How a family decided to convert a school bus into a homemade RV
Nearly two years ago, our family took a leap (of faith, off the deep-end, or maybe into something over our heads). We drove almost five hours into the backwoods of Pennsylvania to purchase a school bus. Yep. You read that right. A (short) yellow vehicle used for transporting children. No, we don’t transport children for a living. We don’t own a daycare service. And we most certainly don’t have a classroom sized number of offspring.
Just a couple weeks earlier (maybe after a couple of adult beverages), my husband and I were discussing our recently cancelled two and a half week vacation to Switzerland, Austria, and Germany. With no end in sight on lifted travel restrictions between the United States and other countries, we were back to square one of trip planning.
Feeling confined to traveling somewhere within the continental United States, we struggled to brainstorm a destination. Florida? Fun, but we had already been numerous times together. California? That would be neat, but those west coast hotels and restaurants would add up fast. Take our thirty foot camper out of state? Now that sparked our adventurous side!
We soon determined that towing our camper for a long distance with my husband’s daily driver was just a little bit more than we wanted to take on. The exact details on how we landed on our next idea are a little cloudy; whether that be because of the pure rush of adrenaline-like excitement, or those adult beverages. A decision was made! We were going to buy a school bus, convert it into a homemade RV, and drive across the United States of America.
But why a school bus conversion?
We often get asked why we landed on a school bus conversion rather than a standard RV. To be honest, this is a question we had to search for within ourselves as well. We finally landed on quite a few factors that made a short bus conversion the right decision for our family.
I would say that expense was the main factor leading to the decision to undertake a school bus conversion! Standard RV’s are VERY expensive. Older models with hundreds of thousands of miles on them are still pricy. Often they have problems that need to be addressed before they are ready to hit the open road.
With our heart now set on a cross country road trip, comfort for myself, Bryant, and Boone was of utmost importance. We were no longer talking about two hour road trips to a local state park. Traveling cross country meant 12+ hour days of driving across unfamiliar territory. Being able to make meals, stretch our legs a bit, and sleep in comfort while the other was driving was a necessity.
As a family who has already owned two travel trailers, we considered ourselves familiar with the quality of product purchased from commercial travel trailer manufacturers. I want to say that there isn’t anything wrong with this option; we just felt that we could build a product with high quality materials that were made to last! Using solid wood instead of composite materials was at the top of our must-do list!
A cross country road trip meant traveling thousands of miles on unfamiliar roads. It was so important to us to be as safe as we could possibly be doing so. School buses are ranked as one of the safest vehicles on the road! They are designed specifically with one goal- safely transporting a parent’s most precious cargo. Their build is designed to effectively withstand crashes and rollover accidents with minimal damage.
This was one of the most daunting yet exciting parts of our school bus conversion! After removing all the seats from the bus, we had a completely clean slate! We could make this bus into a RV that specifically met our family’s needs. Being able to incorporate specific storage and design options to optimize our personal functionality was key!
Ultimately, converting a school bus into our own, customized RV was the right decision for our family’s specific needs. It provided a space in which our creative minds could run wild, and our family could build and grow together. As Drake once said, “Sometimes it is the journey that teaches you a lot about your destination”.