BY: SAMANTHA TAPP
“For the past decade, I have made the road my home, I have traveled at different paces, on different budgets across many countries and continents.” Meet Matt Aidney, a New Zealand native who has spent the last 10 years traveling pretty much everywhere. Five years ago he took on the good ol’ American road trip across Route 66 and the Pacific Coast Highway on a motorcycle. He realized that the bike was limiting and while traveling he wasn’t able to pursue another passion of his – cooking. Tired of fast food and diners, he decided that having a full sized fridge on the road with him would make all the difference. This led Matt to the bus life.
After Matt and his partner, Vieta Kuznetsova, had their first taste of mobile home life, in the form of a campervan in New Zealand, they fell in love with it. With little knowledge about buses, the internet pointed them to the holy grail of bus life: skoolie.com. There, they were connected with Rob, a guy on the site trying to sell his converted bus.
Rob had begun to transform a 2004 church bus into a tailgating party bus, but decided to start on another project and instead wanted to sell the bus. This was perfect for the couple, as Rob had already installed the electricity and kitchen, and he had removed the majority of windows, sheet metalling them up for privacy and insulation. He also designed a fold-up roof top deck which was accessible through the emergency exit.
Once Matt and Vieta had collected the bus (which was about the size of a Manhattan apartment) on the east coast in the spring, all that was left to do was turn the inside into their home. As they worked their way west, they collected and recycled materials they found (washed up driftwood at the Great Lakes shores and abandoned barnyard materials at the rust belt) for interior projects to make the bus home. All in all, about 1,000 hours were put into the bus.
Matt and Vieta ended up traveling in their new home for three months across USA, which equalled 5,843 miles. Along the way they made friends in buses and banana cars, got lost in Nebraska, discovered the bus couldn’t handle hills in Colorado, which they fixed by the time they got to California, and hosted many late night roof top BBQs with new friends.
A tip for those of you planning to ditch your day job and hop into a bus to travel the world: getting a privately converted bus insured and titled can be pricey. As can any little thing that goes wrong while on your travels. While changing a tire may seem like a common problem that can be easily fixed, a bus tire requires the use of heavy equipment, and the expensive fees definitely reflect it.
“Owning a bus is a lot of work, don’t let the beautiful pictures fool you into thinking this is an easy way of life,” said Matt. “You have to learn your engine and care to her daily. Ultimately you are driving a 10 tonne tank, you need to treat her with the same respect of one.”
But with the proper preparation, the bus life can be a dream. The converted bus offers you not only a mobile home, but a unique way to travel.
“We had an amazing time traveling at our own pace, creating art and connecting with the incredible souls that came into our life because of this,” he said. “Our bus was a magnet and attracted those with an adventurous soul.”
Since their trip, the couple has sold their bus to a friend due to real life commitments. But would they return to the bus life? With the right time and a proper Visa – without hesitation.