This Family of 6 Lives in a 31-Foot Vintage Airstream — Just Wait Till You See the Inside!

For the Longnecker family, home isn't a run-of-the-mill house with a picket-fence-enclosed backyard — it's a 220-square-foot vintage Airstream trailer with a backyard that changes as they travel the country. The tight-knit clan of six — Jonathan, Ashley, and their four kids, Adali, 12; Jett, 11; Jax, 8; and Ada, 6 — live full-time in their so-called "tiny shiny home," journeying from California to Tennessee and everywhere in between. I chatted with Jonathan and Ashley to discover more about their family's minimalist lifestyle (and their Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle obsession), and man, it's making me want to invest in my very own vintage trailer.

Back in May 2015, after what they described to me as "way too many pros and cons lists," the Longneckers traded in their house (and their own personal space) for a Grand Design Reflection RV, kick-starting their new life on the road. "We thought we'd be in that forever," they told me of the roomy recreational vehicle. "There was plenty of space; the kids even had their own room with a door! However, after the first year, we just realized that it was too big and too comfortable. I mean, it had a fireplace!" Plus, paying for expensive campgrounds every night added up to quite the hefty sum, but they weren't quite ready to give up their adventurous living situation. The solution? "Boondocking," aka off-the-grid camping without hookups for water, electricity, or sewage.

Craving a major downsize, the Longneckers swapped their Grand Design RV for a 1972 Airstream Sovereign Land Yacht trailer, which they painstakingly gutted and renovated for six months straight with the help of Ashley's dad. The bright silver 31-foot Airstream transformed from a dimly lit trailer with old-school carpet and oak laminate cabinets to a cozy, completely functional home with ample storage space, homey decor, double bunk beds for the kids, and even a workspace for Jonathan, who makes a living by operating his own web design company while on the road.

Tiny Shiny Home

From left to right: Adali, Jax, Ashley, Ada, Jett, and Jonathan Longnecker standing in front of their Airstream during the holiday season.

As you may expect, living with six people in a 31-foot trailer comes with its fair share of challenges. "Cooking is a little tricky, and there are definitely days where Jonathan has trouble focusing on work," they told me. But most of their trials aren't actually in the Airstream. "They usually have to do with vehicle maintenance — we've spent a fortune in truck repairs — and deciding where we go next. There are so many options! Timing everything just right for weather and crowds can get daunting," they explained.

Nevertheless, Jonathan, Ashley, and their kiddos are pretty adept at living together in a tiny space and choose to focus on the benefits of their unique arrangement. "We get to pick where we want to live for the week. Mountains, forests, ocean views, deserts, hot springs out the back door . . . our options are endless," they told me. Sounds pretty dreamy, right?

"We've learned just how little you need and that having more doesn't make you happy."

Living together in their tiny, shiny home has taught the Longneckers a much-needed lesson about being less busy. "When we lived in a house, we were caught up in the busyness of it all. Our weekends were spent cleaning a 2,700-square-foot home, mowing the yard, and fixing things. There was never time for exploration. Being in the Airstream has given us some much-needed rest. With less house to take care of, it gives us so much more free time to do the things we love with the people we love," they said. On top of that, they now have a firm grasp on the beauty of living with less. "We've learned just how little you need and that having more doesn't make you happy. The kids really think about their purchases now. It's so great to hear them say, 'I don't need it,' when we're at a store."

Tiny Shiny Home

The four kids enjoying a campfire in the forest of Flagstaff, AZ.

"This trip has always been about [our kids]. What better education is there than travel?"

Jonathan and Ashley's absolute favorite part about living in an Airstream isn't about their ever-changing backyard or less-busy lifestyle, though; it's about getting to spend so much time exploring with their kids right by their side. "Some people say they'll do it when they retire, but man, they are missing out on such great memories. This trip has always been about [our kids]. What better education is there than travel?"

Speaking of education, Ashley roadschools (aka homeschools) her four children as they travel, teaching them about the history of each destination along the way. "We do a lot of Junior Ranger programs, and they're constantly learning basic life skills by being around us each and every day. The older kids help the younger kids figure stuff out often. It's really a team effort, and it's growing and changing every day," the Longneckers explained. It may have taken a few years of life on the road, but Ashley and Jonathan have finally grasped the fact that "each of [their] kids learn in their own way."

The Longneckers know their way of life is unconventional — and frankly, they like it that way. "Some people give us funny looks when they see all six of us coming out of this 31-foot Airstream. They'll stop and stare and ask us, 'How in the world do you all fit in there?' That's when we show them the inside and the common response is, 'It's so roomy!'" they said. "We made sure to leave as much 'hallway' space as possible. We all have our own little areas, which is so great for the kids."

I know, I know — I'm sure you're dying to check out the interior of their home, so let's look at some photos, shall we? Ahead, catch a glimpse inside the Longnecker family's compact yet stunning Airstream (along with a few prerenovation snaps!), and be sure to keep up with their adventures on both their blog, Tiny Shiny Home, and their Instagram page. Fair warning: their cozy living room alone is enough to inspire you to ditch your current home for a tinier, shinier one.

The Living Room: Before Renovations Began

The Living Room: Before Renovations Began

Jonathan and Ashley could tell by the look on their kids' faces that they weren't too impressed with the old-school interior.

The Living Room: During Demolition

The Living Room: During Demolition

Let the renovations begin!

The Entire Trailer Was Completely Gutted

The Entire Trailer Was Completely Gutted

Nice knowin' ya, old carpet.

The Longnecker Kids Gave a Helping Hand With the Renovations

The Longnecker Kids Gave a Helping Hand With the Renovations

Pictured above is Jax helping his dad build the wheel well boxes.

The Living Room: After Renovations

The Living Room: After Renovations

It doesn't even look like the same trailer anymore!

Here's Jonathan's Workstation, Complete With a Standing Desk

Here's Jonathan's Workstation, Complete With a Standing Desk

Not a bad place to work, eh?

And It Doubles as the Master Bedroom!

And It Doubles as the Master Bedroom!

This is where Jonathan and Ashley sleep each night. How cute is that comforter?! And check out all that storage space underneath.

The Kitchen and Pantry: Before Renovations Began

The Kitchen and Pantry: Before Renovations Began

It was pretty outdated, to say the least.

The Kitchen and Pantry: During Renovations

The Kitchen and Pantry: During Renovations

Out with the old and in with the new.

The Kitchen and Pantry: During Renovations

The Kitchen and Pantry: During Renovations

Hello, new countertops!

The Kitchen and Pantry: After Renovations

The Kitchen and Pantry: After Renovations

How incredible does it look?!

There's Storage Space Above the Counters

There's Storage Space Above the Counters

More is more, am I right?

There's Plenty of Cabinet Space For Storing Food

There's Plenty of Cabinet Space For Storing Food

Their refrigerator and freezer are located under the cabinets.

The Modern Sink Has a Built-In Dish Drying Station

The Modern Sink Has a Built-In Dish Drying Station

The kitchen faucet swivels 180 degrees so they can open the window and use it for outdoor showers — genius!

The Bird-Shaped Hooks on the Walls Are Both Functional and Cute

The Bird-Shaped Hooks on the Walls Are Both Functional and Cute

They're from Amazon, of course.

A Look at the Kitchen and Living Room Together

A Look at the Kitchen and Living Room Together

Are you in awe or are you in awe?

The Kids' Room: Before Renovations

The Kids' Room: Before Renovations

Let's get some bunk beds in here, shall we?

The Kids' Room: After Renovations

The Kids' Room: After Renovations

What an improvement!

Double the Bunk Beds = Double the Fun

Double the Bunk Beds = Double the Fun

So obsessed with those patterned sheets.

So Much Under-Bed Storage Space!

So Much Under-Bed Storage Space!

This is where they keep their clothes.

There's Also Above-Bed Storage

There's Also Above-Bed Storage

For toys and knickknacks.

The Bathroom: Before Renovations

The Bathroom: Before Renovations

In major need of some tender loving care.

The Bathroom: After Renovations

The Bathroom: After Renovations

Get a load of that composting toilet!

An Up-Close Look at Their Shower

An Up-Close Look at Their Shower

The nifty shower rod extends so the taller family members have more elbow room while washing their hair and whatnot.

The Longnecker Kids Love Their Tiny Shiny Home

The Longnecker Kids Love Their Tiny Shiny Home

When I asked Jonathan and Ashley what their children thought of living in the Airstream, the parents told me, "They love it! We wouldn't be doing this if they didn't."

This Is a Shot From Their Stay Near Lake Mead on the Colorado River

This Is a Shot From Their Stay Near Lake Mead on the Colorado River

They typically set up camp in each place for one to two weeks, sometimes longer, before moving onto the next.

The Airstream Looks Pretty Dreamy at Golden Hour, Don't You Think?

The Airstream Looks Pretty Dreamy at Golden Hour, Don't You Think?

They captured this stunning shot at sunset in Las Cruces, NM, during one of their boondocking adventures.

This Sunset Snap Was Taken on Highway 1 in California

This Sunset Snap Was Taken on Highway 1 in California

They added homey touches to the interior, like patterned blinds and decorative strings.

They Chose a Secluded Spot to Boondock It in Texas

They Chose a Secluded Spot to Boondock It in Texas

Now this is the type of peace and quiet we're looking for.

Gang's All Here!

Gang's All Here!

When I asked Ashley and Jonathan about the advantages of living on the road, they told me, "We get to travel with the temperatures. We like to be in flip-flop weather! If we have to wear shoes, it's time to head south!"

"Introverts, Unite!"

"Introverts, Unite!"

The kids like to have some "alone time," as they connect to their own devices while hanging in the back of the Airstream.

They Still Make Birthdays Special While on the Road

They Still Make Birthdays Special While on the Road

Happy 11th birthday, Jett!

Adali and Ada Love Doing Crafts Together

Adali and Ada Love Doing Crafts Together

In addition to cross-stitching, they're also into macrame.

Ashley and Jonathan Squeeze In Romantic One-on-One Moments

Ashley and Jonathan Squeeze In Romantic One-on-One Moments

When sharing this photo on Instagram, they captioned it: "As parents, it's our job to gross our kids out on a daily basis." Hah!

They Hook Up the Airstream to a Huge Pickup Truck

They Hook Up the Airstream to a Huge Pickup Truck

For when they travel between destinations.

The Inside of Their Main Door Is Decorated With Stickers From Their Travels

The Inside of Their Main Door Is Decorated With Stickers From Their Travels

Here's Ada posing with the handy-dandy packing cubes they use for storing clothes.

Dinner Is Served!

Dinner Is Served!

Homemade pizza, anyone?

This Could Easily Be a Postcard

This Could Easily Be a Postcard

Or an Airstream advertisement, for that matter.

Imagine Having THIS Right Outside Your Front Door

Imagine Having THIS Right Outside Your Front Door

Not a bad way to wake up in the morning.

They Adventured to Mono Lake in Lee Vining, CA

They Adventured to Mono Lake in Lee Vining, CA

The Longneckers loved it so much there, they set up camp for longer than their usual one- to two-week stay.

The Longneckers Love a Good Hike

The Longneckers Love a Good Hike

They love it so much, in fact, that they set a goal of hiking 365 miles this year. Whoa!

Here's a Cool Picture From Their Journey to Trona Pinnacles in California

Here's a Cool Picture From Their Journey to Trona Pinnacles in California

They're big fans of the West Coast, in case you couldn't tell.

Brrrr! Here's a Shot From Their Trip Up to Athabasca Glacier in Canada

Brrrr! Here's a Shot From Their Trip Up to Athabasca Glacier in Canada

We're shivering just looking at that snow.

They Also Made It Over to Banff in Canada

They Also Made It Over to Banff in Canada

What a picture-perfect setting.

The Longneckers Are Able to Set Up Camp Anywhere — Even the Middle of a Field!

The Longneckers Are Able to Set Up Camp Anywhere — Even the Middle of a Field!

Fun fact: they've got 500 watts of solar, 400 amp hours of lithium batteries, and a composting toilet to enable their hookup-less camping.

Throw Your Hands in the Air If You Love Your Airstream!

Throw Your Hands in the Air If You Love Your Airstream!

These kids are too cute.

They Take So Many Cool Shots of Their Home, We Couldn't Resist Including Another!

They Take So Many Cool Shots of Their Home, We Couldn't Resist Including Another!

Nothing beats that shiny silver finish.

The Longneckers Still Have a Few Places on Their Travel Bucket List

The Longneckers Still Have a Few Places on Their Travel Bucket List

"This year our kids really want to visit Yellowstone so that's our next major destination, but we're finding really cool places along the way. We'll stop in the Badlands, Black Hills, Custer State Park, Thunder Basin, and hopefully Grand Teton before we head south for the Winter," they told me.

Here's a Cute Shot of Jonathan and Ashley

Here's a Cute Shot of Jonathan and Ashley

They recently celebrated 15 years of marriage — aww!

Living in Such Closer Quarters Has Made Their Family's Bond So Much Tighter — but Lots of Patience Was Needed!

Living in Such Closer Quarters Has Made Their Family's Bond So Much Tighter — but Lots of Patience Was Needed!

"The main thing we tell other families is you just need lots of patience and even more grace. It's a huge transition for everyone to go from a big home to a tiny RV. Once you find your family's groove, you'll be amazed how much closer you'll be living together in a small space."

Where Will the Tiny Shiny Home Travel Next?

Where Will the Tiny Shiny Home Travel Next?

The possibilities are truly endless.