Diy bus conversions

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DIY School Bus Conversion (Turning a Bus into an RV)

School Bus Conversion

Converting a school bus into an RV or living space is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to create something unique and even save money in the process (traditional RVs or tiny homes can be quite expensive). Of course, each build will be different, and each bus to skoolie conversion is easier said than done. You need to be flexible and be able to work around the layout of the bus.

With that said, having a building material that is adjustable and easy to work with makes the process go a lot more smoothly.

By taking advantage of Kee Klamp fittings, Dana was able to convert this used bus into a beautiful RV complete with custom built countertops, storage, and bed frames. In this post, we cover the details of Dana's converted bus and how we were able to use Kee Klamp to create the countertops even with uneven surfaces throughout the bus. Follow along:

Dana's School Bus Conversion Project Details

School Bus Conversion

Dana purchased this Thomas school bus with the idea of converting it into an RV. Dana had a limited budget and a minimalist design idea. However, turning that vision into a reality would be a tough task.

"Converting a school bus is all about solving problems. For the most part, you can't just go down to the local store and pick up what you need," said Dana.

"There is a lot of research and testing and to be honest, wasting money. Ideas can look great on paper, but when you try and build them, they quickly show their flaws. One area that we did NOT find this to be true was when we designed and built our countertops. We knew they would need to be at the height of the windows, to allow for window replacement. And we knew they would need to be lightweight and simple."

To build the countertops in the school bus, Dana used Kee Klamp fittings and pipe to support the countertops. It took Dana a few nights of coming up with different design possibilities before settling on the current design. Don't take our word for it, take a look at Dana's Skoolie site. Dana's challenges and adventures are documented in The Bus Abides site.

To create the counter tops, Dana used plywood for the tops. The plywood tops were then attached to the "wall" using metal Dana bought at a local home improvement store.

Paint Counters

Pipe legs were then attached to the floor using the Railing Flange.


  • 20 Minutes
  • - Allen Key
  • - Drill (For mounting the legs to the countertop)
  • - Mounting Hardware

What's included:

All of the pipe and fittings needed to assemble the legs for the countertops.

What's not:

Simplified Building Supplies

Dana ordered the fittings online and picked up the pipe from a local supply shop.

"Ordering online was simple and fast. Before we knew it, we had all our parts delivered. Then, we went down to a local metal supply shop and got the aluminum pipe we needed (cut to length)."

Kee Klamp Fittings

Overall, Dana has been pleased with the design and look of the countertops.

"We like the industrial look of the Kee Klamps and their ease of assembly. We also like that, unlike using wood legs, we can easily modify and add onto this build in the future. During assembly and painting we had to remove the counters more than once. Kee Klamp fittings made this super easy."

Another bonus to using Kee Klamp fittings for the design is that the fittings themselves are adjustable. This made leveling the structures easier when putting every together:

"They (Kee Klamp fittings) are also adjustable, which is useful when converting a school bus. Not everything in there is square and level."

Counter Installation

In addition to the countertop that houses the sink, there is also a lower counter that holds a volt refrigerator. On the other side is a cooktop counter. The open design of all three counters allows for plenty of storage space underneath.

School Bus Custom Counter

Lastly, Dana appreciates how sturdy the countertops are:

"BOY are these counters sturdy and strong! You could rebuild a car engine on these things! Driving down the road there isn't a squeak or noise coming from them at all. "

Dana took his family on their first road trip in the converted school bus during August The 1,mile round trip spanned from south Florida to South Carolina to see the full solar eclipse that occurred on August 21st,

Plans for the bus include over-head storage over the beds. Dana plans on using Kee Klamp in this build as well.

"It was worth all the work. We love our bus, our counters and Kee Klamp. Simplified Building and their Kee Klamp fittings helped us realize a dream."

Counter Installation

If you're thinking about converting a school bus into an Skoolie or living space, using Kee Klamp fittings as a building material is a great idea. The fittings are adjustable, and you don't need any expensive tools to use them (an Allen Wrench is all you need to secure the fittings to pipe). Additionally, there are over 80 different types of Kee Klamp fittings. Thus, making it possible for you to build almost any structure imaginable.

Try browsing our list of fittings to find a perfect fit for your next project. Lastly, if you have any trouble assembling or choosing the fittings for your project, don't hesitate to reach out to our team for help. We offer free design assistance and will even create a Sketchup drawing of your project so you can see how it will look before you purchase a single fitting or put it together.

Our team can be reached by visiting this page or by emailing [email protected]

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Top 10 School Bus Conversions That Feel Like Home

Skoolie Life is growing almost as fast as the vanlife movement and converting a school bus is an excellent alternative if you want slightly more space inside your tiny home. Many vandwellers will make the move from camper conversions to school bus conversions as their family grows or when they decide to live a more static alternative lifestyle as they make perfect affordable tiny homes. 

We have already shown you Mercedes sprinter conversions, DIY camper conversions, custom vans and many different tiny homes and today we’re going to showcase the ten best DIY School Bus conversions to inspire your tiny house build. So, if you’re looking to upsize your camper conversion, or maybe you’re wanting to start an off grid adventure and ditch the white picket fence then read on to discover how good your adventure bus could look.

Itching to try out Full Time Van Life? Want to reveal to the world that you&#;re a weekend warrior? Head over to our brand new Facebook Group! It&#;s a place to pick up vanlife tips, share ideas, and meet other van life enthusiasts from around the globe!

1. Hanzian Bus

School bus conversion blue kitchen.

First up on our list of the ten best DIY school bus conversions is @hanzian_bus. This beautifully converted bus is home to a young family of three who lives life on the road in their off-grid home.

This tiny home features a comfortable double bedroom at the back of the bus, followed by a bathroom and a bedroom for the baby. This space looks like a cosy place to sleep with enough room to move around with ease. 

Our favourite area in this bus conversion, however, has got to be the open place kitchen and living space. This country cottage staple kitchen is so eye-catching, the turquoise of the cabinetry is bold and beautiful. This pop of colour adds some zest to an otherwise neutral space, with a white floor and walls. The colour scheme is a good balance, allowing light to flood through the space, giving it a light and airy feel. This bus looks like a wonderful place to live and to bring up an adventurous child within, with everything you could possibly need at hand. 

2. Flat Out Travellers

School bus conversions interior wooden.

Second, on our list on the ten best DIY school bus conversions is @flatoutravellers, a Canadian couple who are currently travelling North America in their self converted school bus Ol’ George. The bus is a gorgeous space with a dark timber roof and complementing floor, giving the bus a relaxed feel. The deep tones of the wooden ceiling and floor allow the bright white cabinetry of the kitchen to shine and stand out as a beautiful, and functional, feature. 

We love the layout of this space, which is entirely open plan with the sleeping area on view at the back of the bus, followed by some storage and a galley kitchen and finally, the seating area with a sofa on onside and table booth on the other. We love the lack of any walls inside this bus; it allows the space and the light brought in by the many windows to flow freely. This bus is the perfect base for the ultimate American road trip. 

3. Soulful Bus Life

School bus conversions interior with rabbit hutches.

Next on our list of the best DIY school bus conversions is a bus that is home to not one, not two, not three but four different species! @soulfulbuslife house an American couple as they travel full time with their dog, two cats and two bunnies. Who said that living tiny had to mean no pets?! This home is designed not only to be comfortable and spacious for the humans on board but also for all of the animals. The bunnies have a large hutch running along one side of the bus, giving them plenty of space to roam around; the cats have a great DIY scratching pole and play area, and the dog has a cosy place to sleep at the foot of the bed. 

Even with so much space dedicated to their furry companions, this travelling couple has still found plenty of scale for everything needed to live a comfortable life. We particularly love the wooden ceiling that adds a warm atmosphere to the interior, as well as the carpet, which will help keep the heat and adds a drop of luxury to the bus. This bus is a spacious home to all of its inhabitants and a fantastic space to live and travel in. 

4. Happy Home Bodies

School bus conversions interior with big sofas.

Up next on our list of the best DIY School Bus Conversions is @happyhomebodies a couple living and travelling the USA in their school bus. This is a huge school bus, with plenty of space for two people and three (yes, three!) dogs inside. This spacious tiny home has an uber-cool neutral colour scheme running throughout the bus with whitewashed wooden walls and grey sofas. Besides the seating area is a large kitchen area for preparing tasty meals while on the road and, at the back of the bus is a bathroom and a private bedroom.  

Our favourite feature on this bus has to be the wood-burning stove. A fire is a great way to heat a small space such as a bus, not only does it make the whole space warm through the night but it also looks great and is an affordable heating option. The seating area in the main room of the bus can also convert into a second double bed, meaning that this bus conversion can easily host guests. It is great to be able to welcome friends and family into your home, no matter the size. 

5. We Travel By Bus

School bus conversions, making coffee in bus.

We’re halfway through our list of the top ten best DIY School Bus Conversions and this time we’re heading to Europe with @wetravelbybus. This School Bus Conversion is a classic American School Bus conversion in miniature, with the bus being about half the size of a regular school bus. This bus may be smaller than your average skoolie, but it gives you more space than a van and is easier to drive than a bigger bus on the narrow European roads. 

The interior of this bus has a stunning rustic aesthetic with shabby chic cabinetry that instantly catches your eye. As well as being beautiful, this bus is also a functional space with a large double bed with storage and a pull-out table below, a bench seating area that also acts as passenger seating, a kitchen space and a wood-burning stove. We love the detail in this conversion, especially the features such as the passenger seat and ceiling that are reminiscent of the bus’s original function. 

6. Wild Drive Life

Interior of bus conversion, white and green.

Next up on our list of the ten best DIY School Bus Conversions is @wilddrivelife. This bus has been home to Maeg and Ben as they completed a 22,mile road trip across the USA and is now their full-time stationary home. This bus is a beautiful example of how much you can squeeze into a tiny home without making a cluttered space. It has everything you could possibly need or want, but everything has its place, creating a clean and ordered feel, giving you space to chill out and relax.

We love the white colour scheme of this van conversion, the white ceiling, walls and cabinetry make this space feel bigger than it is. The wooden accents around the windows and cupboard doors complement the hardwood flooring and, along with the dusty green splashes of colour, give the bus an almost nautical feel. This bus looks like something straight out of a design magazine and would be an absolute pleasure to live in. 

7. Evergreen Bus

Dark interior with dark turquoise cupboards and red traditional rug.

Next up on our list of the ten best DIY School Bus Conversions is this build by @evergreen.bus. This spacious bus is home to travelling couple Brooke and Daniel who plan to visit all of the USA’s national parks in it. This bus has a great layout, with the bedroom at the back, followed by the bathroom, large kitchen and finally the living room area. This bus conversion has fewer windows than most school busses which gives this home a more private and cosy feel, more like a traditional house. 

Deep colours such as the dark turquoise on the cupboard doors, the deep red of the rug in the kitchen and the oak brown colour of the sofa give the bus trendy pops of colour against its white base. The turquoise of the kitchen cabinets brightens the area which is very spacious with a full-sized fridge freezer and oven, allowing enough space to cook up any meal in this fantastic travelling home. 

8. Bilby The Bus

Beach shack bus.

We’re heading to Australia with @bilby_the_bus for the next bus on our list of the ten best DIY School Bus Conversions. This beautiful Australian bus spends most of its time travelling the coastline, and it certainly does have a beach hut vibe on the inside. The shabby chic pale blue kitchen cupboards elegantly match the pale blue exterior of the bus and tie together the colour scheme of the bus. 

One of our favourite features of this School Bus Conversion is the white vaulted ceiling. This curved roof ensures the bus is full of light, making it feel super spacious. The ceiling also nicely breaks up the wood on the walls and floor, complementing it and working together to create a bright space. The layout of this bus, with the bed curtained off to the rear of the vehicle, gives the impression of two rooms- a kitchen/living room and a bedroom, we love this feature as it’s great to be able to separate your bed from the rest of the home. 

9. 2 Cool 4 Skool Bus

White and green bus interior with cacti wallpaper

We’re nearing the end of our list of the top ten best DIY school bus conversions and up next we have that you don’t want to miss from @2cool4skoolbus. This bus is part-time travelling home to a couple and their young daughter who are currently travelling the USA in their epic conversion. This bus features the bedroom at the back of the bus with a cosy double bed, followed by the bathroom and storage. Once you step into the central area of the bus, you can see how bright and spacious it is, with enough room for the whole family. 

We love the cute neutral colour scheme running throughout this conversion, the white and greens complement each other to create a relaxed space. The addition of the playful cactus wallpaper catches the eye and, along with the cactus and llama passenger seats adds some fun to the room. This is a fun space, but there is also everything needed for the ultimate holiday, including a full kitchen, a booth to eat at, a sofa and even a washing machine! No more trips to the laundromat! 

Tio Adventura Bus

Interior with L-shaped kitchen.

Last, but not least on our list of the top ten best DIY School Bus Conversions is this beautiful build by @tioadventurabus. Chase and Mariajosé have been living and travelling the USA in their converted school bus for over a year, and their bus is amazing. We love the unusual layout, which isn’t linear like most school bus conversions. This bus features an L-shaped kitchen. This smart design allows more kitchen worktop space and creates a clear divide between the bedroom and living space, making them completely separate. 

We love the pale colour scheme in this van with lots of white and neutral tones, light floods the space and making it a bright place to live. The dusty green of the kitchen cabinets adds a country cottage feel to the kitchen area, complemented by the hessian rugs and huge sink. This space may be beautiful but it also functional with a full-sized fridge, a sofa bed in the front to host guests and individual areas for the couple to play video games and store makeup. This is the perfect first home to travel a fantastic country in. 

Final Thoughts&#;

We have reached the end of our list of the top ten best DIY School Bus conversion to inspire your travel lust and conversion ideas. As we have seen today, there are so many ways of converting a school bus to turn it into a travelling home, and each design is as good as the next. The important thing to remember when you venture into a School Bus Conversion is that there is no wrong, as long as it feels like home to you. Let us know what you think of these busses by joining the Van Clan over on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. 

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My first school bus conversion (skoolie) was an escape. I was living under the dual thumbs of my student loans and mortgage, and working two jobs to pay for a life I didn't have time to enjoy. After a crash course in converting a seat school bus into a dwelling, I had both an outlet for adventure and an income source I loved (West Virginia's top-rated Airbnb since ).

Why on Earth did I convert a retired school bus into a mobile tiny home? Simple: Big yellow buses are cheap and durable. A used bus at auction goes for around $2, to $5,—about 10 percent of the cost of a used RV. And where RVs are designed to be lightweight, buses are designed to work. That gets you a steel-framed body and steel paneling on top of a heavy-duty commercial truck frame. And under the hood, most school buses feature commercial-grade diesel engines that fleet mechanics have reliably maintained for years.

Skoolie!: How to Convert a School Bus or Van into a Tiny Home or Recreational Vehicle


My book, Skoolie!: How to Convert a School Bus or Van into a Tiny Home or Recreational Vehicle, covers every step of the process, along with time-, sweat-, and money-saving insights I've picked up along the way. But to show (and hopefully inspire) anyone who can hold an angle grinder that they're capable of building a home on wheels, I'm sharing the basic process for converting a school bus into a clean, well-insulated room to outfit as you please.

School Bus Conversion Step #1: Demolition

Eli Meir Kaplan/Courtesy Storey Publishing

You’ll start demolition by removing the seats, followed by the floor, then the wall and ceiling panels (as desired). Then, there are odds and ends to remove, as well as wiring issues to address.

The two most useful tools you'll need for the demo process are a power drill and an angle grinder. For hand tools, you should have a standard and a metric set of socket wrenches, a combination wrench set, screwdrivers, a pry bar, and a couple pairs of locking pliers.

Most seat bolts are corroded or have a nut under the bus that turns with the bolt. Instead of using a wrench, aim your angle grinder cutting wheel at the base of the bolts at a slight angle to slice into the bolt.

Removing the wall panels in your bus can be as easy as unscrewing a ton of Phillips screws or as challenging as grinding or drilling out a ton of rivets. Regardless, remove the original thin metal interior siding to inspect for rust, allow for better insulation, and open up options for custom wall paneling.

Demolishing the original ceiling panels is done exactly the same way as the wall panels. A lot of air temperature is lost and gained through the ceiling, so you might want to replace the old insulation with newer, more efficient insulation.

Courtesy Will Sutherland

The original floor needs to go. You don't want to build your skoolie over a floor that may be rotted and rusty. And, removing the original floor allows you to add a new insulated surface to help maintain a comfortable temperature inside. Insulation also cuts down on road noise.

Most school buses have a top floor layer of thick rubber over 1⁄2-inch or 3⁄4-inch plywood that sits on top of the primary metal floor. As you get the rubber to pull up, you can grab it and peel it back by hand. It helps to have someone prying along the bottom edge of the rubber as you pull.

Next, remove the plywood layer. The plywood is usually glued to the metal in various shapes and sizes. The pry bar is your tool of choice for this step, and a second pry bar doesn't hurt. Once you pry up an edge of each plywood piece, you can begin pulling the wood up by hand.

Many of the smaller demo items—alarms, speakers, lights—involve wiring. In many cases, you can remove an item that has wiring running to it and simply cap off each wire with a wire nut. Sometimes, however, wiring configurations are interconnected with the bus's starting system, so make sure the bus starts up after each wiring change. If the bus fails to start, you'll know which wire(s) caused the problem.

Overhead speakers were originally used for intercom systems, but they can be connected to a stereo. You may opt to leave these speakers in place, replace them with higher-quality units, or simply cover them up. Another option is to replace them with lights, which requires replacing the cabling ( or gauge wiring is sufficient for most volt lighting).

These heaters use coolant from the engine to generate heat that radiates into the passenger area. You first have to disconnect the coolant input and output hoses and connect them together to bypass the heater. You make the connection with a barbed union fitting for hoses.

Underneath the bus, below where the heater is located, you will see two black hoses going up through the bus floor and connecting to the bottom inputs of the heater with clamps. Use locking pliers to pinch the hoses closed, clamping the pliers a couple inches away from the ends so there's room to fit on the barbed union.

Then, loosen the hose clamp on the input hose with a flat-head screwdriver and slip the clamp out of the way. Pull the hose from the heater input. Insert one end of the barbed union all the way into the open end of the hose, and secure the hose over the union with the clamp. Repeat this step with the other hose from the heater to connect it to the other end of the union. Be prepared for coolant spillage and have a five-gallon bucket handy to catch any coolant that spills from inside the heater.

School Bus Conversion Step #2: Prepping Construction

With your bus gutted and the interior surface materials out of the way, you now have a much clearer view of any rust or corrosion issues, and you're ready to prepare your blank canvas for its new finishes. You'll start with the floor, which usually needs the most work, then you'll seal up the walls and windows, and finish with a quick check of the ceiling.

Surface rust on the floor will be easy to handle in most cases: Bus floors are thick, and there is enough metal there that you can grind off superficial rust spots with a wire brush and still have a very solid surface.

Start cleaning the floor with a wire brush attached to an angle grinder or drill to remove dirt, grime, glue, and surface rust; then, vacuum up the debris. Treat the rusted areas that don't need patching with a rust converter. I like POR and have found that a one-pint kit from POR works well for a midsize bus with an average amount of surface rust.

Skoolie!: How to Convert a School Bus


If you find areas with large flakes of rust, and the floor feels soft or flexes as you put weight on it, you have a more serious rust issue. Test to see how solid the rust spot is by poking it with a screwdriver. If the screwdriver goes through the floor, you will need to cut away the rusted metal with a grinder, then patch the hole with new metal. If the hole is smaller than five inches, you can patch over it with thin scrap metal and metal adhesive, such as JB Weld. Make sure the patch is a few inches larger than the hole so there's plenty of margin for adhesive. Holes five inches or larger should be covered with a welded patch that is flush with the floor rather than resting or overlapping on top of the surrounding metal.

The next step is to fill in or patch over the holes where the seat bolts were. You can use small pieces of thin metal (pennies or metal from the interior walls you removed will work), sealed with percent silicone caulk to fill in the holes.

When all holes are covered and the silicone has completely cured (about 24 hours), your floor is ready for a coat of paint. One coat of oil-based paint will work to cover the floor, as it will never be exposed to the sun or weather.

Eli Meir Kaplan/Courtesy Storey Publishing

You're less likely to have rust issues in your walls than in your floors, but if you find any spots, treat them in the same fashion as the rust spots on the floor: wire-brushing to remove the rust, then treating with a rust converter.

With a garden hose, inspect your bus's windows for leaks, which spring up when the exterior caulk ages and dries out, or peels away, allowing rainwater to seep in. If you see failed caulking, remove all the remaining old caulk and add fresh caulk rather than trying to patch it.

Bus ceilings require minimal preparation for construction compared with floors and walls, but it's possible to have leaks around roof emergency exits. These leaks can be caused by worn rubber gaskets around the exit hatch or from old caulking around the exit fixture. Remove and replace the old caulking or replace the rubber hatch gaskets to solve this common leaking problem.

Eli Meir Kaplan/Courtesy Storey Publishing

School Bus Conversion Step #3: Insulation and Flooring

You'll get much better energy performance—and therefore will be more comfortable—if you replace the old insulation with new material before buttoning up the walls, ceiling, and floor. The best all-around option is rigid foam insulation board. Almost all rigid insulation board is load-bearing and designed to function under concrete floors, so you can install your wood subfloor right on top of it.

Cut each piece of rigid insulation to size and fit it into place inside the wall cavities, then use canned expanding spray foam (such as Great Stuff) to fill in gaps and keep it in place. Most buses have wall cavities roughly 2 inches deep; however, that distance can vary slightly even in the same bus, so it's safer to install a slightly thinner insulation type, such as 11⁄2-inch-thick foam-board insulation panels. The best all-around option is rigid foam insulation board. Rigid insulation panels can be scored with a utility knife and snapped off to fit.

To insulate the bus floor, measure the full width of the floor from side to side. You'll run the insulation boards across the bus, perpendicular to the bus sides. If the floor is 90 inches wide and your rigid insulation is 96 inches long, you simply have to score and snap the insulation boards to fit. Apply construction adhesive to the bottom of the insulation boards and if you have anything heavy, such as sandbags, place these on top of the insulation boards to hold them down while the glue dries. Use seal tape to cover the cracks between the individual boards.

Eli Meir Kaplan/Courtesy Storey Publishing

The best material for a bus subfloor is sanded plywood. Plywood subflooring should be at least 1⁄2-inch thick, but if you have the budget and headroom, 5⁄8-inch or 3⁄4-inch tongue-and-groove plywood subflooring is ideal because the pieces lock together so there's no movement along the panels' edges. You will trim the subfloor panels to fit the width of the bus, and it's all right to cut them a little short to make it easier to drop them into place on the floor. To secure the subfloor to the bus, I recommend using self-tapping, wood-to-metal screws (about 10 per panel) to go through the subfloor and insulation and into the bus's metal floor.

Finish flooring is the final layer you will walk on. Vinyl click-together, imitation-wood flooring works wonderfully for skoolies because it is extremely durable, relatively thin, and easy to install with great results. Carpet, laminate, or engineered hardwood can also be laid right over the subfloor, and each is relatively easy to install.

Trent Bell/Courtesy Storey Publishing

School Bus Conversion Step #4: Design

First, take exact measurements of your bus's interior, then make a scaled drawing of it. Start with the following measurements:

• Distance between the walls

• Distance from the back of the driver's seat to the back of the bus

• Distance behind and in front of the wheel humps, from both ends of the bus

• Space between the wheel humps, from side to side

• Height from the middle (high point) of the ceiling to the floor

Create a scaled drawing on a piece of poster board or large sheet of paper. And then mock up the layout by using painter's tape or chalk to map it out on the empty bus floor. When you walk around on the taped layer, if you feel something is too tight or if you find inefficiencies in how things are positioned, you can move the tape to test alternatives.

Begin building your layout by prioritizing the things you value most for your skoolie conversion. Do you want a full-size bed, or would you rather allow more space for the kitchen or bathroom? What kind of furniture or built-ins would you like? What's your ideal kitchen layout?

Do you need a queen-size bed, or are you okay with a double? A queen mattress is approximately five feet wide and feet long, but a double mattress is feet wide and just over six feet long. Half a foot of width could make or break your layout plans—or sleeping comfort. Also, custom sizes of foam mattresses can be ordered online, or foam mattresses can be trimmed to whatever size you desire.

Think compact: A single sink saves counter space over a double sink, and overhead shelving can act as storage for food, cups, and plates. You'll also need to fit the refrigerator or cooler, stove, and microwave into the design. If you plan to do a lot of grilling outside your bus, you might want to locate your indoor kitchen close to the bus entrance. Most recreational vehicles, campers, and tiny homes have kitchen counters no longer than five feet, not counting space for a small oven. A good tip is to utilize a standard bathroom vanity base in place of conventional kitchen base cabinets.

Courtesy Will Sutherland

You'll be surprised at how much stuff you have to put in your skoolie. Storage space under the bed is excellent for clothing containers or drawers, shoes, extra water jugs, and more. One way to arrange underbed storage is to divide it into front and rear sections, with the front being accessible from inside the bus and the rear being accessible from the rear emergency exit door.

You can store items under sofas. You can even remove the sofa's feet and place the sofa frame above a framed-in storage box or a set of drawers similar to those found on a captain's bed.

Shelving is an excellent use of the space over windows and around the perimeter of the bus where you won't be walking. It's critical that you add a small ledge, at least two inches tall, along the front edge of the shelf to keep items from falling when the bus is moving. (Similarly, it is wise to use small hook-and-eye latches to keep drawers from opening while you're driving.)

A wood stove is an excellent way to stay warm and complete your conversion. Install it close to the center of the bus, from front to back, and far enough off the wall to allow the chimney pipe to go through the ceiling.

Adapted from Skoolie! by Will Sutherland. Used with permission from Storey Publishing.

&#; Now Watch This:

Bus Conversion TIME LAPSE / Amateur Builders Complete Interior Shell in Tiny Home Progress Rehabit8
opens in a new windowPurchasing and retrofitting a standard school bus like this into a “skoolie” is hard work but ultimately worth it if you want to save money on a mobile home.

The Skoolie

There are a million different reasons a wheelchair user might want more mobile living quarters, but RV living isn’t for everyone. Luckily, there are plenty of other ways to live accessibly on the road.

Take Thomas Speer, who came to his accessible school bus conversion by way of a yurt. Speer, a para and manual wheelchair user, owns an acre of land in rural North Carolina and had dreams of turning that acre into a permaculture farm (think less Miracle Grow and more human-curated ecosystem). He wanted to raise a yurt to live in at the property, but the county he lived in required him “to build it basically like a house, and at that point, it’s not a yurt,” he says.

The county didn’t have much to say about parking a bus on your own property though. Speer had been tinkering with the idea of a school bus conversion and when a good friend bought one, Speer saw the practicality and the blank slate that a “skoolie” (as they’re known) offered. He decided to go for it. “I dove into it just thinking, ‘I can do this,’” he says. “But I was in a bit over my head. I’ve built things before, but using a wheelchair there are just certain things you can’t do by yourself.” Speer hired a friend of a friend who was looking for work and the two started what would become a two-year conversion process.

opens in a new windowIt’s hard to believe this beautiful living space once transported unruly kids to their classes.

Watch the video below that Speer did with the YouTube channel “ opens in a new windowTiny Home Tours” and you’ll understand why it took so long. His bus is beautiful — fir shiplap covers the roof and walls, there are live edge countertops and hammered brass sinks, a wood stove, tiled roll-in shower and a “churched up” murphy bed, all so thoughtfully laid out that even with a house-worth of amenities he still has plenty of room to roll around with wide knobby tires on his wheelchair. There’s air-conditioning, hot water and a second outdoor shower attached to the bus so he can wash dirt off his chair (or his dog) before coming inside. The whole setup is powered by roof-mounted solar panels, with touch screen controls and an electronics cabinet that looks like it could command a nuclear submarine.

But the most surprising part about his bus may be the cost. Speer estimates he spent $55,, on the whole thing, which is about one-fifth of the cost of Winnebago’s new “accessibility enhanced” RVs, and less than you’d pay for a new wheelchair-accessible minivan. A big part of the low cost is due to the fact that you can buy a used, full-size school bus, complete with a wheelchair lift for around $6,, From there costs are dependent on how tricked out you want your setup to be and how much you (or friends and family) can do the conversion labor yourself. Speer estimates that if he’d gone without the solar, off-grid capabilities and high-end finishes, he could’ve done a basic but livable conversion for around $20,

Even so, DIY bus conversions aren’t for everyone. They take a lot of time and effort. You have to research, design, build, fiddle and redo. “All the finishing work was 10 times as hard [as normal construction] because everything is in a bus. There are so many weird angles and curves.  It was difficult for sure,” says Speer. His advice for other would-be accessible skoolie converters? “Take your time. Don’t get in a rush. And don’t give up. It’s a long project, but it’s definitely worth it.”

Speer is getting ready to head off on a two-month trip in his bus. To follow along, check out his Instagram @thefartherbus.

Accessible Toy Hauler

When Rudy and David Berger began looking at a more accessible way to travel and visit family spread across the country, they had a few specific requirements. Rudy, a para who was injured at 70 years old, uses a hospital-style bed to manage circulation and pressure sore issues. They wanted to be able to use the hospital bed and have space for a portable Hoyer lift. And they didn’t want a huge rig with all the costs and maintenance that go along with them.

opens in a new windowThe Bergers’ toy hauler

David, a retired engineer, researched options and ultimately decided on a Heartland T31 toy hauler-style towable trailer. Toy haulers typically have a living quarters at the front end of the trailer and a garage bay at the rear that people use to carry motorcycles, ATVs or other vehicles and equipment. The Bergers’ Heartland trailer had a 12 ½-foot garage section with robust tiedown attachments, so they were able to place and easily secure the hospital bed without modifying it.

They did modify the door between the garage area and main living space, widening it from 24 to 32 inches so Rudy could fit through in her manual wheelchair. David also modified their Hoyer lift to accommodate the height of the trailer door and made a foldable platform out of plywood and piano hinges, so they’d have a stable base to put the lift even when they were parked in gravel. “In many of these RV sites, you don’t find paved places very often,” he says. The toy hauler has an integrated rear ramp, but David says the slope was too much to manage, which is why Rudy uses a lift to access the trailer.

Other modifications included adding plumbing for a washer/dryer combo unit, a process that added about $4, They also put in a corner sink unit that Rudy could roll under and use independently. David was able to modify the existing plumbing and put the sink in on his own.

The first summer they had it, the Bergers put 16, miles on their trailer, visiting family from Minnesota to Arkansas and trekking north through Canada to visit Alaska for the first time. Whether they were staying with family, at RV Parks or a few nights dry camping out in the middle of nowhere, Berger says the modified toy hauler wound up giving them the kind of traveling flexibility they were looking for, “and then some.”

Also This Month

The Accessible RV Life on the Road
How to Choose an RV
Keeping It Classy & Affordable in a Class C


Conversions diy bus

On the outside, Mike and Tawny had everything they wanted, yet they weren't truly happy. So, the adventurous couple sold everything they had, bought a school bus, and converted it into a small home-on-wheels. Here is the transformation.

Tawny and Mike McVay became friends while working at the same gym. A few months later, they realized their connection went beyond friendship, and they married not long after. By many accounts, they had a perfect life.

Couple turns bus home

After the wedding, the couple opened up their own gym together. Mike and Tawny ran a successful business, owned a gorgeous home, and drove fabulous cars. "On the outside, we had everything that we were told when we were young would make us happy," Tawny said. "What we thought we wanted was obviously not making us happy."

Despite having everything they needed, the lovebirds didn't feel content with their lives. "We suddenly looked around, and it was like, 'What are we doing?'" Tawny shared in an interview. And so they decided to get out of town and planned their first trip to Europe.

DIY couple transforms bus

Once abroad, the duo realized that the freedom to travel was what their lives were missing. "We don't want to be stuck in one place," Tawny explained. "We don't want to be doing the same thing and living the same day over and over again." The duo strived to travel full-time.

But how could they afford to make their travel dreams a reality? The wanderlusters found an answer in the skoolie community - the couple bought a school bus to convert into a little home on wheels. "The biggest thing we had to do was throw off that shame and guilt that came with wanting something different," Tawny said.

DIY bus conversion transformation

She added, "Letting go of the conventional 'normal' life in lieu of the one we actually wanted was the biggest adjustment." But soon, there was no going back. Mike and Tawny bought their new home for a mere $5, - a yellow International school bus.

There were a couple of reasons why Mike and Tawny chose to convert a school bus into their small home instead of buying an RV or a tiny house on wheels. First of all, buying a bus allowed the duo to customize their future residence entirely. They also thought a skoolie would be easier to drive.

DIY bus build

But before they could begin building their dream home, Tawny and Mike had to demolish the existing interior. The duo had to rip out the original seats, walls, and even the floor. They planned on doing it all themselves - a total DIY for the inexperienced builders.

It took the DIYers about two days to rip out the something passenger seats on the vehicle. They then cleared out the original metal flooring and subfloor, only to find plenty of rust underneath. But before getting started on fixing up the skoolie, Tawny and Mike taped out their floor plan.

DIY couple transforms motorhome

The bus was only square feet, but the pair's design allowed them to fit practically all of their typical household amenities. By the time they were done, the skoolie would have a living room area, a kitchen, a fully-equipped bathroom, and a spacious bedroom.

Before getting started on the subfloor, Tawny and Mike took care of the rust problem. It was an expected step considering the school bus had been in use since The DIYers filled holes in the flooring and used Rust-Oleum floor paint to take care of the rust.

DIY motorhome, DIY skoolie

Once that was fixed, it was time to get started on the new flooring. The couple would be traveling in all sorts of weather, so insulation was a must. Mike and Tawny framed the floor and installed rigid polystyrene foam boards, also called styrofoam insulation.

After the insulation, Tawny and Mike measured and cut the new subfloor panels to fit perfectly into the skoolie. "We have a floor, and suddenly, this feels more real," Tawny shared at the time. The DIYers chose not to bolt the subfloor into the insulation, going for a "floating" one instead.

Motorhome transformation, bus transformation

"After researching and first-hand accounts of the outcomes, it seemed prudent to bolt fixtures and walls to the actual walls and ceiling and leave the floor floating underneath where it can flex slightly," Tawny said. The floating subfloor would work better long-term as movement and changing temperatures affected the skoolie.

Tawny and Mike considered three options when it came to the bus's windows: leave them all uncovered, cover them from the inside only, or remove them entirely and replace the space with metal to match the rest of the vehicle. The DIYers decided to go with option two.

Bus conversion, motorhome build

The couple added a thermal barrier tint to keep the motorhome's inside cool and provide some more privacy through the windows that didn't end up covered by an interior wall. "Not having to lose the aesthetic of the school bus windows from the outside in favor of metal was a huge plus for us," Tawny explained.

Once Tawny and Mike tinted the windows, they started framing the bus's metal walls. This would provide the skeleton for the skoolie's new walls. "We will frame in the exterior walls first, lay laminate next, and then begin the interior wall framing," the DIYers shared.

Bus conversion, van life

"Neither of us had any construction experience, so we learned as we went," Tawny explained. "There were multiple times where we would do a project and then pull it out and redo it. There were so many times that something we planned just wouldn't work."

"Things are getting real up in here," Tawny shared at this stage of the conversion. "Appliances have arrived." The skoolie-owners found an affordable stove/oven and Dometic fridge/freezer combo that would "run off of solar while parked and propane while moving."

Bus to home conversion

At this point, the homeowners had also finished framing the walls and installing the new flooring. They chose greyish laminate boards that provided durability and beauty all in one. With the final floor layer in, they began framing interior walls. Let's take a closer look at what's happening in the back.

Pictured below are the beginnings of the bathroom, hallway, and bedroom walls. The engine can also be found at the back of the bus. While some skoolie owners whose bus has a rear engine choose to wall it off from the rest of the bedroom, Tawny and Mike had a different idea.

Bus to home transformation

The duo wanted to maintain access to the big window in the back, so they decided to turn the space above the engine into a seat. "We will reupholster over [the engine] to create a reading nook, an extension of the bed that I'm pretty sure will get more use than the bed itself," Tawny shared.

Like most bus conversions, these skoolie owners made sure their bed was tall enough to provide lots of storage space underneath. The DIYers built four flaps into the bed's top so that they could later access the storage without having to lift everything all at once.

Motorhome conversion, skoolie conversion

"Each section has its own hinged lid that lifts up," they explained. But that wasn't the bed's only storage space. Mike and Tawny also built three huge drawers to put under the bed, each measuring three feet by three feet. They intended to store clothes there.

The bedroom was coming along nicely, and so was the living room area. The couple would sometimes be traveling with Tawny's two teenage kids, whom she co-parents with her former partner, so they made sure to have room on the skoolie for the kiddos, too.

Couple turns bus home

The family later changed their minds about the bunk beds and redid the living room, which we'll see later on. Across from the bunk beds, the DIYers built a custom bench couch. Right between the sofa and bus's main door, they designed a shelf for keys, wallets, and some shoes.

Past the living room, standing before the new bathroom wall, Tawny and Mike set up their new kitchen. You might be able to tell that there is actually some space between the back cabinets and the wall - the skoolie-owners managed to fit a breakfast nook!

DIY couple transforms bus

Despite working with only square feet, Mike and Tawny constructed an L-shaped kitchen that included a built-in eating nook that would double as a desk for them or the home-schooled teens. The open layout allowed for the living room and kitchen spaces to flow together.

Mike and Tawny went with an affordable butcher-block style wood for the countertops that they siliconed and waterproofed. The DIYers later finished off the countertops with Ardex Feather Finish, a self-drying cement-based finishing that gave the kitchen an industrial - and stunning - look.

DIY bus conversion transformation

The product is a good alternative to pouring concrete, which would look great but add a lot of unnecessary weight to the motorhome. The appliance seen on the left is an Atwood 3-Burner Range, while on the right is the Dometic fridge. The duo later gave these fixtures a major upgrade.

While most of the renovation was undoubtedly spent preparing the skoolie's interior, the hands-on fam also worked on beautifying the exterior. They used "special metal paint from Rust-Oleum that had primer" in it before adding the final layers of white paint.

DIY bus build

The motorhome's outside also had access to four large under-storage bins, two on each side of the vehicle. There, Tawny and Mike store off-grid necessities like two gallon water tanks, the bank of batteries for the future solar system, and camping supplies.

By the time the school bus conversion was complete, the original cheese bus was unrecognizable. The fresh coats of paint gave the skoolie, which Tawny and Mike named "Oliver," a whole new look. They also replaced the original windowed door with something more unique.

DIY couple transforms motorhome

"My dad actually made [the door]," Tawny said. "A lot of the metalwork in this bus was fabricated by my dad who kind of does metalworking on the side as a hobby, and he custom made our front door out of this like rusty piece of metal that I fell in love with and two of the original bus windows."

The skoolie's roof also got some major improvements, including an 8-foot long rooftop deck perfect for observing surrounding scenery. "I do yoga up there, we watch the stars the kids come up and play board games with us," shared Tawny. "It's like our outdoor space that travels with us."

DIY motorhome, DIY skoolie

Aside from the dreamy deck, the motorhome's roof contains much of its off-grid powering system. Towards the front of the bus are six large solar panels. At the very front is a cargo rack where they secure their bikes while traveling, as Tawny and Mike like to have alternative transportation modes.

Six months and $20, later, the skoolie was finished. But after one trip on the motorhome, Mike and Tawny knew they had to change the layout a bit. The biggest issue was the bunk beds, which felt very bulky in the small space. Plus, "The kids hated them," Tawny said.

Motorhome transformation, bus transformation

The two teenagers didn't like that they couldn't sit up in their beds and had to be cramped on the sofa bench during long drives. So shortly after the family thought they'd completed their skoolie, they got back to work. The results were even better the second time around.

Scratching the bunk beds wasn't the only change in the living room remodel. The DIYers also lowered the couch on the left and changed the under-couch storage from a big, sliding box to wooden crates holding about a dozen baskets, as the initial compartment was uncomfortable to reach.

Motorhome transformation, bus transformation

The arm on the couch's far side also serves as storage and holds a lengthy fold-out table that the couple can use both outside and inside. The legs are expandable so that the piece can function as a coffee table or a dining table. When the kids travel with Mike and Tawny, one sleeps on the couch and the other

On the other sofa! That's right - behind the rustic chest and the cute basket is a hidden murphy couch. They can unfold it, and bam - another bed appears. A discreet hook on the ceiling provides more seating, as the skoolie-dwellers have a hammock chair that they hook onto it.

Bus conversion, motorhome build

With the bulky beds gone, the couple has space for a inch TV to watch plenty of movies and play video games. "This TV is perfect because it pulls out and can swivel to match the room, so when we pull down that couch and hang the hammock chair, everyone in the audience can see the TV," Mike said.

At the skoolie's front, leading into the living room is the "mudroom." "It's kind of just a catch-all space for like when we come in, the same way that your entry in your house would be," Tawny said. They also decorate this area with knick-knacks from their many travels.

Bus conversion, van life

"We actually have faux walls that we throw up in these front windows," Tawny added. The couple puts up the fake walls when they are parked longer-term and have simple blinds for short-term privacy while on the road. Behind the curtain and next to the driver's seat are a few hooks for coats.

The kitchen now looks slightly different from how it did initially, with a textured white wall replacing the map design. Little hacks like magnetic spice tins above the fridge allow for easy cooking while keeping things in place on the road. The sink is built into the concrete-finish countertops for a seamless look.

Bus to home conversion

The DIYers got creative with the appliances and painted the fridge and oven with metallic rose gold paint. "We wanted to give them a slightly different finish because when it comes to RV or skoolie appliances, your basic three finishes are silver, black, and white, and we didn't really want any of those," Tawny shared.

As planned, the other side of the kitchen's back counter has room for a couple of stools - the perfect little breakfast bar or study/workspace. But that's not the only treasure found over here, as the picture below shows. Mike and Tawny also have a little Jotul stove to heat the skoolie.

Bus to home transformation

"It's been amazing. It's kept us warm through an entire Montana winter, which is hard to do," Tawny shared. The couple built a cement board around the stove for fire safety and covered it with a steel shield. But wait - there's even more to this motorhome's kitchen.

Aside from the many cabinets underneath the kitchen counter, Mike and Tawny also built this shelving unit where they mostly store dry goods like lentils and beans. The shelf's back is a repurposed old map from their former house, which the couple couldn't bear to part with.

Motorhome conversion, skoolie conversion

There's elastic cording across the front of the shelves that make for easy access but keeps things organized while driving. As for other shelves around the house, Mike explained that they "have cargo nets that fit over the face of the shelves." Now let's take a look into the bedroom.

It's safe to say the travel buddies' bedroom turned out to be a totally magical and cozy haven. Just as they'd planned, Mike and Tawny turned the compartment around the rear engine into a window seat. They added a couch cushion and some throw pillows for a nook with stunning views.

Couple turns bus home

According to Tawny, the back window is "the most awesome [one] in the house," so it's a good thing the DIYers didn't cover it up! Underneath the platform bed, you'll find the large drawers containing most of the couple's clothes, plus extra storage for camping gear and winter supplies.

Many skoolie conversions have a bedroom just big enough for the bed, but not this one. Aside from a regular queen-size mattress, Tawny and Mike have some walking space in the room and an open closet. The exposed storage space has a copper bar with hooks/clips rather than hangers, which would take up more space.

DIY couple transforms bus

"[The bedroom's] pretty big by schooly standards because we spend quite a lot of time back here," Tawny explained. Since the couple shares custody of Tawny's two kids, the teens take over the front half of the bus, and Mike and Tawny work in the bedroom when the whole crew is together.

Hard to believe this gorgeous bathroom is on a school bus? Yeah, we feel ya. To save space, Tawny and Mike chose a sliding door for the entryway and added a full-length mirror to it. Once you step inside, the composting toilet and a small sink are on the left.

DIY bus conversion transformation

"It's a wetroom-style bathroom, so everything in here can get wet," Mike shared. The DIYers installed Acacia wood-flooring and cement-finished walls that match the motorhome's vibe and are totally waterproof. A water heater and water pump are located under the sink.

The bathroom is probably the room that has changed the most since Mike and Tawny first moved in. The toilet was originally where the bathtub is now, but the couple moved it to make room for their much-needed tub. They managed to make everything fit by cutting the sink counter in half and moving the toilet there.

DIY bus build

Next to the tub is the copper showerhead, which has built-in shelving on the side for their wash products. It seems that these DIYers have proven you can truly have it all even when living tiny. Their bathtub might be small, but there's something extraordinary about it.

The bathtub is portable! "It used to be a wine barrel," Mike explained. "Now it's just half of one barrel from California that we can use inside or outside." Repurposing rustic pieces for a Pinterest-perfect outdoor adventure? Yes, please! So how do Tawny and Mike live so fabulously while traveling?

DIY couple transforms motorhome

Now that the couple lives in the skoolie, they sold their gym and work from home as content creators. "People say, 'How do you afford your lifestyle?'" Tawny said. "Well, we have remote jobs that we both do, but you would be surprised when you don't have a mortgage and car payments how little you can actually get by on."

The wine barrel bath isn't the only thing the couple can bring outside. With off-grid capabilities (thanks to solar panels and portable batteries), Tawny and Mike can take much of their technology into the great outdoors and enjoy nature's goodies with humankind's technology.

DIY motorhome, DIY skoolie

While she often enjoys working outside, Mike's go-to is playing his video games. Doing this hobby outdoors was on the bus dweller's skoolie bucket list. "He sat there grinning like a five year old while he played, with eyes shut listening to the creek rush by during loading screens," Tawny shared.

While the McVay's love to be on the move, sometimes staying in one spot is what the DIYers' souls need. And so Mike and Tawny built an adorable porch by their skoolie's entrance for when they're hunkered down for a long-term stay. The roof provides shade so that guests can chill outside at any time of the day.

Motorhome transformation, bus transformation

The string lights, unique table stand, and throw blanket make it a welcoming space. "It's simple, but it's home," Tawny wrote of their outdoor set-up. "And it's the best of both worlds - front porch sittin' with a house that pulls away when the mood strikes."

Many skoolie residents are always on the lookout for how to make their small space even better - and Mike and Tawny are no exception. After transforming a whole bus into a home, it's hardly surprising that these two aren't afraid to get out the old power tools over and over again.

Bus conversion, motorhome build

And drilling a sturdy hook to hang a portable hammock was hardly the trickiest thing they completed. The McVay's put the hammock away when on the move or when they want more open space in the living room/entrance. But when the couple wants more seating space? Hello, hammock.

As the McVay's spent more time in their skoolie living room, they couldn't help but dream up some changes. As noted before, the motorhome's living space initially had a bunk bed set up across from the couch for Tawny's kids to sleep in when living on the bus.

Bus conversion, van life

And the couch in front of the beds was a custom-made DIY bench put together by Mike and Tawny. But then the skoolie dwellers had a change of heart. "We removed the platform couch and replaced it with an actual pre-built one," the McVay's explained of the upgrade.

And that's not the only remodel the DIYers decided to take on. While the bathroom was initially the room with the most renovations, the living room might take the prize now. First, bunk beds for the kids were changed to a murphy bed with an entertainment center.

Bus to home conversion

And now, that side of the living room got some more changes. "We removed the Murphy bed and shelving unit at the front and replaced it with a more awesome shelving system," Tawny shared on Instagram. "It was a little more of a pain to do than we anticipated, in that we had to move some electrical around to make the design work." Check back in for the finished look!

One thing that Tawny and Mike proved throughout their entire skoolie journey was just that: It was a journey. And that meant that many things would change along the way. But for the pair of nomadic lovebirds, the ebb and flow was half the fun of their lifestyle.

skoolie renovation transformation pictures

And this latest change brought some great new updates to their spacious skoolie living room. "We replaced the foldaway bed with cupboards and cubbies, added more shelves, and moved the chest out," the caption read of the final product. Plus they hinted at more renos in the future

But safe to say, with each revamp of their unique space, the bus felt more and more like home. It seemed as though Mike and Tawny couldn't have been happier in their DIY project and their living situation really seemed to fit the unique needs of the adventurous couple.

nomadic couple skoolie living

Plus, the revamp of the living room opened up even more potential for indoor activities. Tawny herself was a big fan of practicing yoga both indoors and outdoors. From the bus' patio space to the spacious living room, the wanderlust yogi found a way to bring her mindfulness into every corner of their house.

From renovations to backroad adventures, Mike and Tawny were living the life they'd dreamt of since first deciding to pack up and hit the road. And before they knew it, their adventure of a lifetime had reached two whole years. Safe to say that they had a lot to celebrate over the days.

bus renovations before after

"Two years living full-time in this bus," they shared on Instagram. "Two years of travels, freedom from the grind, more time spent doing what we love, and a tiny haven from the outside world." Mike and Tawny even shared a YouTube video in commemoration of their two-year "bussiversary"

And their "bussiversary" marked the start of arguably Mike and Tawny's most adventurous season of the year: summer. By the time June rolled around, the duo could hear the open road calling their name, and they decided to answer. After all, what better way to utilize their mobile home than to pack off and explore for the summer?

couple sells house nomadic

"We are actually about to hit the road and enjoy some time away," the nomadic lovebirds shared. "As much as I love this little patio and our little home base, I'm super excited to get the road under our wheels again. We plan on disappearing off grid to our favorite secret spot in the Montana woods."

In Mike and Tawny's words, "No service, no outside world, just us and a bus out in nature," was all the couple craved. The idea of quality one-on-one time in nature was heaven on earth for the skoolie husband and wife. And it was that communal passion for the outdoors that kept their spark alive.

DIY bus renos pictures

During their summer full of adventure, these nomads celebrated nine years of adventure in the best way possible: disconnected from city life in the middle of the forest. "It's the greatest adventure of my life to love and be loved by you," Tawny wrote on Instagram. "You're the only home I'll ever need."

And as much as they loved their quality time together, Tawny and Mike also found great joy in finding like-minded people to share their adventure with. From meeting up on the road to connecting on social media, they soon found themselves a growing community of skoolies of their own that made the adventure that much more enjoyable.

couple lives in bus

"Bus life is full of amazing people, ones who spend their time inspiring and encouraging and building others up," Tawny wrote on Instagram. "They say you become like the people you surround yourself with, so choose your friends carefully." It seemed like the more they shared about their bus life, the more their community grew.

Mike and Tawny were so open throughout their entire skoolie process. They shared their successes and their setbacks with their thousand followers with humility and kindness. To them, half the joy in sharing what they shared on social media was knowing that it could help or inspire others.

skoolie couple unique story

And for that very reason, they began posting resources to help other novice or aspiring skoolies in achieving their dreams. Especially when it came to financial tips about how to afford their lifestyle. The people asked and Shawny delivered! She posted an article breaking down the ins and outs, and it led to a bigger idea

With over two years of skoolie adventures under her belt, Shawny soon realized that she had a unique story to share with the world. And it fueled a new adventure of her own to undertake. She decided to put pen to paper (or laptop) and write a book about her and her husband's experience of a lifetime.

couple living school bus

She shared the news with her followers with a lengthy post. "This book is, at times, a far cry away from the pretty photos you'll scroll through on the 'Gram," she wrote. "It's the sometimes painful story of how we upended the life we were told we should want for the one we actually did."

Just like Tawny shared in her memoir teaser, bus life wasn't all sunsets and forest baths. And one fateful weekend in mid-July reminded Mike and Tawny of just that. Their poor Oliver suffered some intense damage during a harsh windstorm. "[It] yanked our patio out of the ground and sent it crashing into the side of the bus and up over the deck."

unique couples living bus

"Thankfully, it looked much worse than it was and we have set it right again," Tawny shared with her followers. "This time with some additional reinforcements in case Mother Nature decides to treat us to an encore performance." It seemed as though no matter was thrown their way, Mike and Tawny would get through it.

And that, in a way, summed up the overall success throughout this whole journey. Sure, the hard times came, but Mike and Tawny found a way to see the silver lining in every situation. From stormy days to construction headaches, they never let temporary inconvenience take away from their dream.

nomadic couples skoolie community

And for that, we could only hope that sunny days and fulfilling adventures continue their way! If you'd like to keep up with Oliver the bus and Mike and Tawny as they continue to live their skoolie dream, you can find them on Instagram and YouTube under @sincewewokeup. And of course, the upcoming memoir coming our way

Mini-Bus Conversion Timelapse

Missy Miller entrepreneur, author, blogger, and a single mom based in East Tennessee. She is the creator of the Discovering Us Bus a blog that details her family's skoolie adventures, founder of the DIY Skoolie Guide where she provides resources to help the DIY skoolie community, and CEO and founder of Four Wheels and a Bra a community that encourages and support nomadic women who desire wanderlust freedom.

She is passionate about helping women go from dreaming about a life of travel to building a life of freedom and adventure through her blogs, books, and the nomadic travel community. She loves traveling around the country exploring new sites and sharing about living life on purpose in a nomadic vehicle. One of her consistent themes is encouraging others to live life through experiences.

Her books DIY Skoolie Guide and the DIY Skoolie Floor Planning Guide give a step-by-step roadmap for converting a bus into a home on wheels.

Her course, DIY Skoolie Master Class, has helped over thousands of students from all around the world create a skoolie that makes them feel at home no matter where they travel.

Born and raised in South Carolina, her roots run deep in southern culture. The food, large oak trees dripping in Spanish moss, the sounds of seagulls, and the smell of pluff mud makes her smile. She is happiest in a chair on the beach with a book, hanging out with her children.

Missy's tell-it-like-it-is attitude mixed with her glittery southern sass helps her connect authentically with her audience. What you see is what you get, whether in person or on social media.

Between booking nomadic travel adventures and vacations for others, carpool lines, managing a business, and drinking coffee, she enjoys spending time with her children.

For more information on Missy check out


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custom diy skoolie bus conversion design layout

@trebventure transformed their blue bird school bus into a modern tiny home for the whole family. Our favorite part about this build is the minimalist kitchen and mini wood stove for heating.

school bus conversion build @finnleywest

@finnleywest has a colorful and warm wood interior. What we like about this conversion is the all of the organization and storage space. This bus looks just like a tiny home but it&#;s certainly more mobile!

building a diy skoolie bus conversion adventure
living in a diy skoolie bus conversion

@bilby_the_bus is owned by two Australians out of Melbourne. The bus was a low-budget build and is electrically powered by the sun! We love the roof deck and platform to store surfboards and make extra space to hang out.

School bus build diy conversion@the_marley_bus

Another Australian conversion is @the_marley_bus which is built out of a Toyota coaster. We like that this build has such a cool personality on the inside as well as all the counter space!

modern skoolie bus conversion design
cool layout in a diy skoolie bus conversion

@nomadicmillers are a family of five that adventure in their bus! With all of those people, organization is a key component of this conversion. The retired school bus comes with a full kitchen and sets of bunk beds in the back to fit the whole family.

diy conversion bus to live in@navigationnowhere

@navigationnowhere has a simplistic and practical bus build that is perfect for adventure. We love the attention to detail in this build and how the green color scheme on the inside wraps right around to the exterior.

roof top platform on top of a diy skoolie bus conversion build
reading in a custom school bus conversion build

A miniature bus is still quite spacious! @sasquatchthebus makes the perfect adventure vehicle because it&#;s small enough to go up the really windy roads but large enough to hold anything you need. The roof deck on top is our favorite part of the build &#; looks like the perfect place to sleep under the stars.

Surfing couple in a school bus conversion@panamericanbus

The @panamericanbus is one of our favorite adventures to follow on instagram. This couple has taken their cool conversion bus from America all the way to Argentina and has really cool experiences to share. We love how they used every inch of storage and figured out a unique way to store surf boards inside!

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Parked In Paradise Staff

We are a community of van lifers, campers, and RV enthusiasts with a passion for adventure. This is a blog written for travelers by travelers to give you tips and tricks for enjoying the great outdoors.


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