Big Family, Small Space: Our Bus Update


Late last year, I mentioned that we decided to move into a bus. I’ve been trying to get Ian to move into an RV for a few years now, since discovering the Walk Slowly, Live Wildly blog. I love the idea of traveling with my family. And I thought it would make home school more interesting if we could actually visit the places we’re learning about.

He thought I was crazy.

However, he conceded after we watched the documentary I’m Fine, Thanks (featuring my friends, Matt and Betsy Jabs from diyNatural), which included an interview of a family that lived in a school bus. What made him say yes? They had 6 kids. (Well, that helped, anyway).

So, a few weeks after agreeing to my crazy plan, Ian and my brother drove to Idaho to pick up our school bus. I experienced feelings of giddiness and disbelief as he pulled up and thought to myself, “Oh my gosh, we own a school bus. I’ve lost my mind. What was I thinking? This is awesome!”

But … it was hideous, y’all.

Seriously. Whoever converted the bus into an RV was a huge fan of brown paneling (which he fixed into place with glue, nails and screws). And cigarettes. So we had to gut our home school bus.

And this is what she looks like right now:

So what are our plans? First, we need to finish it up. Last weekend, we moved back out to my parents’ place so we could get the bus done.

Nothing lights a fire under your butt like cramming six people into a 25 foot travel trailer. Except that, we don’t really feel crammed, which means our bus is going to feel huge (at least, that’s what I keep telling myself 😉 ).

Once it’s done, we’ll hit the road. Some wonderful friends have offered to let us park at their place on the coast, and we have some great friends in Colorado we’d love to see again. That’s what we’re thinking so far (right, honey?).

We’ll see where the adventure takes us.

For more pics of the bus, you can check out my Flickr stream and follow me on Instagram. And see our latest update here.


  1. Good for you!! What a GREAT idea!! I have wanted to do that for years and still hope to some day. You are so brave and what a wonderful adventure for the children. Good luck!! I cannot imagine how cool your life will be :-)

  2. Um, jealous? Of course I am. Can’t wait to see how it shapes and hoping y’all make it to the East Coast sometime!

  3. This is great and I’m sooooo curious to hear how this story “ends”. Cool!

  4. Oh how I begged my hubby and family to do this. “Roadschooling” would have been so cool. But, alas, my youngest is graduating this year. My next plea will be to move into one of those miniature houses and run a little farm :)

    Thanks for sharing and have a blast!!

  5. I am jealous! I’ve been wanting to do this for a bit over 5 yrs. We also have 6 kids, oldest just married and #7 due in Aug, and homeschool. We would have to stay local as we couldn’t afford dh to leave his job. The local RV park only allows 3 people max and all the local campgrounds have a 10 day stay max per year. Maybe one of these years in the future. In the meantime, I love to hear about other families doing this!

  6. Nina, I had someone recommend to me a guy that works at Butches Automotive across from pappy’s pizza in Redmond. My Friend had her horse trailer painted by this guy named DAN. He dose Auto painting on the side with his own tools and is very reasonable. Dan painted her trailer for $200 and he did a great Job. We were going to have him give us a Quote on our old pickup. He might give you a good deal on your bus. Make sure you ask for Dan and tell him that you heard through the grapevine that he does Auto painting on the side.

  7. Thanks! It really needs (ok, I really would like for it to be) painted. The outside looks like a jigsaw puzzle of panels from different RVs.

  8. OH. MY. GOSH!!
    This is so awesome. We lived in a motor-home for about 3 weeks with our SEVEN kids. Great fun. Good adventures. Glad to get back home.

    The traveling part was so awesome; the sleep-deprivation, not so much. Our little motor-home had a lousy queen bed for us, which sorta wore us out. But with a decent sleeping set-up? What a total blast!!! You guys are gonna be the envy of us all!!!

  9. PS – You gotta come visit us in Colorado!! We have RV hook-ups on our land. Seriously. (Cause Kevin lived in a 5th wheel while building the house…)

    Most gorgeous time of year here is July thru mid-October. Tho my parents will be here with their 5th wheel for the month of August, escaping the TX heat.

    Let me know if we can pencil you in on the calendar! I’m not even remotely kidding!!!

  10. We will SO take you up on that offer!

  11. We’ve thought about this for when we finally transition, so I’ll be watching your progress with interest! I’m not sure your eventual route, but if you make it to upstate NY and want a place to pause for a bit, let me know. We’d happily help you tour around and cook for your family!

  12. Thanks Mike! That would be awesome!

  13. This is my husband and I’s dream one day! Although to be honest, I will want to be in a super nice RV. :) Can’t wait to hear all about it!!

  14. so, is this is a pernament home situation?
    im really curious to read about ur adventures :)
    id love to move in a ‘tiny’ home. hubby wont let me. :(

  15. My husband has committed to a year, so we’ll see. :) It took a few years for him to get on board.

  16. We are doing this too! We have 5 children ( currently) just bout our bus and are starting the conversion process… exciting and scary;)

  17. Awesome, Angela! What made you guys decide to do this?

  18. This is fantastic…. you guys are going to have great memories! This will be our frist year homeschooling though nothing compared to what you guys are up for. Awesome!!!!!

  19. We got our first bus in 1996 because we were moving from Montana to south Dakota and wanted to save money on U-Haul expenses. we got to SD and couldn’t find a reasonable place to live right away so we went to the local KOA. That is what started our familys journey thrue 17 states and 7 buses. Today my wife and I and 4 children live in school bus on 2 1/2 acres that we developed ourselves. All our outbuildings built with cedars from our land. My wife is from Montana and I from California but the state we chose to finally settle down in was Kansas. since this journey began I could write volumes about our adventures, the great times and people weve met to the bad ones. We hope the best for you and your family Nina..

  20. Awesome!!! I’m a fellow VGN publisher (hi!) and the hubby and I just got an RV and are planning to take off full-time as soon as this darn house sells! No kids for us, so kudos to you! What a wonderful experience for your young ones! Wow!! Maybe we’ll see ya’ll on the road sometime soon!!! :)

  21. thank you for sharing. I recently went gluten, and sugar free and have lost 35 lbs and feel great. My family is not so excited about eating all healthy, but Im patiently making good recipes. I really appreciate your desire to live healthy, promote relationships and purge all the junk we don’t need. It is such a foreign concept to so many families who hoard unnecessary things and have storage units full of them. This has encouraged me one room at a time to purge my unnecessary stuff!! Thank you for helping so many simplify and do more to have a more wholesome meaningful existence. God bless you and your sweet family.

  22. This looks fantastic! I would love to see where you guys are now. We are just about to start on a similar journey.

  23. Hi Nina,

    Your new home looks comfy. We are currently working on a tiny house (on the larger side) for our family. I love seeing others’ ideas. I was wondering what kind of propane heater you went with.

  24. We use a Jotul stove, April. I love it.


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