By Johnny Blayze | @WanderlustBus
(Editor’s Note: Thanks again to the Blayze family for contributiing their incredible story. Read more about their journey at TheWanderlustBus.com.)
So when we started talking about moving to a life on the road, the first thing the Mrs. said was that we should get a school bus and convert it. I, being super knowledgeable and always right, decided that it was a crazy idea.
:::What’s that, hon?:::
What I meant to say was, after we deliberated the Mrs. decided that maybe it was just too much to undertake and we wanted to be on the road sooner than that so…..
Once we decided to move away from the “crazy converting a school bus idea”, she broke away from her essential oils research to really think this through. Heck as I write this post she’s putting crushed eggshells into caps for our calcium supplements, so it was big to get her to focus on this.
At this point, the next option was a pull behind camper of some sort.
Both the bumper pull and fifth wheel styles went on the logical chopping block. We could get something that was big enough to hold everyone and still have room for our stuff. We then considered the fact that “Our Stuff” is quite extensive. We cook everything from scratch to cut costs so our pantry can get extensive and we do a lot of building and maker type stuff so we’ve got a fair amount of tools as well.
Fitting all of that somewhere on the INSIDE of a camper or even a fifth wheel just seemed unreasonable and a complete logistical nightmare. Plus since it’s illegal to have passengers ride in a pull behind of any kind in most states, the kids would need to be strapped in the tow vehicle any time we were in transit so….
Now that any thought of the camper of our dreams had come and gone, we shifted to what the girls COULD ride in without being strapped to a seat every second we were in motion – An RV!
We could get a mid-80’s RV at a fairly reasonable cost and just do what we were planning with the camper but with the addition of being able to tow a “garage” trailer, just like every other one thus far, the problems started showing their ugly heads.
The same problems that exist with the camper (storage, portability) were present in the RV too. Also, after scouring craigslist, I found out that there are two kinds of RVs on craigslist; the first is an RV that is cheap enough that I would feel comfortable buying, but needs so much work even on just the shell, doesn’t run, or is just plain UGLY; the other is an RV so expensive you’ll need a small fortune to make it doable, not to mention I wouldn’t feel good about ripping out the perfectly serviceable interior to replace stuff with non-synthetic materials. So…
So here is where my earlier hubris turns and bites me in the ass. The next logical step was to convert a school bus. Needless to say, I heard about my folly in logic saying that this was a crazy idea but after eliminating the other options we weren’t left with a ton of choices.
We started looking all over the country for school bus that was in decent shape, on websites, craigslist, newspapers, anywhere we could. We found a ton of buses available. Some of them dirt cheap, some of them very expensive; but most within our price range. Plus because they were so available, it seemed I wouldn’t need to travel far to get one back home.
After we went to look at a couple we had some revelations. If we were going to make this our home, it would need a ton of work. I’m tall (6’2″) and bus interior heights stop at 6′ in some models, plus I would have to actually make all the storage for tanks and whatnot underneath…so (last one, I promise)…
That’s how we finally landed on a highway style tour bus. This style of bus had pretty much everything we were looking for in a potential rolling dwelling; storage, the ability to tow a pull behind, room for all the additional systems we intend to have as well as our stuff, it all just seemed to work.
At first we were concerned that the cost of buying this style of bus would be too prohibitive and we would be back to the school bus idea. We found this to be pretty true. We found some buses for under $5000, but they ran into the same issues that the RVs had. Fortunately, we found a great deal on our 1988 Eagle so that concern was alleviated.
It truly was a gem of a find! It was well maintained with inspection and maintenance records going back to 2000. In addition, the organization we bought it from had just done about $8,000 worth of work 18 months prior to my purchase. We felt really good about this buy! If I was buying a car and not a bus, I would have been no more or less fastidious when I “kicked the tires.”
That’s about the gist of it, folks. We wen’t though every possibility and that’s the one thing I want to get crystal clear.
If you are considering making a major move, of any kind really, weigh ALL your options. Consider every benefit and pitfall that come with each and that will make your decision for you. In our case, this bus made the most sense – it had all the features, it fit our budget, it was attainable without a great deal of stress, and it would be easier to convert to our needs than any of the other options.