The story of us and our bus began a long time before we parked up in the rolling hills of the South Downs to make create some Sussex glamping dreams. 14,000 miles and 20 American states earlier…
This is the time before Skoolie Stays; this was UK2USASkoolie!
In 2019 we decided we wanted to shake up our suburban lives. Already keen campervanners, we took a gamble and bought ourselves an American school-bus, based in Utah, and found a builder to convert it for us. Six months later, we packed up the house, took the kids out of school and flew out to the unknown.
It was an amazing year of adventures (you can read more about our travels in the links below), but it was life in our off-grid Skoolie that elevated our journey into something really special. The bus became an symbol for living differently and, as our time in America drew to a close in July 2020, we knew we didn’t want that to end. We would have to bring a Skoolie home with us to Sussex.
During the Covid-19 lockdown, we stayed with a Skoolie Community in Georgia, USA. We put our quarantine hours to good use, helping other people build their Skoolies and, having not built our own bus, learning a wealth of information about bus builds in the process. We spent hours reflecting on what we would have done differently if we’d built our own bus – what we would do now to make it clever, luxurious, comfortable, inspiring… we had so many ideas.
So we took another gamble, another roll of the dice. We now had the skills and contacts we needed to start planning a brand new project in the UK, so within two-weeks of arriving back home, we had sold our first bus and bought a brand new one. A bus that would be dedicated to glamping that we could park in in the stunning landscape of the South Downs.
When we launched the Skoolie we were motivated by our own year of travelling and the wellbeing that we felt came from going off-grid and spending quality time with family and friends. When we found ourselves in a position to launch another venue, we almost bought another bus. Then we changed our minds.
Tourism is a major player for carbon emissions, particularly flights and to a lesser degree, hotels. Camping is offered as a solution, but what if you don’t want to sleep under canvas and use a long-drop loo? We wanted our second glamping project to tackle this.
The Vacationist is carbon-neutral. It gives you the opportunity to holiday responsibly without having to compromise on standards. It lets you experience some of the amazing initiatives and products that are available to people building their own sustainable tiny homes and, if you are up for it, kickstarts discussions on what you can do to make your own footprint a little smaller. You can find out more about it on The Vacationist website.
We had the contacts, the skills and now the opportunity. So how did we undertake the process of bringing our second bus over from the States and then converting her into a glamping unit?
Find out more about the process, our design choices and the intense six months we had bringing our vision to life.
Over the course of 12 months we travelled 14,000 miles across 20 different states. We hiked and biked 14 National Parks; stayed at vineyards and farms to enjoy local produce; kayaked with manatees and alligators in Florida and boated with whales and otters in Vancouver; sat on our roof deck to spot wolves and bears in Yellowstone and rockets launching from NASA; climbed Redwoods in California and boulders in Arizona; swam in the Pacific and the Atlantic; collected beads at New Orleans Mardi Gras and sand dollars in Oregon. It was an epic adventure.
Travelling in your forties is not as simple as it was in your twenties. Kids, mortgage, car, jobs, family responsibilities… how do you extricate yourself?
Down-sizing to a tiny home, tackling the American roads in a 37ft vehicle and managing on a tight budget meant learning to live differently.
From the north to the east to the south to the west – oh and don’t forget a bit of Canada. Join us on our journey around 20 states of North America.