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5 surprising vehicles you can convert into a home on wheels

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Beyond the camper van

The interior of a camper van. The walls and ceiling are white. There are cushioned couches. There is a kitchenette with a sink and stove. There is art hanging on the walls.
The Mayes family sleeps six people in a 250-square-foot converted school bus.
Courtesy of The Mayes Team

Take a trip this summer and you’ll see campers of all types—conversion vans, tricked-out RVs, teardrop trailers, and vintage Airstreams—all on the road to adventure. But there’s another world of converted campers that’s more under the radar. Instead of regular cargo vans or manufactured campers, some die-hard outdoors people are looking to other vehicles for inspiration. Love campers and trailers? Come join our community group.

From school buses to ambulances, you can convert almost any vehicle into a home on wheels. Each has their drawbacks and benefits, and all come with a hefty amount of DIY elbow grease. It’s also important to know that it can be hard to get insurance for a DIY conversion. If you’re up for the challenge, we’ve rounded up five surprising vehicles that can make for an amazing mobile home.

Ambulances

Looking for a go-anywhere vehicle that can handle some wear and tear? A former ambulance might just be thing. Built tough, many old ambulances can be had for cheap—think $12,000—once they measure over 100,000 miles. But that doesn’t mean they can’t go much farther, especially as a converted camper.

The boxy shape is ideal for an open floor plan, and it’s nice to have an open pass-through into the front cab. Need more inspiration? Just check out #ambulanceconversion on Instagram.

School buses

The interior of a school bus with the seats removed.
Stripping out the center aisle and seats left the Mayes family with a lot to work with.
Courtesy of The Mayes Team
The interior of a school bus. A new kitchen area is being constructed with a sink and cabinets.
A kitchen emerges from the construction in 2017.
Courtesy of The Mayes Team
The interior of a bus that has been converted into a living space. There is a kitchen with a counter, mini fridge, and cabinets. There is a couch, and chair.
The front of the bus is used as the family living room.
Courtesy of The Mayes Team

There are dozens of gorgeously converted school buses floating around the internet, and it makes sense as to why. Plenty of space and tall ceilings make school buses appealing, especially for families.

One of our favorite conversions was done by the Mayes family. Their “skoolie” is a dream of black, white, and wood accents, and best of all, it sleeps six comfortably. Read more, over here.

A regular ol’ truck

This might look like a regular truck, but don’t worry, it’s not. Couple Erin Sofinowski and Tyler Thompson built a custom-pop top for their truck that is hard-sided and can withstand all weather conditions. It’s the ultimate level up for a lowly pick-up truck, and you can see more on their Instagram account.

Shuttle buses

Why stop at school buses when there are all sorts of buses roaming our streets? The Bowman family used to live in New York City with their two young children, but moved into a 120-square-foot converted shuttle bus to explore the country.

The bus was previously used as a city bus in Tempe, Arizona, but the Bowmans turned the 25-foot-long vehicle into a cozy home for four. See more on the Instagram account The American Field Trip.

Cargo trailers

A post shared by Luc Tubman (@luctubby) on

An empty cargo trailer is a blank slate, ready for whatever creativity and ideas you throw at it. You can also get them in varying lengths and sizes to fit your needs, but beware that you won’t have a lot of window options.

The good news? A cargo trailer can look like pretty much anything you want inside, and all you need is a vehicle to pull it.