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Camping in a School Bus, This RV Renovation Pushes the Limits

Camping in a School Bus, This RV Renovation Pushes the Limits

If you didn’t already know, camping in a school bus is a real thing. In fact, the community refers to this unique type of RV as a skoolie.

Since no RV manufacturers build school bus RVs, every skoolie you see on the road is a one-of-a-kind build. They have some obvious benefits. School buses are made to carry a lot of weight. It would be hard to reach its weight limitations.

Also, you can find used school buses for super cheap. Many schools auction them off for pennies on the dollar.

Today we’re learning how Jason & Taylor took a 2005 bus and renovated it into a beautiful RV.

Meet School Bus Renovators Jason & Taylor

Jason & Taylor both grew up in Arkansas and met while working at a sushi restaurant in Fayetteville. Taylor recieved her bachelor’s in Biology but couldn’t really find the jobs she wanted in Arkansas. That’s when they started thinking of the idea of a traveling home.

Jason is a huge tech nerd and has a remote IT job, so he can work anywhere. Taylor says, “Our favorite things to do are thrift shop, hike, bike and try out the local food!”

It’s important to note that neither of them had professional renovation experience before taking on this skoolie-build.

If you’re thinking about doing an RV renovation, Jason & Taylor are a great source of inspiration.

How long have Jason & Taylor been RVing?

Taylor says, “We have been living in our skoolie full-time for about a year now. We hit the road in September of 2020, so we have been traveling for about 4 months.”

Their bus is a 2005 Thomas Freighliner with an MBE 906 Mercedes engine. It’s 35ft long from bumper to bumper. 

While skoolies are awesome, we must preface this with a warning. Some RV parks don’t allow school bus RVs. It’s among the multiple reasons RV parks will deny your reservation.

Why did you choose to renovate a school bus? What inspirations did you draw from?

“We decided to convert a school bus ourselves because we knew we wanted to travel and make our home with us. We looked at buying an RV for a while, but they were too expensive for us and we figured we could just do it ourselves for a lot cheaper,” the couple says.

They liked the idea of designing our their floor plan for what best fit their lifestyle.

Jason & Taylor are sharing with us each part of their school bus renovation below.

Skoolie Living Area

The living room has a 80in couch that can fold into a full-sized bed for whenever they have guests.

Talyor says, “We also have our dining table/desk across from the couch that Jason custom built. We kept our bus very open to try to make it feel a little bigger than it is.”

They chose to install dark floors with white walls and ceiling to elongate the space as well. 

Bedroom in a School Bus Conversion

The skoolie bedroom has a full size mattress with an extender at the end to match the full width of the bus. Underneath the bed is Jason’s clothes drawers and the “garage.”

The garage is where they keep a 50gallon fresh water tank, winter clothes, inverter, batteries, and solar charger.

Customized Bath Room

“We decided to separate our shower and sink from our toilet area,” Taylor says. “They are across the hall from each other. Jason custom-built our composting toilet using the Kildwick urine diverter and some repurposed buckets.”

The shower was also customized to their specific space with a 30inx25in shower pan. We used subway tiles and flex grout to tile the shower. 

Jason admits that flex grout is a must, and that its holding-up better than expected.

RV Kitchen Renovation

The kitchen is probably the biggest area in the bus, the couple did this on purpose because they both enjoy cooking.

Taylor says, “My aunt gave us all the cabinets when she was renovating her kitchen and we chopped them up to fit them in the bus. We have a drop-in, double bowl sink, also given to us by my aunt (shout out Aunt Terri)!”

The stove is the Furion 22in oven 3 burner that they found on eBay for half off because it had a scratch.

They also have butcher block countertops from Lowes. 

Skoolie Exterior

They painted thier bus with a $15 gravity fed spray gun from Harbor Freight. Taylor says, “We used an oil-based hard coat enamel on the sides and Rustoleum on the roof. We closed off 5 windows with leftover roof material, to add a little privacy in the bathroom and bedroom.”

They also added 2 skylights to the roof where the escape hatches used to be.

As for solar power, the couple added three, 100watt solar panels to the roof. They’re able to charge their batteries with the solar panels and also directly from the alternator while driving. 

Pro Tip: We love solar power! However, if you’re not ready to make the financial commitment, here are 7 reasons you don’t need solar power.

What tips do you have for folks interested in renovating a school bus?

“Thrift as much as you can! You can save so much money by trying to find materials at habitat for humanity, local garage sales and thrift stores and it’s better for the environment too.

Just always remember to keep a tape measure in your car!”

What was the most important tool while renovating? 

“The tools we used the most during the build was a miter saw \ and A LOT of patience!”

If you want to see a full video tour of this school bus renovation, check out the video below.

Where can you follow Jason & Taylor?

Follow their awesome Instagram page @ozarkvalleybus

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  1. Tim says:

    We had a 1956 gmc school bus camper when I was young..slept 6 comfortably. Ya’ll have did a wonderful job on your bus camper