There is a sense of wanderlust you get when seeing social media content that encompasses all things travel and life on the road. Generally speaking, social media only portrays what everyone wants to see rather than the crappy parts. While I know a lot of members of the skoolie, van and RV communities share their challenges, it’s not always clear as day which is why it’s important for us to talk about some of the myths about full-time travel living in a bus.
1. You must have a lot of money if you’re able to travel all the time.
Whenever I talk with my friends from back home, this is always the number one myths about full-time travel that I have to respond to: How do you have all the money for this? Truth is, purchasing this bus was a combined effort from David and I. We had savings and paid off our debt, which resulted in the purchase of Charlotte.
So, no…you don’t need to have tons of money or a great paying job to travel full-time or do a school bus conversion. Even now, we both work remote jobs and closely monitor our expenses to make sure we’re not spending too much on what we don’t need.
2. Living on a skoolie, van conversion or RV full-time is probably super easy.
Ah – one of the biggest myths that not a lot of people enjoy talking about. Choosing to travel full-time, especially when living on the road with someone else 24/7, is the furthest thing from easy. Every day usually comes with a new obstacle, whether it’s finding a location to park overnight, needing a tow truck because you got stuck in the snow, getting your car stuck in a ditch, fixing the hot water heater for the 5th time, or spending thousands of dollars on repairs fora 1984 Rabbit that you thought was going to be a financially “safe” decision.
3. I don’t care what anyone tells me, but I would never stay in a Wal-Mart.
We were 100% those people when we initially left for full-time travel in our skoolie. In fact, we still have come into contact with quite a few people that have stayed at zero Wal-Marts during their travels.
But, unless you’re really a stickler to your own rules, the chances you’ll stay at a Wal-Mart or other shopping center parking lot is high. And, to be completely transparent, they’re not as bad as everyone makes them out to be. Yes, it is a public parking lot so you’ll have to worry about people around. But, you have to worry about that even if you’re on BLM land in some states. Plus, when you park near Wal-Marts, you have access to food, snacks, Red Box movies, and ice cream. Seriously, our stays at Wal-Marts are like luxury stay-cations at a 3-star hotel!
4. You’re so lucky you don’t have to pay rent. You must have like zero expenses, right?!
You’re right. Many of those that choose to travel in a van, skoolie, RV, camper, or other rig don’t have to pay rent. In order to travel full-time, most people sell their apartments or homes. But, just because we don’t pay rent DOES NOT mean that we aren’t paying expenses. And let me tell you, full-time travel (even if you’re staying in one spot) isn’t the cheapest living option around.
Every month varies for us in terms of costs, but it’s usually about $1,500-$2,000 for the both of us. Most of our expenses consist of groceries, eating out, gas, diesel, bus/car repairs, and propane.
6. Since you’re always traveling, it must be like a never-ending vacation.
Yes and no. Sure, we do get to wake up some mornings and witness some of God’s most beautiful creations. But, with those breathtaking mountain ranges, white-out blizzards, and bison-filled fields also comes plenty of real-life challenges that we can’t avoid forever. Just because it appears we’re escaping reality doesn’t mean we don’t have to deal with all of those pesky “adulting” challenges.
7. Traveling full-time is a long-term commitment.
You have to remember that everyone’s situation is different for converting a bus or living on the road full-time. For some, it’s just a transition from one point in their lives to another. We’ve had a friend that was finishing up a graduate degree and wanted the chance to see the country before employment. We’ve met others that planned on traveling for an indefinite amount of time. You don’t need to invest in a skoolie, van, or RV as a long-term commitment kinda deal. Decide your trip timeline based on your own personal needs.
8. If you’re living in a school bus, you’re probably a weirdo or hippy.
Not an unfair assumption as one of the myths about full-time travel – most people do find us weird because of the lifestyle we’re choosing to live! For a while, my parents even questioned why I wanted to spend my savings on a bus and live out of it full-time instead of finding a 9-5pm stable job like everyone else after college. David and I chose this lifestyle because we felt stuck and not content with our current situations. We needed a chance to figure out who was outside of what society thought we should be. Does this make us weird? Maybe a little, but we also have the opportunity to live out our dreams!
9. You must find showers and toilets to be a rarity.
These myths about full-time travel is partially true. After living on our skoolie for so long, having unlimited showers and a flushing toilet are amenities that we are super grateful for. However, so many people think we live on a bus with no shower or toilet, period. We can take a shower or use the toilet whenever we want to. If we’re trying to save water, we definitely won’t be using our shower every day (shout out to my Mom for those 12 packs of baby wipes for Christmas). But, there’s been multiple periods where we’ve taken showers every other day while conserving water for 2 weeks. You can’t expect long, luxurious showers, but they work!
10. Your bus or rig is always decorated, clean and ready for high-quality Instagram content.
Ok – we’re probably the most guilty of this because I just cannot justify posting a picture of how our bus usually looks. I always laugh when people say to us: “Well, it’s such a small space. It must only take like 10 minutes to clean!”. Well, sure if you only count doing the dishes and wiping the counter down. By nature, I am a perfectionist and get my “cleaning” genes from my dad, so no, it never takes me just 10 minutes to really clean the entire bus. And, for how “quickly” it takes to clean the bus, it takes half that long for it to get filthy again. So, yeah all of those beautiful skoolie builds you see on Instagram (including ours)? Chances are none of them look like that on a consistent day-to-day basis.
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Hey! I’m Shelby, the main writer at Aimless Travels. Having grown up in NJ, I knew I wanted more than a 9-5p right out of college. At the time, I had no idea what career path I wanted to take. In 2018, we bought Charlotte the skoolie and have been traveling around North America ever since. To this point, I’ve been most passionate about all things fish, swimming around in large bodies of water, hot springs, doing crazy new things, taking pictures of dope things, and sharing content that I hope is influential to my readers.