Slowly but surely, the attraction of simplifying one's life and the advantages of small space living are inspiring a growing number of people to consider alternatives to the resource-intensive and soul-sucking 'dream' of the single family home with its manicured, but unproductive lawn, gas-guzzling car and hours-long commute to work. Change can be good, and it looks different for everyone.
Change for this family over in Europe came in the form of an old yellow school bus transformed into a comfortable home, which doubles as a mobile hostel that can accommodate up to six guests, plus the host family of three. Skiing and snowboarding instructors Valerie Cook and Tim Boffe of Let's Be Nomads are the masterminds behind this brilliant foray that combines alternative housing with hospitality.
With their young daughter and dog Lewis, the family is embarking on a three-year tour of Europe in their 39-foot-long, solar-powered bus, following their passion for the mountains and adventure sports. Though the distinctively yellow, secondhand bus had to be bought in America and shipped over to Europe, the couple are aiming for making their project 100 percent carbon-neutral by offsetting what they can't reduce via CarbonFund. They are either reinvesting their profits back into the bus or donating them to mountain sustainability projects. We get a rundown of this unique bus via the team at Go Downsize:
Here's another video of Valerie and Tim explaining the concept behind the mobile hostel: to create the "optimal holiday".
At the front is the main sitting area, which has two rows of custom-built banquettes facing each other. Both have collapsible tables that can be modified so that they become lounging areas or a place to play for kids.
The kitchen area then follows, boasting a woodstove and four-burner, propane-fueled stove, and a counter capped with shelves that feature lips and belts to ensure things don't go flying off when the bus is in motion.
Continuing along toward the rear, we come now to the bunk beds, which are equipped with outlets and ports for charging devices. This is indeed a connected bus conversion, or 'skoolie' as some people may call them.
The shower and composting toilet also have their separate places in this tranquil home.
Way at the back is the sleeping quarters of Valerie, Tim, daughter and dog. As Tim states in the video, he's thinking of building a little bunk bed here for his little girl. Clutter is controlled by the unwritten rule that if storage is full, then no new stuff will be acquired until something is given away or sold.
The bus is kept warm and cozy with its chemical-free Doschawol wool insulation. The couple says that they chose this type of renewable material because of its capacity to regulate the moisture that can build up when moving from areas with extreme heat or cold. In all, the couple estimate that the renovations themselves cost USD $31,360 -- while importing it, the mechanical work (always a thing to consider with vehicles) and adding the appliances like woodstove and oven pushed the cost closer to USD $55,000.
The bus is now on tour around Tirol, Austria until May 2017, visiting the best places to ski and snowboard, and is available for bookings, starting at €59 (USD $61) per night. Next summer, they will be going around Norway. Perks like use of mountain bikes, snow and surfboards are included, as are Valerie's home-cooked breakfasts and dinners. There are various ideas for outdoor activities like booking a few nights on the bus -- and the hosts' skiiing and snowboarding expertise -- for a unique experience on the slopes, or a "yoga week", or hiring it for an one-of-a-kind team-building event, or arranging for a customized package. It's a brilliant concept that allows curious adventure-lovers to test out what it feels like to live in a revamped bus, hassle-free, while also getting some quality time down some of the best slopes in Europe. Find out more over at Let's Be Nomads, and follow them on Facebook and Instagram.
To see more inspirational bus conversions, check out Kimberley's book, The Modern House Bus.