Living full time out of a 70-inch-wide teardrop trailer is sure to make anyone more intimate with the outdoors. This is certainly proven by photographer Mandy Lea of Mandy Lea Photo.
Her official house is a bright orange [email protected] trailer named “Phoenix”, but you could say that the entire world is her home. As a result, she is able to capture some amazing photos during her travels.
Photographer Mandy Lea lives on the road full-time.
She chose the [email protected] for its lightweight towing capabilities.
“Phoenix” is now Mandy Lea’s second teardrop trailer.
Unfortunately her original camper “Bird Song” was stolen in Texas. Even with that heartbreak she has been living in [email protected] campers for two years and has been able to fine-tune her living situation for more comfort, space, ease, and flexibility. On her YouTube channel she documents not just 5 or 10 modifications she has made to her [email protected], but 18!
One of her videos covers 18 different [email protected] modifications.
Many of these modifications are not only helpful for any teardrop trailer owner but anyone who may be hesitant to start tweaking their own trailer. Remember, Mandy Lea doesn’t have a whole lot to work with, but she dived right in and added a “Mandy Cabinet”, upgraded her axle, added kitchen shelves, and (my favorite) made a simple prop stick for that pesky under-bed storage area.
Mandy Lea took some time out of her travels to answer a few questions about living in a teardrop trailer full time, and how to brave your own camper modification dreams.
Why did you choose the [email protected] as your full-time camper? Did you consider other teardrops?
When I first decided I wanted a small camper, I went to my local dealership Princess Craft RV to look around. I knew I wanted something small for a few reasons. First, because it was easier to tow and more affordable.
Second, because I didn’t want a large camper to hinder me from getting to remote places. And lastly, because the concept of living tiny and simply was very important to me. I considered an A-frame pop up and also the slightly larger [email protected] trailer.
But when I set my eyes on the adorable [email protected] in the showroom with the turquoise stripes, it simply called to me and I knew immediately I had to have it. Sure, it didn’t have all the amenities of the other campers, but it had a certain feel to it that called to me. There is a lot to be said for something that just feels like home.
The [email protected]’s upgraded axle allows Mandy Lea to do more off-road trips.
Some people might be intimidated to modify their manufactured campers. What are your suggestions for taking the leap into making your own changes?
My advice is very simple: just do it! I spent 10 years renting a house and was unable to modify anything. When I bought my teardrop, I realized that finally I owned something! It was mine, and anything I did to improve it was only going to increase the value if I ever decided to sell it.
The idea of customizing your space to make it feel like home becomes even more imperative when you are living in it full time. No matter where I drive to or where I stop for the night, I always wake up in my space: home.
The interior includes a bed, plenty of storage, and a skylight.
Do you think there are mods that are essential for full-timers?
There are so many different types of full-timers, that the essential mods are going to be different for all of them. I have never met another full-timing teardropper, so my mods are likely very different than someone living in a Class A.
However, there are essential spaces that I believe need to be created. For instance, not only do we all need to sleep somewhere, but we all need to be productive somewhere. Since I also work from the road it has become essential that I create a space specifically for work and where I can be productive. This means a table, electrical outlet, and a distraction-free zone.
Another such area is the kitchen. It’s important for me to stay healthy on the road, which means I need a kitchen where healthy food is readily available so I’m not tempted to go easy and buy junk food!
Mandy Lea makes a living on the road with her photography.
Now that you’ve finished your main modifications, do you drive down the road thinking of other mods you can make? If so, what are they?
I don’t necessarily drive down the road thinking about changes that I want to make. The mods usually come to me in daily practice. When I am using something and it annoys me, I think, “Hey, I should fix that.” And then I do!
“The simpler the better is my motto.”
What other campers/teardrop owners inspire you?
Anyone who is living tiny is an inspiration to me. I’ve met all kinds of folks living in everything from large motorhomes to just the car they drive. The simpler the better is my motto. Those who are true full-timers, and doing it for the right reason, they inspire me.
I like to see people on the road with a purpose—whatever that purpose is so long as it is contributing to making the world a better place. But mobile or not, that is the characteristic we should all strive for.