A guest post by The Mummy One…
You can follow the conversion on YouTube.
Our life until now has been the usual mundane cycle of The Bearded One working, for no real reason other than to pay the rent and keep a roof over our heads. He enjoys his job, don’t get me wrong, but life doesn’t seem to have a real purpose other than to make money to spend money.
I have always, for as long as I can remember, wanted to convert a bus and travel around in it. It’s been a longstanding dream of mine, but one that never really seemed able to be realised. Then we added three children to the mix, and it seemed like we would be stuck in one location for the next twenty years or so.
When we had our first child in 2008, I vowed that I would home educate. Our second child was born in 2010 and we seemed to naturally fall into the expected pattern of life. The children were enrolled in school when they reached the required age, it just happened, or so it seems. Our youngest was born in 2012 and so due to start school in September 2016. Something changed midway through 2016 and I pulled the two older two out of school to home educate them. It works for us. I cancelled the school application for the youngest child, and we settled into the madness that is home education with three children. In October 2016, the youngest decided she wanted to give school a go, so we found her a place. She is adamant that she only wants to go to school for the Reception year, she’s figured out for herself that Year 1 and upwards is a lot more structured, with no free play besides break times. This all means that we will be back to having three kids at home from July 2017, and no ties to school.
The Bearded One and I have been working out ways to carve out an income online, with the sole purpose of allowing him to quit his day job. We’re pretty confident that we’ve got this bit figured out now. He’s planning to leave his job in June 2017, perhaps July – we’ll see how he feels. Once he’s left, we’ll have no reason to be in one location.
So, why a bus?
We talked long and hard about how we wanted to live while we travelled. We looked into towing a caravan or buying a motorhome. We quickly ruled out the caravan due to the limited size, and the fact that we want to avoid using campsites. It’s not exactly legal to unhitch a caravan and leave it on the side of the road whilst you explore the area. Not to mention, would it still be there when we came back? As for the motorhome, that decision was made for us when we saw the prices of the type of motorhome we would need to sleep all five of us, a cat, and a dog!
Initially we discussed buying a coach, with the major draw being the huge amount of storage underneath. We soon realised that this meant a very limited headroom inside the living area. At this point in the research we also discovered that there weren’t really any training facilities for bus driver training in our area. It was at this time that we learnt about “exempted vehicles” that can be driven on a full car licence (in the UK). Basically, if a bus is over 30 years old, it can be driven without a PCV licence – there are other criteria to fulfil but that’s the bare bones of it.
With this new information in hand, we set out to find an old double decker bus to convert. We spoke to a lovely man called Mike, from Used Coach Sales, who had a couple of buses that fit the bill. He asked if we planned on taking the bus to mainland Europe – well, yes we did! He informed us that double deckers weren’t allowed in most of Europe because they are too tall – there is a 4m height limit on vehicles throughout the majority of European countries, and a double decker bus comes in over this limit. Another plan scrapped.
We had been scouring eBay in the hope of finding something that would work for us. On the off-chance, I had a second look one day and came across a single decker bus, 37 years old, MOT’d, and not too far away. The rest is history!!
A bus allows us to have the maximum space that we can drive around with. There is more than enough space for all the beds, without having to convert any furniture when bedtime rolls around. We will also have a full kitchen with plenty of prep space, and a shower room with toilet. The bus is 11.m long, and 2.5m wide, which translates to a huge motorhome. We have space to store everything we need, including five bikes. There is more than enough roof space for the solar panels to be attached to, and we don’t have to really consider how much weight we are putting into the bus because of the weight we have taken out of it (the steel framed seats), and the fact we won’t have 75 people on-board.
As far as insurance is concerned, the bus is staying a bus. We will not be re-registering her as a motorhome, and we will be keeping 13 travelling seats which ticks the right boxes for her being a bus, albeit a sleeper bus. This also means that I can continue to drive her as a classic bus, without having to take another driving test. She will be MOT’d in Class 5 – a bus not for professional use. In fact her next MOT is only three weeks away, so wish us luck for that!
Don’t worry, TheLittlestHobo will be back tomorrow.