Living their BusLife: David and Lauren Robinson
Hello everyone! We are David and Lauren Robinson and we live full-time in a converted school bus. A little bit about us: We met in college almost 11 years ago, have been together for roughly nine and a half years, and have now been married over five years! I (Lauren) have worked as a nurse for the past seven years, and David is a software/systems engineer. Naturally, what to mention next, since everyone seems to want to know: we do not have any kids, but we do have the sweetest German Shepherd pup, Archer (he's actually five, but will always be a "pup" to us). Lastly, if the first line of our introduction doesn't allude to it- we LOVE to travel. Collectively we have been to 20 countries (5 continents) and are now making our way through all 50 states and all National Parks in the U.S.. Back to living on a Bus. We chose buslife simply because we wanted more freedom. Freedom from working a mundane 9-5 (for David), freedom from debt, freedom to explore the outdoors more often and freedom from being tied down to a physical location. We didn't necessarily want to be in one place for the rest of our lives. We are young, and there is still so much of this world we want to see, and so much we want to be able to experience while we can. We didn't see the point in waiting until one day when we were old and gray, and can't physically explore like we can now. So we bought a bus. Making the decision to sell our house and buy a bus granted so many of these freedoms for us. Selling our house is another story, for another time, but not being hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt was the biggest freedom we were seeking. Selling our house helped to pay off more debt than just our mortgage as well; school loans, and car loans will also be gone. Choosing a bus to live in also allowed us the freedom to not be tied down to a physical location. We now are free to move and travel as we please, and check off bucket-list items along the way. We don't have to pay for crazy expensive flights or hotels when we want to travel either, we just travel with our whole home! Even better, we don't have to pack and unpack for a trip, because everything we need is already with us. Speaking of not having to pay for expensive Hotels (or AriBnBs), one of the best things about living/traveling in a bus is being able to park on free public land- which almost always have the most amazing views and/or atmospheres. So what is living on a bus really like? Honestly a lot of fun, and not as cramped as most people seem to think! Plenty of others think we are crazy for downsizing from a 2400 sq. ft. house to roughly a 200 sq. ft. living space, on the bus; but we truly have everything we need. We have a "living space", "work space", kitchen, full bathroom, and bedroom area. We also have a HUGE backyard! One of the biggest joys is being able to spend so much more time outside. Even though we have everything we need in the bus, our living space is so much larger when you include all of the room we have to explore outside of the bus. We truly love living tiny and living simple. One of our other biggest joys is not being burdened with having SO MUCH stuff. Living this life has made us realize what we ACTUALLY need and what we don't, and has taught us how to cut down on waste and ultimately help reduce our footprint on this world. In the end we were very quick to adapt and found it was no where near as hard to live small, like we previously thought. Living on a bus hasn't always been rainbows and sunshine though. Our first week of buslife did not go anywhere near as planned. Within one week we broke down and had to be towed twice. The first time for a busted water-pump, and the second for clogged up fuel and oil filters. We were new to buslife and new to taking care of a diesel engine. We probably should have done a little more research beforehand about how often to get our bus serviced- it is much more often than most cars! Also during this first week we lost a solar panel to unexpected high winds (up to 70 mph) while driving through Kansas. We honestly thought after this week that we had maybe made a mistake. However, we persevered, and we've been lucky and are thankful not to have had any major repairs or expenses since this first week. We like to think that our first week of buslife was just our "initiation" into the club. Even though buses are notorious for lasting a long time, they still need regular servicing as well. At the end of the day we are living in a large vehicle, and vehicles break down. So our first piece of advice would be to keep an emergency fund, specifically and separately for repairs. They WILL come up. This goes for bus-lifers and van-lifers as well. We have two vanlife friends who within the first weeks/months of vanlife broke down and needed thousands of dollars of repairs- and their vans were relatively new! Luckily with both of our breakdowns our cost for repairs were much lower than we thought they’d be (we even were able to save money by repairing our solar panel ourselves). We are thankful we didn’t have to drain our savings too much, but it’s still smart to be prepared for large expenses. Our next piece of advice would be to just go with the flow, sit back and relax, and not take life too seriously. Breakdowns and repairs aren't the end of the world, you might get stuck in a parking spot (we ALMOST did, and know others who have) but you'll eventually get out. You may also only be able to go 25mph up a hill or through a mountain pass, but you WILL eventually get to where you are going. Living the buslife has taught us how to work through hardships and how to be OK with adversity. Even when life seems hard, we still have gained so much- always seek the positive in your situation! Our last piece of advice would be to embrace the "road-lifer" community. Whether you aspire to live in a van or bus full-time, have one as a part-time travel vehicle, are in the process of building, or if you are already prepared to hit the road- EMBRACE THIS COMMUNITY. Being a part of this "road-lifer" community has encouraged us and provided us with so much knowledge and information! You can almost always find someone else with the exact same bus or van as you. You can also learn from their mistakes, and/or learn from their fortunes and ideas. When we broke down, we had many rushing to help us figure out the problem. Also when we started buslife and (unbeknownst to us) COVID-19 "happened", we were able to find a safe and reliable place to stay when all of the RV and state parks closed down. This community watched each others backs and ensured that we were all safe during such an uncertain time; especially an uncertain time for those living on the road. Again, this community is truly one you want to be a part of! To wrap up, we love how embarking on this bus life journey has encouraged us to Go Beyond. We have gone against the grain, even when many have questioned our lifestyle choices. We have gone against the status quo, and learned that the American Dream (for us) isn't always a perfect career, the best house and raising children. This life is a gift that's been given to us, and we've learned to do the most that we can with it, in the best way we know how. We also Go Beyond by going off the unbeaten path- both figuratively and literally. You will often find us outdoors exploring all this beautiful world has to offer. Lastly we Go Beyond by doing our best to set an example on how to treat our world, and this worlds people better- both with respect, dignity, and love. We hope that by living the life we have made for ourselves- this nomad life- it will propel us to go even further Beyond, and encourage you all to embark on this journey with us!