Olivia, Tanner & Oakley in an Airstream Overlander

Square Feet: 180

How do we live in such a tiny house? Well, we have a big backyard.

Where are you currently living?

We are in western Montana at the moment, although we travel to a new spot about every week.

Name the make, model and year of your home.

I live with my husband, Tanner, and our daughter, Oakley, in a 1968 Airstream Overlander that we affectionately call McStreamy.

Our rig is pulled by a 2013 Chevy Silverado Duramax, which runs on diesel.

What were you doing before you went mobile and why did you make the change?

A little less than a year prior to going mobile, I transitioned from my job as a drug and alcohol interventionist at a local high school to starting my own boutique-style design company and lifestyle blog. My husband was and still is a lineman (think high-voltage power, not football). We lived on about six acres in a farmhouse we had meticulously renovated.

Earlier this year we sold our home and land with the intention to build a bigger home on more land. We purchased the Airstream on a whim as a temporary home that we could live in while we had our dream house built. A series of unusual events ensued and ultimately the county ruled we could not build on our new acreage due to subdividing restrictions and lack of up-to-code infrastructure on the property.

Long story short, this was a blessing in disguise (a silver lining, perhaps). We made the decision to sell nearly everything we owned and use the money we had saved for a down payment for our big house to instead live debt free and travel full time in our tiny house.

I’m not against traditional dwellings or material things in any way, but we were drawn to the idea of living a simpler, slower lifestyle for a while.

I always say, some people own their things, and sometimes people’s things own them. We were beginning to fall in to the latter category, and becoming mobile has taught us the value of time over possessions.

How long have you been living there and do you live there full time/part time?

We have been living either with family, on the road or in a mobile home for about four months. Our Airstream renovation took a lot longer than anticipated, so we’ve only been living in it for about a month full time.

What was the process like to move into your mobile home?

I have always wanted to build a tiny home, and I got my wish with the Airstream. We bought it completely gutted like a fish (like, so far from being inhabitable it isn’t even funny). We decided to hire a contractor to handle the remodel, and I couldn’t have asked for a better result.

Airstreams are difficult because of the shape of their walls (everything is curved), and being nearly 50 years old didn’t do it any favors. We blew our deadline by almost a month and went thousands of dollars over budget but we have a very comfortable tiny house now. And I feel that the extra time and money were worth it.

The real challenge was consolidating our stuff. We had two vehicles, a camper, ski boat, snowmobile, four-wheeler, two homes, three horses and ridiculous amounts of pointless junk. See what I mean about our things owning us?

I feel like I spent months just selling stuff and taking things to Goodwill. By some divine intervention, we whittled it down to just taking our truck and Airstream on the road. We still store a few things at home, but that’s it.

It is absolutely phenomenal to me all of the things I can live without.

How do you balance work and living in a small space?

For us, this is probably the least challenging aspect of living tiny. I would classify us as working part time. My husband's work takes him outside the home. I am a graphic designer, which only requires a laptop, so I work just fine in a small space.

Actually, I think that working is an essential part of finding balance in our tiny lifestyle. It gives us an aspect of routine that we welcome (in small doses).

What are your hobbies on and off the road?

We love to hunt, fish and hike. I enjoy photography, playing my guitar and attempting yoga. My husband likes to explore golf courses in each new place we stop.

What are your top three go-to items in your tiny home?

Essential Oil Diffuser: I can’t live without essential oils and I diffuse them in our Airstream regularly for everything—from managing my moods to purifying the air and warding off bugs.

Pillows: I know it’s weird, but I have this thing with throw pillows. It makes a space feel homey to me. I really enjoy decorating and pillows are an easy and inexpensive item to change out frequently.

Truck Canopy: This is not necessarily inside my tiny home but an absolute necessity for tiny space living. We call our truck bed the garage. The canopy was a bit of an investment, but I can’t imagine where I would put big items like our toolbox and Yeti cooler if we didn’t have all that covered space in the back of the truck.

What has been the most rewarding thing about living small?

It’s hard to pick just one thing! We know that this experience won’t always be puppy dogs and hummingbirds, but the rewards are certainly bountiful. The obvious answer is that we get to spend so much more quality time together as a family. I think that this lifestyle is definitely making us better parents than we were before. We don’t have TV, are usually without Internet and brought just some books and a small basket of toys for Oakley, so we are forced to get out and do things that we might not have done if we had all of the material comforts and entertainment options of our former home.

We also love seeing so many new places and ways of life. We had our daughter when we were just kids ourselves, so we haven’t had the opportunity to travel very much. I’m definitely that overly friendly person who loves to chat up the locals and find off-the-beaten-path locations to explore.

Our country has such a wealth of natural beauty and history. I know we could do this for years and never scratch the surface of all the things there are to see.

What is the most challenging thing?

Alone time. Privacy...ahem...adult time. Honestly right now we don’t even have curtains on the majority of our windows. People who see us rolling through probably think we are some kind of exhibitionists. (We aren’t. I swear.) But really, you learn to appreciate solitude as well as alone time with your spouse. I think the key is you just have to be very intentional about taking care of your own sanity, as well as your marriage.

Also, when you’re on the move as much as we are, it can be tiring to load up and move the trailer every few days — a small price to pay for seeing the world, but still a downside.

What is your advice to future homeowners who want to live small or hit the road?

Talk to other people who live the tiny lifestyle. I’ve found that it’s such an encouraging and supportive community of individuals. People have been so willing to share their experiences and help us work out the kinks in this new way of life.

My biggest piece of advice, however, would be to live debt free or aggressively pursue getting out of debt. Tiny house people understand and adhere to this principle a lot more than most people, but we do live in a materialistic society that encourages people to live whatever lifestyle they want, regardless of if they can afford it or not. For us, being free of debt and saving enough to not have to worry about working all the time has allowed us to get so much more out of this experience.

It really changes the game when you only have to worry about which place on the map to go to next instead of paying a bill.

What's next for you guys? Any news you want to share?

We are pretty new to this adventure, so we don’t have a real plan or itinerary. We just know that we would like to travel the U.S in our Airstream until our daughter enters kindergarten (in two years).

Ultimately, we plan on owning acreage again. And I would love to build a tiny house (still trying to get the hubby on board with that one).

I’m sure we will have our days but today, I’m parked by a creek, eating homemade cookie dough and rockin’ out to the country music in my little Airstream kitchen. Life ain’t that bad.

To keep up with Olivia + Tanner + Oakley and their adventures, follow them on Instagram @silver_lining_usa or catch them on their Facebook page. Visit their website to read up on their hiking trips and toddler tips.

Edited by Kate MacDougall.
All photos credit to Silver Lining.