Nomadic photographer lives, works & travels solo in her trusty teardrop trailer (Video)

Mandy Lea
© Mandy Lea

So many of us perform the duties and live the lives that's expected of us: kids that conform to the rules at home and school, or the responsible parent that works hard at a boring day job to provide for their kids. But there's probably also many of us that harbour fantastical inklings of dropping everything to travel and to pursue our true passions. Yet, it's likely that many of us won't make the plunge, probably because we fear change and the prospect of the unknown.

But change -- and uncertainty -- can be good. For American freelance photographer Mandy Lea, change came in the guise of a teardrop trailer that she calls her home -- a mobile place of belonging that she feels connected to as she travels the country, snapping incredible images of nature. For the last two years, she's been a full-time solo "teardropper", visiting some of the most majestic spots one could imagine.

Mandy Lea© Mandy Lea
Mandy Lea© Mandy Lea

Lea tells us that her decision to finally hit the road came from the daily grind of her day job, which was burning her out while her passion for photography went neglected. It came to a tipping point during one sunrise on a trip out in the mountains, and she realized that she could no longer continue living the "expected life".

Mandy Lea© Mandy Lea

To start, she quit her job, and on a stroke of intuition, decided to purchase a teal T@G teardrop trailer that she saw in passing by a RV dealership. "It simply called to me," Lea says. "I couldn't explain the reasoning, I just knew I had to have it. That. Exact. One." Trailer procured, Lea prepared to make her ultimate move onto the road, but during the last few days, disaster strikes: the teal trailer is stolen. With the assistance of the police and an online plea for help that goes viral, it's found five days later, but completely trashed. Despite this traumatic experience, Lea has bounced back, thanks to the tremendous support she felt from complete strangers.

Mandy Lea© Mandy Lea

Seen above with its bright orange swirl, her subsequent T@G teardrop is aptly called The Phoenix, and features indoor shelving, custom cabinets, as well as a revamped kitchen. The interior is given the personal touch with curtains, lovely custom wooden knobs, a television screen, and her favourite photograph. "I've done everything I can do to make her feel like a home, which is exactly what she is to me," she explains. It's a cozy space, yet full of meaning for Lea.

Mandy Lea© Mandy Lea
Mandy Lea© Mandy Lea
Mandy Lea© Mandy Lea
Mandy Lea© Mandy Lea
Mandy Lea© Mandy Lea

Here's a closer look at some of the modifications that Lea undertook in her teardrop.

Mandy Lea© Mandy Lea

1. Replaced plain, stainless steel handles with stylish wooden knobs.
2. One of only three items that Lea recovered from her first stolen teardrop, Birdsong. It's a print of the life-changing sunrise she witnessed, which propelled her to make a change in her life (it also hides the air conditioning unit).
3. This little sign covers the light from the audio player that would otherwise light up the whole trailer at night.
4. A stuffed bear from one of the many national parks Lea visits.
5. Lea added these curtains, as the original trailer does not come with window coverings.
6. Two shelves were added by Lea for extra storage.
7. The hook over the window is where Lea hangs her laundry bag.
8. There was no cupboard behind the screen; Lea added this for more storage space, and for charging things.

During the last eight months, Lea has visited 28 states and three countries, witnessing the grandeur of the mountains, valleys and its wild inhabitants of bears, eagles, coyotes and elk, and made plenty of new friends along the journey. Though parts of her journey are done off-grid, she also has many friends and family across the country whom she visits with, parking on their driveways. Lea also has this bit of advice for women who yearn to travel solo, yet who are afraid to do so for whatever reason:

Don't be scared. You got this. The number one reason I hear from women for not following their dreams is that they are afraid. But if we simply trust in ourselves, listen to our guts and make smart decisions, we can accomplish anything. Stop waiting and making excuses - there is only one place that will lead, a sad and depressing place - regret.

Mandy Lea© Mandy Lea

Right now, Lea says that her objective is to get people to rethink what happiness and fulfillment means to them:

I have one goal: 'Show people things they don't normally see, to inspire them to do things they don't normally do'. I aim to inspire people in a way that causes action above and beyond simple dreaming. I want to open people's perspective on life so they reevaluate the things that really matter, the things that truly bring happiness. If I can accomplish this while sustaining myself and my own happiness while on the road, then I will continue to do more of what makes me happy. It is not a lifestyle that can be planned or mapped out. One must simply follow their heart seeing not where it leads.

Mandy Lea© Mandy Lea
Mandy Lea© Mandy Lea

Lea's enthusiasm and sincerity is infectious, and it reminds us of the adage that "a life spent wondering 'what if' is a life unlived" -- all the more reason to stop wondering and to get out and pursue our passion, whatever it may be. For more, visit Mandy Lea's website, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

[Via: Living In A Shoebox]

Tags: Camping | Less Is More | Living With Less | Small Spaces

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