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'Freedom In A Can': One Couple Is Taking Their Tiny Home Around The Country

Emily Alfin Johnson
Dave Hutchison and Shari Galiardi in front of their tiny home: a refurbished 1957 chrome camper trailer.

Shari Galiardi and Dave Hutchison live in a truly tiny house: a refurbished 1957 chrome trailer, not much bigger than a mid-sized car.

The couple is part of the so-called "Tiny House" movement, which focuses on living greener, clutter-free lives.

Starting in North Carolina, Galiardi and Hutchison have put about 60,000 miles on their truck, traveling around the country with their tiny home, "Hamlet."

On what motivated them to trade in their traditionally sized home for tiny living:

“Many people spend most of their day in an office, and I was really, really tired of that and being tied to e-mail and my calendar.” Galiardi explains.

“We both had challenging careers,” she says. “The challenges were becoming, ‘How much more can I fit in?’ Rather than [fitting in] what I really want to be doing.”

Now the couple uses the trailer as a home base, spending much of their time outdoors: kayaking, biking and hiking.

On fitting the few things they own into a tiny space:

“It's a lot like a sailboat. In that, everything has to have its place,” says Hutchison. “When you go look for that thing, it's there. And then it goes back there when it's done.”

Credit Courtesy of Shari Galiardi
Courtesy of Shari Galiardi
The front of the trailer serves as their dinning area, with benches that can convert to a sleeping area for guests, and storage tucked away in every available area.

But that doesn’t mean they live a perfectly organized existence.

“We still have a junk drawer, we still have clutter,” he says jokingly, “It is just a smaller. Everything's on a smaller scale.”

What about the practicalities?

One household staple missing from the home is a bathroom. Hutchison says they make do just fine without it.

“Being experienced back country travelers,” he says, “We just use those same methods and apply that to the setting that we're in.”

When it comes to making enough money to get by, the two have a unique system.

“In our ideal setting,” Hutchison explains, “is four months of working somewhere, [or] four months of volunteering somewhere, and then four months of traveling.”

Credit Courtesy of Shari Galiardi
The couple has traveled across North America with their tiny home hitched to the back of their truck, seen here on Red Mountain Pass in Colorado.

The volunteering opportunities often come with a place to park the trailer, and take care of their basic needs.

They rely on a single solar panel and a propane tank for the power to charge a laptop, run the lights, and heat the space. This system is far more cost effective then when the couple was living in a traditionally sized house in North Carolina. Then, heating costs averaged $1,500 a year. Now, they spend $100 to $125 a year.

Shari Galiardi and Dave Hutchison are in the Burlington area to discuss their life on the road at Champlain College, Wednesday, Nov. 18 at 7:30 p.m.

Annie Russell was VPR's Deputy News Director. She came to VPR from NPR's Weekends on All Things Considered and WNYC's On The Media. She is a graduate of Columbia Journalism School.
Alex was a reporter and host of VPR's local All Things Considered. He was also the co-host and co-creator of the VPR program Brave Little State.
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