Step-by-step Adventure Mobile Build Out - Tahoe

Hi guys! We're Ryan and Rebecca of OurStreamlinedLife. We're minimalists, digital nomads, and fulltime travelers who love few things more than a new horizon. 2017 will be our second full year of being full timers – we started in our 26-foot Aluma-lite Rambler trailer, breaking that up with an occasional multi-week road trip in Franklin, our trusty Chevy Tahoe.

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This year, however, we decided to do something new – we decided to spen almost the entirety of 2017 living and traveling out of just our Tahoe. We've loved camping out of it for up to 6 weeks at a time before, and were confident that with some adjustments and additions, we could turn Franklin into a very comfortable full-time home for ourselves for the year!

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Our first build, which you can see above, was built to go right over top the fold-down middle seats and was intended for shorter term trips. It had a pull-out table that we loved and storage for food and our camp chairs. On top of the platform, we laid out our backpacking air mattresses and sleeping bags. It was pretty comfortable – but not for longterm travel. We knew we'd need to make some improvements to be comfortable for 2017.

For us, this meant three things: 1) An upgraded sleeping platform in the truck with more storage to improve the previous sleeping platform build; 2) a significant increase in storage and organization to be able to stay neat – and sane – during 11 months on the road; and 3) a much-improved cooking setup.

Step number one was to pull out those middle seats, opening up another wonderful six inches of legroom in the back, and adding a tremendous amount of storage space under the platform. We upgraded from air mattresses to four-inch foam cushions, and decided to have fun with it and upholster them in a bright, cheerful fabric!

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I designed the platform to have three 26-inch panels – one that was removable, and two that were hinged, with storage underneath. This also allowed us to turn our bed into a couch – very handy for hanging out in bad weather!

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With the absurdly comfortable (and stylish!) new platform built, we started working to maximize our space through borderline-OCD style organization. We got bins and a clothing organizer that fit perfectly underneath the sleeping platform, I built shelves in the rear windows to hold all that loose stuff that was forever rolling around the car, and also coat racks to give us additional hanging space.

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The other main area of concern was the front seat. On our previous trip, this area looked like a bomb went off, with phones, cups, electronics, books, maps, and other assorted items stuck every which way. Determined not to spend an entire year this way, we used charging phone mounts and a handy organizational tool called the GridIt to create a place for everything – and keep everything in its place. Between that, and better-utilized door storage, we've so far managed to keep the cockpit clean and user-friendly!

Car storage ideas

With the truck as organized as we could get it, we turned to the third item on our list – improving our cooking setup. I'd been thinking about this one for quite a while and had finally come up with a design. My thought was to take a standard hitch rack (a small storage rack that utilizes a vehicle's trailer hitch to add trunk space) and build a small kitchen/storage box on it. If it could hold our dry food, our cooler, water, and our stove, and maybe provide a bit of counter space for food prep, it would be a fantastic addition to our truck!

hitch rack for road trip

I found a hitch rack I liked online, and as soon as it arrived, got to work. After all those months of scheming, the design was pretty well thought-out, and we only had to make minor adjustments and improvements as we went. And when all the work was done, we were thrilled with the final product!

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To date, our new and updated rig has taken us from New Hampshire, all the way down the east coast to Louisiana, and across and down into the desert in Big Bend National Park. It's protected our gear and helped us stay well fed and happy. With six weeks on the road under our belt, we're thrilled to see what the rest of the year brings! Our 2017 travel plans have us visiting almost all the National Parks in the western half of the US, wrapping up the west coast, heading all the way to Alaska this summer, then back east across Canada. We hope you'll follow along on our journey at Ourstreamlinedlife.com and  @ourstreamlinedlife !

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