School Bus Conversion Becomes His Off Grid Travel Home
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School Bus Conversion Becomes His Off Grid Travel Home


Hey guys, I just got back from the tiny
house, Jamboree in Austin, Texas, and during the very busy event, I managed to make time to interview and
shoot a tour of my friend’s fantastic bus. Bus life is more popular than ever and I think
after you see a tour of this gorgeous schooly, you’ll understand why
people are going crazy for buses. Hi, I’m Mike with navigation
nowhere and this is my bus before I went into the bus life,
I was actually in graduate school. I was studying cultural anthropology
and was doing some research work. It was a really good,
important part of my life, but I really wanted to get out there and
start actually experiencing the world and start traveling a bit.
I pretty much, you know, talked to my parents about
it and was like, Hey, I’m going to finish school and then
I’m going to go buy a school bus. Two weeks later after finishing school, I had a bus in the driveway of my parents’
house and that’s where it all began. This bus I did build, you know, by
myself without outside professionals, but it was a project with my family and
I did work alongside my dad and learn skills throughout the whole
process. So it’s a lot of fun. And this bus means a lot to me
and my family. Because of that. Last two years have gone by, I’ve
met some really amazing people. I’ve been able to travel
all over the country. I’ve been to every state except for
Hawaii because buses don’t really do too well going to Hawaii Welcome to the inside of my home. This bus is 35 feet exterior and
the inside is about 180 square feet. This is what I like to call my
dining room, my spare bedroom, and my living room. So these couches are both kind of just
sitting areas for when they’re set up just like this. But they actually
also fold out into one large bed, which meets in the middle. So I have the option of either
having one large bed or a half a bed, depending on how many guests I have. So what size bed is this? It’s a 44 square foot bed. No, no, it’s 44 square feet. So the table is actually hidden
right underneath this board. When we put the table together, this
piece slides in between the legs. into this space. And by doing that, it just sturdies the table and kind
of holds the whole thing together and it just kind of hides nicely
right on top of the couch. I don’t necessarily need a bus that
sleeps six and has empty storage, which I know we’re not there
right now, but a empty storage, like there’s just empty
cabinets everywhere. And the whole point of that was
because this bus was built for guests. It was built for, um, I’ve had 15
roommates over the last year and a half, and they’ve all been different.
Flying in, flying out. This bus has been to almost every
airport in the U S and I’ve met a lot of security guards at airports who
really enjoy seeing the bus, try to drive through. I’ve literally had more than eight
people sitting on my couches all hanging around the table. Um, I’ve even had people sit on my
garbage can at the end right here. And they’re just like, you know, sitting on the garbage can just like
hanging out as you’re moving back from my living room, bedroom, dining room, you kind of move into this little
center space, which I honestly, when I was building it had no clue what
I was going to do with it cause it was just empty. So if anyone
ever looked at build photos, it’s like nice finished cabinet, nice
finished couch, like an empty space. But I ended up putting an entertainment
system in it and a heater. So it just a propane heater and it’s
duct throughout the couches and stuff. This bus has a full surround sound
system in it. It’s wired all through HDMI. Mine has a projector on board if
anyone’s looking at and like, Hmm, that looks like a
residential unit. It is. Uh, mostly just because that’s what
I had when I built the bus. I’m off grid on this system, so it’s not the most efficient
to run a one 20 thing. Um, but I just simply boosted up my system
to kind of supply the things that I had and the needs that I had.
Moving on to this side. It was kind of a space that
I didn’t know what to do with. I thought maybe I’ll get a dog later
or a bunny or a turtle and it will live right there. But, uh, for now
it’s just the trashcan. Yeah. Yeah. These are skies. I have
three of them within the bus. So this one is used to be the one of
the emergency exits. It was cut out. And then this is, uh, an
installed piece of Mar guard. So it’s flanged over and a
allows light to kind of come in. Natural light is super important to me
in my designs. It’s just brightens it up. It saves energy. And I mean, I can’t complain with the skylight and
a school bus, so I love my kitchen. Yes. If you can’t tell her my priorities
are, this is where they are. Uh, like I was saying before, my bus
was really built for me and people. So with that, I need to be able
to take care of those people. So I do have a full residential
oven. I do use all the burners. Um, it’s one of those things
where like people are like, do you really need four
burners? Like yeah, I need four burners cause I’m always
cooking. I’m always in the kitchen. I have all the prep
space and cooking space. Everything’s unlocked. So when
I’m driving, nothing falls. So I mean unlike some people’s tiny
houses or buses that I’ve seen or been in, everything in here is pretty
much ready for mobility. I mean the way the buses right
now, literally all I have to do is turn on the engine done. I built this pantry for the simple
reason that my mom has a pantry. So I thought to myself,
a house has a pantry, therefore I built one and it’s
completely unnecessary how big it is. I cannot eat this much food. People tend to come on my bus and then
leave food with me and then I have nowhere to put it. So pantry. And
then this is like the big question. This is a 120 residential,
it runs on solar. I got this for like 120 bucks off of
the home Depot floor because it was damaged. It was a large fridge, which is able to kind of hold all that
food when I have six or seven people on the bus or have guests over.
Uh, even at the Fest right now, a bunch of food isn’t even mine in here. It’s people at the festivals who
don’t have freezers. Moving back here, this is like the mystery, uh,
that people are always like, do you have a bathroom on the bus?
Yes. I actually just took a shower. Um, I have a full wet bath. It’s got
a composting toilet and shower. It is tiled and a, it’s a residential
32 by 32 base for spacing. So if I’m showering, it’s really
not that hard. I’m 5’10, by the way of anyone’s, you know, looking, but it’s really not hard to
be able to shower in here. I right here is probably
my very dirty closet. This is kind of the other section
that’s kind of a flip of folds, kind of multi-use space right now.
It is set up as a living room. This space also turns into an office
with two desks and my master bedroom, there’s two desks back
here. So once again, going along with the community
lifestyle, I built two desks and uh, they simply just click in. So if I’m working here, um,
I can then actually use this, it plugs into a full HDMI system into
the surround sound system in the front. So it was all kind of built with the
intention of the whole thing being one union space. These pins are simply just dowels that
are put the right through the wood and then the hole is
corresponding from the cleat. Go right into these so
that when you snap it in, they hold and they’re flush so
that when the cushion goes up, you don’t feel that bump.
So you’re not like, Oh, there’s a desk back there
who’s ready for the bed? Ready. The next thing is if people
are up there hanging out, they can just go like this and they can
hang out and I can go to bed and uh, vice versa, if I have to go to
the bathroom and do somethings, I can just hide away back here in peace. Well this is the outside of the bus, which is a little less interesting
because it’s more rugged for road use and things like that. But there are still a really quite a few
important features that I put on this bus that really fit for my lifestyle.
Specifically my side table. This table was designed mostly because
I used to travel on the road a lot and I’d always have to set up a table. So all I gotta do to drive is put it up
latch it and uh, we’re good to drive. So this is my rear garage. Back here is pretty much all of my
utilities. I have a welder on board. Uh, I have all of my extra tools,
engine parts, filters. I mean, I, I can fix the bus from the
side of the road kind of thing. So that’s all my solar
systems, my batteries, my
inverters are all right there. So all the power in the brains of the
are back here and then it’s wired through into the front of the bus because
I’m so nomadic and I drive so often. My engine actually does a lot of the power
cause I power right off my alternator into my battery system. So solar plus the battery alternator
makes my lifestyle happen. But if I just had solar it probably
wouldn’t actually function as well. This bus does have propane on
it. This tank’s a 29 gallon tank, which is completely ridiculous. I also have 130 gallons of
water underneath the bus. It allows me to be off-grid for long
periods of time without coming back to town. So last summer when I was in Alaska, I left town for about six
weeks and never came back. And that was because I had the ability
and the resources to stay out in the country for that long. I maximize this space as well as I
could by putting a rooftop deck on here, my AC unit, the skylights that you saw on the inside
and then my solar panels which are mounted over there in the center. This deck is totally unnecessary and
crazy and I really think that everyone who has a school bus should have one. It’s really great to be able
to go to really cool locations, just lounge up here with friends and be
able to have some really cool views or even sleep up here like I did last
night for a little bit cause it was just really hot and I just wanted some cool
breeze because this kind of bus life has really just taken me by storm and
the community’s really growing. I’m taking a lot of the skills and
things that my dad has taught me and my family has taught me with building and
all my experience living on the road and starting to share that with people. I travel consistently and the buses
allowed me to do that while I’m working. Yeah, I live by a really good theory. It’s
not the number of miles you drive. It’s about the people every mile along
the way. National parks are cool, but so is the town
before the national park, and I really tried to encourage people
to enjoy every mile along the way rather than just flying by on the road. I hope you guys enjoyed this week’s video, make sure to like share
and subscribe if you did, and also make sure to check out Mike’s
YouTube channel so you can see more informative videos about bus life.

About James Carlton

Read All Posts By James Carlton

100 thoughts on “School Bus Conversion Becomes His Off Grid Travel Home

  1. I like that everything is so low tech. Very little hardware, mostly just propping things in to place. Probably saved massively on the budget and is just as functional if not as boujee

  2. These are beautiful but how can we get specs? Itemized initial build and monthly operational costs? Dimensions and a basic schematic and/or overall layout?

  3. Superb build, well done! The finish is excellent. Your dad is very skilled. There are so many tools involved in wood working, that you really need a mentor. This was a huge project and very painstakingly finished. Not sure why you needed such a large bus. A smaller one would have made you more mobile and easier to park and turn. How many miles do you get per gallon of diesel?

    Video quality and filming techniques were very good, many thanks! Just eliminate the music then it will be perfect.

  4. This is amazing and actually inspiring to live this life. But where does he get his income from? Seriously, all these roadies work from the road, but, what sort of jobs are there like that for people to sustain this??

  5. Damn, you chose a school bus to travel in? Your gas bill per month has to be stupid expensive considering school buses only get around 4mpg..

  6. Should've definitely built a stool that would uniformly fit inside of the garbage can space, where the garbage can could've been sitting in between the legs.

  7. Man wanted to take all the credit for building the bus… I can guarantee that his father helped A TON. Although he did mention his dad, he also said he did it all by himself. Smh 🤦🏽‍♂️

  8. How did you get the stove on board? Did you have to disassemble it and rebuild it inside? Just curious as I can't see it fitting through the doors. EDIT: Also, amazing job!

  9. Not big on bus conversions but his design and ingenuity really shines . I actually live this . I really like the way he can adapt the space for his needs. That back bedroom, living room, office space is genius!!!!!! Just so cool

  10. I’ve been watchhing a lot of RV’s videos and Very Costly, but this Bus Convertion is way far the best of all,.
    Keep it up Man

  11. while growing up in the 70’s one of my close friends grew up in a bus like yours, she had 5 siblings and both parents. They lived on property that was unclaimed along with others that lived similar lifestyles. There was a creek where they had a cast iron bathtub, with a pit underneath where they would build a fire to heat the bath water. Back then I thought it was so cool…

  12. This is the best bus conversion I've seen thus far. Very creative, classy, and impressive. I want one now! Awesome.

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