Old school bus converted into loft is traveling from Alaska to South America (Video)

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Expedition Happiness
© Expedition Happiness

It’s the start of school season for many of us, and those big, yellow school buses are coming out in droves. But these trusty old vehicles aren’t just for getting kids to school — they can be converted into beautiful spaces to live in for college students and even families.

Filmmaker Felix Starck and musician Selima Taibi (and their dog Rudi) recently transformed this 1996 Thomas International school bus into a small, loft-style home on wheels, with the plan to travel from Alaska to South America. Watch their video tour:

Expedition Happiness
© Expedition Happiness

They are calling their project Expedition Happiness, and explain:

We are originally from Germany and got tired of the big city life in Berlin. So we decided to buy a 20 year old school bus through the internet. Few weeks later we took a plane to the US and started converting the school bus into a motorhome, tiny house or loft on wheels – call it what you want. After 12 weeks of daily failure we are quite done with the conversion and now we are ready to take our beauty all the way down to South America. If we make it that far – I have no idea, probably not! Are we going to have a great time? For sure!

Their project is a real leap of faith right from the start — the couple bought the 39-foot bus for USD $9,500 — online, without seeing the bus beforehand. But both are no stranger to adventurous leaps into the unknown; Starck has cycled around the world in 365 days, creating a documentary on his journey that was the most popular doc in Germany last year. Taibi wrote the soundtrack to the film, and goes under the name Mogli.

Expedition Happiness
© Expedition Happiness

Both didn’t really have much construction experience, so they turned to online forums to find help. They got assistance from a North Carolina couple who’d also altered a school bus into a full-time residence. So far, they’ve done a great job of reusing salvaged materials like pallet wood, and remaking the interior into a livable space. To make it feel as open as possible, they put the sitting area and dining/work table right at the front — lots of room for Rudi too.

Expedition Happiness
© Expedition Happiness

The kitchen is well-organized, with an angled counter that breaks up the monotony a bit. There’s plenty of storage and a decently sized refrigerator.

Expedition Happiness
© Expedition Happiness

The bathroom is split into two at the middle of the bus — a toilet room only large enough for one person to squeeze in, and a beautifully tiled shower room, covered with handmade tiles.

Expedition Happiness
© Expedition Happiness
Expedition Happiness
© Expedition Happiness

The bedroom features a DIY bed with storage drawers underneath, that’s located conveniently under the emergency rooftop hatch that can be great for nighttime stargazing.

Expedition Happiness
© Expedition Happiness
Expedition Happiness
© Expedition Happiness

For power, the bus can be solar-powered or plugged into the grid. All the power equipment and Taibi’s keyboard is at the back, which can be accessed via the rear door.

Expedition Happiness
© Expedition Happiness

It’s an impressive remodel of an old bus into a comfortable and creative home on wheels. The couple is now heading down past Canada, and are already making regular vlogs and blog posts of their journey. You can catch up with them via their website, Facebook and support them via Patreon.

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    Theresa Glover Radke • 23 days ago

    They aren’t living in this bus they stay at hotels..hell they didn’t even convert it themselves …publicity stunt. Evidently the road to reality TV fame and fortune begins at the door to your skoolie

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    Diane • a month ago

    Before This trip is trashed I would like to point out the terrible carbon footprint of a jet. Going on a vacation in a resort where the environment has been ripped apart for large hotels. No doubt many animals lost their homes.How about learning and talking to indigenous people. What a wonderful way to capture the beauty and loveliness of a country. I would love to be going with them. Coffee pot or not, this will not hurt the environment enough to stop them from going.
    They should enjoy themselves for so many reasons.

    e

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    Be • a month ago

    Really nice bus, but a Nespresso Maschine ist not a sustainable way to make coffee

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      Steve Dunn Be • a month ago

      Maybe they refill the capsules.

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    gr8bkset • a month ago

    Cool …. but at the they should calculate their carbon footprint in lugging their "house" from N. to S. America. A typical school bus gets 7 miles per gallon of gas. They’ll travel over 12,000 miles which means they’ll be using about 1700 gallons. Each gallon of gas produces 20 pounds of CO2 resulting in a total of 34,000 pounds of carbon. At $3 per gallon they’ll spend over $5000 on gas.

    At a cost of $10,000 for the bus, $5000 for gas and maybe another $5000-$10,000 to transform their bus, the total of $20,000 – $25,000 can afford them a pretty nice vacation without burning up the planet.

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      BBS1954 gr8bkset • 25 days ago

      It seems impossible that a gallon of gasoline, which weighs about 6.3 pounds, could produce 20 pounds
      of carbon dioxide (CO2) when burned. However, most of the weight of the
      CO2 doesn’t come from the gasoline itself, but the oxygen in the air.
      When gasoline burns, the carbon and hydrogen separate.On average, a plane produces a little over 53 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) per mile.
      This RV is by far, more environmentally friendly than flying in a jet to S. America. 12,000 miles * 53 pounds = 63,600 pounds of CO2 to fly to S. America. By your calculations, 34,000 pounds for the trip / 12,000 miles = 2.85 pounds per mile. Sounds much more friendly to the environment than a jet. Their monthly consumption of energy is far less than you consume. If you own a home, pay utilities, dump your trash in land fills, drive your car to work every day, idle in traffic, pay for parking, pay toll fees, all of the things that contribute to the demise of our planet. Yest, somehow, you manage to judge them for their move to being more independent of the world system and the uncontrolled consumption of the billions of other people in the world. Any time anyone takes a vacation, they burn up fossil fuels. Anytime. You cannot travel to any destination, unless you ride a bike, live off the land, hunt with a bow and arrow and cook with wood you find along the way. Al Gore’s residence consumes $2,500 in fossil fuels a month. Yet he tells me I must reduce my consumption. I spend less than $300 per month on all utilities, water, sewage, gas and electric. I think Al should try to live in 1,000 sq. ft., rather than the huge home he now supports. I suggest that everyone make a spreadsheet and add up your own consumption and damage to the environment, before you spout off about someone else.

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        gr8bkset BBS1954 • 25 days ago

        The 53 pound per miles you quoted is actually per plane. At the bottom of that website, in the "heads-up" section, it says that per passenger flying emissions is 0.24 pounds of CO2 per miles, so flying produces about one sixth the CO2 emissions per passenger.

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      TheProfessorA2 gr8bkset • a month ago

      Not to mention all the weight they’ve added, that thing is going to be a huge safety hazard between it’s gross weight, top heaviness, standard tires/suspension, and likely inept drivers. A full size bus is not something I’d want to drive on some of the alpine passes, of course assuming it makes it. That cavalier attitude of "probably not" in regards to making it is ridiculous, so you’re just going to abandon this behemoth down there somewhere? What a disgusting waste of money. Offensive to me and I can’t imagine how offensive it will be to many of the people along the way.

      I’m all for adventuring around, but if you’re going to drop out, don’t bring your whole life with you… then you’re never really leaving your comfort zone and missing the whole point!

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    Greenforce88 • 2 months ago

    Looks great, but what makes this a loft style?

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      BBS1954 Greenforce88 • 25 days ago

      The open airy feeling that you get from the design.

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    Martin • 2 months ago

    Fantastic conversion, looks superb

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    Billy Mays • 2 months ago

    They won’t make it, gay people aren’t well accepted through central america.

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      Annie Cass Billy Mays • 2 months ago

      Gay? They’re a couple. One’s a man, one’s a woman.

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        Billy Mays Annie Cass • 2 months ago

        Clearly gay

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        onjoFilms Annie Cass • 2 months ago

        He’s a lesbian trapped in a man’s body, and she’s a ‘gay-as-a-$2-bill’ guy trapped in a woman’s body. They are gay as hell.

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          Annie Cass onjoFilms • 2 months ago

          Your admission that you’re trapped in a set preconception of stereotypical gender roles is extremely distressing. I feel terribly sorry for you!

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    GeneralDisorder • 2 months ago

    I couldn’t fit in the center of the bus when I was 16. I haven’t been in a school bus since… 2013, I think. It was a shuttle bus. I had to duck down. If you’re about 6 feet tall you’d better have a bus with a really low floor or you wouldn’t fit in your own home.

    It is nice though.

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    Blue_Oak • 2 months ago

    That’s darned cool. Not shabby at all – especially for 12 weeks of work. Light and airy!

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