Before I could drive, I got sick at school one day and had to call my Dad to pick me up. While he was signing me out, he noticed a man wearing worn out shoes. I remember him taking a hundred dollar bill from his wallet, placing it into a folded piece of paper, and scribbling something on the outside followed by a smiley face. He gave that paper to my principal to give to that man after we left. When we got back to my Dad’s Jeep, he asked me not to tell anyone about what he had just done and for the most part, I haven’t… but here we are, close to 10 years later, as I share this story with the world.
Keith Pope is probably the least athletic person I know, so it wasn’t him who taught me how to swing a bat or throw a ball. He taught me things that are way more valuable in life. He taught me to always give more than you take, to treat strangers like you would family, and that “anything worth having is worth taking care of.” Looking back, he wasn’t just talking about taking care of material things like my car or house, he was also talking about people and friendships. If people are worth having in your life, then you should probably put forth the effort to take care of them.
My Dad also taught me and my siblings how to work hard. I’m the second oldest out of 5 kids, so my family jokes about how my parents had so many kids to do all the chores around the house. Although when I was younger, that’s exactly what it felt like, the work ethic that my Dad instilled in me has helped me be more successful in life. Plus, I’m one of the only girls my age who knows how to change a flat tire, check the oil in my car, and cut my grass with a push mower.
Whether I like to admit it or not, my dad and I are a lot alike. I may not wear two different colored shoes in public but like him, I’m loud when I enter and room and I never meet a stranger. These traits make life a lot more interesting and give me the opportunity to create life long friendships with strangers that some people would never have the courage to talk to. Above all, I think the most important lesson he taught me is that life is hard… not everything is always going to go your way and that’s okay because you can get through tough times and continue to search for better ones as long as you surround yourself with people who love you.
As we wrapped up the decade and celebrated the start of a new year, I couldn’t help but ￼reminisce on this past year. 2019 was a year full of growth and countless spontaneous adventures. I visited another country, met strangers who turned into good friends, and watched the sun rise/set over 8 different beaches. I’m so thankful for all the opportunities I was given and all the memories I made. Here is a short recap of 2019:
I started 2019 by celebrating New Years Eve with my friends at home and flying to New York City the following day. I spent the next week exploring Time Square where confetti still filled the streets from the New Years celebration that took place the day before. During my time there, I visited the Rockefeller Christmas Tree, ice skated in Central Park, and watched my little cousin ride bulls in Madison Square Garden. We also ate at a restaurant called “Westway Diner” almost every day. If you ever visit New York, I would highly recommend eating there.
In February, I celebrated my least favorite holiday, Valentine’s Day, with my close girl friends. Towards the end of the month I took a trip to Atlanta to visit my cousin, where we did the “Atlanta thing” and ate brunch and spent the night out in town. I’m not a big city girl but I do love big city coffee so before heading home the next morning, I stopped by a local coffee shop where the person in front of me paid for my coffee. I LOVE coffee and if there’s anything better than coffee, it’s free coffee!
Something you should know about me is I celebrate almost every holiday no matter how small. One of my favorite holidays is in March. I spent St. Patrick’s Day with 10 other friends at my lake house in Wedowee. A couple days later, I drove to Pensacola, Florida after work one night to stay with a couple friends at the beach and even ordered my very first sea food. I stayed a day and a half before having to return home for work, that makes this trip “shortest beach trip of 2019.”
Not long after my trip to Pensacola, I took a trip to visit Destin, Florida with my cousin and best friend. We spent 5 days on the beach, where we met some new friends and introduced them to one of my favorite snacks, Bugels and spray cheese. I tried more sea food but decided I’ll stick to popcorn shrimp for right now.
At the beginning of May, We took a road trip to Georgia to see Chris Young in concert. I ended the month by spending Memorial Day weekend with a group of friends in Panama City. We played spike ball and spent a lot of time diving in waves. We also made a new friend from Louisiana in the elevator on our first day there.
A lot of people think I never work since I’m gone so much but that is not the case. In June, I worked pretty much everyday so I didn’t go on any big adventures but I did get to go play Top Golf one Sunday night in Atlanta.
July might have been one of my favorite months in 2019. We spent 4th of July at the lake. We made a slip-n-slide, went water skiing, and I held my first fish. Our friend that we met in the elevator at the beach two months earlier even road tripped 8 hours to spend the weekend with us. At the end of July, I flew to Colorado and spent a week in a tiny cabin, kind of like my house but a cabin version. We found hot springs in the middle of the woods and visited a few ski towns. I also spent a couple of days in Cheyenne, Wyoming at a rodeo where they have the best sweet tea!
I spent a week in August exploring the streets of Barcelona, Spain. This was the most impactful trip I took in 2019. I learned about the Spanish culture, tried Paella, and even won a dance battle. I also got to take part in the La Tomatina Festival, which is where people from all over the world gather in the streets of Valencia to have a giant food fight with ripened tomatoes.
I’ve always studied about the Great Lakes in school but in September I flew to Michigan to see them in person. The weather was cool and the beaches were beautiful. My friend drove me all over the state to see all of Michigan’s natural beauty. We drove over the MacKinac Bridge into the Upper ￼Peninsula where I tried my first pasty, which is like a pie filled with meat and potatoes. Later, I got to watch the sun set over Lake Superior, which was by far my favorite sunset of 2019.
I spent October doing the typical fall things: haunted houses, pumpkin patches, and pumpkin carving. This is the 3rd year I have hosted a pumpkin carving contest at the tiny house. We carve pumpkins, eat candy corn, and roast marshmallows over a fire. I celebrated Halloween weekend in Atlanta.
In November, I flew to the West Coast looking for warmer weather. I spent 4 days in San Diego eating authentic Mexican food and soaking up the 75° weather while it was snowing back home. I visited the famous San Diego Zoo and caught a few waves at Coronado Beach. One of my favorite things I did while in California was ride scooters through the city. We also took an Uber to La Jolla Cove and saw the Sea Lions basking on the rocks right in front of us.
December was definitely one to remember. My friends flew in from out of state to celebrate my 21st Birthday. After my week long Birthday celebration, my house turned into a bakery. We made Oreo balls, cookies, brownies, and cobblers. I spent Christmas with my family and ate tons of cheeseballs. Towards the end of the month, I went on a camping trip, roasted hot dogs over the fire, and slept in a tent. I ended 2019 by going on my last trip of year and brought in the new year from Orlando, Florida.
Although the scenic view of an unfamiliar place might be breathtakingly beautiful, the best part about any new adventure is not the destination itself but rather the people you meet throughout your journey.
You can visit the same place over and over and have a completely different experience each time depending on who you have by your side.
“There is no such thing as strangers, just friends you haven’t met.”
This Summer I booked a trip to Spain using a company called “EF Ultimate Break.” This company allows you to travel by yourself at a discounted price and meet other solo travelers when you arrive at your destination. The eight days I was there, I met people from all over the world who made my Spain experience one I will never forget. The people who were once strangers I met at the airport slowly became my friends as we explored Barcelona together and swapped life stories over Sangrias at dinner. My roommate that I met while I was there even flew into my hometown to celebrate my 21st Birthday this past weekend.
Traveling is very rewarding because not only do you get to see extraordinary sights but it also gives you the opportunity to meet people who share similar interests as you. It gives you a chance to broaden your horizon and try new things, all while making friendships that will last long after you return home from your trip.
My first day of college, I was sitting in class while my professor was calling role. When she called out my name, I didn’t even have time to answer before a girl in the back of my class yelled “Oh my gosh, you’re the girl who lives in a tiny house!” So this is where I introduce myself to you like I did to my American lit class that day…
Hey friends, my name is Tori Pope and I’m the girl who lives the tiny house.
I started my Instagram page, @tinyhousetp, in 2017, where I documented the process of turning what was once an empty storage building into what is now my home. Flash forward 3 years later and I still have strangers knocking on my door to ask for a tour, which doesn’t take that long considering they can see my whole house while standing at the front door.
“Our home should inspire us to go into the world and experience great things but welcome us back with comfort and peace.”
The key to “living tiny” is realizing you don’t actually need a lot of material things to live a happy life. As you can imagine, there isn’t a lot of extra room for useless junk with only 408 sqft to live in. After I moved out, I quit buying “stuff” and started buying plane tickets instead. Lucky for me, tiny houses come with tiny bills so I can afford to go on tons of spontaneous adventures.
Over the past two years, I’ve been on countless trips and learned a couple of hard lessons. Through this blog I hope to share the lessons I’ve learned from living on my own as a young adult and tips on how to travel while being on a broke kid budget. I also hope to inspire others to live a life full of love and adventure and maybe even give you a couple of laughs along the way.