with you that you're excited about?
Katie: You know, being able to carry a bed like this is incredible. It's a little five inch memory foam. That is awesome. I'm gonna name furniture stuff, like a slide out table has been incredible. I mean, for four years I sat on a bed all hunched over eating so just sitting with the tables been awesome.
I'm gonna be cheesy and just say like a roof that doesn't move.
Abe: You showed us pictures. I'm like, how did you live in there for four years? That's like phenomenal.
Katie: It was. It's cool, builds character.
Abe: How do you currently make an income on the road?
Katie: Yeah, so my dad has a small business that he's retired out of. We are FDA US agents. So he started this company 25 years ago, bringing people who want to import to the US from Canada, and then it was a small company. We just represented these companies and then COVID happened and everyone needed gloves and masks and all that. So we just represent companies that wanted him. And his name is on the US agents paperwork, and I'm transitioning into taking that over. So it's all remote. All online.
Abe: Have you done it the whole time you've been on the road?
Katie: Yeah. And it was crazy to see as it started out so small. It couldn't be my full time gig. So I've done the Amazon camper force. All that good stuff, beet harvest to make that extra income.
Abe: I bet you're pretty happy then to stick with one thing.
Katie: Yes, especially like...I don't know if I can ever do Amazon again.
You would you go in on your first day and they say, “So before you start thinking things about like, oh, I deserve a lunch break, just remember that you're only here because you have opposable thumbs. We don't want to know about your life or anything.”
And it really is like you’re a robot to them. You don't need anything. There's no hiring process. You bring your driver's license and you're hired....it was nice because they paid for camp spots. So that was really cool.
Abe: What are some of your favorite memories being on the road?
Katie: Oh, you know, Overcoming the fear of off-roading. These spots I got to go to especially like outside of Moab and Canyonlands…that whole desert. Being able to off road up there and just see this incredible landscape that almost no one gets to see.
Abe: What have you learned about yourself?
Katie: Yeah, it's funny because I'm going through it right now. I don't know if you've experienced this. I'm hoping everyone has but when you just get back into something even if you've done it before, like backpacking or living on the road, you lose all your stuff. You just leave stuff places, you do dumb stuff. So I'm relearning that and it's humbling in a way, right? Like I've done this before.
Abe: What would be some advice you'd give to someone just starting out?
Katie: Yeah. I would say…because everyone does it for such different reasons….
Abe: It can be practical…
Katie: Right, it can be something not chosen.
Abe: or something super wise and just deep.
Katie: Oh, you know, I guess my big piece of advice would be to just be really open to meeting people. I think especially living on the road full time, you become more cognizant. You can tell who else is on the road and just putting that extra thing forward like saying, “Hey!” at the Walmart like I saw you. Camaraderie, because that's something I never really got with a truck. But I also kind of isolated myself. No one lives in trucks. But I wish I had done that work. I would see people and not say anything.
Abe: So is that one of the reasons why you switched to a bus as well?
Katie: Yeah, obviously, for the community as well, which did not disappoint. This [Skoolie UP] has been incredibly nice and open.
She also has a website: whereiskatiedoane.com