Building Our Teardrop Trailer From Scratch: Learning by Doing

Adventure comes in many forms, but boiled down to its basics, adventure is simply about going where you’ve never gone before or doing what you’ve never done before.

Sometimes it involves having a specific step-by-step plan, and sometimes it’s all about exploring and figuring it out as you go along.

The latter is how we set out to build our own teardrop trailer. Our big plan was to wing it, to step out on a limb with a destination in mind and take a leap of faith that our wings would do what we knew they could do, and that we’d get where we wanted to be.

THE INSPIRATION: The first time we saw a teardrop trailer, we were tent camping in Big Sur on the coast of California. The year was 2012. I had been in California all of a year, having moved there from my birth state of New York. After a lifetime of camping primarily in the Northeast United States, California seemed like a candy store, fully stocked with endless shorelines, expansive inner-mountain ranges, and forests of every height and girth.

Coastline not far from Big Sur
Coastline not far from Big Sur

And Big Sur offered it all– shoreline, mountains, and forests, all wrapped up in one gorgeous package. It was there that we saw it . . . a tiny teardrop trailer. We’d just spent an hour or two setting up a huge tent, a camping kitchen, filling up water jugs from a nearby faucet, unloading all our stuff from the utility trailer (one of several Mark had built through the years),  . . .

and in rolled a tiny camping trailer no bigger than the car that was hauling it. Within 15 minutes, the happy owners of the trailer had set up camp and were kicking back with a glass of wine. We gawked at them, envious and miffed . . . hmmmmm.

Curious, we strolled by and struck up a conversation. The husband and wife cheerfully gave us the teardrop tour (available all day long, it seemed–teardrop trailers naturally double as people magnets!). We ooh’d and aaa’d over the queen-sized bed and the cozy hatch-back kitchenette. The disappointing news for us was that their particular trailer went for roughly $13,000 brand new . . . way too steep a price tag for us. The interesting news was this couple had bought their teardrop trailer second-hand for $6,000 and altered it to their liking.

By the time we made our way back to our own campsite, Mark announced, “We can make one of those.”

Roughly a month later, that’s exactly what we set out to do. With only a vague idea of how to begin, we researched like heck whatever teardrop trailers we could find on the internet and then decided what style we wanted to make. We discussed some finer points about cabinetry needs, kitchen features, etc., and then just started building it!

THE PROJECT:  Over the course of four months, it went something like this . . .

To be sure, there were many trials and tribulations along the way, but for the most part, we worked together on this project, and that made all the difference. Mark had much more construction knowledge than I did, but I had a practical yet creative mind that served us well on many occasions. I had many ideas about aesthetics and design and even came through with viable solutions when we got into inevitable jams. We found that with the two of us working together, when one of us exhausted all our ideas, the other was able to come in on a fresh, new angle.

As with most things Mark and I come across, we’re hardly ever interested in buying something brand new. We’d rather restore, re-purpose, or attempt to build it ourselves.

Granted, a big reason for that is we’re simply not financially well-off enough to afford new everything. But honestly, the bigger reason is we enjoy the challenge of attempting to fix or build something ourselves. For one, we get to work on projects together, which improves our communication with one another. For two, with every project, we inevitably learn a couple of new skills we can port over to the next project. For three, we acquire a sense of empowerment by staying self-reliant, comforted in knowing that we can always make ends meet should our life adventures throw us a curve ball or should we temporarily lose our way.

With many of the projects we embark upon, we often don’t know what awaits us. We often don’t know if we have the specific skills we’ll need to get the job done. That can be intimidating. What we DO know, however, is we definitely have the most important tools: patience, common sense, cooperation, resilience, and desire. Everything else we need, we acquire by simply doing it!

Here’s a link to a post, showing what the final product looks like these days . . . Photos of Our Own Home-Built, Custom Teardrop Trailer.

[What’s that one project that keeps gnawing at you that you haven’t yet started or completed? Why not commit yourself today to getting the job done? Maybe if you say it out loud in our comments section, we can help hold you accountable for completing what you know you want to. If you do share your goal with us, we’d love to hear how the project’s progressing, whether you completed it, and what you learned along the way (and we’re not talking just skills learned!).]


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Happy trails, y’all!


Sue J signature

Cabin Fever Cure: January 18, Free Entrance Day in National Parks

Got cabin fever? Beat the winter doldrums with the perfect cure: FREE entrance days in the National Parks!

It begins this year with January 18, 2016, Martin Luther King Jr. Day. And we’re ready to take advantage of it. Watch out, Joshua Tree National Park. We’re coming to see you again! (Check out our last trip to Joshua Tree here.)

Joshua Tree National Park Split Rock Loop Trail
Sue hiking on Split Rock Trail

The National Park Service has rolled out the list of fee-free dates for 2016:

  • January 18:  Martin Luther King Jr. Day
  • April 16 through 24:  National Park Week
  • August 25 through 28:  National Park Service Birthday
  • September 24:  National Public Lands Day
  • November 11:  Veterans Day

With 409 National parks to choose from, 127 of them normally charging an entrance fee, this is a great opportunity to cure yourself of the winter blues and simultaneously show all the folks who help preserve these incredible national treasures that you really do care about their efforts. What better way to prove it than to show up on one of the fee-free days and enjoy our National Parks! You’ll be so glad you did!


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Happy trails! Happy New Year!

Be safe,

Sue J signature

Find Your Adventure With Rose Parade Float Decorating

We’re watching the Rose Parade on TV today from our Phoenix home and reminiscing about several years of volunteering to decorate parade floats in Pasadena, California. These particular pictures are from working on an HGTV float.

Definitely have to do it again some time. What a spectacular item to add to your bucket list!IMG_5683 IMG_5653 IMG_5668And we love the Rose Parade theme this year . . .

Find Your Adventure!

We here at Teardrop Adventures HIGHLY recommend getting out and exploring the jaw-dropping, ever-inspiring scenery and adventures that await you in the great outdoors.

Mother Nature rocks it and so should you!


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All our best to you this coming year,

Susan & Mark