Back in October 2017 I was surfing the internet when I stumbled across a used American school bus for sale. The bus was an absolute bargain, and I was tempted to buy it.
I had just returned from a holiday in Iceland. Four friends and I had hired a campervan and driven the ring road. We camped out under the stars each night, waking up each morning to some of the best scenery on the planet. It was an affordable way to explore the country, at our own pace.
One month after returning from Iceland, the last of my expat friends left London, to return to Australia. I began to question whether there was deadline on my own stay, and what I’d do next.
As I continued to explore the possibility of converting an American school bus into a mobile home, I quickly learned not only was it possible, it wasn’t even original. Converted school buses, or Skoolies, were becoming more and more popular, as people traded in their traditional family homes for tiny houses.
After many hours of research with advice from those more knowledgeable, I had a list of requirements for any potential bus. I wanted a medium length, flat nosed bus. It had to have a Cummins engine, and whilst Allison transmission was common, I was told to avoid the AT545. Air brakes were favoured over hydraulics for a bus of this size. Rust would be an issue, so it was better to buy from states like Nevada or Arizona over those in the North East. Finally, on aesthetics, I had a personal preference for Blue Bird buses over Thomas and other companies.
Armed with a list of do’s and don’ts, I began my search for the perfect bus. Thirty minutes each day, during my commute was spent scrolling through the internet, trying to find a bus to buy. I searched government surplus sites, like GovDeals and Public Surplus. I used consolidator sites to search Craigslist, and browsed auction sites, including eBay. But the perfect bus evaded me.
It was four months later, in January, whilst on holiday in Peru, when a bus popped in Las Vegas that caught my eye. Twenty-eight feet Blue Bird, with 5.9L Cummins engine, Allision transmission, low miles and air brakes. It ticked all the boxes. Just a day after landing in Cusco, I was back in Lima, boarding a flight to Vegas.
The bus looked good. Started first go. Having spent months researching, I still wasn’t ready to take the leap and buy it. I left Vegas and returned to Peru.
Days after leaving Vegas, I was travelling through Peru, when I spotted a broken down vehicle on the side of the road. Two backpackers were attempting to fix their Volkswagen Kombi on the side of the road. Despite their predicament, I was a little jealous.
I realised, no matter how much I researched, there were no guarantees. No matter which vehicle I chose, any bus could and would break down, but that’s just part of the adventure. More research would not prevent a flat tyre. So I made an offer.
Two week’s later, I flew back to Vegas. I took a leap of faith, and I bought that bus.