Adam and I (Abby) were living in Denver when we decided that we wanted to start full-time traveling. Neither one of us felt settled in Denver but we weren’t sure where we wanted to plant roots. That uncertainty paired with our love of travel made renovating a school bus and traveling the country appealing to us. Our purpose for the trip was to find somewhere to settle down and start a family while getting to know one another better. We also thought the renovation process sounded intriguing so we were stoked about creating a tiny home on wheels.
Our Fixer Upper
We have a 31 Ft Thomas School Bus. We felt that converting a school bus into a home seemed like the perfect outlet for my creative soul and Adam’s curious mind. Taking an old retired school bus and giving it new life was so intriguing to us. I had run across a converted school bus boutique on Pinterest before I knew about schoolies. I showed Adam and we started researching school bus conversions and stumbled across some awesome tiny homes that people were living and traveling in. We decided to go for a longer bus because we wanted adequate space for our work desks and I really wanted a shower and toilet!
Our Transition To Working Remotely
I had just finished graduate school when we decided to do the conversion. Adam was (and is) working for a company in Denver as a Software Developer. Halfway through our build, we moved from Colorado to Texas and I started working for my parent’s company. Adam’s company was gracious enough to let him work remote, which was a huge answer to our prayers. We both now work full-time and fully remote. Adam’s day is 9-5 (CO time) while my day is a lot more flexible.
If We Had To Pick A Favorite Place…
We have met some amazing people on the road and have made some new life long friendships. We have had so many amazing experiences on the road it is hard to narrow it down. I would say exploring California has been an awesome experience for us. Fires on the beach in San Diego, playing sand volleyball every night in Costa Mesa, the views along Highway 1, and wine tasting through Sonoma are at the top the list!
It’s A Funny Story Actually
When we began the bus build we were in Evergreen CO at the house of the man who sold it to us. About 4 months in he texted us saying that he had gotten an offer on his house that he couldn’t refuse and that we would have to be out in 2 weeks. At this point, the bus had no door and no seats. We had framed everything out, we had subfloors and insulation, but that was about it. So we put the door back on with bungee cords and got ready to start the 12-hour trek to Texas.
The day before we left we realized that we had no backlights at all (break or running). Long story short, no mechanic could figure out how to fix it and we had to rig up a line from the break, through the inside of the bus, to the tail lights so that we would at least have brake lights. The trip was super cold and we had no heaters. I laid on a foam mattress topper with lots of blankets and Adam wore winter gear the entire drive. It ended up taking longer than we expected, which meant we were driving through the middle of Texas with no running lights on the back. I decided (after talking to my dad on the phone) that it was better to have running lights than brake lights and I was pretty sure I could do that without having to make Adam pull over. So, I walked to the back, got on top of our bed frame, disconnected the line to the brakes and reconnect the line to a “hot” wire and then BAM….. the bus brakes seized going 65 down the highway. I flew off of the bed, which disconnected the wire and allowed the bus to start moving again. I yelled, “WHAT THE HECK” to Adam (because I thought it was him) and then quickly realized the timing of everything seemed more like I did it. Since the bus was so loud, Adam had no idea I was even back there working on anything. We pulled over, I explained what had happened and somehow in that madness, we blew a headlight. So at this point, we had no taillights and only one working headlight. We decided to keep going since we only had an hour left, we drove passed a Sherriff as we pulled into town and held our breath but he didn’t see us. Come to find out, I had connected the lights to the handicap line that we had disconnected a few weeks prior and, as a safety precaution, it triggered the bus to think that the door had swung open so it seized the brakes, whoops.
Some Advice For RVing
We don’t have any kiddos yet but we do have two pups. Traveling with dogs does add a little bit of stress but it adds a whole lot of fun. We never want to go anywhere that is too hot or too cold just in case we have to leave them while we go run errands. We have also had to go to a lot of vets in different cities along the way and that can be pretty stressful. My advice would be to always keep your animal’s records with you. I had my vet email them to me and anytime I get their shots updated I have the new vet send me that info as well. Also, since we are traveling through a lot of different areas it is important to have them up to date on heartworm and flea/tick meds.
Internet was a doozy for us in the beginning. We depend heavily on good service because Adam has a lot of video conferences throughout the day. We started with a hotspot from ATT and that was a NIGHTMARE (we are still dealing with that). We switched to a Verizon JetPack unlimited service for $75 a month and it has been amazing!!
We boondock a little bit differently than most people we have met on the road. We love National Parks but we need to be in areas with good service so we have spent most of our time in cities. We use the app iOverlander to find street parking. We also do a lot of research (especially in CA) about oversized vehicle laws and try to find discrete places to park the bus. Google satellite view helps a ton when trying to find street or parking lot parking! We just recently started doing Harvest Host and have loved that so far!
We did the entire build it ourselves, with the help of family and friends. Our advice is to do a TON of research and, if you can, try to tour a few RV’s, vans, or skoolies before you start your own project! Skoolie.net is an awesome resource if you are planning on going that route!
Working full-time can be challenging on the road. Having a routine and good work setup has helped us tremendously. We also do a ton of research on cell service in areas that we are planning on visiting so that we aren’t stressed about lack of service during the work day!
Adjusting To This New LIfestyle
The stress of not being settled has been the biggest adjustment for us on the road. We move a ton and it can start to get exhausting when you have to pack up and move every day or every other day. I also think that is because we stay in cities so much. If we were to take some time off and go to a National Park I think we would feel a lot more rested! The lack of a solid community on the road was another big adjustment. We have just had to look at community a little different this year, and that is okay!
Who Knows What Will Happen
Our plan was a year, which means we have about 5 months left. We are currently in CA and will be here for a little bit longer before we head to OR and WA. After that, we will start the trek back to Texas to pick up our belongings. As of right now (this could change) we are thinking about moving to Nashville and living on the bus for a bit there before we buy a home and settle down a bit! But who knows what will happen!!