How do you have sex in a teardrop trailer?

No one has ever asked us this question, but I know that some couples might be wondering about it. Can you keep your relationship or marriage hot and sexy while traveling around in a teardrop trailer? It's tricky, but can be done. I won't go into the personal details, but there are a few things to keep in mind if you want to get it on while on the road.

1. Keep your humor: Teardrop trailers are small and certain positions might not be possible. Experiment and just laugh it off if an elbow bangs into a wall or you knock your head on a shelf or the ceiling. It's also difficult to stop the "RV Rock". Keep your humor and hang up a sign that says "If this teardrop's rockin', don't come knockin'." Even better: the best teardrop sign I saw read, "If this teardrop's rockin' — run like hell it's an earthquake."

2. Keep it within reach: Certain romantic paraphernalia (condoms, toys, etc.) should be kept in a special (secret) place in the teardrop when the mood strikes. It's not romantic to jump out of the bed and run out to the car to grab the sexy literature.

3. Keep it quiet: Being in the wilderness can bring out the caveman or cave woman in every person, but keep nearby campers in mind and keep the noise down. They, and you, will be less embarrassed.

4. Keep the teardrop clutter free: The right moment can happen at any time and it's also not very romantic to have to shove out lawn chairs, extra blankets, pillows or the pets in order to make some room for the bump and grind. Keep your teardrop bed uncluttered and easily accessible.

5. Keep it clean: It's just easier to let personal hygiene go by the wayside when you are camping, but keeping yourself clean for your partner will not only make the camping trip a little more enjoyable but you might end up getting lucky.

Friday Teardrop Photo

The Sunflower (packed up for a trip) waiting for us on the top of a parking garage. 

During longer trips, we sometimes have to park the teardrop in a city environment, and one of the only places that will accept (and fit) a teardrop trailer is the top floor of a parking garage. We've had to do this in Reno, San Francisco and Las Vegas. If you are traveling through a city, check first for RV or trailer parking areas and then try the top of a parking garage. However, some garages do not allow trailers to take up two spaces—or you might have to pay double.

Featured Teardrop: Leah and Amelia's Alligator

Leah Houghtaling is a Jill of All Trades. When she's not running her cocktail bar, Felicia's Atomic Lounge, with her partner Amelia in Ithaca, NY, Leah is creating woodworking projects with her Groove Woodworking business. Her woodworking skills took her into the world of teardrop trailers when she decided to build a trailer to enjoy the outdoors in more comfort. Leah and Amelia have documented their "Alligator" build and their various trips on their blog. Leah was also kind enough to give me some more information on their handmade trailer (with a galley measured by a Grey Goose bottle) and their next building project.

 Tell me a little about yourself.

I'm a woodworker, a banjo player and a cocktail lounge owner (Felicia's Atomic Lounge). I like to create things, whether it's a cocktail or a piece of furniture.

Why did you decide to build your own teardrop trailer? What did you know about the trailers before you started?

l love the outdoors and camping, but the older I get, the less appealing it is to sleep on the ground. I didn't know anything about trailers or teardrops. I looked at a few and decided why buy one when I could build one (that seems to be one of my life mantras). I'm the person who thinks, I want ______, then I figure out how to build it. If you can think it, you can make it. Do it.

 What did you like most and least about the building process?

There's nothing I didn't like about building the Teardrop. I think many people are scared of failing when trying new things. For me, making mistakes is part of the process of learning. There is no success without perceived failure. I messed up some things here and there and learned how to fix it. Every time I turned around, there was something else to figure out: How can I keep this from falling apart when I'm barreling down the highway at 65 mph? How do I wire 12 volt electricity? How do I install a solar panel? How do I bend this aluminum angle iron to match the curve of the teardrop? (Hint: A blow torch was involved.) The Internet was my best friend.

What details and functionality did you want in your teardrop?

I wanted to be true to the original tiny teardrops: How small could I make it and still be comfortable? My wife insisted it hold a full-size bed so we wouldn't have to compromise comfort for a custom mattress, so it's five feet wide. This was a great decision. It is light enough for our 4-cylinder truck to pull and there's a door on each side so we don't have to crawl over each other. I insulated the entire thing so we are warm even if it's 25 degrees outsides, and installed a fan in the ceiling to keep it cool on hot nights. I also hooked up a solar panel so we can be entirely off the grid.

The design of the galley was inspired by my love of eating and drinking. If we're going to be camping, then darn it, we're going to eat well!

When designing the galley cupboards, the first thing I did was find the tallest bottle of liquor I could find (Grey Goose) and used it to determine the height of the cupboards. I vertically mounted draw slides for the cupboard doors so they opened up, not out, therefore not interfering with counter space when they were open. I'm a woodworker, so I used a lot of different species of hardwood in the galley which adds to its character. The counter is a butternut slab.

What do you like best about teardrop camping? What do you like the least?

The freedom! We've got a vacation home on wheels with no mortgage payments, stocked with everything we need, and we can go anywhere we want. We're essentially tent camping in a hard shell, so we are protected from the elements, and from bears (small bears).

What I like least is campers with no awareness and respect for their surroundings or the campers around them. Things like playing a guitar through an amp in their campsite, bringing a barking dog, playing bongo drums into the wee hours. And cold rain, cold rain sucks. I've done...some....ahem, "things" remedy these situations.  I can't tell you what, but it felt good!!

Where do you like to go camping? What's on your bucket list?

Maine and the Adirondacks are my favorites. We spend January in Florida; this year we'll go as far as the Keys. We'd love to get out to the Pacific Northwest, Arizona, and Texas.

What are some of your favorite camping items or products?

Ball jars. Camp Chef stove. French press. Manual coffee grinder. Coleman camp oven (bread!). Ball jars. LL Bean nylon tarp. Old school folding lawn chairs. Ball jars. Mimosas with fresh squeezed orange juice (in ball jars). Bicycles. Head lamp. Solar lights. Rechargeable batteries.  Did I mention Ball jars? A good bottle of Cognac. A side of Ball jar.

Tell me a little about your latest trailer project.

My next teardrop design is inspired by our camping misadventures this past January in Central and Northern Florida. (Can you say "Polar Vortex?") We had multiple days and nights below 30 degrees with 30-40 mile an hour winds. While we were cozy laying in bed at night, there was nowhere warm to sit during the day so we sought shelter from the cold in various Barnes & Noble bookstores.

I'm staying with the teardrop shape though. I don't want to get too Rain Drop or Canned Ham, it'll be more of a Slouchy. The next teardrop will be six feet wide, twelve feet long, and five feet high, with a section of dropped floor next to the bed so we can stand up to change our clothes. There will be a separate small seating area inside. I'll still have an outdoor galley; I always love cooking outdoors. It'll be bigger, but it will still be a teardrop. I plan to start building it late spring or early summer.

You can follow the build progress on my blog.

Photos courtesy of Alligator Teardrop

Friday Teardrop Photo

A shot of our neighborhood in Black Rock City (3:30 and John Frum) at Burning Man 2013. Can you see the Tiny Yellow Teardrop?

Photo by Harry Thomas

How do you keep the teardrop clean?

Spring begins tomorrow (already!) and thoughts of late spring and summer teardrop trips are on our mind. I'm planning on taking the cover off this weekend and getting the Sunflower cleaned up and geared up for her next trip. I already did a thorough cleaning of the trailer in the fall, but the trailer can get a little musty after a long winter.

I posted a spring cleaning video last year to show how I clean up the trailer, but people have asked us how we keep it clean when we are out camping. The outdoors is not the most sanitary of places. I'm kind of picky about keeping the trailer clean while out in the woods and chastise my husband when he tracks dirt and pine needles into our bed. So, here are a few things I do to ensure a clean camp.

Put down rugs

We have a few, small rugs that we put by each of the teardrop trailer doors. This is where we take off our shoes and wipe off our feet before getting into the teardrop trailer bed. You can also put a larger area rug in the galley area. We shake them out regularly.

Clean as you go

Don't leave behind a mess. Clean it up as soon as you make it. I'm always wiping down and cleaning down the trailer galley, the door frames and the rest of our camp. Not only does it make camp look nicer, but it keeps away critters.

Do regular "stuff" assessments

I keep a notepad in the teardrop trailer for jotting down notes, and some of those notes include hints on what items got in the way during the trip. We regularly assess the items we bring with us and get rid of them after a trip if we found out they got in our way or were extraneous.

Make the bed every day

Even though you are on vacation while teardropping, make your bed every day. Each morning I shake out our sheets and blankets and make the bed. This ensures that random clothing items and books don't end up lost in the bed and it removes detritus that we dragged in the night before. I also keep a smaller blanket around for throwing on top of our regular cover, and this is where we sit or lie down during the day. It gets removed at night along with any dirt and leaves.

Featured Teardrop: Overland Trailer

While researching the Teardrop Camping with Children article, I was charmed by the beautiful photographs shot by Mark Janke of Overland Trailer. His company designs and builds custom teardrop trailers, and his photos capture the beautiful places he and his family have camped in their own off-road jPod teardrop. The Overland Trailers were featured in the August 2013 Cool Tears Magazine and because Mark is a teacher and wanted others to learn more about teardrop trailers, he made a documentary on the history of the teardrop trailer and historic camping. Mark was kind enough to chat with me about his trailer, his favorite camp spots and and some great tips for newbie teardroppers.

How did you get into building and camping in teardrop trailers?

I built my first teardrop (the prototype on the Overland site) after buying a Jeep. My original plan was to get a roof top tent and rack (we like to camp out in the wilderness and a rooftop tent can keep big furry creatures at a distance). My friend Nathan (now business partner at Overland trailer) had one and I really liked it. However, my wife wanted to have children and didn't want to have to pack them up and down a ladder at night. Her wisdom prevailed.

I started searching for other solutions. Google spit out this result on a forum somewhere and I was suddenly taken with it. I'd seen teardrops before (in photos from my grandparents) but hadn't seen one for off-road use. So I modified the design, drew up some plans and worked on logistics for four months before actually spending a penny.

The way our business started was pretty much accidental. I was blogging about the entire prototype build so my dad (who was riding his bicycle across the the U.S. from Pacific to Atlantic to raise funds for American Lung) could keep up with my progress. One of my blog posts got picked up by Consumer Reports and traffic boomed. Then I made the documentary film to use in my classroom. From that film, I was recognized by our first customers while I was at a concert.  They practically demanded I make them a trailer.  I caught their passion, called Nathan, and I started a total overhaul of my previous design. That was our first sale.

The 58 Heald Model is named after our first customers!  I'm very happy to have named that line after them.  I'm also glad that their name wasn't Przbyszewski or something like that. That's a pretty tough marketing deal there!

What makes your teardrops unique or special?

We build with love! LOL! That's true, but often doesn't get someone to like our product any more than than another company's!

No, really there are a few things. We are the only company to skin our trailers with stainless steel. It is much more durable and doesn't tarnish while adding minimal weight over that of aluminum (about 30 lbs). We also have done some custom cabinetry (something that you can't get with a big box manufacturer). We offer a solid slide out bunk in the 8 foot trailer that our customers really like. We've also custom painted items like a camp stove to match the trailer.  Our overall idea is to be pretty true to the past while providing those things that people want in a teardrop camper today.

One last feature we have for our customers is a private photo gallery of their trailer being built. We also do live video streaming  and archived video footage of their trailer being built too. This way they can watch us paint the color they chose, install the custom cabinet they requested, and literally watch their idea and dream come to life.  Plus it is just fun for us to do!  I am a film maker, film teacher, and geek after all!

What do you like the most about teardrop camping?

In a practical sense: Small Mobility. I can take the Jeep and trailer out to 9,000 feet on a two track trail and still sleep on a flat mattress and eat fresh cinnamon rolls. Within five minutes of being parked, I'm set up and enjoying the scenery. I really like tent camping too but there is something to be said for the convenience of not having to find a level spot of ground, clear it, and spend 1/2 an hour setting up camp.

In an actual sense: Camping with my family. A teardrop is a good way to stay close with your family. My wife and I plus our two kids all sleep together in there and it is a great bonding experience. Those are the best memories. Plus, it is so convenient that camping with a five week old baby isn't a big deal (as you found on my site).

 What do you like the least about teardrop camping?

Having to go home. Seriously, I can't think of anything.  I've camped in 15 to 100 degree weather in many types of climates. We've traveled the U.S. and Canada in the trailer and plan to always do that. No big RV for us. Simple is less stressful.

What are some of your favorite camping supplies?

1. 10" Dutch oven
2. 10" Lodge Cast Iron Skillet
3. Engle Refrigerator
4. Camp Chef Outdoor Camp Oven
5. Welding gloves (for cooking and for use with hot dogs or marshmallows over a fire).
6. A box of ratchet straps (for tarps, clothes lines, hammocks, and to hold an axle on if it breaks.)
7. An Italian coffee maker
8. A camera or five
9. A shovel (to dig the jeep out and for Nature's calls when we're roughing it).

Where are your favorite places to go camping?

1. Glacier National Park is a favorite.  It's typical campground camping but the hiking and raw beauty is spectacular.

2. Lolo Motorway in the Nez Perce National Forest. It's a trail dating back to before Lewis and Clark and they actually used that trail. It is high altitude rough camping. There are people out there but it's pretty rare to see them. The unique part of that trail is that you can take a teardrop up to places that usually only backpackers can reach. Here's a video of our first trip out there.

3. Tahoe National Park. Recently I've been making some trips into Tahoe. Again, raw beauty jagged mountains, some burly hiking.

4. Banff National Park (Canada). Some great wildlife to be found there. Mostly private camping if you pick the right places.

5. Eldorado National Forest. I haven't camped here yet but this place is made for rough teardrop camping. There are thousands of dirt roads and trails.  I have all of the maps for the forest (six of them) and they cover my entire living room floor. Each map is covered with backcountry trails that are accessible by jeep and trailer. Fees? $10 per year for a camp fire...if you want one. I have a friend who was inspired to build his own teardrop after seeing mine and he's camped there a lot and likes it.

6. I also know of those secret back country areas on private land and have arrangements with owners or businesses to camp there. These are pretty great too!

What's your advice for first time tear-droppers?

Space in a teardrop is precious. This means you should pack efficiently. Before heading out on your first trip, stop at an office supply store and buy a pad of paper, a pen, and some little stickers. Everything you use in the trailer, on that first trip, gets a sticker. Write down any supplies that you wish you had packed. Then when you return home, remove all items without a sticker from the trailer. You may keep a few that you'll want in special circumstances (rain ponchos, etc). Then go to the store and buy those supplies that were on you list.  I'd start with backpacking supplies. Those supplies will often be compact, collapsible, and light.  Sometimes, though, they are a bit flimsy so shop with wisdom.

Also, take some mints for stinky breath (it is a small space after all).  I suppose if foot odors are also a problem, take care of that too. Most of all on the first trip, it's wise to leave the media devices at home. This will force you to really explore how the trailer works on a camping trip.  You will also be more "present" making observations. For my family, we've been camping like this for years and we do it to get away from all of the media and buzz.

Photos courtesy of Overland Trailer

Friday Teardrop Photo

A vintage teardrop trailer shot by my husband at the 20th Dam Gathering of the Tears at Shasta Lake, California.

Photo by Harry Thomas

The Five Best Music Albums for a Road Trip

One of my favorite things to do when we head out on the road for a teardrop trailer trip is to create a road trip playlist, or download a great music album to listen to full blast on the stereo. There are certain songs that just sound really good when you're speeding down a lonely desert highway. Here are five of my favorites.

Into the Wild

The movie soundtrack by Eddie Vedder not only profiles the singer's dusky, raw voice, but reflects the amazing outdoor scenes from the film. The movie, about Christopher McCandless's wanderings and fateful trip to Alaska, can be summarized in the best song on the album: "Hard Sun".

The Greatest: The Number Ones by Johnny Cash

If you are into vintage style when it comes to your teardrop trailer, you would have to love Johnny Cash. The Number Ones album covers his greatest songs including "(Ghost) Riders in the Sky" and "Ring of Fire".

Slippery When Wet by Bon Jovi

The boys from New Jersey are still going strong, but their 1986 album, Slippery When Wet, is the epitome of a road trip album. You can't help but turn up the volume when songs like "Livin' on a Prayer" and "Raise Your Hands" come up. Just don't run off the road while headbanging.

Legend: The Best of Bob Marley & The Wailers

After some rock and country, it's time to chill out with some reggae. The undisputed king of reggae's greatest hits includes the beautiful "Three Little Birds", "One Love" and "Redemption Song". Listen to this album with the windows down and a warm breeze blowing.

The Best of Jefferson Airplane

I just noticed that this list leans toward male performers, so I had to throw in Jefferson Airplane and the amazing vocals of Grace Slick (as well as the excellent guitars) in the Best of Jefferson Airplane album. From the instrumentals in "Embryonic Journey" to the trippy lyrics in "White Rabbit", this album will both calm and energize you. This album is for those teardroppers who love to decorate their trailer in tie-dye.

Dutch Oven Burn Party

Because I was out setting fires, I totally blew last Friday's Teardrop Photo.

In the high desert, this time of the year is burn season. This means our county gives us seven days to gather up and burn downed tree branches, yard waste, leaves and pine needles and dead sagebrush. It tends to really pile up over the winter, and burn season is a time of celebration and major yard cleanup in order to keep a defensible space against wildfires.

 Of course, this type of hard work doesn't get done without the incentive of having a party. Since burning can be hard and dangerous work, you need help. Each year, we get together with our neighbors to burn collective waste, and celebrate afterwards with a coal fired Dutch oven breakfast.

Teardrop trailers and Dutch ovens go hand in hand, so it's nice to be able to break out the Dutch ovens from winter storage and season them up before taking them on the road. We usually make a Mountain Man breakfast, which comes from Outdoor Cast Iron Cooking's channel and
cornbread or cornbread pudding with bacon and sausages. Of course, we always have hot coffee and Mimosas with orange juice and champagne.

Teardrop Trailer Camping with Children

My husband and I don't have children, but I always admire teardrop campers who bring their small children to gatherings or on regular campouts. While camping can be simple, it gets a little more complicated with children included – especially in a very small trailer. I decided to ask the parents and grandparents on the Teardrops n' Tiny Travel Trailers forum about how they camp with their own little ones and what things they keep in mind when packing up the teardrop for the whole family.

Where do the children sleep?

"I am getting ready to spring camp with my wife and our three-year-old daughter in our Five Wide Platform Little Guy. We have glamped in it recently to see how we fit. My daughter uses about half of the queen sized bed and must be re-positioned during the night for our comfort. I see napping during the day as the way to supplement our somewhat broken sleep during the night. I am concerned about rattlesnakes here in the Southwest as being a danger to talk to them about. They are excited about camping and I think this is going to be most enjoyable."

Tucson, Arizona

[Mark Janke of Overland Trailer built a 10 foot long trailer with a bunk bed for the "Assistant to the Senior Manager" who celebrated her one month birthday in a teardrop trailer.]

"The little Assistant to the Senior Manager celebrated her one month old birthday on a camping trip in the jPod. Since this family arrangement is new to us, Senior Management and I thought it would be wise to camp someplace near our home-base and someplace that had bathroom facilities. Little baby did well. She woke up once in the night and I got to change a diaper in the jPod. I am thankful for the Fan-Tastic roof vent that I installed when building the jPod. It pulls enough air to make the windows whistle. It also pulls enough air to flush the soiled diaper smell out of such a small space! Without that fan, teardrop camping with a new baby would be too much of an adventure for us."

Overland Trailer

"We put our three girls in one tent and the boy in his own right next to them so they can talk."

Merrimack River Valley

How do you keep them entertained?

"The campground we plan on going to with just our kids and the teardrop has playgrounds and a beach. My kids have never been bored at a beach."

Merrimack River Valley

"A bicycle, small car/truck toys, use of the campground playground and Saturday morning cartoons while I showered kept my 4 1/2 year old great nephew occupied."

Indianapolis, IN

"I've seen a group of kids spend five days digging a hole. I've seen a five-year-old perfectly entertained with a spoon and a bucket for a full day. You don't need to bring every toy, or buy a ton of stuff. They have imaginations. With that and attention from their parents, they will have fun. Have a backup plan in case the weather goes bad, but keep it a secret. If you tell them you brought the iPad, they will want to play with that instead of being outside."

Socal Tom

"Camping is simple! Keep it that way! Kids will find lots to do on their own in almost any circumstance."

Westbank, British Columbia

How do you avoid the "yucky food" face?

"Food needs to be familiar. To get kids ready for camping out, cook a few times in the backyard using your camp cooking gear to make sure you can turn out kid-friendly foods outside of your own kitchen. Everyone needs to start the day with some protein. Sugary cereal leads to a sugar crash and whiny-ness."

Northern New Mexico

"We make sure there are snacks but don't offer them all the time, meals are a group effort, we all chip in for food and then one person does the shopping."

Merrimack River Valley

"I made sure I had food that he would eat, and he played so much that he was hungry. And he fell asleep quickly, too."

Indianapolis, IN

Some (extra) tips…

"When you arrive at camp everyone has a specific job to do so you can settle in very quickly. Even very small children can be given a camp setup chore to do. We can bug out of a camp area fast too because everyone has a task to complete."

Teardrop Nanny
Northwestern Coast of California

"At night I tie a string with a glow stick on it around their necks. You always know where they are. Haven't lost one yet."

La Crescenta, California

"For us camping is about keeping them covered with sunscreen, making sure they are eating enough, and then following them with a camera for all the memories."

Merrimack River Valley

Photos by vwool, Overland Trailer and 48Rob

Trailer articles in the Tiny House Magazine

 As many of you know, I write a weekly post for the Tiny House Blog. I also write a monthly article about teardrops and trailers in the Tiny House Magazine. This online magazine has some great articles on tiny homes and simple living as well as some awesome photographs. If you are interested in the magazine. It's available for only $2.99 an issue.