This Family Lives in a Decked-Out Van, and Just Wait Till You See the Kitchen!

When Tracy and Mike Kuhl, a couple from Alberta, Canada, started to get the travel bug two years ago, they knew that they'd have to get creative if they wanted to raise their teenage daughter, Sarah, and tween boys, Josiah and Samuel, on the road. But rather than chalking their idea up to an out-of-reach dream, the pair brought their tiny house living aspirations to life courtesy of some outside-of-the-box thinking and a refurbished sprinter. Thankfully, they documented their entire journey on Instagram, and we're insanely jealous.

"At the start of 2016 we found ourselves wanting something more, something different," Tracy told POPSUGAR. "We were living the Alberta oilfield dream but found ourselves missing something. We packed up our lives and a seven-bedroom home and set out for adventure in a truck and 37-foot trailer."

Although Tracy and her family loved traveling in a spacious trailer at first, she realized they needed to downsize even more after facing a few challenges while road-tripping. "Our nearly 60-foot rig was a luxury, however, it was entirely too limiting. Highway tolls, campgrounds fees, fuel costs, and city's prices quickly added up."

"We packed up our lives and a seven-bedroom home and set out for adventure."

In early 2017 while working in Canada, Tracy and her husband started throwing the idea of a sprinter around for a number of reasons: adults could stand up in it, and the cost of gas was more manageable. It was also easy to transport and a much more pragmatic choice for off-the-grid living.

All that was left to do was purchase a 3500 CAN model and get to work refurbishing it, which took much longer and was much harder than the Kuhls anticipated.

"There were bits and pieces that we pulled from Pinterest, Instagram, and YouTube, but in the end we really had to forge our own path," explained Tracy. "There's endless content for couples in vans as well as families with smaller children, but we found very little for older children."

Scroll through to get a look at all of the Kuhl family's adventures so far, and try not to get insanely jealous in the process.

Tracy Kuhl

It was very important to us to keep openness and flow in the van to create the illusion of a bigger space," explained Tracy. "Everything was painted white and our queen bed in the back is permanent; no putting table up and down to make a bed."

Making sure each of their kids was able to sleep comfortably was a top priority for Mike and Tracy.

"In the middle of the van is an L-shaped bench seat with a flip up table," said the mom of three "The bench itself pulls out into a narrow twin for our daughter."

As for Samuel and Josiah's sleeping area? Bunk beds, of course! "The boy's bunks in the front proved a bit more challenging," said Tracy. "We removed the bulkhead to make more space and created a drop down bunk up top and a folding bed that lies across the seats."

Fitting everybody's stuff inside was a key component to their happiness. Tracy and Mike made sure to add storage wherever they could.

"We have a great deal of storage under the queen bed and on the roof rack," she said. "No one would ever know it, but we haul surf boards, wet suits, snowboards, boots, long boards, skateboards and helmets, camera gear, and beyond."

As for actually cooking? This mama made sure she had plenty of room to work. After all, no one likes a cramped kitchen, right?

"Our kitchen counter has an extremely large footprint to accommodate a 95-liter fridge-freezer," said Tracy. "The van is powered with 260-watt solar panels. There's a stationary panel on the top and a mobile that we chase the sun with."

Although the van isn't equipped with a full-on bathroom, the Kuhls found a workaround for mid-sleep urges. "We have a Port-A Potty for nighttime pees only. so no one was opening and closing the door in the middle of the night," she said.

Tracy Kuhl

The Kuhl family's favorite feature in the van? The functionality of having a bed in the rear of the van.

"The queen bed in the back was a key consideration in our build, said Tracy. "It's a comfy space to read, watch movies together, cuddle, and talk. It became our gathering place in the evening in particular. You can also kick open the back doors in the morning and enjoy your surroundings from the bed on a very intimate level."

"As far as carving out space for them in the van, we are a pretty tight family that spends a great deal of time together," said Tracy. "Even in living situations where we have space to spread out, we still choose to be together."