10 Unexpected Benefits of Tiny Camping

Last summer, we bought a Kodiak Stealth tiny camper by Rustic Trail Teardrops. Our ultimate dream wasn’t necessarily to own a tiny camper.

When we first started thinking about traveling full-time across the U.S., we wanted what every other person initially wants. A camper that’s big enough to live in comfortably and a big truck with which to pull it.

But that ultimate dream is expensive! And we aren’t in a position to be able to buy a truck and a large camper right now.

So we started to think more realistically about what we could actually do right now.

Could we still enjoy traveling with a smaller setup?

The short answer is yes. We are absolutely enjoying having a more portable setup.

Is everything easy trying to navigate with less room? No. But we are learning that there are lots of benefits to tiny camping that surprised us!

Here are 10 Unexpected Benefits of Tiny Camping

1 – More Affordable

We knew it would be less expensive to buy the actual camper itself but there were plenty of other areas where we saved money as well. We didn’t have to upgrade our vehicle to a truck, which saved us THOUSANDS of dollars.

That also means we spend less on gas money since our current vehicle gets better gas mileage than a truck. And tiny campers are SMALL which means there isn’t a lot of room to carry gear.

And they require less contraptions to operate. So less stuff to spend your money purchasing.

One caveat to this is that some tiny campers are pricey! But other choices are much more affordable. You can even build your own teardrop to save a significant amount of money!

2 – Easier to Pull

Dennis does most of the driving when we’re on our trips and he definitely appreciates this aspect of tiny camping. He says that pulling our camper is a dream – that you barely even notice that it’s there.

He still says he feels like he’s “on” when we’re headed somewhere with our camper but it’s much less exhausting for the driver than if we were pulling a giant fifth wheel.

Plus, we can go on any roads that a car can travel on without having to worry about bridge heights or not being able to do U-turns. This also means we can easily use Google Maps for navigation without having to purchase a pricey Garmin GPS.

And we have no problem using regular gas stations to fill up. Easy peasy.

3 – More Available Camping Spots

Tiny campers fit in more places than do larger RVs so we can reserve pretty much any spot in a campground that we’d like. If a tent would fit than we will fit.

That means there are a lot more available spots for us when making our reservations. This especially comes in handy when using National and State Parks as they typically have fewer spots that will accommodate larger rigs.

We have been able to swoop in at the last minute and snag spots that say things like “partially blocked by trees” or “narrow lot” and those restrictions haven’t been an issue for us at all. In fact, sometimes those spots become our favorites because they afford lots of privacy!

4 – Your Kitchen is Always With You

Not having a kitchen inside our camper could seem like a downside however we have come to enjoy this aspect of tiny camping. We often say that even if we do upgrade to a larger rig down the road, we will continue to bring our outdoor kitchen with us then as well.

Having a camp stove, refrigerator (or cooler), and table tote that we store in the back of our car comes in handy because we’re able to easily prepare meals no matter where we are. We don’t have to only eat at the campsite or grab food at a restaurant.

It’s as easy for us to eat at our campsite as it is to eat at any other picnic table we encounter while we’re out and about. I used to think a kitchen was one of the necessary areas inside a camper but I no longer feel that way.

It would be nice to have a kitchen inside your camper when you’re cold camping or when it’s raining but we have found ways around that as well. It usually isn’t too hard to find parks that have a covered pavilion with picnic tables so you can prepare your food without getting wet.

5 – Forces You to Spend Time Together

You can look at this as a blessing or a curse. But the smaller your house the more time your family will spend together.

That’s certainly true with campers as well. Tiny camping forces us to learn how to share the same space in creative ways.

We are still in the process of perfecting this! But when you’re sharing a small space with another person you can’t just do your own thing.

You need to coordinate with each other

When we first began tiny camping, we noticed that we experienced more tension at the beginning of our trips than we did later on. We came to realize that part of this was because we were in closer proximity to each other while traveling than we are at home and our worlds were colliding.

We were acting like sandpaper for the other person which could be seen as a downside. However, that abrasiveness ended up helping to rub our rough edges making them a bit more smooth and forcing us to learn better ways to work together and respect each other.

The end result has definitely helped to strengthen our relationship and we feel closer to each other even when we’re at home. You can hear even more of our thoughts about this in the video below.

6 – Less Temptation to Use Screens

Part of the reason people initially want to go camping is to spend more quality time with their loved ones than they would at home. However, when traveling in large campers, travelers often find just as many distractions while on the road as they have at home.

Most large campers have multiple TV sets and there’s plenty of room to bring along Wi-Fi boosters, cell boosters, computers, and lots of other tech gear.

People with tiny campers have to be a lot more selective about what electronics they bring along with them. There just isn’t the space to pack things that aren’t necessary.

The lack of TVs, reliable wifi, and sometimes even a cell signal removes those typical distractions and makes it easier to focus on the people who are right in front of you.

7 – More Time in Nature

Another benefit to having a tiny camper is that there isn’t as much temptation to hang out inside of it all day long. Tiny campers are typically used for sleeping and changing clothing and the rest of living is done outside.

The small size forces us to get out of our comfort zones and explore the world around us, even during weather in which we wouldn’t normally want to spend much time.

Something that has helped us to better enjoy these conditions is to bring along appropriate clothing. If it’s going to be wet or cold we have raincoats and winter gear with us.

There’s no such thing as bad weather – just bad clothing. That’s true to a certain extent, anyway. Sometimes I would say the weather is just plain bad. LOL

There isn’t room to stow a bunch of coats and winter gear inside our camper but we use our tow vehicle to stash some of these items so that they’re available when we need them.

8 – Healthier

This benefit isn’t on the sales brochure of most tiny campers but I would argue that it’s one of the biggest. We tend to move a lot more when using our tiny camper than we do at home.

And there are several factors that cause us to move more while camping tiny than if we had a larger rig.

One is that we have to walk back and forth to the bathhouse rather than having a bathroom inside our camper. We do bring along a cassette toilet for nighttime visits. However, we use the campground restrooms for everything else.

This makes it a lot easier to get our steps in during the day. And believe me, I’m intentional about putting on my Fitbit when we’re on a trip.

We also have limited space which means we need to carefully think through our meals and the snacks that we bring along with us.

We have a clear plan of what we will eat which makes it a lot harder to just grab a bag of crackers or something else and start mindlessly eating like we might at home. Or even if we had a larger camper with a TV and more space for food storage.

9 – Helps Develop Better Communication Skills

There aren’t many places to disappear from each other when we have a disagreement so we’re learning to communicate more clearly and to nip arguments in the bud a lot more quickly.

One huge lesson we’re learning is that when one of us sounds upset, rather than taking offense and matching their tone, we are trying to ask, “Do you need some space?” This allows the other person to recover from whatever is causing them to react and it gives us both time to step back and think about our response before we escalate the issue.

This has been a wonderful skill for us to use while traveling and also when at home. We’re still working on this but we’re getting better!

10 – Able to Start Now With What You Have

The last unexpected benefit to tiny camping that we’re going to address here is that it’s easier to start right now than it would be if we were to try starting out buying a larger camper and truck. We began our travels with a tent, which was extremely cost effective and moved then up to an affordable tiny camper.

But some people even camp in the back of their truck or van.

Decide what you can realistically do now and get started. There is no one right way to camp.

The best choice for all of us is to do whatever we can now rather than waiting for some imaginary day in the future to arrive when we can live the “big dream.”

Life is short and no one is promised tomorrow. We hope that we will inspire you to get out there and live your life one adventure at a time.

Remember that during our travels we should aim for connection not perfection.

Whether you decide to give tiny camping a try or you choose a larger setup, we hope and pray that the memories you make with your family or your significant other this summer will be ones that bring you closer together and help sustain you during difficult times.

Safe travels!