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Former Military Family Reconnecting with RV Life

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The Russel family used to be separated by husband Justin’s military career. He spent the first 5+ years of his children’s lives deployed overseas, and he needed time with them again! RV life was the ticket – it brought the family back together, making new amazing memories.

They’ve actually lived in and renovated 3 different motorhomes over the past five years, but we’ll show you the interior of their current one below! Wife Michelle shares their stories in between the pictures, so be sure to read carefully. Let us know what you love most about their conversion in the comments!

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More than 5 Years of Living Tiny in RVs!

After spending multiple deployments away from his family, my husband came to me expressing his need to make a change, so he could be at home with his family. We had 2 small children who at the time were 5 and 7, and Justin had spent the majority of their childhood overseas serving in the U.S. Army.

His mental and emotional health had taken a toll, and we needed to do something to reunite our family, and bring his heart peace. We toyed with the idea of moving to other states, but we couldn’t narrow where that would be.

I JOKINGLY said, “Let’s get an RV and explore the country to find our new forever home”. A light bulb went off and Justin was all in- me not so much. It took less than a year for us to sell our home and the majority of our belongings.

Originally, we purchased a used 2012 28ft travel trailer and a truck that could tow it. Before the house sold, we parked the RV in our driveway and ripped out the majority of the inside to customize it to meet our family’s needs. This go around took about 1 month. 11 months into living in our first RV, we sold it and purchased a 2016 36ft motorhome which is what we originally wanted, but it was not in the budget.

Renovating while living in an RV brought its own challenges, so those renovations were ongoing. We lived in that motorhome full time for almost 3 years, and sold it to upgrade to a 2022 38ft motorhome.

It’s been a year, and again, the renovations keep coming because 1) I’m bored and crazy and 2) when you live in these RVs, you want to make them your home.

Tiny living has reunited our family. 2 weeks after we hit the road, I was walking around a campground in Northern California with our son chatting about our new experiences, when he said “Isn’t it great that Daddy doesn’t have to leave us anymore?” Our normal was being apart.

Justin was constantly gone for work and that was our normal. We thought it didn’t bother them because it was all they knew, but in reality, we all needed and yearned to be together. Tiny living has allowed for our family to be a family again.

Originally we lived off our savings and Justin started collecting disability through the military because of his PTSD. Two years into our travels we started working with brands providing content, blogs, and videos about our lifestyle.

The hardest part for us is being away from family and friends during the holidays and saying goodbye to our traveling friends every time our paths take us in different directions.

The most rewarding part is being together. Not only was Justin’s work taking him away, but life was taking us in so many different directions, never really allowing us to be intentional with our time together. I was working full time, and the kids were in public school while also involved in extracurricular activities, and we were constantly being pulled in so many different directions.

Now we get to be together. We get more 1:1 time with the kids and with each other and as a unit. When the pandemic hit, we were already used to being “stuck” together in a small space and we were already 2 years into our homeschool journey, so while so many people struggled with that time, we continued to thrive.

My biggest advice I give to people who want to live tiny or who are transitioning to live tiny is, give yourself grace. It takes time to adjust and figure out what setup works for you, and it’s okay to switch things up as your needs and wants evolve. What you see online is not reality. Every one of us went through struggles and miss certain things about our old life, but once you find your groove, tiny living, for some people, feels so right.


  • The Russel family, previously separated due to military deployments, found a way to reconnect through RV life.
  • Husband Justin, after years of overseas military service, wanted to spend more time with his wife and two young children.
  • The idea of RV living emerged, and the family decided to sell their home and belongings to embark on this journey.
  • They renovated three different motorhomes over five years, customizing them to meet their needs.
  • Tiny living allowed them to overcome the challenges of being apart and brought them closer together as a family.
  • They faced hardships, such as being away from family during holidays and saying goodbye to traveling friends.
  • The reward was more quality time together, fostering stronger relationships and intentional living.
  • The pandemic and homeschooling transition were easier for them due to their previous experience with close-quarters living.
  • The family’s advice for those considering tiny living is to give themselves grace, as the adjustment takes time and evolves with needs.
  • Tiny living, though challenging, felt right for their family and allowed them to thrive together.

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Our big thanks to Michelle for sharing! 🙏

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Natalie C. McKee

Natalie C. McKee is a contributor for Tiny House Talk and the Tiny House Newsletter. She's a wife, and mama of three little kids. She and her family are homesteaders with sheep, goats, chickens, ducks and quail on their happy little acre.
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