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Man Travels The United States In A $500 Homemade Truck Camper

Joseph “Joe” Chavez recently left his home in Maine to go on a cross country trip in his wooden “tiny house on wheels.” His homemade truck camper was built on a 2000 Ford Ranger and was mainly constructed from recycled materials.

The little camper took about a month to build and cost about $500. The camper has standard 2×4 framing and an ingenious pop-up roof made with two poles and Tyvek house wrap in lieu of canvas.

Joe Chavez’s truck camper has a pop-up roof and a “backyard” made with old skateboards.


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Joe designed and built the camper instead of purchasing a trailer or RV. He already owned the truck (and some random materials) and wanted to stay small to be able to fit into any parking space or parking garage.

In an attempt to make a cozy space, his camper has a bed, a thick rug, several windows with curtains, a skylight, a closet, and a bench with storage underneath. Christmas lights are used for light and ambiance. Joe’s “backyard” of the trailer is made from two old skateboards and has classic, perpetually green Astroturf.

Joe is traveling the U.S. with his dog, cat and a guitar.


The interior of his camper has a bed, a bench, and plenty of room for clothes and a sleepy cat.


Joe started the project by removing the truck bed from the truck frame and then built a wooden foundation for the camper.

Most of the camper is built from recycled materials.


The framing was done with standard 2×4 construction and Joe spent about $400 on items like duct tape, spray foam, clapboards, and reinforced suspension to compensate for extra weight. Typar was used underneath the truck and camper to protect the undercarriage from water.


Joe had wanted to take this cross country trip to visit family in Texas for a while, but felt deterred by lack of money, lack of time, and daily responsibilities. After making the decision to build his tiny house and set off, he says on his blog, Uncle Traveling Joe:

I realized that such an adventure was actually within my grasp provided I did the work and preparation. I guess the biggest factor was making a resolute decision…. I saved what money I could, built a tiny house, loaded it with supplies, and like an urban space capsule, I had a successful launch on the 3rd of November 2015.

The windows and curtains make this camper more of a cozy cabin.


See the full tour in this video:

Photos by Joseph Chavez/Uncle Traveling Joe

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