To many people, the idea of having mom, dad, daughter and dog living blissfully in 220-square-feet of space seems like a recipe for disaster.
But, to Oswego’s Davis family, this reality spells nothing more than adventure.
“I never ever considered living ‘tiny’. I loved our house and our yard. But, the idea of traveling and being together as a family was really hard to pass up,” Rachel Davis said from inside her tiny, renovated school bus.
Last year, the high school sweethearts, who have been married for eight years, ditched the 9-to-5 lifestyle, sold their Oswego home, and set out for the open road, traveling to 36 states in 12 months and making memories to last a lifetime.
With daughter Charlotte in tow, the family down-sized their life and up-sized their appetite for the great-outdoors.
Together they live in a not-so-standard white school bus, 36-feet long, and equipped with everything they need to get by with while living on the road. There’s a bathroom and a propane stove. A queen-sized loft bed for mom and dad and a bedroom nook for 3-year-old Charlotte.
Decorated immaculately, and completely refinished, the bus is truly a sight to behold. Luke Davis spent about $30,000 and a year-and-a-half working on nights and weekends after work renovating the family’s new tiny home, making it fit for living and adventure.
“When we bought the bus (for $4,000), it had all the seats in it and all the windows. Luke had to do everything,” Rachel Davis said. “But, he loves building things with his hands and literally building our own house was really intriguing to him.”
The self-sustaining bus has propane-fueled appliances and solar panels to obtain electricity. There’s plenty of fresh and gray water on board, and a composting toilet to boot.
“Being self-sustaining was one of our main goals,” Rachel Davis said. “The point was to not have to stay in campgrounds when traveling, and we rarely do.”
Instead, the family lives off the grid, traveling up and down the East Coast to follow the fall foliage and heading to national parks across the country.
During their travels, the family elicits the help of their 13,000 Instagram followers to provide tips and forge friendships on the road.
“We meet a ton of people through Instagram,” Rachel Davis said. “People can see what region we’re traveling in and ask us to dinner or ask to have us over. We almost always take people up on that. We love meeting new people.”
You can find their bus back in Oswego for the holidays, and right now, as Rachel Davis is preparing to have her second child. The family expects to stay throughout the holidays and then head back on the open-road, this time with baby on board.
Now in the process of figuring out where to store baby clothes and diapers, the Davis family is gearing up for change, but excited about bringing an additional traveler on the road. They said young Charlotte, who moved into the bus at age 1-and-a-half, adjusted great to her new surroundings.
“This is what she knows. Moving around is what she knows,” Rachel Davis said.
She said that without a TV on the bus, and with plenty of outdoor adventures to be had, Charlotte’s imagination has soared.
“She’s really good at pretending and playing, and she loves being outside,” mom said.
National parks have become her playground, and different states are the backdrop of her childhood.
Sure, the Davises miss their families — who they say have been super supportive of their new lifestyle — and long, warm showers, but they’ve grown to love their new home.
Besides the fact that the bus can move, Rachel Davis said the second best benefit of living tiny is one most mothers can relate to.
“It probably only takes a half-hour to deep and fully clean the bus,” she said with a smile.
After all, who has time to clean when there’s so much adventure to be had.
To follow the Davis family’s journey go to: