When Tiffany McHone’s husband, Ryan, first suggested the family consider living in a RV full time, she thought he was crazy.
After all, the family had recently moved from Carmel into their dream home in Florida, with Disney World, the beach and other unique attractions only a short drive away.
But a few months later the COVID-19 pandemic began, and with lockdowns bringing much of the world to a halt, suddenly Ryan’s idea seemed a bit more appealing.
So, after selling their home, the family of six packed into their new RV in the fall of 2020 and prepared to spend a year on the road. They haven’t looked back.
“Our first year in, we absolutely fell in love with it,” Tiffany said. “Now we don’t even have an endpoint.”
The right time
Tiffany, who grew up in Danville, and Ryan, a Carmel native who graduated from Carmel High School in 2002, met as students at Olivet Nazarene University south of Chicago. They married and welcomed four children to the family, now 14, 10 and 7-year-old twins.
The family settled in Carmel, but Ryan’s job kept him on the road much of the time. They had hoped his new job in Florida would lead to him being home more, but that wasn’t turning out to be the case.
For years, Ryan and Tiffany had dreamed of taking the family on an extended RV trip out west to see the Grand Canyon and other attractions, and in 2020 – with pandemic closures limiting their vacation options – the time seemed right.
But the idea snowballed into a bigger plan, and with their home selling for more than they paid for it they realized they would have enough funds to purchase an RV and travel for at least a year. They left the kids with Ryan’s parents in Carmel and made a trip to Lubbock, Texas, to pick up a 42-foot Fleetwood Discovery motorhome, a model with a design more family-friendly than most.
The family’s first trip in the new RV was to White River Campground in Cicero, where they stayed for a couple of weeks to adjust to their new lifestyle. Then, they wintered in Florida before heading out west, a region of the U.S. they had not previously explored together.
“The West seemed super appealing and all brand new,” Tiffany said. “I wanted to see Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon and be able to take my kids to those places that I only imagined I would ever get to go to.”
When the year was over, they weren’t ready to be done, so they spent the next year traveling the east coast.
This year, the McHone’s itinerary includes Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota and Wyoming before heading further west again.
‘Such a blessing’
Ryan McHone quit his job to spend a year living on the road, but when the family decided to make their RV a permanent home, he knew he’d need to go back to work. So, in early 2022, he began a job in sales and business development that allowed him to work remotely.
“His boss is extremely supportive and even has said, ‘If you’re on an epic hike and you need that afternoon off, just let me know,’” Tiffany said.
The McHones had begun homeschooling their children when they moved to Florida, so it was a simple transition to move their education on the road. In downsizing, the entire family learned a lesson about doing more with less.
“It really showed us how much extra we had,” Tiffany said. “It taught us what we really needed versus what we wanted.”
Initially the family wondered how they would make and maintain friendships, but they soon discovered resources and organizations for those living on the road full time. They’ve connected with other families living a similar lifestyle and have camped alongside them several times. They’ve also enjoyed having the freedom to visit friends and family living throughout the U.S.
Brian Culpin is an event coordinator for Fulltime Families, which serves as a central communication platform for families living in RVs. He and his wife, who recently celebrated three years of life on the road, plan regular gatherings for group members, with 10 to 95 families typically attending – sometimes including the McHones.
“The RV community is strong. Our children have developed relationships with friends over the last three years that will last them a lifetime. We have developed relationships with friends that are stronger than we could’ve ever imagined,” Culpin said. “I think it’s important for people to know that there is no shortage of socialization and community, and there is a community for everyone.”
Living in close quarters – and sharing one bathroom – is not always easy. But the McHone family has found ways to adjust and is closer than they’ve ever been, Tiffany said.
“We work on (relational problems) a lot faster,” she said. “You can’t slam cabinet doors and be grumpy and go off into the other room. We have discovered there are things within each of us that we needed to work on and things in our family that we needed to work on.”
So far, the McHones have visited 42 states, 32 national parks and hundreds of other attractions along the way. But, for Tiffany, none of the landmarks compare with the joy of experiencing time with her family.
“It’s such a blessing to be together,” Tiffany said. “Waking up next to my husband every morning and him being here with the kids and making them breakfast, it’s priceless.”
Follow the adventure
The family and their Fleetwood Discovery are set to be featured this season on the show “Million Pound Motorhomes,” a British series that takes a look at unusual living spaces.