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