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Where To Explore Next

A couple living in a tiny house truck with a passion for travel and adventure and a love for photography!

Where To Explore Next Blog

Transitioning To Tiny Living Can Be Overwhelming

Today I am going to be real and I am going to be raw: I am going to share with you a part of the tiny house lifestyle that most don't share - that's just how hard it was for us to transition, and especially for me.

When Daniel and I first met we each had our own place - mine was a 3 bedroom 2 1/2 bath home with a 2 car garage, his was a 2 bedroom 2 bath apartment with 2 single car garages, so you can imagine together we had a crap load of stuff! When we decided to move in together I moved in with Daniel for a couple of months at the apartment, to finish out his lease before getting a new place together. We put everything I owned in storage - EVERYTHING, with the exception of some clothes and some toiletries because there wasn't room for my items at Daniel's place, and we didn't want to pack it all twice. What I found during those couple of months, was that although I missed some of my things, I didn't really need any of them, and I don't recall a single time we went to my storage unit to retrieve something we had stored away there. That was one of the first of many realizations that maybe I owned too much stuff.

When Daniel's lease was up we packed up his things and joined them with mine and we moved into a big huge 2,700 square foot home. We had more space than we needed there, and found that we had duplicates of everything: two sets of dishes, two large TV's, two dining room sets, and if you can believe it - two grey sectionals! So we kept our favorites, sometimes having to rock paper scissors over who's items we'd keep, and we sold or donated the rest. We were happily living a life of luxury but we still owned so much stuff that we weren't able to park our cars in our two car garage. We knew that we had too much stuff!

Like most people who transition to tiny house life, whether it's moving into a tiny house built on a trailer, or embracing the #vanlife, we became obsessed with the idea of living with less by watching countless hours of YouTube videos. The more we looked at our stuff, the more weightless it seemed to go tiny. We dreamed of all the different ways we could make tiny living possible, everything from converting a skoolie, to an ambulance conversion, to RV or van conversions. We knew we'd ultimately go tiny we just didn't know when or how, so we began to purge...

In 2017 I took a job in Sedona, Arizona. Daniel didn't initially come with me so I looked for a small place that would be just big enough for one or two people. I settled on a cute little 2 bedroom twin home that was about 1,100 square feet. I left Daniel with all of the furniture except my bed and two arm chairs and moved with only the bare essentials. About 6 months after my move Daniel decided to follow me; he had the task of packing up the house and everything else we owned and bringing it out to Sedona. We knew however that the contents of a 2,700 sqft. house were not going to fit in 1,100 square feet. So we purged some more. We were impressed with how many items we were willing to let go of and for a time we were comfortable with our cute little life and place in Sedona, while we dreamed of living tinier.

In 2019 I was informed that my store in Sedona would be closing and I would be out of work. We felt that rather than stay in Sedona we should look for work in the Lake Tahoe area because that was where we'd always dreamed of settling down. We priced out rentals in the Tahoe area and instantly knew that this was likely the right time for us to go tiny. Not owning land and not knowing where we would end up, we felt that a tiny house on wheels was the best option for us. We began seeking out viable options of things we could convert to live in. Fortuitously, around the same time this was all occurring, we heard that Daniel's brother in law John was considering selling his beloved military truck tiny house conversion, Hank. We had always admired Hank but we didn't think we'd be able to afford whatever amount John would be asking for him. We decided to inquire about the truck anyway and after a few conversations and a HUGE family discount it seemed our dreams of going tiny were finally going to become a reality! So once again we began to purge our belongings, but this time with real intention because Hank is only about 160 square feet!

Have you ever had someone close to you pass away and had the experience of sorting through all of their possessions? It can take weeks, or months, or in some cases years to go through everything a person owns, because you have to look at everything item by item. You literally pick things up one at a time and assess if it has any emotional value, and if not, if it has any monetary value. The task of transitioning to tiny house life is similar but times it by 100, or maybe even 1,000, because every item you pick up isn't someone else's useless crap, it's yours! When we first started purging it was easy to sift through and make piles for donation. Over the 2 or so years that we were in Sedona, I 'cleaned out my closet' at least three times, each time selecting clothes and shoes and accessories that I felt I could part with or weren't of enough value to make it into my new life. But when the possibility of moving into something tiny became a reality, it was amazing how much stuff I still had left over to sort through. We of course had to sell the furniture, not a single piece of that was going to fit in Hank. But what about all of the decorations, the grill, the small appliances, the Tupperware??? Would we need two wine glasses or four? What if we had guests over? Deciding on which things and how many to keep became a very daunting task! 

So I'm not telling you anything new. The letting go part of the transition is a given, right? We all know that in order to live this way we're going to have to get rid of A LOT of stuff. But the part I didn't count on, and the part no one ever talks about is the MESS! I'll admit I'm a little OCD, okay a lot. Please don't take that like I am making fun a real disorder because I am not, I am entirely serious. I don't take medication for being OCD but at times maybe I should. The process of pulling everything we owned out of drawers, cupboards, closets, etc. laying it all out, and sorting it into piles created a ginormous mess! A mess that was overwhelming for me. I like things neat and orderly, some might say I even have a bit of a minimalist approach to decorating, because I don't like seeing a lot of things and I believe everything should have a place. Downsizing wasn't an overnight event, it took weeks! Weeks of living in a home with piles of things listed for sale; weeks with piles of trash bags filled with donations in every room; weeks of boxes labeled with things we'd be using in Hank, and more boxes of things that would be long term storage; weeks of my kitchen table covered in items we still needed to photograph and list online; weeks of strangers visiting our home to purchase things we had listed for sale and me being embarrassed about letting them into my mess of a home; weeks of cooking, eating, sleeping, and getting ready for the day among piles and piles of organized and unorganized mess! I was a wreck!

I cannot tell you how many emotional breakdowns I had during the process of transitioning to tiny house life, although Daniel probably could. But here is a video I took after having a panic attack, (a real one for which I am medicated) because the process of downsizing was just too much to handle: 

**Side note: this is our very first video posted to our YouTube Channel, but there will be a lot more to come. Subscribe if you'd like to see more updates and raw videos like this.**

For me the overwhelming part of transitioning to tiny house life wasn't so much parting with my belongings, it was living in the mess it created.

We are now in our fifth month of living in Handsome Hank and we are so incredibly happy that we made the lifestyle change. I'd be lying if I said we didn't ultimately keep more items than we needed, and our stuff still haunts me. The truth is that we have a storage unit in town full of things we wanted to keep but weren't sure would fit, along with items we knew we could never replace: our camping gear and Daniel's tools, my son's baby blanket, my amethyst cathedral, my dearly loved Rae Dunn collection, etc. Our intent is to build a somewhat larger tiny home one day, on our own land, on a permanent foundation. We know that the items we have in storage will once again be treasured items in our life when we have more space to enjoy them. For now we live only with what will fit in Hank. And we now know that two wine glasses are plenty (unless entertaining), three or four Tupperware containers are enough for leftovers, and our instant pot and air fryer / oven are the only small appliances we really need. So much of what we used to own was nothing but excess, and it's amazing to consider how much excess we really had.

Living in our tiny home on wheels to us means freedom: financial freedom, freedom to live where we want, freedom to travel, and of course freedom from our worldly possessions that weighed us down for far too long! The transition wasn't an easy one, but now that we've done it we can definitely say it was worth it!

We'd love to hear your thoughts or experiences with downsizing. Could you ever live in 160 square feet?

Until next week, 

Kayla (and Daniel)

10 Tips To Exploring On A Budget

Today I'm going to let you in on a little secret... it doesn't take a lot of money to be able to travel, adventure or explore. All it takes is a little planning and some motivation.

It's easy to look at social media and see accounts full of stunning photos of scenic landscapes and think, "I wish I had that life", but the truth is you can! You don't have to be a social media influencer or independently wealthy in order to have a life full of adventure. And you don't have to visit the Maldives, Iceland, or Paris to get stunning scenic photos. No matter where you live or what your schedule looks like, YOU can live a life of adventure!

To help you discover out of the box ways you can get out and explore more with the time and money you have, here are are 10 tips to exploring on a budget:

Our 10 tips to exploring on a Budget:

1. Look for unknown places near your home, ideally places you could visit on a day trip.

You can start by searching the internet for things to do in the area but chances are your search will come up with local restaurants and nightlife that you're already familiar with, so think outside of the box. Try searching for ‘secret’ or ‘hidden’ places to explore. Or search specifically for certain things that might interest you. For example, Daniel has a love for photographing water so we frequently search for waterfalls or lakes in the area.

Our constant web searches for ‘things to do in the area’ have lead us on countless adventures to places like:

  • Indian Ruins & Pictographs
  • Secret Caves and Caverns
  • Sand Dunes
  • Canyon Overlooks
  • Abandoned Houses
  • Ghost Towns
  • Waterfall Hikes
  • A Lava Tube Cave
  • Groves of Aspen Trees – great during fall colors

2. Take advantage of a 2 or 3 day weekend: Search for places within a 5 hour radius of you.

We have discovered that we can have tons of mini-vacations each year by maximizing our time on the weekends and or holiday weekends. When you’re able to go somewhere overnight, you’re able to get outside of your own backyard and it really expands your opportunities for adventure!

We have found that a 5 hour radius is the perfect distance for us to really be able to feel like we’re seeing new landscapes, but still keeping it in a timeframe that’s achievable in a weekend getaway and also budget friendly. If we’re staying within a 5 hour radius we opt to road trip and that’s half of the adventure! These road trips are when we’ve been able to cross state lines, go camping, or visit many National and state parks.

3. Be open to the unplanned - see an opportunity for a detour and take it.

The true definition of an adventure is when the unexpected occurs; it’s the unknown that becomes adventurous! When you’re out and about exploring, keep an eye out for signs noting points of attraction - things like ‘Crater’, ‘Dinosaur’, ‘Ruins’, ‘Sand Dunes’, ‘Historic’, ‘Lake’, etc. These points of attraction are often only a few miles out of the way and can lead to some fun new experiences you wouldn’t have otherwise stumbled upon. If you have the time to take a detour do it! If not, make a note of it as something you’d like to explore next time.

One of our favorite detours is simply seeing a dirt road and Daniel saying, “I wonder where that goes…” Before we know it, we’re headed down some unknown path to who knows where. Therein lies the adventure!

4. Become a lover of Camping.

Camping is without a doubt the least expensive way to spend a night anywhere away from home. You don’t have to own a ton of gear in order to camp; sure it can make things more enjoyable in the long run, but for starters all you really need is a hammock or two. We absolutely LOVE sleeping in our hammocks, and when the weather is nice we don’t even need a sleeping bag, just a pillow and blanket. Last year we invested in a roof top tent for Daniel’s Jeep, but we still enjoy a night in the hammocks under the stars.

*Speaking of hammocks, Daniel constructed his own hammock stand that attaches to the tailgate of the Jeep. It means that even if we don’t have trees in the area, we can still string up a few hammocks in minutes and spend the night almost anywhere!

When it comes to camping, you don’t need to pay an exorbitant campsite fee. Search for BLM land in the area, it’s almost always free to camp and is sure to be a lot less populated, and quite likely more scenic!


5. Bring food and drinks with you.

By bringing your own food and drink you avoid spending unnecessary money at restaurants or on fast food. Better yet, it also means your stomach is not going to dictate when you come home. We have made it a habit to bring a bottle of wine and often some cheese and crackers with us every single time we go on an afternoon adventure. It allows us something to snack on, but it also makes for a romantic setting for watching sunset wherever we end up.

Whether we are road tripping for a few days or just going for a Sunday drive down a forest service road, we always have food and drinks in tow. Pack a cooler with some ice and you’ll be set to bring anything you need on your adventure!

6. Forest Service roads are your friends!

You don’t need 4 wheel drive or a high clearance vehicle to get out on most forest service roads. Many of them lead to nowhere, but are scenic beautiful drives to landscapes that are not highly trafficked.

Forest service roads have lead us to almost every single one of our favorite campsites, and often have lead us to some sweeping high canyon views we never would have otherwise found. Don’t be afraid to just drive! Let the dirt tell you where to go, don’t have an end result in mind, just see where the road takes you!

7. Buy a National or Local Parks Pass.

The idea of this tip is to save money, and although a Parks pass isn’t usually cheap, it’s almost always worth it! Depending on the park, one entrance fee can cost you anywhere from $10 - $50 whereas a parks pass for an entire year is going to typically run $80-$100. You’ll find that if you invest in a parks pass you’re more likely to use it.

8. Talk to Park Rangers.

Whether visiting a State or National Park, who knows that landscape better than the people who live and breathe it? Park Rangers have the inside scoop on what places are less populated, how hard a hike is or isn’t, what areas are the best for sunrise or sunset, and where the park secrets are hidden. You’re not going to get the inside scoop if you don’t ask, and sometimes it is knowing WHAT to ask.

Talk to the rangers about what you’re looking to achieve from your visit. They are used to directing people to the popular spots, so let them know you’re looking for something special, something out of the ordinary. If they understand that you’re up for an adventure and that you want to get away from the crowds they are sure to give you the inside scoop. Be aware that sometimes they won’t have every detail on how to find a special place, but they will at least have information about something or somewhere that you wouldn’t find in the guide books.

9. Ask your co-workers friends and neighbors about hidden gems or places they know of or have heard about.

It’s amazing what the locals will know. We have discovered that the best ‘secret’ spots are not found online. These are places that won’t be geotagged, and if you do find information about them it will be vague, and that’s intentional. We all know what can happen to a place once it becomes popular, or over-trafficked. If there’s a hidden gem, most people wish to keep it that way.

Sometimes we’ve had people send us pins they’ve dropped in an area, or drawn a map on paper. We’ve discovered secret caves and taverns, located specific old trees, and found hidden waterfalls simply by asking around. You’ll find that many people won’t offer up detailed information freely, so be willing to trade information to some of your favorite spots in exchange.

*Note: Be sure to respect the sanctity of these special places. Pack out what you pack in, leave no trace, don’t geo-tag them online, and don’t share their locations with people who can’t be trusted to treat them with the same respect.

10. Get creative with your time off.

Have a week of vacation you can use? Who says you have to take it all at once? Why not stack it with a couple of days off for a short trip somewhere, or how about taking 5 three day weekends throughout the year?

At my last job I had to work every holiday, but I would get an extra day off that same week to make up for it. I would often turn that time into a 3 day weekend and tack on one or two of my vacation or PTO days to give me a 5 days off in a row without really using up much of my vacation time. The best part about that is that since I was working the holiday, I was getting to travel when everyone else was going back to work. Some of you may have the ability to stack 2 days off from one week, with two days off from the next giving yourself 4 days to go do something without using any additional time off than normal. Think about what flexibility you may have that you're not currently taking advantage of and get out there to explore!

So that's it... Anyone can have an adventure anytime, anywhere. Travel and adventure are really more about being open to new experiences, and being willing to pull yourself off of the couch than they about money.

Comment below if you find these tips useful, or if you have any of your own tips to add. We'd love to hear from you!

Happy exploring!

-Kayla (and Daniel)

Oh My Gosh! It's Our First Post Ever!

It's a non-stop adventure on this party train!

Hey there, Kayla here. I am the female half of @WhereToExploreNext, and I am so excited to begin our blog and start sharing our life and adventures with you!

I am embarrassed to admit that we've had this website for over a year now, and it has taken me this long to write our first blog post. Truthfully I love writing and I always seem to have a lot to say; what's held me back for so long is the question of, "Where to begin?" because there are a lot of layers to who we are:

  • For starters, we live in a tiny house on wheels (IG: @HomeIsWhereHankIs) - a dream we'd been working towards for several years, that is now a new adventure for us and we're dying to discuss it!
  • Whether camping, hiking, or off-roading in the Jeep, we love nature and we love to explore - hence our name.
  • We travel when we can and we feel that we have tips to share from time to time too, like some of our favorite campsites, or amazing lesser-known places to explore.

So you can see that finding the right topic to start our blog on has been difficult for me to decide. Today I've decided that the question of where to begin has kept me frozen for far too long, so I'm beginning by introducing us and giving you some background information as to who we are. Where this blog takes us from here will just happen naturally, I suppose...

As I mentioned earlier, I am Kayla and my better half is Daniel. We are a couple currently living in Nevada near Lake Tahoe. We have been together for about 4 1/2 years. It's fair to say that neither of us had any clue to the adventure that we were embarking on when we first met! The Universe has a way of aligning us with our hearts' desires and now here we are - madly in love and living our dreams! Daniel proposed to me last September and we are currently in the process of planning our adventure elopement in Yosemite this fall. Every single day together has been one of a love adventure!

Daniel is a full time professional photographer - he just transitioned from working solely for himself for nearly 5 years, to now shooting as a staff photographer for a Kitchen and Bath company during the week and his own projects in his spare time; he's absolutely loving it! I on the other hand, just accepted a job as a train conductor - really, yes really! It has been a rigorous application process from background check, to drug tests, to DOT physical exam, to strength test... but I finally begin training in a couple of weeks and I couldn't be more excited! I cannot wait to see where both of our new careers take us in the future!

One thing you'll quickly learn about me is that I am one of the most positive people you'll ever meet - maybe annoyingly so. I live by the Law of Attraction and I firmly believe that we can have, be and do anything our hearts desire, if we just trust, have patience and believe! I am an extremely goal focused individual and as such, I am constantly working towards our next achievement - whether it's scoring impossible permits to an epic location, manifesting my dream job, or moving to our dream location. I have countless evidence to prove we can manifest our desires - For starters, last year we accomplished two huge goals of ours: moving to the Lake Tahoe area (from Sedona), and transitioning to Tiny House Living! In October we had the unique opportunity to purchase an M932A2 military truck tiny house conversion, which we made a few renovations to and have been living in full time ever since.

Currently our tiny house on wheels (Handsome Hank) is permanently parked where we have access to shore power, water, sewer and internet. Hank has everything we need: a tiny kitchen, full bathroom with composting toilet, a small closet, pantry, wood burning stove and loft sleeping area. It's approximately 160 square feet of living space, which is perfect for two people in love, and much more space than if we were living traditional 'vanlife'. One day we plan to take Hank on the road for some of our adventures but we have some projects to take care of first. In the meantime we enjoy traveling in the bad-ass Jeep Wrangler Daniel built out, and we take along our rooftop tent. If you'd like to learn more about our tiny house check out our page for Handsome Hank.

One aspect of our adventures that we really enjoy is being able to partner with some amazing brands that fit with our active lifestyle. We only work with brands we love and we're honest about our collaborations. We have been able to partner with dozens of brands for everything from apparel, to shoes, to mattresses, to camping and outdoor gear, to appliances and everything in between. We love collaborating because it stretches us creatively, and we don't just take pretty pictures, we LIVE the lifestyle! If you're curious about some of our past collaborations you can check out our Brand Collaborations page here.

So that's us in a nutshell. You'll learn overtime that we're silly and quirky, and we just don't take life too seriously. From our very first date, which was enjoying some wine in the mountains under the stars, adventure has been at the forefront of our relationship and our lives. We have so much we want to share with you, and cannot wait to bring you along on our journey! I will be posting a new blog post every Friday so check back soon. Also, if you don't mind, drop us a comment below so we know you stopped by, and so that we can get to know you too!

Your friends,

Kayla (and Daniel)

P.S. Let us know if there's anything in particular you'd like us to discuss or talk about here let us know. We look forward to your comments, suggestions and interaction! 





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