Tech designer best friends trade NYC desk jobs for 250sqft home on wheels

 Raven and Brie International DIY Bus Conversion a Soul Vacation

We’re Raven and Brie, originally from Texas and New Jersey, but we met in NYC in 2017. We worked together as designers in the tech industry and have been best friends ever since. We’re both adventurous, love to travel, and know that neither of us is made to live life sitting behind a desk. Add to that the fact that we’re both crazy enough to want to live in 250 sq. ft. together, and here we are!

 International Bus Conversion a Soul Vacation

Bus Specs:
Make: International
Model: RE300
Motor: Allison DT466
Year: 2004
Interior Square Footage: 250 sqft
Current Location: Texas
Purchased From/Location: M&M Auto Salvage in Ruckersville, VA
Cost in materials for the conversion: The limit does not exist (but honestly, we lost track)
Total time from the purchase date to on the road: What year is it again?

Why a bus?
We love an unconventional moment! We knew we wanted a complete lifestyle change and explored several options, but we just kept coming back to a bus. The idea of bus life felt unfamiliar enough that it would make for an ultimate adventure but approachable enough that we wouldn’t be completely on our own. As we started doing research, we found comfort in knowing that there was a sense of community already established and enough people that had come before us that we could learn from as we tackled the conversion.

We both love to travel but also need a sense of stability and familiarity from time to time, so being able to travel in our home felt like the perfect balance for us. We also liked the idea of having creative control over the build, as opposed to doing an RV renovation where it seemed we would have more limitations.


What have been people’s reactions to you buying a bus to live in?
Reactions have generally been positive and supportive, but definitely range depending on how well a person knows us. The people closest to us pretty much all reacted with mild shock, then an “Oh, that makes sense”. Neither of us has ever been known for following typical paths in life. People who don’t know us quite as well usually reacted with a laugh followed by questions. So. Many. Questions. Our coworkers tended to react in a similar way with an added level of envy. In front of our manager, one of them even asked how she could be expected to continue working at a corporate job anymore knowing she could be doing something so much more purposeful. We love to see it!

 Skoolie Floorplan a Soul Vacation

Does your bus have a name or phrase you call it? If so, why did you choose it?
We throw around BABS every now and then which is short for Big Ass Bus (and she definitely lives up to that at 40’ long) but we focused more on naming the journey as a whole— which we are calling “A Soul Vacation”. We spent several weeks trying to nail down the perfect name, something that would represent the big adventure as well as the “why” behind it all: a transition to a more meaningful and purposeful lifestyle. Reclaiming our freedom and happiness, and distancing ourselves from the systems and structures that were stealing our joy.

Cut to us on a road trip to rural Pennsylvania to pick up our new RV windows. “Drops of Jupiter” by Train is playing, which we’d heard and sang along to a million times, but the line about a soul vacation suddenly had a new meaning. We knew it was the perfect symbol for our new pursuit of happiness.

Brie and Raven Hazmat skoolie A Soul Vacation DIY Bus Conversion
Where are you converting/ did you convert your bus?
After we quit our jobs, we left the city and moved in with Brie’s parents in New Jersey. We worked on the bus in their backyard for 8ish months. We will finish the build at Raven’s mom’s house in Texas. We love extreme temperatures apparently—northeastern winters with single-digit low temps to Texas in the middle of summer. We need serious help.


Did you do the conversion yourself or did you hire someone?
We set out with the goal of doing everything ourselves. But along the way, we realized that sometimes you just need to pivot. We decided to call in the professionals for a few projects (shout out to and it has lifted a huge weight off of our shoulders!

Were you all on the same page about living bus life or did one person (or more) have to be convinced?
On the same page from the start! Which was one of the main deciding factors for us? We couldn’t pass up the fact that we both wanted to uproot our comfortable lives and leave our favorite city to chase this crazy dream. So we made a plan, quit our jobs, and fully invested ourselves in this project.


Ceiling Skoolie a Soul Vacation DIY
What type of skills for the bus conversion did you have prior and what did you learn or teach yourself so far?
We are designers by trade, so our backgrounds are in solving problems creatively. This has afforded us unique perspectives and experiences when it comes to working within design constraints and using what we have to create ideal solutions and has definitely been an advantage for us in this process. With regards to the actual building, Raven grew up around home renovation projects. Her mom is a bit of a DIY queen who taught her all about power tools and building basics from a young age. Brie loves to research (so much so that we call it “Briesearch”) which is kind of an important skill to have when you’re learning how to build a home from the ground up!

This is still very much a learning process for us and we’re learning new things every single day, literally. The first thing we had to teach ourselves was how to drive a 40’ bus, which still seems a little crazy when we think about it. Throughout the demo process, we learned how to use countless new tools—to think, we had never even used a ratchet before we started this! We’ve learned about bus systems like heating and AC, and now that we’re finally starting to build, we’re learning more about the mechanics of the bus and how to actually apply basic building skills to create a home.


Tips/tricks/advice to help others have who want/are converting a vehicle? Something you wish you had known going into this?
Our top three pieces of advice are: One, no matter how long people tell you their build took, be prepared for your pace to be different. It’s easier said than done, but try not to compare your progress to other people’s—it diminishes your efforts and steals your joy. We are constantly working on this.

Two, avoid converting in winter if you can. Besides just trying to survive the pain of bone-chilling cold, most building materials don’t do their best work in winter temperatures. Trying to get them to work in conditions they’re not made for will often lead to even more headaches and heartbreaks than you signed up for by doing a bus conversion.

And three, although there’s an amazing, established skoolie community providing tons of research and advice to work from, not everything is out there. Keep in mind that sometimes your specific problem might not have an answer on the internet so you’ll have to get creative and figure it out for yourself. That being said, don’t be afraid to ask for help! We haven’t come across anyone who hasn’t been willing to help us yet.

 Subfloor Skoolie A Soul Vacation DIY Bus Conversion

What is the most unique feature of your conversion?
The skoolie community is filled with couples and solo travelers, but we’re two best friends doing this together. Something really important to us was finding a way to each have our own space, even in such close quarters, without sacrificing any of the common areas. The two-bedroom solution we’ve come up with (props to Raven for being the mastermind behind it) is something we haven’t seen in any other conversion yet. We can’t wait for everyone to see it!


How has the pandemic affected bus life for you?
It slowed down what felt like already slowwww progress. It made our daily trips to hardware stores a lot more challenging and time-consuming. And really eliminated them completely during the strict stay at home orders in New Jersey. We’ve also had to work through the emotional tolls it’s taken. Some days it was extremely difficult to find the motivation to work on the bus with so much devastation all around us, especially just having left New York and watching the daily updates of our city struggling so badly. The pandemic has also reminded us how lucky we are for our health and the resources available to us that allow us to maintain our comfort and lifestyle. And reinforced the notion that life is short and can’t be taken for granted.

 Brie and Raven Skoolie A Soul Vacation DIY Bus Conversion

Follow this build! Keep up with A Soul Vacation on their Instagram.

More Articles By Elizabeth Hensley

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6

Solo Nomadic Traveler Converts Econoline E450 Shuttle Bus

Meet Brad! Next up in The Bus Fair Feature Series, Brad shares his experience surviving three hurricanes while on vacation in the U.S. Virgin Islands and how they changed his life -- for the better! After coming home with a new sense of direction, Brad takes us through his thought process that brought him into nomadic living, first with the Econoline E-250 van and then to the Econoline E450 shuttle bus with his pup, Lucy.

Nomad Brad Shuttle Bus conversion

Everything changed for me about three years ago. I experienced three hurricanes during my two-week vacation to St. Croix, in the US Virgin Islands. Out of the three, Hurricane Maria was by far the most devastating. The hurricane itself came and went in about five hours but the aftermath of shredded houses and downed power lines would last much longer. Food was limited and we drank swimming pool water for about a week until relief provided us with a bucket water-filter system. We had minimal possessions and no cell service or flights off the island for about a month. The situation sounds tragic, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

I experienced happiness and a sense of community like never before. Everyone was pitching in to help clean up. We stacked sandbags with smiles. Hugs and Jokes were being exchanged instead of memes and complaints. We were cut off from the internet, and the rest of the world. It was at this moment that I found my happiness. Helping others, finding community, and living a minimalist life. I truly believe that the world would be a better place if we all had a little hurricane in our life.

Upon returning to the States, I knew that my life course had been forever changed. I started consuming content based around minimalism, alternative lifestyles, and the quest for happiness. I ultimately stumbled upon “Cheap RV Living” and “Adventure Van Man” through YouTube. I saw a different life. One where I could live with less and spend my days in nature. One where my mind was focused on my next adventure rather than my next purchase. Within about 60 days, I sold everything I owned and bought a 2005 Ford Econoline. I let the lease on my apartment expire and drove to my dad's house to complete the build-out.

Fast forward 1.5 years. I was still extremely satisfied with the nomadic lifestyle that vanlife had provided. However, I desired more room. I found that in my van I didn’t really leave the bed. Sleeping, relaxing, and watching Netflix all happened while lying on the bed. Cooking and working on my laptop happened while seated at the edge of my bed. I couldn’t fully stand up and missed the experience of walking around my “house”. I knew that I could not give up this nomadic lifestyle but needed a new “house” I started consuming content again. I took a deep dive into YouTube and watched tours of every type of mobile living scenario possible: van, bus, camper, cargo trailer, box truck, ambulance. Ultimately, I was happy with the ford Econoline drivetrain on my E-250 van and so an Econoline bus was very appealing to me.

My requirements:
Headroom to fully stand up/get dressed
Length to walk around
Small enough to park in most spaces

After searching all the usual online marketplaces, I found exactly what I was looking for. One hundred miles away from where I was staying there was a 10-passenger (20’ total length only 2’ longer than my van) 2000 Ford E-450 7.3L diesel shuttle bus for sale. It had only 127,000 miles and the seller was willing to drop the price down to $4,000. A series of events took place that could be described as nothing short of a miracle. I was able to move mountains and become the new owner of the exact vehicle that my heart desired. After purchasing the bus, I drove it nearly 300 miles to my dad's house where I would start the build-out.

After 6 months of full-time bus living, I am so happy that I made the switch. This bus is everything I was missing, and it even gets an additional 2mpg more than my van! Vanlife was a great introduction to the nomadic lifestyle and included an additional level of “stealth” that was very much appreciated as I adjusted to life on the road. As a seasoned nomad, I recommend everyone who feels the calling to give it a try. Just go with whatever you can afford and if you decide to stick around, buy the vehicle you really want on the second time. It’s nearly impossible to know what you really want/need until you get out and start living.

Econoline shuttle bus 7.3L turbo diesel mountain road trip

Bus specs:

Make: Ford
Model: Econoline E450
Motor: 7.3L turbodiesel
Year: 2000
Interior square footage:105ft2
Current location: Oregon
Purchased from/Location: Las Vegas
Cost Breakdown: Bus:$4,000
Tires/maintenance to get it roadworthy: $2,000
Conversion Materials/Equipment: $2,500
Conversion time working all day/ every day: 6 weeks


Does your bus have a name or phrase you call it? If so, why did you choose it?
I have not named my bus...I am not opposed, however, nothing has inspired a name yet.

Will you be full-timing?
I have been full-timing for the past 2 years and will continue to do so.

Where are you converting/ did you convert your bus?
I completed this conversion myself with some help from my father. It is my second full build-out. I learned a
lot while building my van and brought those lessons over to this bus build which Is why I was able to build it fairly quickly.

Who are you living/traveling with?
I am living with my dog Lucy.

Nomad Brad Boston Terrier Bus Conversion shuttle bus

What type of skills for the bus conversion did you have prior and what did you learn or teach yourself so far?
Building a complete bus requires many skills…Electrical, mechanical, plumbing, general construction. I was fortunate to have a background in this as I spent 10 years in the HVAC(Heating, Ventilation, and air conditioning) industry which taught me the required skills to complete this bus build in a semi-professional manner.

Tips/tricks/advice to help others have who want/are converting a vehicle? Something you wish you had known going into this? Any current troubles?
The big tip I have for everyone considering this lifestyle is to simply get out and try it. Buy something cheap or simply rent a UHAUL box truck and fill it with camping gear. This is the best way to decide if this lifestyle is really for you and which type of vehicle you will be most comfortable in. I see so many “newbies” online that are getting caught up in the consumerism of “vanlife”. Spending days debating brands and colors/finishes. Or even worse, financing an expensive vehicle/build only to decide that they prefer the comforts of sticks and bricks.

Digital nomad offgrid home on wheels econoline shuttle bus

What is the most unique feature of your conversion?
The most unique feature of my conversion is the sliding window panel that I made from kitchen drawer slides. I have not seen it done before. It allows me to effortlessly open or close the window covering from my desk.

What do you do for income? How often do you work while on the bus?
For income, I am a digital content creator. This is mostly gig work and includes photography/videography and social media account management for several clients. Pay is not great, but my expenses are low and I get to live life on my terms…which is most important to me.

Digital nomad content creator computer setup on the road nomad brad

What about the bus will help you be successful in reaching your lifestyle goals?
My lifestyle goals include spending more time and nature and avoiding the rat race. The bus helps me achieve this by providing a low-cost place for me to live and allowing me to sleep among the trees and travel to many new locations.

What have been people’s reaction to you buying a bus to live in?
When people find out that I’m living in a bus, their reaction is usually one of curiosity. They are generally aware that people are living in vehicles but confused as to what would motivate someone to do so and what this lifestyle actually looks like. The first question is often “where do you go to the bathroom” I find it funny that of all the things one could be concerned about in regards to sustaining human life... using the bathroom is at the top of their list.

DIY shuttle Bus conversion front view from bed Nomad Brad

Have you met other skoolies or buslifers on the road?
I have met several bus dwellers, all of which have been warm and welcoming. I suppose at some level, we realize that we are all in this together. When a fellow bus dweller is having mechanical troubles, it sparks compassion as you remember that time you broke down on the side of the road. You remember the feelings of helplessness and uncertainty. And so you offer to help however you can. You offer a shoulder to cry on and comforting words to help carry them through the darkness. And when the clouds pass, you’ll see them at their best again. Lounging in a hammock under the trees, hiking along the river, or sharing a cup of tea consisting of freshly foraged wild mint and pine needles. You will find good people out here, it’s a community that operates on gratitude and kindness.


Tell us about your layout. Kitchen? Bathroom? Bedroom?
I am very happy with the layout of my build. The bed is “full” size and situated sideways in the back. There is a large door that opens allowing me to use all the space under the bed as storage. Also when I'm parked somewhere especially beautiful, I can open the door and lay in bed looking out at Nature's current offering.
About a third of my bus is the kitchen area. I have a fridge, Instant Pot, blender, propane stove, sink, and large prep surface. I eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, so the workspace was important to me. I don’t really have a bathroom. There is no shower, and my toilet is just a small camp version that slides under the bed.

Nurtibullet fruit smoothie nomad brad Nurtabullet fruit smoothie nomad brad

What is the most memorable place you’ve traveled in your bus conversion?
The most memorable place I have traveled was not due to the geographical location, but rather the people I met there. Summer 2019 I spent 4 days at a vehicle dwellers festival. It was pure magic. I feel like I lived an entire lifetime in just 4 days. I met friends who I now talk to more than family. We shared experiences that can’t really be put into words. For me, the relationships I have made from living on the road are priceless. I have seen beautiful waterfalls and sunsets, but they don’t truly come alive until they are shared.

Where do you project you’ll be three months from now?
Three months from now is about a year in nomad time. It’s hard to plan that far in advance when you have nothing holding you down. Physically, I believe I will be somewhere in the state of Oregon. The universe will have to fill in the rest.

You can follow Brad's journey on Instagram @nomad_brad_503

Nomad Brad Umbrella Shuttle Bus conversion

More Articles By Elizabeth Hensley

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6

Couple meet abroad, return to the U.S. and build colorful DIY skoolie with roof raise

Bus Life Adventure's tiny living event, The Bus Fair, had to be postponed until 2021 due to the pandemic, so we're making the most of the situation by virtually showcasing featured buses and their owners through The Bus Fair Feature Series. This week we meet Kelsey and Jaimie aka Kels & Jay. The pair met in England as neighbors and fell in love over buffalo chicken dip (true story!). They now live in the United States where they got married and built the school bus conversion of their dreams. Here Kels & Jay share their story along with the ups and downs of getting their skoolie livable and road-ready.


Before and afer schoo bus conversion kels and jay


Back in 2016, I, Kelsey, moved to England to continue playing basketball and get my Master’s Degree. He lived next door to me in the other basketball house and we met there in the kitchen. The running joke is we fell in love over buffalo chicken dip because after I made some for Jamie, we were pretty much inseparable and together every day after that. When basketball was over we’d save up and travel Europe and definitely caught the travel bug there.
When I graduated and my visa was up, I had to come back to America. Jamie came here about a year later and we got married. We were both bored with routine and were craving adventure, and that’s why we decided to convert a school bus into a tiny home.

Kels and Jay bus conversion bessy

Bus Specs:
Make: Freightliner Thomas Built
Motor: Cummin 5.9L
Year: 2001
Interior Square Footage: 230 sqft approx
Current Location: CT
Purchased From/Location: Ebay, from a bus reseller
Cost in materials for the conversion: $8000 (bus and new brakes) + $18,000 (for conversion)
Total time from purchase date to on the road: 8 months working weekends and evenings

Why a bus?
There are a lot of reasons we chose a school bus rather than an RV or van. As we planned out traveling full-time, I, Kelsey, really wanted a large bathroom with a shower. A van would have been okay if we weren’t full-timing, however, we felt a bus gave us the right amount of space where we didn’t have to sacrifice too much. It truly feels like a home and something we can live in for the next few years, or however long we decide to. A school bus is also extremely structurally sound, so we feel safe in it.
On a level other than the structure and space a bus provides us, we also like the idea that something that once represented mundane routine now represents complete freedom for us.

 Skoolie bus conversion bathroom naturesheadSkoolie tile shower bus conversion

Does your bus have a name or phrase you call it? If so, why did you choose it?
Yes, we recently named her Bessy! We went back and forth on this one for a while, so we took to our social media followers on Instagram and TikTok and asked them what they thought. Bessy stood out to us and was a name we hadn’t seen on a bus before so we went for it.


Will you be full-timing?
Yes, we are already living full-time in our school bus. It’s been awesome!


Where are you converting/ did you convert your bus?
Kelsey’s parents allowed us to convert the school bus in their backyard. They are complete saints for allowing us to do it there!


Did you do the conversion yourself or did you hire someone?
We’ve done absolutely everything by ourselves from the custom cabinets to the solar panels and electricity. We looked up everything on Youtube, it’s amazing what you can learn on YouTube these days! The only time we had any help was one day when the school bus roof collapsed during the roof raise, casual, I know! Our friend had a Jeep and helped us lift the roof back onto the bus, it was pretty crazy. We have a full video about that on our Youtube if you want to hear more about it.

Skoolie kitchen roof raise bus life 

Who are you living/traveling with?
It’s just Jamie, our cat (daughter) Pippa, and me, Kelsey. We’re excited to meet up with different people from the community along the way though!


Were you all on the same page about living bus life or did one person (or more) have to be convinced?
It was Jamie’s dream to convert a school bus. He came to me about the idea and I honestly thought he was joking at first. I kind of reacted the same way people react now when we tell them we live in a self-converted school bus. If you’ve never seen one before, it’s hard to understand how awesome it can be.
Once Jamie showed me a few converted school buses, I was obsessed with the idea as well. How could I not be?


What type of skills for the bus conversion did you have prior and what did you learn or teach yourself so far?
I, Kelsey, had never even picked up a paintbrush before. Jamie had very minimal experience in anything construction. He got a job in construction, but that was after about three months into our build. We learned almost everything from YouTube and by asking the amazing skoolie community. It just shows that anyone who has this dream can do it. It definitely wasn’t easy, but we were on a mission to break the traditional "American dream" and I think it’s that determination that helped push us when the conversion got really tough.

 Kels and Jay bus conversion work

Tips/tricks/advice to help others have who want/are converting a vehicle? Something you wish you had known going into this? Any current troubles?
If you haven’t done a roof raise before and don’t know what you’re doing, definitely get professional help! Another thing to keep in mind is that for the first seven months of our build, it felt like we were putting so much work into the bus and nothing was getting done. It was really deflating, but in the last month everything started to come together and it’s the best month ever. I’d say patience is extremely important for anyone converting a school bus.


What is the most unique feature of your conversion?
We have a fold-out table that really allows us to get the most use out of our space. We love it!

Bus living room couch skoolie diy tiny living 

What do you do for income? How often do you work on the bus?
We are both in the process of leaving our jobs. Jamie is in construction and I was in sales. We have been able to save up quite a bit thanks to my parents allowing us to live with them for the past year - did I mention they are saints?! We’ve recently started to make a little money on Youtube and are willing to do jobs like DoorDash or waitressing to get away from ever having to go back to the corporate world.

How has the pandemic affected bus life for you?
We were set to leave right when the pandemic hit, so it affected bus life quite a bit for us. We’ve been lucky enough to have a safe place to stay and the pandemic has also allowed us to save more. Being stuck in one place for a while has also allowed us to work out all the last little kinks of our bus like getting it more organized and comfortable for living in, so for that, we are grateful!

bus skoolie home office entertainment center

How can people follow your adventures?
We have Youtube, Instagram, and TikTok social media accounts. You can find us on all social media platforms at @KelsandJay !

More Articles By Elizabeth Hensley

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6


Family of five saves money with full-time bus life

Meet the Bratcher Family: Sharel, Tyler, AJ, Zoe, & Aurora

Skoolie family buslife roaming home

This family of five transitioned from a 2,500 sqft house into a self-converted skoolie. Tyler works in IT for a local school district while Sharel is rocking it as a stay-at-home mom. They both have several side-hustles: Tyler is a professional wedding DJ, drives rideshare, financial coach and travel hacking extraordinaire and Sharel is photographer, painter, and all-around creative. Their three kiddos are currently all under 4 years old and together they make up Roaming Home.

Roaming home roof raise bus conversion 

Bus specs:
Make: Thomas
Model: Saf-T-Liner
Motor: Cat 3126b
Year: 1999
Interior Square Footage: 250sqft
Current Location: Southern Oklahoma/North Texas
Location Purchased From: Lincoln, IL
Cost in materials for the conversion: $21,500
Total time from the purchase date to the road: About 1.5 years

Interviewees: Tyler & Sharel

Why a bus?
We were fed up with renting. We’ve actually moved every year since we’ve been married because we would need more space (thanks kids) or prices would continue to rise making it unaffordable for us. We felt like we were throwing our money away into rental properties and never investing in anything for ourselves. We also ran into several landlord troubles. We were just done.

We researched for months… Tiny house? Mobile home? RV? We wanted something affordable but practical for our growing family. We knew what we didn’t want for sure, but what would work for us? Then we stumbled upon the skoolie community. It took some convincing from the wife, but it all made sense. Affordable (check) Customizable (check) Mobile (check) Sustainable (check). With all the boxes checked, we set out on our skoolie journey.

Are you full-timing?
Yes. The bus is our home. We currently have it parked on some family’s land where we finished up much of our conversion but will soon be moving it closer to Tyler’s job.

Did you do the conversion yourself or did you hire someone?
We had absolutely zero construction experience. Tyler would get frustrated just putting together some store-bought furniture. So, we did the logical thing - we converted it ourselves of course! As you can imagine this led to a myriad of mistakes and learn-as-you-go projects. Several family members and friends helped out when they could which proved very valuable in getting some major tasks completed. As you could imagine, this DIY conversion has had its challenges but overall, we love to look back and see all that we accomplished and learned in this process.

Bus conversion kitchen roaming tiny home

What type of skills for the bus conversion did you have prior and what did you learn or teach yourself so far?
Tyler learned everything we have done as we went from blogs, videos, and simple trial and error. He’s learned how to weld, wire electrical, bus mechanics, plumbing, carpentry, as well as several other smaller tasks like cutting a straight line with a skill saw. We’ve learned about everything from painting, staining, composting, solar and off-grid sustainability, and physics ( oh, and don’t throw cinder blocks up to the top of the bus and try to catch them... That’s a story for another day.)

Tell us something you wish you had known going into this. Any tips or advice?
The primary thing we wished we’d known was the sheer amount of time it took to complete tasks. I mean, with all the mistakes and with more trips to Home Depot and Lowe’s than we could ever count, things that seemed like they would take an hour ended up taking an entire day. We would start on a project, realize something was wrong, watch more videos or do more research, and then start again. It’s just all very time consuming especially when you have three young children to take care of. So, the best advice we could give from that experience is to just plan, plan, plan. Have clear, written and drawn out plans for material and construction before beginning a project. If you have a partner you are working with, make sure they are on the same page about EVERYTHING before you dive in.

Roof raise bus conversion interior

Is there anything you wish you did differently in your build?
The biggest thing would be not having our living situation figured out during the build. Because the conversion took significantly longer than we anticipated, we were actually homeless for almost a year. During this time, we even birthed our third child. We jumped around from hotel stays to family and friends' houses for several months. We are extremely grateful for the friends and family that gave up their space for us but obviously, we’d much rather have been in a stable living situation during the build.

Tell us about your layout. Kitchen? Bathroom? Bedroom?
Upon entering, the steps have a separate “front” door beside the driver’s seat. We have 5ft bench seats in the living room, one opens up for storage and the other opens up and slides out to make a bed. We have our kitchen on one side of the bus with a gas stove, corner sink, fridge and microwave with cabinets lining the ceiling. Our hallway goes down the left side of the bus. As you walk down the hall, the bathroom is on the same side as the kitchen where we have our shower/bath, composting toilet, and some shelving. Going further back the hallway goes back to the middle of the bus where three bunks are stacked on one side while the washer/dryer and closet fill the opposite side. Finally, our bedroom consists of king-size bed space and a play area.

What is the most unique feature of your conversion?
We have several features in our conversion that we think are unique. We have a 20” roof raise, an almost 3000-watt solar array with Victron products and Nissan Leaf batteries, an actual bathtub, and three bunks. However, two of the most unique features are our king size bed lift and a movie projector. Our bed lift uses a winch and pulley system to raise our king size bed up to the ceiling during the day to give us a playroom/homeschool space/ and office area. At night, we lower it down to sleep on. Our projector is mounted on the ceiling in the middle of our kitchen and it projects down to a screen in our living room area. This gives us a 72” movie screen without having a large, heavy television mounted in the bus.

Skoolie bathroom shower toilet

What has been the hardest thing about this whole lifestyle change/ living/traveling in a bus? Easiest thing?
The most difficult thing is the transition into minimalist living - getting rid of all of our stuff. Sharel is a recovering hoarder and comes from a lineage of hoarding. We’ve always had more than enough things to fill the spaces of our large living areas. Now that we have moved into a tiny place, selling, donating and giving away much of what we own is much harder than we anticipated.

The easiest/best thing is having a place to call our own. We don’t have to worry about impeding on someone else’s home or a landlord breathing down our necks. We can actually invest our time and finances into pursuing our dreams. We hope to one day own land to park our bus and provide a place for others to build and park their skoolies or tiny homes. We look forward to living off the grid, creating a homestead, living rent and debt-free and the freedom to travel without the burden of a mortgage. Because of our bus, we have the opportunity to pursue entrepreneurship and experiences and help others to do the same.

What has been people’s reaction to you buying a bus to live in?
The reactions we’ve gotten have been all over the board. Sharel’s family was on board from the get-go, however, Tyler’s family has been much more resistant to the idea of a family of five living in a tiny space. We have received a ton of support from friends who have been both excited and impressed by the work we have done. Several people have told us that they have dreamt of doing the same thing but lack of experience, societal pressures or kids have held them back. We’d like to think that our story and experience is helping to break through some of those roadblocks people are facing to pursuing the kind of minimal and sustainable lifestyle they desire.

Update: After spending time with Jessica and family of Painted Buffalo Traveling Studio, who have a new kitten, the Bratchers decided to add a new addition to their home on wheels. Meet Asher, Roaming Home's skoolie cat. 

Bus cat skoolie pet

How can people learn more about you?
Instagram: @roaming.home


More Articles By Elizabeth Hensley

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6