Hannah and Ian Hernandez: Living Outside The Box
Hannah and Ian Hernandez never wanted a big house. Instead, they’re living large — practically living off the grid in their school-bus tiny home with their two kids, documenting their adventures on social media and inspiring others to get on board.
One thing Hannah and Ian Hernandez figured out early on in their relationship is that they both like to travel. They started doing road trips whenever they got a chance, and even when they moved in together, they were always planning their next adventure, pitching their tent at campgrounds from the east coast to the west coast. “We always had a love for travel,” says Hannah. But pretty much everything they earned went into paying rent on their townhouse in Florida, and they weren’t as free as they wanted to be. They wanted more.
So, the couple, who were married three years ago, started looking into alternatives, which led them to tiny living, which led them to converting a school bus into a tiny home. “When we first bought the bus, it wasn’t as common as it is now, so people were kind of thinking, ‘Oh, hippies living in a van’ kind of thing,” says Hannah. “But once it was done, people were like, ‘Yeah, I could live like this.’” Actually seeing the tiny home opened up people’s minds, she adds.
Hannah and Ian have had some incredible adventures over the past few years, like going up to Niagara Falls, Ont. “It’s so much prettier on the Canadian side — the whole Niagara experience is one of my top five travel adventures,” she exclaims. And they can’t stop talking about Magnolia Beach in Texas, where they were able to pull the bus right up to the water and camp for free. They’ve travelled on the bus for two years with their daughter, Nora, and they’ve welcomed a boy, Atlas, recently. Now they’re selling this tiny house, and they’ve bought a new one to convert.
“We get a lot of messages from parents who are wanting to do something similar”
“It was a really great travel vehicle … there are just certain things that we can’t go back and fix on the first bus,” says Ian. Things like extra room for more bunks when they grow their family, bigger water tanks and better insulation for travel in the cold or extreme desert heat. “Our whole thing is trying to reduce the amount of power and water that we use.”
One thing this year has taught them is that they’ve learned to not take anything for granted. With the pandemic, it’s still a weird time, says Hannah, and they’re living with family right now while they are converting the bus into a home. “It’s a good year to do our thing, because then, by the time we start having more babies, we’re not going to want to renovate again,” she says. “A lot of things fell into place, so we felt that if we were going to do it, we had to do it now.”
When they started converting the first bus into a home, they really didn’t know what they were doing, says Hannah. But now, they’re more confident, helping and inspiring others by documenting life in a tiny house on social media, including Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, posting beautiful images, showing the conversion, exercise routines and sharing lots of good how-to info, too. “We get a lot of messages from parents who are wanting to do something similar, but they just don’t know where to start,” says Hannah.
Both of them are happy to share tips that they’ve picked up, too, from how to use the picture method for downsizing by taking photos of sentimental items they don’t really need to hold onto anymore to scheduling regular cleanups to keep things organized. Another thing they’ve changed recently is to invest in fewer items of quality clothing that last longer, instead of buying multiple inexpensive items that have to be replaced more often.
It’s a different kind of life, but one that suits this family perfectly. They love nothing more than attending tiny house shows (well, not this year because of the pandemic, but hopefully those will get going again soon), where everyone meets up and they get to tour each other’s tiny homes. “We’ve made friendships and connected with so many people,” says Hannah.
Right now, they have a spot where their bus is parked, about 20 minutes away, that they call home base. “It’s our own little place where we can feel like we’re on our own, but we’re close to family,” says Hannah. “It’s cool to have that opportunity to travel, or to be stationary if we need to, like during the beginning of the pandemic and while I was pregnant.”
What’s coming down the pipeline? They have an Etsy shop, where they sell Bus Life T-shirts, and they’re hoping to expand. “We’re learning as we go, about being able to reduce debt and be debt-free and not have to stress so much about money,” says Ian.
Hannah and Ian are both on the same page. Their goal has always been to spend more time together as a family, even before they had kids, and that’s why they wanted to create this lifestyle, to make that possible. And they feel they can give their kids so much more because they’re able to provide them with so many adventures from their tiny house that they couldn’t have otherwise.
“Happiness is just having your loved ones in a place that you love, too,” says Hannah. “So, for us, being able to have our family and our bus is happiness.”