A Conversation with Kristin Hanes, VanLife Expert and Tiny Living Content Creator

A Conversation with Kristin Hanes, VanLife Expert and Tiny Living Content Creator

If you've ever wondered what it's like to live the VanLife dream in a converted van, skoolie, campervan, RV, or heck, even a hatchback, we are pleased to introduce you to Kristin Hanes. Kristin is not your typical traveler or Instagram influencer; she has chosen a unique life path, currently living in a converted Chevy Astro van (2023 update: now a sprinter van) – but not before experiencing tiny living on a sailboat!

And, we know this is going to be hard to believe, but before the boat, Kristin lived with her boyfriend in a Toyota Prius hatchback car! It goes without saying, but Kristin Hanes is a VanLife and tiny living expert, actively inspiring others to embrace a minimalist, nomadic lifestyle.

In this conversation, CompoCloset cofounder Richard Peter chats with Kristin about

  • Her origin story
  • the big challenges she faced with tiny living
  • her environmental consciousness along her travels
  • and her recent move to South Dakota

We also dive into the intriguing topic of toilets when living off-grid and on the road, since it is often the bathroom situation that is the most dreaded reality when it comes to close quarters in tiny spaces!

Watch the video interview with Kristin Hanes, or continue reading on to discover the triumphs and tribulations of this nomadic content creator.

Kristin Hanes’ Story: The Road Less Traveled

Kristin's journey into the world of tiny living began with an unconventional choice: a Toyota Prius. At the time, she had just met her boyfriend, Tom, and he suggested they try living in his Prius to save money on rent in San Francisco, a city with notoriously high rental rates. Kristin was initially hesitant, but the allure of paying off all her debt was too powerful to ignore, so she decided to make the leap into the world of tiny living and VanLife… or rather, HatchbackLife.

Living in the Prius involved creative solutions, like showering at the gym and hanging out in a storage unit at night. Kristin even kept her new lifestyle a secret from her friends and family for fear of feeling like a “weirdo.” Fast forward to today, and Kristin has expanded her tiny living experience to include a 41-foot sailboat and a converted van.


Becoming a Content Creator for VanLife & Tiny Spaces

Kristin's transition to content creation came after a career as a radio news reporter. In 2015, she was laid off from her full-time job, which led her to explore new career opportunities. A chance encounter with an article about Michelle Schroeder-Gardner, a successful blogger living on the road, inspired Kristin to start her own blog: TheWaywardHome.com

Kristin treated her journey into content creation as a form of education, taking courses and learning the ins and outs of online business. It was a challenging task, but it eventually became her source of income, allowing her to combine her passion for writing and her unique lifestyle into a lucrative endeavor.


The Biggest Challenge for a VanLife Influencer: Building a Business from Scratch

One of the biggest challenges Kristin faced as a content creator and VanLife influencer was the financial uncertainty during the early years. Being your own boss and building your business from scratch is no easy task; Kristin worked tirelessly for long hours, often earning minimal income, which never bodes well on tight budgets. Juggling her blog, freelance writing, and voice-over work were demanding tasks, and many aspiring creators might have given up due to serious financial obligations and the fear of failure.

Kristin acknowledges that having low living expenses – all thanks to her tiny living lifestyle – was a significant advantage. She credits her persistence and the supportive community of like-minded individuals for her ability to weather the initial financial hardships and stressful business hurdles that every entrepreneur faces. Today, Kristin Hanes’ blog about tiny homes, VanLife, boats, and beyond generates a more stable and passive income, making her incredible journey well worth the effort.

Not to mention, tens of thousands of people in the Digital Nomad and VanLife community look up to Kristin and TheWaywardHome for inspiration and education with everything related to tiny living!



Environmental Awareness: An Eco-Friendly Benefit of Tiny Living

Living in a van, a boat, and a Prius has made Kristin increasingly environmentally conscious. The direct exposure to nature and the minimalist lifestyle helped her see the world from a different perspective.


1-2-3 Eco-Friendly

  1. Kristin actively seeks to reduce her plastic consumption for a more environmentally friendly future.
  2. Shopping at farmers' markets help local businesses thrive while also minimizing carbon footprint.
  3. Habitually making an effort to live a more sustainable life all around is an easy way to adopt an eco-friendly lifestyle.

All in all, Kristin believes that the tiny living community is becoming more environmentally conscious as well, and she is excited about the positive impact that a collective effort can have on the environment.



Easy South Dakota Residency for The Wayward Traveler

One of the recent developments in Kristin's life is her decision to become a resident of South Dakota. Many nomads and entrepreneurs opt to establish residency in states like South Dakota, Florida, or Texas because they have no state income tax. Kristin decided to make the switch due to the financial benefits, as well as the ease of becoming a resident in the state.

To become a South Dakota resident, Kristin's transition to residency involved spending just one night at a campground, signing an affidavit that she intends to live in the state one day, and using a mailing forwarding service. It’s that easy to get South Dakota residency! Kristin now enjoys the financial advantages of being a South Dakota resident while exploring the state's beautiful landscapes and building up TheWaywardHome blog.


Tiny Living Toilets

In the world of tiny living, everyday tasks like using the restroom take on a different dimension of difficulty. Kristin was happy to share her approach to toilets when living on the road. Boat life provided a much easier time for going to the bathroom since there was an actual toilet and holding tank. But in her van, she follows Leave No Trace principles when nature calls. As a backpacker, she's accustomed to digging cat holes in remote areas to minimize her environmental impact.

Too bad Kristin didn’t have Cuddy the Composting Toilet in her van! Here’s our shameless self-promotion about Cuddy, the best composting toilet for VanLife, small spaces, and tiny living.


Ready. Set. Go Check Out Kristin Hanes’ Blog About Tiny Living!

Kristin Hanes’ adventure, determination, and commitment to living sustainably make her a truly inspiring figure in the world of tiny living and content creation. Her incredible story and exciting journey serve as a reminder that even in the face of challenges, persistence and a strong sense of purpose can transform your life and create a positive impact on the world!

If you’re currently living in tiny spaces, or just starting your tiny living lifestyle, be sure to check out Kristin’s wealth of knowledge at TheWaywardHome.com


Richard Peter

Richard is the Co-Founder and CEO of CompoCloset, and the mastermind behind the Cuddy Composting toilet.


After a career algorithmic trading, he had plans to follow his long held passion for AI but the pandemic brought about an unexpected twist.


After installing a composting toilet in his campervan he caught the sanitation bug (not the dysentry kind) and saw an opportunity to change the world for the better and help bring safe sanitation to the 2.6 Billion without it. 


He's now on a mission to make the best off-grid toilet possible both for you and the planet! 


Follow along for the latest news! 


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