Why I Chose a Skoolie for Full Time Travel
There are so many choices out there for a home for full time travel; tiny homes, RVs, trailers, vans, skoolies, pretty much whatever you can think of you can live in it! But your whole adventure relies on your mode of transportation and living space being reliable, comfortable and functional. Each person has their own needs and wants for their home on the road. For me, a skoolie was the perfect choice for so many reasons. This is why I chose a skoolie for full time travel.
The Skoolie I Chose for Full Time Travel
Let me introduce you to “Betty” (Named in honor of my grandmother who was a school teacher). I have a 1987 Chevy G30 Diesel Mini Blue Bird Bus that’s only 20ft long. The bus may be fun-sized but she’s my tiny home on the road. I bought my bus in the summer of 2020 in Los Angeles and drove it 1,500 miles away to my mother’s property in Oklahoma. I wanted to have a safe place to park the bus while I converted it into my home.
Why a Skoolie for Full Time Travel?
When I was a kid, my mother worked for my local school district. We would go to the district bus lot early every morning to warm up the buses and get them ready for the day. My mom was a bus driver for a large part of my childhood. Not only was my mom involved in the school district; her mother was a school teacher her whole life. My grandmother also traveled to all 50 states in the US and several other countries as well. It seemed like a perfect choice to have my home on the road be a skoolie. It felt comfortable and nostalgic, it felt like home.
Besides the sentimental reasons, I wanted a skoolie because school buses are generally well taken care of (if purchased from a school district). The bus lots for schools keep everything up to date and working efficiently. Although, buses are made to drive short distances and frequently stopping. I wasn’t sure if a bus would be reliable on the highway for long drives and steep inclines. But I was pleasantly surprised by the performance of my skoolie on it’s first long journey.
Diesel or Gasoline Skoolie?
School buses can either be gas or diesel powered, and I chose a diesel bus model for my skoolie for full time travel. I wanted diesel because the engine life lasts way longer than a gas bus. It’s not unheard of for a diesel engine to last upwards of one million miles! And, diesels have a much better fuel efficiency giving you better gas mileage, especially on the highway.
But, it is much harder to find a mechanic for a diesel vehicle (especially a school bus). When you are out on the road there are much more diesel mechanics available than in cities or towns. Especially if you are traveling on a heavily used truck route. If you have never driven a diesel vehicle I recommend this video on YouTube for a nice, informative introduction to owning and driving a diesel vehicle.
Dealing With People While Traveling…
I had traveled previously with a vintage RV and even car camped in a prius and SUV too. But, the problem with traveling those ways is dealing with people judging you. Now, I don’t generally care what other people think about me or my lifestyle choices. But, when people judge they can make things very difficult for you on the road… When traveling in my RV, I had many negative experiences. It wasn’t all bad by any means. But there were a few situations that were tougher than most.
When I first purchased my vintage RV, I had driven it around for a bit but I had to park it for a minute to figure out how to get back home.. I pulled over for about 20 minutes on a public street where vehicles were allowed to park. While I was in my RV looking up the best route to get home I heard someone yelling outside my RV. I went out to see what the commotion was, and I was greeted by someone screaming in my face. He kept violently yelling at me to get out of the parking spot in front of their house. I told him I was just stopping for a minute to figure out my direction home but he didn’t want to listen.
Rude People Really Suck…
I found out that he had called parking enforcement on me. The parking enforcement worked for a different city than where I was parked but still gave me a ticket for parking an “over-sized vehicle” on the street. The parking officer was extremely rude and wouldn’t explain to me why it was illegal for me to park there. I was able to fight the ($90) parking ticket but I had to go to court and bring evidence that I was parked in a different city and it was not illegal to park an over-sized vehicle there. I eventually got the ticket dismissed, but it was a headache of an experience and a huge waste of time. Just because of one rude person.
Now, that situation could have happened with a skoolie too. But I felt like it was less likely with a skoolie. I had traveled full time for several years and met all kinds of people traveling too. And when I talked to people that lived in a skoolie, they all seemed to have great experiences on the road. But, when I talked to fellow RV dwellers it was common to hear of similar negative experiences with people judging. After I got my skoolie and hit the road I’ve had no problems, in this regard. Even on my first road trip I had people telling me how cool it is that I have a skoolie for full time travel and how they want one too. It’s a great conversation piece when traveling and people really like it!
Why So Short for a Skoolie?
My skoolie is as short as they get, it’s only 20ft long! But why would I get a bus so short when I could have so much more living space with a longer school bus? Well, I like to travel to some places that getting a longer vehicle to would be difficult if not impossible. There are some really curvy and steep roads that I just wouldn’t be able to get to. For some people having more living space is more important though. I figured I would be using my skoolie mainly for sleeping. When I travel, I spend most of my time enjoying the world outside of the bus and still have a cozy place to come back to at the end of the night.
I like to boondock a lot of the time when I travel, but I will go to an RV campsite from time to time. Some campsites will charge extra for a longer vehicle (usually one’s over 30-35ft) and they have limited spots available. I’ve found these campsites that charge extra at National Parks more than the smaller privately owned parks. If you do end up getting a larger bus, it’s a good idea to call a campsite ahead of time to ensure they can accommodate your skoolie.