- Written by Elizabeth Hensley
Matt and Casandra did a great job on their shuttle bus skoolie conversion! Watch the full video tour to see how they transformed 125 square feet into a beautifully eclectic home on wheels in less than a year. Follow their travels on their Instagram @runaway.ladymay , and if you haven't already, subscribe to the Bus Life Adventure YouTube channel for more tours.
More Articles By Elizabeth Hensley
Sustainable kids adventure brand Dinoski turns school bus into mobile showroom and hits the road on three-week tour
Matt, Will, and Ed had more than a bus in mind when they embarked on this journey. They are the founders of Dinoski, a skiwear company that uses eco-friendly materials to create character-driven snowsuit (made from recycled water bottles) and outerwear for kids. To go along with their unique designs, they set out to find a vehicle to match. That's where their bus life adventure begins.
In this blog, they chronicle their "Roarsome" three-week tour across Europe in January 2020. Their travel log showcases daily bus life as they make their way to visit festivals in Florence and Paris in the Dino Bus. Along the way, there are trips to the alps, bus breakdowns, icy dips in the Ligurian Sea, a missing drone, and a run-in with the polizia, but they live to tell the tale. We'll let them take it from here!
In 2018, when planning the launch of Dinoski, we had the wacky idea that we should buy an old school bus, ship it over from America and turn it into our mobile showroom. Obviously, at the time, with minimal cash in the bank, no idea how to convert a vehicle and without yet selling a single item, it would be a terrible idea to spend almost the entire marketing budget on an old American school bus, but that’s exactly what we did.
The only way that this would be possible would be to team up with somebody who actually knew what they were doing.
Enter Jim Stewart and his team of vehicle-converting ninjas at Shred & Butta. It is very rare that exactly the right person appears at exactly the right time, but that is exactly what happened at this stage of the story. We met Jim at his yard just outside London - Imagine Aladin’s cave, filled with converted vehicles in all shapes and sizes - and we told him our big idea. Jim twizzled his beard and said it just so happened that he had a contact who could source American vehicles (a Youtuber called Jax Austin) and another contact who could ship them.
We would become Jim’s first yellow school bus of many (he is now the biggest importer in the UK!) and Jim would become a good friend of the company and one of our Rad Dad ambassadors, testing all of our clothing on his little 2-year-old explorer.
Meanwhile, fast forward a few weeks, and this bad boy turns up at the dock.
Our trade show road trip across Europe
We are back from nearly 3 weeks on the road traveling 2,400 miles in our converted American school bus from 🇬🇧 to 🇨🇭 to 🇮🇹 to 🇫🇷 for Pitti Bimbo and Playtime Paris trade shows.
Here is a mini diary from the trip as posted on @TheDinoBus Instagram 🤙.
Sunday 12th January
Standard tour procedure. Had to jump-start the bus to set off.
Worried the batteries were worn out but had to make the channel crossing so couldn’t wait around. Got petrol with the engine running and didn’t turn it off until the euro tunnel.
Made good ground on cruise control in France and made it all the way to Reims for dinner. Not many places were open on a Sunday night so found a dingy little bistro.
Then realised Reims was one of the commercial centres of the champagne region and this bistro would be a waste so found the Continental hotel instead.
2 glasses of champagne, a cheese board and 2 teriyaki beef dinners later we were back on the road. Did almost 600km on day 1 stopping for the night in a tiny little French village called Fresnes en Woevre, not far from the border to Luxembourg.
The type of place you might have attempted to save Private Ryan in WW2.
Monday 13th January
Skirted the border of Germany through Strasbourg and Colmar until Basel where we crossed into Switzerland. Stopped at Interlaken to jump in the lake but bottled it.
Carried on up into the Alps until we reached Lauterbrunnen aka Narnia. The backdrop is what the bus was built for. Mountains and waterfalls.
Perfect place to crack open the whiskey.
Tuesday 14th January
Bus won’t start. Emptied two cans of Easy Start into the engine. Still won’t start.
Had showers and Swiss rolls while we waited for the sun to warm her up a bit then we set off for Lake Como. Epic scenes all the way.
The Swiss Italian border was a bit trickier than the last one due to lack of documentation but luckily the polizia loved the bus and the Dino suits.
We promised them a discount code and were waved through. 🤙 #BusLife 🚍
Wednesday 15th January
Welcome to Italy.
We drove past Lake Lugano last night as the sun went down before pulling in for the night on the shore of Lake Como next to an amazing restaurant called Crotto dei Platani.
Had a well deserved 3-course meal, showed the owner the bus, and were invited back to meet him for a cappuccino in the morning.
During that cappuccino, it transpired that the owner was also the mayor. He gave us his political card and said to call if we need anything.
Then we set off for Florence.
Thursday 16th - Saturday 18th January
We exhibited our new range at Pitti Bimbo in Florence which is held in an amazing old fort. As part of the itinerary, we hosted a ‘Roarsome Welcome Party’ on the first day, offering drinks, freebies and music from our resident DJ Dinosaur Bones.
Sunday 19th January
After spending 4 days exhibiting at Pitti Bimbo we left Florence on course for Paris where we need to be next weekend.
We mapped a route along the Italian coastline and set the sat nav for Portofino.
After blocking many roads meandering 'round the picturesque cliffs we made it and were promptly told by the Polizia to turn around. No buses allowed here.
While he was checking over our documentation in his office, the whole town closed in on the bus like a zombie apocalypse.
Luckily they were all very friendly and we even sold a few hoodies.
That will cover the €60 backhander for Mr. Polizia Locale.
Monday 20th January
Blue Monday. We woke up by the sea just outside Santa Margherita and the sun was out so we decided to start the day with a very cold dip. (put sound on for the video below!)
On the road were pulled over by the police to check docs on an epic flyover so once they were gone we got the drone out. This turned out to be a major mistake.
We didn’t realise how windy it was and once the drone was above the ridge it was fully exposed.
In 5 mins a full battery was totally drained fighting against the wind and as much as we tried we couldn’t get her back.
Mayday signals. Forced landing. She went down 400m in front of us on the doorstep of someone’s farmhouse on the hills into Genoa.
Wilson scenes from Castaway as we were so close but there was no way to reach her from where we were. We had to leave her there 😔. This was her final flight.
Location of missing drone:
The Last White Farmhouse, Via Carnoli, Liguria, 16158, Genoa, Italy
Can anyone find her for us??!
Tuesday 21st January
Decided we couldn’t drive through the Alps without a little ski. So, we stocked up on all the antifreeze, easy start and diesel anti-gel that we could find and began chugging up the mountain to Courchevel. Halfway up, the bus went into meltdown. Roads are too steep and she’s overheating so we pulled over and lifted the lid. She was so hot that the coolant was close to exploding. A molten cauldron bubbling over the engine. Had to give her a breather before going any further but we eventually made it. 2 nights in the mountains. Ideal.
Wednesday 22nd / Thursday 23rd January
Ideal 2 days skiing in the sun in Courchevel. Planning how to get our pilots license to fly straight into the Altiport next time. #DinoPlane
Friday 24th January
Driving all day from the mountains to Paris. Pulled in to an industrial park on the outskirts. Went in to get drinks and a table for the event we are hosting.
Came out with a table tennis table and a bow and arrow. Lovely stuff.
Saturday 25th - Monday 27th January
Spent a few cold days in Paris showcasing the new Dinoski range at Playtime and flying in the wizard himself, DJ Dinosaur Bones to host the unofficial welcome party. 🎧🦖🦴
Tuesday 28th January
The messiah returns! 2,400 miles in total and the bus cruised through them like a champion.
Almost 3 weeks turning heads across Europe. 4 countries, 2 trade shows and 1 lost drone later the 2nd #RoarsomeTour is complete. 🇬🇧 > 🇨🇭 > 🇮🇹 > 🏔 > 🇫🇷 > 🏠
Until next time…
Follow Dinoski on Instagram, Facebook, and dinoskiwear.com. The bus is now available for half term rentals this Feburay on Osea Island. Many thanks to this trio for allowing us to share their odyssey with the Bus Life Adventure audience! Keep on busin'.
More Articles By Elizabeth Hensley
Australian musical duo Alivan Blu follow their dreams gigging and traveling in their retro bus conversion
Anna and Jed of Northern Rivers, New South Wales, Australia, began convering an old school bus in 2019. They have been a couple for four years and started playing music together three years ago. After buying a dingo puppy and giving up their part-time jobs and play music full-time, they decided to take their bus conversion up and down the East Coast busking, performing, surfing and living the dream. However, with the onset of the pandemic, their plans changed overnight. Now slowly getting back on track, the couple hopes to begin their two-year Australian trek at the beginning of 2021. It took them six months to convert their bus using old pine pallets and second-hand wood. The bus is fully off-grid and fitted with 600 watts of solar which runs everything from the fridge to their TV.
Motor: 3B diesel
Current Location: Yamba NSW, Australia
Purchased From/Location: Kyogle, NSW
Cost in materials for the conversion: $10,000
Total time from purchase date to on the road: 6 Months
Why a bus?
We previously lived in a Toyota Hiace van, With all our music gear and a growing puppy
we decided to buy something bigger to make life on the road more comfortable as we were
spending a lot of time away from home.
Does your bus have a name? If so, why did you choose it?
Our bus is called ‘Alivan the Wonderbus.' This is also how we came up with the name for
Will you be full-timing?
Yes, however, we are living back in our house due to the pandemic but
we have a road trip planned to drive to Western Australia over a two year period starting
Where are you converting/ did you convert your bus?
We have a house in Yamba, NSW, where we converted our bus.
Did you do the conversion yourself or did you hire someone?
We did the conversion ourselves with a bit of help on the electrical/solar side. We are very proud of this as neither of us has a trade and
we kind of winged it! There was a lot of trial and error but it worked out great and we
couldn’t be happier.
Who are you living/traveling with?
Just the two of us (Anna and Jed) and our puppy, Simba.
Were you all on the same page about living bus life or did one person (or more) have to
We both had the dream for ages, but it took us both a while to get the courage to quit our
jobs and live the bus life full-time. We are surfers and musicians so the lifestyle is a
dream and has been since we were both kids. We were just lucky we found each other
and were both up for creating it.
What type of skills for the bus conversion did you have prior and what did you learn along the way?
We had no skills prior and it taught us a lot in building, we have since renovated our
entire house from the skills we learnt building the bus.
Tips/tricks/advice to help others have who are converting a vehicle? Something
you wish you had known going into this?
Measure twice, cut once! Also, make sure you create storage everywhere possible!
What is the most unique feature of your conversion?
It is made entirely from recycled wood. We used old pallets and as much second-hand
material as possible.
What do you do for income? How often do you work while on the bus?
We now play music full-time, gigging every week which consists of 2-4 gigs per
What do you think will be the hardest thing about this whole lifestyle change? Easiest thing?
The hardest thing will be having Simba and not being able to take him everywhere we go. In Australia dogs are not allowed in national parks, wateralls and on some beaches. The
easiest thing will be the simplicity and freedom.
Is there anything you wish you did differently in your build?
We sometimes wish we designed the bed to double bed dimensions as its hard to find a
mattress which fits.
What about the bus will help you be successful in reaching your lifestyle goals?
More freedom allows us more inspiration and time to write music, spend time
together, surf and live the lifestyle we love. It’s also financially beneficial as we are not
What have been people’s reaction to you buying a bus to live in?
A lot of people are impressed with our building skills and choice of lifestyle. It took some
people a while to understand why we wanted to live this way especially living in such a
Have you met other skoolies or buslifers on the road?
Yes, we have met a lot of other buslifers who are all so like-minded and friendly! It is
such a good little community!
Tell us about your layout. Kitchen? Bathroom? Bedroom?
We only have a kitchen and bedroom, and a small bench seat in the back. We tried to
design our bus to be as simple as possible. We decided against a bathroom as there are
lots of public amenities in Australia and we only have a short wheelbase so did not have
We needed all of the space underneath our bed to store our music gear. That
left only the front half of the bus for clothing, food and all other storage. We have a
roof rack for our surfboards, Jerry Cans and other items that do not need to be/fit inside.
We installed 600W of solar with a 150Ah Lead Crystal battery which runs everything
(12V fridge, 12V TV, water pump, phone/laptop chargers)
How has the pandemic affected bus life for you?
We had a tour booked from the East Coast to the West Coast consisting of around 30
shows, which we would travel and live in the bus full-time. This was all canceled
overnight which changed our plans drastically. Now we are back at home, changing
some things on the bus and focusing on releasing music (check out our latest single
release ‘Empty Spaces’). We still try to get away as often as possible on small weekend trips.
What is the most memorable place you’ve traveled in your bus conversion?
Maleny Hill up on the Sunshine Coast. It overlooks the Glass House Mountains and you can
see all the way to the coast. It's absolutely beautiful with waterfalls and incredible views.
We did, however, break down driving up the hill because it is so steep but it was all part of
the experience and adventure.
Where do you project you’ll be three months from now?
Hopefully back gigging and living in the bus!
How can people learn more about you (social media, website, etc.)?
More Articles By Elizabeth Hensley
After being diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia in 2015 and given six months to live, Denise Souza sold everything and bought a bus.
Motor: DT466e 7.6 Litre V6 Diesel Engine
Interior Square Footage: 30 feet bumper to bumper (outside), tiny (inside)
Current Location: Currently back home in Massachusetts waiting out the Covid madness
Purchased From/Location: Holland, Michigan off a guy named Matt
Cost in materials for the conversion: I do not know the total off the top of my head but the cost of the bus was $3,000 and I did a lot of “sold something to buy something” since I had to empty out my house which was a 2,600sqft 4 bedroom 4 full bath.
Total time from purchase date to on the road: Me and my sister flew out to Michigan to pick it up and drove it back home. It took me with the help of my father, sister, and a few friends about a year and a half to convert, then I started traveling.
Why a bus? After hours of research and reaching out to others after being diagnosed with CLL (Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia) in 2015 and given an estimated 3-6months to live, I decided to go the unconventional way. I chose an “all-natural,” all plant-based diet, natural supplements, oxygen therapy, and a regiment that includes so much more than a diet but also includes high dose Vitamin C IV’s. Unfortunately, health insurance doesn’t cover the unconventional treatments so I had the choice of paying my mortgage or the cost of the all-natural treatments for my cancer. I chose the latter, lost my home, sold everything I could sell, sold my shed, and bought the bus.
My goal is to bring awareness to the things that I feel strongly about which include having a voice for your choice of treatment and knowing that there are other options available for those of us who have received a cancer diagnosis; to bring awareness to the financial hardships that stay with the patients and patients family during and after a life-changing diagnosis; sharing information for organizations that give back to patients, and searching for charitable causes, cleaning our natural environments, and meeting people along the way. On my website www.theskooly.net , 50 percent of all my merch sales are donated back to three local organizations that helped me and give back to cancer patients and their families: Haven's Healing Hands, The Fly Foundation, and Family Reach. You can also follow along on my adventures through Instagram @theskooly, YouTube The Skooly - Wellness, Awareness & Travel Journey, and my Facebook page.
Are you full-timing in your bus? Yes, I live full-time in my bus with my two dogs Greyson (Female 6-year-old charcoal/silver lab) and Paxton (Male 5yr old charcoal/silver lab).
Did you do the conversion yourself or did you hire someone? The conversion I did myself with the help of my father, sister, and one or two friends (when they showed up).
Who are you living/traveling with? In the bus, it’s just me and my two dogs. But I have traveled alongside my sister for the last year and we have met up with some other skoolies and vans along the way.
What type of skills for the bus conversion did you have prior and what did you learn or teach yourself so far? RF engineer by trade, with some IT/Computer background, but very hands-on and lived alone for over 13+ years so if it had to get fixed I figured it out. No major professional building experience.
Something you wish you had known going into this? Make sure you have a $$ safety net for breakdowns, tows, unexpected mishaps, get ready to feel frustrated at times like those times where you can’t find a place to fill up water, or that RV park that won’t let a skoolie in b/c it’s not RVIA certified, or just simply because it's a skoolie. Do your research on The Bureau of Land Management land and free parking. These buses are old, they break down. Don’t give up on bus life if you break down, everything will work out.
Is there anything you wish you did differently in your build? Yes. I would have set up the back of my bus a little differently. Originally it was supposed to be a desk/bed area but at the very last minute, I changed my mind and the layout and put the closet back there with a pull-out couch that just collected things and clean laundry. It is now back to a desk setup but if I were to do it all over again I would have put a fixed bed back there with storage underneath.
What have been people’s reactions to you buying a bus to live in? My mother was the only one who was wary of my decision and wasn’t too keen on me moving into a bus, leaving our hometown, traveling solo, all while having cancer. It took her a while to understand why I decided to do it and for her to be fully on board with it. To be honest, once my sister decided to remodel an RV and travel with me she really had no choice but to accept it. She now fully supports it and loves what I am doing. Other than that, everyone else's reaction was awesome. The love, encouragement, and support I have received have been incredible. But others' reactions and opinions wouldn’t have an effect on my decision as I was doing it for my happiness and my health and that is what really matters.
Have you met other skoolies or buslifers on the road? Yes, this little community is absolutely incredible. I have met so many like-minded humans and I can’t say enough good things about the tiny living community.
Tell us about your layout. Kitchen? Bathroom? Bedroom? I have 1500 watts of solar on my roof, 900ah battery bank (500ah usable), 100 gallons of freshwater, full-size sink, Berkey water filter, custom made by me penny countertop, black walnut countertop, natures head composting toilet, and a full-size shower, 4kw Dwarf Tiny Wood Stove, Mini Split AC, and lots of dog hair.
How has the pandemic affected bus life for you? It really hasn’t affected me much because I was in remote areas when it all started but decided to settle into a safe spot due to things closing down.
What is the most memorable place you’ve traveled in your bus conversion? I loved Glacier National Park, Bozeman Montana, BadLands, too many to list, but Glacier is my number one favorite.
Where do you project you’ll be three months from now? Currently, I am building out a 2005 T1N Sprinter van to take on a few trips to see if, in fact, I can downsize even smaller. So either still building this thing or back on the road and far away from good ole’ Massachusetts.
Visit www.theskooly.net for a virtual bus tour and to purchase The Skooly merchandise which helps support Denise and organizations that give back to cancer patients and their families.
More Articles By Elizabeth Hensley