Member Spotlight: JD and Britney Lott, @AmericanFamilyRoadTrip
by Michael Miller · Aug 25, 2022
JD and Britney Lott felt God calling them to hit the road. So, in 2018, they did. The Lotts converted an old Air Force bus into livable space, ran their gymnastics business remotely, and started heeding the Lord’s direction on where to serve His purposes best.
The result has been four years of raising their seven children, now ages 4 months through 11 years, in a 200-square-foot bus. They’ve traveled throughout the U.S., spending significant time in 41 states while homeschooling, ministering to others, and sharing their insights about family discipleship.
They have also become a hit on Instagram with videos and photos of their family and adventures. Their account, @americanfamilyroadtrip, has grown to over 100,000 followers and 2 million views per week as they share the joy of close-quarters family living, growing in relationships, and serving the Lord.
The family’s goal is to heed the Lord’s leading as a way to encourage other families to follow God’s calling for them.
Traveling lifestyle: The Lotts aren’t on an extended vacation. This is their life.
JD wrote on the family blog at JDandBritney.com:
We started from square one, recreating our entire life. We removed all of the distractions, we took away everything we didn’t need, and we were open to live the way God led us without any excuses. I eventually finished building the bus, with God’s clear and abundant help, we sold or gave away everything we had, and we moved full-time into the bus, living on the road.
“We travel where the Lord is leading us,” Britney says. “I can tell you about some amazing places in the middle of America, for instance, because, when God leads us somewhere, it might be in the middle of nowhere as opposed to a ‘destination’ place.”
In July, the Lotts were in the Black Hills of South Dakota, visiting one set of friends before heading for a different part of South Dakota to help another family set up a home church. JD was also tending to some repairs on the bus’s water tank.
Pre-RV: Before hitting the road, the Lotts were “living the standard American lifestyle” in a house in Lubbock, Texas, and ran a Little Gym franchise there. But, JD says, they realized they weren’t living like Jesus was Lord of their lives.
“‘Lord’ means one exercising complete authority and leadership,” JD says. “We were doing just enough to feel or convince ourselves that we were being Christian enough as opposed to letting God fully have control over our lives.
“We went through this really powerful period of spiritual growth. God captured our lives completely. One thing led to another, and this is the path that we generally feel is God’s plan for our lives. We can see it manifested time and time again by how He gives us opportunities to minister to other people and be ministered to. He’s constantly active in our lives. It’s a really beautiful place to be.”
Once they started traveling, the Lotts managed their Little Gym franchise remotely until this past January, when they sold it. The proceeds from that sale now support their family as they also pursue other business opportunities.
Modding the bus: Once the decision had been made to travel, the Lotts bought the Air Force bus and began modifying it for their family. They had five children at the time, so JD built a six-bunk bunkhouse in the vehicle’s rear. They raised the 8-foot ceiling to 10 feet to accommodate bunk beds and storage.
The Lotts’ bus also has a full bathroom, kitchen, and laundry nook. The living room doubles as the master bedroom at night when a queen-size bed is dropped from the ceiling. There’s also storage under the living compartment.
“It’s got everything that you need,” JD says.
Britney’s pretty happy about that.
“You don’t want it to be camping full time,” she says. “You want it to be a home.”
A key point in the process was when JD needed vocal cord surgery and couldn’t speak for three months. Since he couldn’t work at their business, he was able to work on the bus full time.
Full house: The bus has been the only home that three of the Lott children have ever known. The other four young Lotts had some experience of house-living, even though they may not remember much of it now.
“This has been a big part of our kids’ lives,” JD says. “They love it.”
That’s apparent from the videos the Lotts post to their Instagram account. The kids love to take part in the videos and otherwise seem perfectly at home. Watch the YouTube videos JD and Britney have just started making, and you’ll see children either watching from the RV’s front window or going in and out of the bus.
“Our followers love the encouragement,” Britney says. “They tell us that it’s fun to see a positive, authentic family doing life together.”
The Instagram account was started as a type of journal, but Britney began to focus on encouraging followers.
Longer videos on their profile address the practical parts of their lifestyle. Shorter posts often feature one, some, or all of the Lotts hamming it up and having fun.
Personal growth: JD and Britney say that they’ve grown as individuals, a couple, and a family in the years they’ve lived in the bus.
“There are a lot of things you don’t have to deal with in your relationship with your spouse when you live in a normal-size home,” JD says. “We had to grow in that regard. We’ve worked through a lot of our issues, and we continue to work through our issues. God equips us to do so.
“Also, in an RV, especially with more kiddos, you have to have a lot of flexibility. We’ve really grown close together as a family, and that takes time and effort. Meaningful things take time to develop, working through challenges and issues in a healthy way.”
Britney says she has found, counterintuitively, that smaller is better with more children when it comes to keeping things orderly.
“Living space gets cluttered faster, so we teach our children to put things up when they’re done using it,” she says.
“Roadschooling”: The Lotts must also be resourceful in homeschooling their children.
“I have less curriculum, so we don’t waste much,” Britney says. “We have to be resourceful. There are little libraries all over the country. We borrow and donate back.”
They also have the advantage of simply reading about a place one week and being there at the same time or soon after. “It’s so much more tangible and real,” Britney says.
The children also meet more people on the road than they otherwise would.
“They really love that,” JD says. “We call it ‘roadschooling.’ It’s been a really beautiful thing for us to grow together as a family.”
The schooling is simply a part of their overall family life, which is about relationships.
“We believe that relationship is the currency of life,” JD says. “We are working through the various challenges that come with living close. We’re working through our hard issues on a regular basis, so I think that’s a really beautiful thing. We’re taking time to develop our children’s hearts and characters.”
Living the faith: Not having a church to attend regularly requires the Lotts to sometimes organize their own worship. As a result, JD has gained enough experience to write a template for family worship. The actual “typical time of family worship” is only one page of essential, familiar points, but most of the document, available through JDandBritney.com, offers JD’s insights on structure and also encourages parents.
The Lotts keep their faith base with their home church, Freeway Bible Chapel, in Lubbock, Texas, near where they sometimes stay during winter months.
“We’re really close with our church’s elders,” JD says.
The Lotts have participated in church plants and occasionally speak at congregations. They’re also working on business opportunities.
“Much of our time spent ministering is to people we meet, both online and in person during the course of the day, primarily encouraging Christians to find provision, fullness of life, grace, and joy in submission to God’s will,” JD says.
Michael Miller is editor of the Samaritan Ministries newsletter.