The Burning Desire to Buy a Teeny Weeny Trailer Explained


Is a teeny weeny trailer right for you? (Photo: Getty Images)

For about three or four years when I was a kid, I had a die-hard career goal: I was going to become an advice columnist.

I think it started back in the late ’70s, when I was babysitting for the Brown family in Fort Worth, Texas. The Brown kids would go to bed, and I, their very grownup 11-year-old babysitter, would stay awake, waiting for the Brown parents to return from their evening of mahjong and martinis. (I hope you can tell that I’m making up some of the details.)

That was when I discovered on the shelves near the fireplace the book that would change my life, or my career trajectory, at least, forever.

It was by Ann Landers. It gave advice on … well, all kinds of subjects, including some that 11-year-old babysitters probably weren’t supposed to be reading about. Especially in 1979. I was entranced.

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Advice guru Ann Landers. She probably didn’t have a teeny weeny trailer. (Photo: Getty Images)

Fast-forward 35 years, and my career hasn’t taken me so far off course. I’m a lawyer (well, a law professor now), so I give advice. I’m a travel writer, so I advise people where to go and how to make the most of the going. And I’m the owner of a teeny weeny trailer. That’s where today’s post comes in.

Related: My Midlife Crisis: I Bought a Teeny Weeny Trailer to Travel the U.S.

You see, I’ve been getting a ton of emails from people who have been reading the series on teeny weeny trailers who think I’m a genius or a lunatic or a nightmare of a wife and mother. Some of them want their own teeny weeny trailers, too. So, today, and maybe semiregularly, my dream is coming true.


Lisa McElroy’s “teeny weeny trailer.” Now she shares how you can score one of your own. (Photo: Lisa McElroy)

Welcome to … Teeny Weeny Trailer Talk.

How do I find my very own teeny weeny trailer?

That’s a tougher question than it might seem at first blush. Here’s the basic process:

1. Start searching Craigslist near you. When I say “near you,” I mean, like, within 500 miles or so. Maybe 1,000. You gotta want this bad. is a good online tool; it searches Craigslist in every city within a radius you choose.

2. Rerun your SearchTempest search at least once an hour. Set the alarm on your phone. If you happen to be presenting to a corporate board or entertaining your spouse in the bedroom when the alarm goes off, excuse yourself briefly. You’ll be right back.


In the search for your own teeny weeny trailer, time waits for no one. Act fast! (Photo: Lisa McElroy)

3. When your searches hit pay dirt, call — don’t email if possible — the seller instantly. I called within two hours of my teeny weeny trailer hitting Craigslist, and the seller (Hi, Kerry!) already had several offers.

4. Hit the road, Jack. You need to go get that teeny weeny trailer. Right. Now. Lest someone else buy it out from under your sorry self.

You might think I’m kidding. But teeny weeny trailers have exploded in popularity. Face it: They’re cool, they’re cute, they’re just plain awesome. People want ‘em. They go fast.


Check out Sisters on the Fly for trailers with a touch of sass. (Photo: Facebook)

A couple of other great resources, especially if you want a teeny weeny trailer that’s already “glamped.” Check out Tin Can Tourists and Sisters on the Fly. These sites have listings for trailers for sale across the country.

Related: Taking My Teeny-Weeny Trailer on the Road for the First Time

So, you’re saying to buy the teeny weeny trailer, no matter what?

Absolutely not. Some questions to ask:

Does the seller have clear title? If not, it can be mighty hard to get one and register your teeny weeny trailer.

Has there been any water damage? These tin cans are often 50 or 60 years old. They were only meant to last 10 years or so. If there’s water damage, it’s fixable, but you might have to do some major rehab. Think rotting wood. And mold. And stink. But hey, it’s your camping experience.

How old are the tires? Some owners of teeny weeny campers suggest getting new tires as soon as you pull out of the seller’s driveway. Face it, they’re the legs of your teeny weeny trailer. If the tires ain’t good, you’re going to find yourself stuck somewhere. (For a reminder of how much fun getting stuck with a teeny weeny trailer is, read my last post). The wheels also need regular maintenance. Remember, safety first.

How original is the trailer? Some folks really, really want to preserve every single original detail, even the 50-year-old potty in the closet. (You don’t want to hear about the adventure my husband and I had getting that gross thing out of my teeny weeny trailer — trust me.) Some folks want to dress her up in a brand new party dress with fresh paint, new cushions, updated appliances. If you’re into the history of the thing, the more original parts, the better. If you’re like me and love the cute retro feel but like modern creature comforts, maybe not so much.

You’ve said your teeny weeny trailer has a name, but you haven’t told us what it is. And how do you come up with a name for a teeny weeny trailer, anyway?

A name is a very personal thing. I’m a writer, and I wanted to be able to use my teeny weeny trailer as a writing studio when it was in my driveway, so I wanted a writerly name. That’s why her call name (like a nickname for everyday use) is Virginia, but her official name, painted on her rear end lest she forget it, is “A Vroom of One’s Own.”


Lisa’s newly-christened trailer (Photo: Lisa McElroy)

Your teeny weeny trailer can have any name you want. I know some trailers named “Sweet Pea” and “Sass.” I’ve heard of some called “Wander Woman” and “Gasoline Gertie.” The moniker just needs to reflect your personality and love of the road.

Your puppy goes along on camping trips in the teeny weeny trailer. Is that really allowed? Will campsites let dogs stay?

Yep, most campsites will let dogs come along (even Fort Wilderness at Walt Disney World, where my puppy and I are headed in a few weeks). My puppy’s white, and I thought I might have to camo him as a giant marshmallow I was planning to roast over the fire, but he’s welcome — after all, he’s a camper, too! Just be sure to call ahead and ask whether the campground reserves specific sites for dog owners.


How would he look as a marshmallow? (Photo: Lisa McElroy)

Your husband really puts up with this?

He finds it hardest to put up with the pink-and-yellow flowered behemoth in our driveway. It’s still a work in progress, but he recently told me that it looks like Martha Stewart and Kate Spade challenged each other to a throwdown and spurted their guts all over the thing (my glamping friends are super impressed that my husband knows who Kate Spade is). But the going away and camping with my friends part? He’s all for it. He knows I’m happiest when I get some outdoors time, some girlfriend time, some alone-with-my-puppy time. And he knows I’m always coming home. (No, readers, he does not have a brother, much less a single one.)

Thanks for writing, and best of luck in the future.

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