This family was doing it before vanlife-ing was even a thing. They are Britney and JD, and they have seven children – so far, because they’re not ruling out more. Their home is a conversion of a 2005 Bluebird All-American former military bus, which JD did on his own but at a shop. It’s one of the most inspiring and creative conversions you’re likely to see this week, if only on the consideration that it’s good enough to help a family of nine lead a very comfortable life.
Proof of that is in the family’s story, which, of course, is duly documented on social media. You can find them under the @AmericanFamilyRoadTrip moniker on social media, and their own blog, where they share mostly video content of their life on the road. Make no mistake about it, theirs is a life on the road in the true sense of the word: Britney and JD sold their 7,000 square-foot (650 square-meter) family home in Texas in 2018 and, in October that same year, moved into the bus permanently. Ever since, they’ve been on the road, traveling across the United States.
next itinerary, with everything that entails.
JD works in money consulting, and both he and Britney list their jobs as “entrepreneurs.” They also owned a gym with The Little Gym network, and were able to save a lot of money while serving in the army (both), and then using their veteran benefits to go to college without incurring any debt. Now that the ever-delicate issue of how they’re able to finance a nomad lifestyle is out of the way, let’s talk about the bus.
It has been upgraded to a tiny home and offers 217 square feet (20.2 square meters) of living space and everything you could possibly have in a house. It’s a 2005 Bluebird All-American that underwent a $77,000 makeover to become the family home of today. It’s 37 feet (11.2 meters) long, 8 feet (2.4 meters) wide, and has a raised roof. It also has a full garage, a rack for a motorcycle, an 8000W Onan RV Quiet Diesel generator, 690 amp hour lead acid battery bank, a tank for 200 gallons (757 liters) of fresh water and another for 33 gallons (125 liters) of wastewater.
The interior offers a lounge that’s also the dining area and seating for the older six kids, with seatbelts. The two couches can extend to become a bed the family uses for movie nights, and each has storage underneath. Over the lounge is the master bed, because Britney and JD decided that their lifestyle didn’t require them having a proper master bedroom. By having the queen-size bed cranked up to the ceiling, they have space for everyone else.
full-size one, as you’d expect if it’s to feed nine people on a daily basis. There’s a deep freezer that’s been converted into a refrigerator unit, another fridge with freezer compartment, four-burner gas stove, a microwave oven, and a deep sink, and plenty of storage to go around. On the opposite wall is the family’s wardrobe, comprised of several drawers and closets, and integrating a washer-dryer combo.
The bathroom doubles as buffer between the bunkhouse (i.e. the kids’ bedroom) and the parents’ sleeping area, separated by each by wood doors. It has a full shower with a small tub, a sink with Ikea cabinets, and a composting toilet.
The bunkhouse has four twin beds and two toddler beds, but will need to be modified once the kids grow up and ask for more privacy. Right now, with the eldest being 11, it works, and they’re perfectly happy with the open space. A secondary, separate air-conditioning unit is available here, so the kids can set their own temperature.
This tiny home slash bus conversion is very cramped, but it’s still able to pack almost all creature comforts of home, down to the many toys, books and school stuff kids need. More importantly, it helps Britney and JD make precious memories with them, and teach them about life through firsthand experiences. Ask them why they chose this lifestyle, and they will say, “Why [go] tiny? We have realized owning less tangible things resulted in allowing us to experience more.”
They’ve been doing it for four years, so they must know what they’re talking about.