Whether you’re considering a camper van, shipping container, or tiny home, there are many options for downsizing. One medium you may have not considered has been gaining traction in the #VanLife community: the school bus conversion, otherwise known as the skoolie. Love campers and trailers? Come join our community group.
Compared to smaller, more compact RVs, skoolies are a larger option for DIYers wanting to hit the road. They do take a lot of work; transforming one from a kid-hauling bus to a traveling home is no small task. They can also be expensive to fuel, hard to park in cities, and as some adventurers discover, more appealing as an idea than in reality.
But for some, the transformations can be incredible. Take this 1998 Thomas School Bus that was renovated by couple Robbie and Priscilla. Documented on their Going Boundless Instagram account, the school bus took a year and a half to build. Robbie and Priscilla report that they chose a school bus because they wanted it to feel like more of a tiny home than an RV. They also wanted to be able to bring their pets with them, and today Mr. Beebles the cat calls the school bus home.
Like most DIY efforts, the bus renovation was difficult. Leaking windows required a complete replacement, and after the couple had spent over a year on the project, their engine stopped working. A blown gasket forced the bus to be in the shop for months before they could leave on their journey. But since March 21st Robbie and Priscilla have been on the road, enjoying the fruits of their labor.
And that hard work produced a beautiful roving home. The bus features an open floor plan with a full bed at the rear that sleeps two. Cedar tongue and groove ceilings and white walls make for a cozy design, and a full size kitchen is larger than some New York apartment kitchens. The kitchen boasts a farmhouse sink, quartz countertops, soft-closing cabinet doors and drawers, and a pull-out pantry. A giant refrigerator holds plenty of food, and an oven range makes it easy to cook large meals.
A small couch provides a place to hang during the day, and underneath the bed is a washer dryer combo and lots of storage. Innovative touches show that Priscilla and Robbie thought a lot about the design; the bed sits high so the pull-out storage doubles as a step stool.
For anyone who bemoans the camping life due to lack of respectable bathrooms, check out this one. A full bathroom includes a glass shower door, privacy blinds, and giant tiled shower with brass accents. Outside, two outdoor showers make cleaning off after adventures easy, and the bus also features a backup camera, air conditioner, fireplace, LED lights, skylight, and desk. The school bus is also able to function completely off grid, with six 360-watt solar panels and eight 315 AH Trojan batteries.
Robbie, Priscilla, and Mr. Beebles plan to spend the summer in Canada and Alaska before traveling to every state over the next few years. You can follow their adventures on Facebook, Instagram, or their website.