I can’t remember the exact moment that my infatuation started.
Maybe it was the end of my freshman year of college, when the idea of alternative living hit me. I set off with three mates of mine on I-70 from State College, Pa., to Arches National Park in Utah. We were packed into a Ford Expedition that had been outfitted with room for our two sleeping pads in the back, so we could take turns driving and sleeping.
To pass the time during 18 hour driving days, we surfed Instagram for other like-minded adventurers and their stories.
We asked ourselves, “How much more comfortable would we be in a van?” A fair bit, we all decided.
For the next three years, I toyed with the idea of alternative living and how it could enrich my life. Just recently, at the beginning of my senior year, after countless hours of research, I was ready to turn this into a reality.
It came down to one question: Was I really going to commit? I felt like I had been talking about it for so long that I had an obligation to myself, to prove that I could do it. As I embarked on another, more ambitious trip this summer driving from Mexico to the Arctic Circle people asked me, “How do you travel?”
I had to answer that my ride was a midsize Toyota SUV, but the way I felt saying that made something clear to me. I had to stop making excuses and take the plunge.
And I had to stop succumbing to the societal norm of shying away from challenge, which seems to happen more and more nowadays.
So I purchased a 2001 Bluebird International 65-seater from Don Brown Bus Sales near Albany, New York. The decision was a culmination of several things, but, essentially the following are what pushed me over the edge.
Financially, it made sense. Being part of the first generation that is going to earn less than our parents, breaking into the housing market is going to be harder than ever. Being able to eliminate or reduce rent and live self sufficiently will allow me to increase my disposable income. While being able to put money away for future investments, I’ll also be able to pursue what makes me really happy.
I don’t want the quality of my life to deteriorate just because I chose to live small. I want to live small so that I can live large in other aspects.
I’m also committed to taking responsibility for my impact on the earth, and creating my own energy is a must in the design process. I plan to rest large solar panels on the roof to satisfy my electrical needs. This will allow for off-grid camping in more remote places.
Reducing my footprint will also contribute to shrinking costs in the future, and help offset the terrible gas mileage one of these rigs gets.
More significantly, though, creating and solidifying relationships and chasing new experiences is the driving force behind this.
It’s the combination of those two elements that I have found to be where I truly grow. Over the past 14 months, I have driven more than 50,000 miles in every direction across North America. Those miles wouldn’t have been the same had it not been for the people that joined me, strangers and friends alike. Having another conversation starter to meet new people and an excuse to entice friends out on the road is what this project aims to do.
These experiences have been the addiction that keeps me coming back. Being able to share my life with those I care about is paramount to me. I hope that the bus can continue to create an ever-growing community inspired by the idea of travel and pushing one's comfort zone. Sure, others usually travel with company, but for me it goes so much deeper, sharing experiences is what keeps me roaming.