Who are you and what is your backstory?
Hi! We’re Lindsey, Adam, and Weston Nubern. We’re a travel family of three on our #nuventures.
Before Weston was born, Adam and I traveled full-time around the world for four years as a married couple from 2014 to 2018. We road tripped the US and Canada with our tent and Honda Accord for four months, campervanned New Zealand for five months, backpacked SouthEast Asia for six months, traveled four months in Europe, and lived full-time in our Casita Travel Trailer, Bernadette, for two years. Now, Weston has joined our family and we’re learning how travel looks as a family of three. Right now, we travel part-time in our Casita Travel Trailer and basecamp out of our home in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Adam and I have always had travel as a big part of our relationship. We started dating at the University of Georgia. Our romance began during Christmas break of our senior year when we road tripped up the East Coast with friends. While in the backseat of a taxi in New York City, I asked Adam on our first date to the Monster Truck Rally that would happen in a couple weeks when we were back in Georgia. That’s where it all started for us.
After graduating in 2009, we both moved to Colorado and spent every weekend adventuring in the mountains together with friends. On all of our hikes, we would dream about traveling the world together and then Adam would always ask me the same probing question, “Do you think you could travel the world and live out of one carry on bag?” This always stressed me out! I didn’t know. I’d never tried.
We got married in 2012, and the first day we returned from our honeymoon, we combined our finances and sat down and worked out a budget trying to save half of our income for our “travel fund” and the other half for our living expenses.
We weren’t perfect every month, but within a year and a half, we saved up $62,000 in our travel fund. We designated $15,000 as our “emergency fund” if anything were to happen and the other money we would use to travel on. During that time, we had also built up credit card travel points to use to cover our international flights.
During the spring of 2014, we experienced four events where we knew it was now or never to go and travel the world. We lost a close family member; friends were starting their families (we were getting the itch too); and another friend totalled our truck. Our friend was okay, but we decided not to replace the truck and we started sharing one car and put the insurance money we received toward our travel fund. The fourth event that happened and what made us certain this was our time to travel was two weeks before Adam was going to give his notice at work, he was fired. This ended up being a gift. Now, Adam had time to find a renter for our home and fix it up before we left. We ended up packing up our Honda Accord with our tent on June 26, 2014 and hit the road. Our hope was to travel for two years on $50 a day. We had no itinerary, we were just going.
Like I shared earlier, by packing up and heading out, we ended up road tripping the US and Canada in our tent and Honda Accord for four months, we lived on Kauai for a month with a friend, we campervanned New Zealand for five months, backpacked SouthEast Asia for six months, traveled four months in Europe, and lived full-time in our Casita Travel Trailer, Bernadette, for two years traveling the US.
By having less stuff and more time, we took on new hobbies and we had more time to travel. I had time to write and I learned photography. Adam started taking daily French lessons.
In the beginning, we were living off of our savings, trying to only spend $50 a day, and doing some house sitting. While we were campervanning in New Zealand, we had a huge life changing season and we slowly started building companies to earn income. By this point, we’d been traveling for about eight months and we missed working on projects. We were also meeting all of these digital nomads who were traveling the world and making a living from their laptops. In our campervan in New Zealand, Adam started his business Nuventure CPA LLC where he helps full time travelers, digital nomads, and RVers with their accounting and taxes. Also while we were traveling, I started writing and sharing about our adventures on NuventureTravels.com and have now published three books: 501 Questions: A Travel Game, How to Buy a Campervan in New Zealand, and a children’s book Putih the Traveling Pelican. We’ve continued these companies while our lifestyle has shifted.
In 2017, after traveling for four years, we made a shift. We decided to live out of our house part-time and travel part-time. This was in response to loneliness on the road. At this point, we were living in Bernadette, our Casita Travel Trailer, and were boondocking in the “middle of nowhere” a lot. Adam’s business was growing and his tax seasons were four months of working twelve hour days, six days a week. On his day off, he wanted to relax. I became really lonely during this time of year and we decided during tax season we wanted to surround ourselves with community and friends. So, in February 2018, we moved back into our home in Colorado Springs to live there ourselves part-time and to be able to rent it out as a short term rental on Airbnb when we were out traveling.
In 2019, we added our son Weston to our family. This year, we had plans to take him abroad, travel Europe for several months, and learn how to travel internationally as a family. Instead, with COVID, we’ve hunkered down at home and have learned how to camp in Bernadette for extended periods as a family instead. In our tiny camper, it’s been a big adjustment adding a baby and all the gear. We’re slowly figuring it out.
Take us to the moment you decided to begin your Tiny House adventures?
The moment we decided to live tiny was leaving our friends camper in New Zealand. We realized, we’d been living in a tiny minivan for the last five months- we could do it and enjoy it- but it’d be even better having our own kitchen, toilet, and shower. We also realized, we were spending $40 a day on just our mortgage and we believed we could spend less camping.
By packing up our belongings into our car and camping for four months around the US, and then minimizing down to a backpack to travel internationally, we learned to live with less and found we enjoyed the freedom of having less. So, through this downsizing, we had practice with living with less, but our living arrangements were constantly changing while we were traveling abroad. While we were campervanning in New Zealand out of our campervan, Bernie, we realized it was so nice to have our own space that moved around with us.
When I say our campervan in New Zealand, it was really a glorified minivan with a bed in the back. We were using campsite drop-toilets, public showers, and we were pulling back the mattress to make our meals on the bed frame every day. It was not an ideal long-term living situation.
The idea to buy our own tiny camper came when we met a couple at Lake Ōhau in New Zealand who invited us into their tiny travel trailer one night for a “yawn,” a chat. They totally opened our eyes to what’s possible. In their 17-foot camper, they showed us it was possible to have your own kitchen (with a sink, stove, oven, and fridge), toilet, and shower. AMAZING!
I also advise that when you downsize to go tiny, know it’s not a one time process. Living tiny is a way of life and to create a practice of maintaining keeping less items.
After meeting them and seeing their camper, I ran back into our minivan and exploded with excitement. We realized, we’d been living out of our backpacks in a tiny minivan for the last five months- we’d proven to ourselves we could do it and enjoy the freedom it provided- but it’d be even better having our own kitchen, toilet, and shower. We loved the freedom campervanning gave us and now I saw we could continue this lifestyle but with more comfort.
I also did the math with our lifestyle. Financially, we ran the numbers and realized when we were living in our house in Colorado we were spending $40 every day on just our mortgage (not including all of our other expenses) and while we were in New Zealand, we were only spending $50 a day on all of our expenses.
Also, while traveling, we did miss home- our family and friends- and we knew we would return to the US one day, but we weren’t quite done traveling abroad either. So, we made the decision to look at campervans when we returned to the States to continue traveling. By being in the US with a camper, we could have the best of both worlds- still travel and explore and go home and visit family and friends. That night, we decided when we returned to the US, we would buy a tiny camper. But first, we still had some international places we wanted to explore.
After New Zealand, we moved onto backpacking SouthEast Asia for six months. During this time, we were moving fast, working, and we were starting to feel decision fatigue. When we were ready to return to the US, Adam had the idea to ask for help finding a tiny house. We reached out to HGTV’s Tiny House Hunters to try to see if they’d help us find a camper and we were invited on the show! You can watch our episode finding our camper Berndatte on HGTV’s Tiny House Hunters here.
Tell us about the advantages to the Tiny House lifestyle?
Our Casita Travel Trailer is 17 feet long and a little less than 100 square feet. Advantages of living tiny are:
Spend less time cleaning
By having less space to maintain, you spend less time cleaning. In our 1,000 square foot home, I used to spend every Saturday morning for four hours cleaning our home. This was because I would have to tidy up first and then clean because I would let the house get unorganized throughout our busy week.
Once we started living in our Casita Travel Trailer, less than 100 square feet, we had less space to clean. Also when living in a smaller space, every object has a home in a cabinet and we had to keep it tidy every day to stay sane. So, I wasn’t spending every Saturday tidying and cleaning. Tidying happens every day and to clean the whole camper including the bathroom takes less than one hour.
Less stuff, more time to explore
By having less stuff and more time, we took on new hobbies and we had more time to travel. I had time to write and I learned photography. Adam started taking daily French lessons.
Go anywhere! Usually to great weather or great people!
By living in a tiny house, you can go anywhere your heart desires at any time! We noticed we were moving with the weather a lot, so we’d spend summers in northern areas like Vermont, Montana, and Canada and winter months in Georgia and Florida. We also noticed ourselves spending more quality time with our family and friends. Instead of a super busy and fast three-day-weekend seeing our families and friends back home, we were able to slow down, spend more quality time together doing small things like doing meals, working on projects together, or running errands. We realized it’s really the small moments that count and we enjoy getting those small moments with our family and friends.
Outside is your extended living space.
Another advantage to living in a smaller space is the outdoors become your extended living space, so you’re naturally outside more. On a normal day if the weather’s nice, we have all of our meals outside under our awning. By being outside more, we notice the cloud formations, the weather, the birds, we see more wildlife, the stars, fireflies, and because we were outside more in New Zealand we saw the Southern Lights. We’ve also realized whenever we live in our camper, we read more and we feel a greater sense of calm and peace.
Tell us about the biggest challenges and downsides to the Tiny House lifestyle?
There are downsides to living tiny. Here are a few that we experience:
Utilities take up a lot of mental space.
When living in an RV and boondocking a lot (camping without hookups to water, electricity, and the sewer system), a lot of mental space and our thought-time is taken up by the status of our utilities. This means we have to keep track of how much battery we have left to charge our devices. We recently got the Renogy Solar Kit from reading about it on Camp Addict and it has been a game changer for us. Also, we have to track how much water we have left in our tank and plan when and where we can fill up our water again. We also have to keep track of the level of grey water and black water in our tanks and plan when and where we’ll go dump our sewage.
The way we’ve learned to give ourselves a break from constantly tracking ourselves, is after every couple of weeks boondocking, we spend a few days at a paid campsite with hookups to plug in and hook up for water and electricity and be able to dump any time we need.
Decisions, Decisions, Decisions
Also, on the road, you’re constantly figuring out and talking about where you want to go next. At the beginning, it’s so exciting! But after awhile, you get “decision fatigue.” That’s because it’s a lot of decisions to make and steps to take to get to the next place. Also, we sometimes feel that always having to look ahead and figure out what’s next, distracts us from being present and in the moment because your mind is already thinking about the logistics of what’s next and how to get there.
An idea to mediate this is to have designated “Travel Planning” times set aside, so that’s the only time the research and conversation happens for what’s next and a decision has to be made. Otherwise the research and conversation can happen over days or weeks without a decision being made and it drags out and becomes overwhelming.
Being on the road seeing new places can be lonely. You don’t have your friends or family nearby that you can call up to grab a quick drink, bite to eat, or do something fun together.
How we’ve overcome this is to be part of online communities where other people are traveling and living your lifestyle and you can meet up in person. One group we’ve made a lot of friends through is the RV Entrepreneur Facebook Group and podcast.
Also, loneliness can happen when you’re building a company or working all alone without coworkers. To combat this, we’ve joined mastermind groups that meet every month or every other week. These are folks working on the same types of projects as you and you can be each other’s accountability partners, bounce ideas off one another, and encourage and support one another through projects and problem solving.
We also stop in places for a month at a time and have found that volunteering for an organization we connect with (we like helping build and maintain trails) allows us to meet like minded people that we can later connect and go hiking or biking with or go out and grab drinks.
Another practice that helped us a lot was planning trips to meet up with friends and family or plan a trip home to see friends and family. For us, having a trip planned to look forward to is good for our souls.
Lastly, we learned that when you’re outside more at campsites, you naturally meet more people. For us, I work at our dinette table inside our camper and Adam uses his stand up desk to work outside. By the first day in a new spot, Adam normally meets most of the neighbors in the campsite around us. So being outside more helps you meet more people, too.
Follow the weather
A downside of living tiny and having the outdoors as your extended living space, is that tiny living feels very tiny and cramped when it’s raining for days or cold outside. The weather tends to push us on to our next location. One summer we were campground hosts at Hapgood Pond in Vermont and we wanted to stay to see the leaves change for fall, but the weather got too cold and we couldn’t take the cold anymore waiting for the full explosion of color. The weather pushed us out.
Living tiny may keep you from new hobbies that take up more space.
Another downside to living tiny is your small space may keep you from maintaining or trying out hobbies that take up more space. For example, I love to create cards and stationary. When I do, I tend to cause an explosion of paper, cards, pens, scissors, glue, stickers, and ribbon everywhere. Living in a tiny space, I noticed I was doing less and less of it because it wasn’t as comfortable as doing it at our big kitchen table. So, our smaller space was causing me to do less of what I enjoyed doing. However, I channeled that creativity to learning a new hobby: photography.
How do you find a sense of community when you’re always moving? How do you maintain and build relationships on the road?
I shared a little about this in the question above under “loneliness.”
Within six months of traveling together, we’d only been married two years. We felt we’d sped up our relationship by ten years though. In our normal lifestyle, when we would go to work every morning, if we had an argument in the morning sometimes the argument would last days because we would run off to work and be busy at night. By traveling in close quarters together for several months, our communication skills greatly increased and we had to work through our arguments right away. We also learned each other better so we learned one another’s triggers and could either push into those (not nice) or be more understanding.
As for family, we would talk to family on the phone or FaceTime. We learned by spending our first Thanksgiving and Christmas away from family in Hawaii and New Zealand, we were in these awesome and amazing places, but you can’t replace your family. It was so hard to be away from family for the holidays. Now we do everything we can to be with family over the holidays.
Also, once we were back in the US, we were able to visit with family more often and for longer stints rather than just a quick weekend. It’s so nice to not be rushed for a quick visit and get to do normal life together.
How do you support yourself financially?
We have several ways we earn income. Currently, Adam runs his own CPA firm, Nuventure CPA LLC, helping digital nomads and full-time RVers with their taxes and accounting. I’m an author and run online communications and content for both Nuventure CPA LLC and Nuventure Travels. I’ve self-published three books: 501 Questions: A Travel Game, How to Buy a Campervan in New Zealand, and the children’s book Putih the Traveling Pelican. Also, when we’re away from our home and out traveling, we open up our home to Airbnb guests to stay. However, building our income on the road has been a journey for us.
At the beginning of our travels, we lived off of our savings and for the first few months I kept my job part-time until they found someone to take my position. Once that transition was over, we were living off of our savings and we were budgeting $50 a day. Some days we spent more and some less. But having the goal of only spending $50 a day was a great guide for us. If we hadn’t set that guide, we would have spent way more money. We also checked in with our budget every month to hold ourselves accountable to our spending. Adam created a spreadsheet tracking how much money we had and how that converted to how many days we had left to travel.
Like I shared earlier, since being married, we’d always been on a tight budget saving up to travel the world, so we’d set up habits where we were used to having intentions for every dollar and holding ourselves accountable by checking in with ourselves.
Also, like I mentioned, by eight months we were itching to work on projects. Adam was slowly helping friends with their taxes and then had to learn how to do our own taxes as digital nomads and making money internationally. Through word of mouth, Adam started helping friends of friends and Nuventure CPA was born. He did his first tax season in New Zealand in our campervan. Now, Adam’s about to start his 7th tax season.
For me it was a hurtle. We’d worked so hard to save up to travel the world and not work. However, I realized if I worked and made money, we could travel for a longer period and we were meeting so many nomads traveling the world while working. So, I reached out to a local travel app in New Zealand and started handling their social media. I had also been blogging our travels and was getting a lot of encouragement from friends and family. Then, we had the idea to write a guide book on How to Buy a Campervan in New Zealand- it was the most stressful thing we’d ever done- and published the guide book. Now I have a game book that is coming out with it’s second edition on November 17! It’s an entertaining way to unplug and have fun, laughter and good conversation on any adventure versus scrolling our phones!
What is your one piece of advice for people who want to do what you do?
The biggest advice I have for anyone looking to go tiny is to experiment to see if it feels right for you and try things out.
Experiment with renting out a tiny home or RV like the one you’re interested in for a week or two and have the mentality and vision while you’re there of, “Can I live this way? How would I do breakfast, work, exercise, my hobbies, etc. while living in this space?” You can even try this: Our friends took it even further by taping off their house to the square footage they’d have in an RV to see if they could transition to living day to day in a smaller space. So for months they only used the space in their house that was taped off. They found they could totally live in an RV and now have for many years!
Also, try different RV options. There’s vans and travel trailers and all sorts of ways to live tiny. We learned a van is great for traveling fast like we did in New Zealand moving to new places every few days. But, it does have its downsides. If you want to go to the store, run errands, or go for an hour hike, you have to pack everything up to take with you including the dishes (so they don’t spill everywhere). Also, if you don’t want to lose your campsite when you’re out boondocking, you also have to leave a tent or chairs to “claim” your spot while you’re gone.
We learned we like to travel slower and prefer a travel trailer that we can drop off when we get to a campsite, unhook, and have our car free to take off and see the town, get a bite to eat, run errands, or drive to a trailhead. We also learned we liked a smaller camper to be able to access anywhere we want to go (in some places big RVs can’t fit) and to also manage road trip stops easier: at gas stations, grocery stores, and Walmart parking lots.
So, experiment with different types of RVs and tiny houses and see what’s the right fit for you. Also, we know a lot of traveling families and couples that change what they’re in often. Their season of life changes and they get something smaller or bigger or a van or a travel trailer depending on their current needs. So know you can always sell and find something new too.
I also advise that when you downsize to go tiny, know it’s not a one time process. Living tiny is a way of life and to create a practice of maintaining keeping less items. I remember when we were traveling, we’d go through our luggage a lot and give away items we hadn’t used in awhile or we kept cutting our towels into smaller and smaller pieces to get rid of extra weight. Also, when we got our camper, I realized I kept moving items out of the way to get to other items and realized we needed to observe our habits and if we kept moving something out of the way and not using it, it either needed to go or be relocated.
What have been the most influential and helpful books, podcasts, blogs, websites or other resources?
For traveling full-time internationally, we looked up to:
- Million Mile Secrets on how to get credit card travel points
- Nomadic Matt on how to live off of $50 a day and travel hacks
- Mish and Rob from Makingitanywhere.com on how to start a business and be digital nomads
- Tsh Oxenreider’s At Home in the World for inspiration to travel as a family
For RVing, we learned a lot from:
- Technomadia’s The Mobile Internet Handbook about wifi on the road
- Camp Addict for gear reviews and guidance
- Casita Travel Trailer forums for help fixing our RV
What does the future look like?
For the future, we hope for a bright and healthy one for everyone.
For our family, we hope to introduce Weston to international travel. Our long term vision is to take 2-3 month trips either in the camper traveling North America or traveling internationally every year or every other year (depending on our season of life). We would really love to buy a campervan in Europe and keep it stored somewhere so we can fly in, jump in the camper, and take off exploring during the summers.
Right about now, we would have been returning from a few months exploring Italy and France as Weston’s first international trip, but it was cancelled due to COVID. We hope we will be able to do this in the future with him. We’d also love to take a year or two and travel full-time around the world as a family. We also dream of biking the Euro Velo 6 along the Danube River in Europe as a family, too.
Another vision we have for our future is purchasing an investment property to share with short term renters that we have available year round. Right now, we only have our home available for short term renters when we’re traveling. However, it would be nice to have a space available for rent all year round to welcome travelers in.
Is there anything that you need that you can’t find or anything you are seeking help with?
We would love help, advice, or guidance on how to buy a campervan in Europe. We’d love advice on what type of campervan is best to buy (type of gas to look for and easier mechanics to maintain) and how to find a storage place there. Thank you to anyone who can help!
Rapid fire questions
What are the top 3 Bus essentials that you couldn’t live without?
Top 3 favorite places you’ve visited?
- New Zealand
Where are you now?
How long do you stay in one place?
We like to travel slower and stay in places four to six weeks at a time if we can. We go slow to enjoy where we are and you can save money by getting better deals when you stay longer.
When did you first start your Tiny Home life?
June 2014 we started out on our travels adventuring in our car and tent. December 2015 we bought and started living in our Casita Travel Trailer full-time
Are you full-time or part-time Tiny Home Living?
We full-timed for two years in our Casita Travel Trailer. Now, we part time with our one-year-old living part of the year in our home and part of the year traveling in our camper.
How many weeks have you spent in your Tiny Home in the last 12 months (estimate)?
What kind of Tiny home do you have?
Casita Travel Trailer Deluxe pulled by our Ford Explorer
Where can we go to keep up with you and your adventures?Website: NuventureTravels
Facebook: Nuventure CPA LLC
Website: Nuventure CPA LLC
YouTube: Nuventure CPA LLC