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Old 10-11-2017, 08:30 PM   #1
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Not so young aspiring digital nomads

I'm 28 and want to travel; my wife 1000% wants to travel too. We have 2 dogs (50 lb & 12 lb) and will not give them up. So, we've decided the cheapest way for us to travel while we build our brand is hitting the road. Initially, I wanted to get a van but had a few requirements most vans didn't meet. 1. I need to be able to stand erect and 2. I need a dedicated space for toilet/shower. An extended Sprinter was the only van that really fit the bill but the price tags are outrageous; that's before I factory in the cost of maintenance on a Mercedes engine. I hate the looks of RVs. Just not my thing. Thought about box trucks and some other alternatives but ultimately decided on a school bus for more emotional reasons.

My mother was a school bus driver for 15 years before she passed away last year from breast cancer. I'll admit that I've felt "lost" since she passed. My depression hit hard and I gained nearly 50 lbs. It feels like a piece of my soul is missing but I'm learning how to be happy again. I've lost 30 lbs, have healthy marriage, a great job but still feel unfulfilled. My mother loved her job, and loved her buses. I know if I told her my plans she'd say I'm crazy, a fool, for choosing to be homeless but she'd also be showing all her bus driver friends my travel pictures. A few people have said we should to "put in our time" and do this when we retire. My mother died at 58, she never got to retire and I don't want to wait until the end of my life to travel and enjoy it.

Now here comes the hard part, getting a bus. We have a negative net worth so an auction is really our only hope. We have a budget of $1-2K for a bus that's roadworthy and will buy items as we get the money. I've seen a few within that range but then I'll google the engine and the forums will be ripping the engine to shreds. One I'm looking at now has a Detroit Diesel 6.5L and the reviews are fairly harsh, not as bad as Ford's 6.0L Powerstroke but it has me a little concerned. My job's contract ends in 8 months, I want to be on the road by then with an online job.
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Old 10-12-2017, 05:41 AM   #2
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Welcome and good luck, if you get a bus at auction for 1 or 2 grand...in my mind it could be a POS and probably not road worthy

keep in mind that you say you are neg net worth, how are you planning on going on the road?

fuel every day could be $100+ easily, and most camping spots are $25+ daily

free camping usually means no electric and no water, so water storage and disposal of waste water is an issue

an online job is great as long as you have wifi, and typically that is not free, unless you do your work at a fast food place

I am not trying to discourage you in your dreams, just make sure you cover your bases or the journey will not be fun

again, good luck

p.s. and when you say build your brand, what does that mean? you making clothes or?
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Old 10-12-2017, 08:23 AM   #3
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I don't like to be a downer but school buses are not a cheap way to travel and live. Gas mileage is like 5-10mpg unexpected maintenance and parts can be $$$$.
$1-2k will most likely buy a hulk of rolling scrap metal that will need parts like a desert needs water.

A van will be much cheaper. With all the money you save you can buy hotel rooms short term rentals, plane tickets to warm places.

Online jobs are tough.

The "Digital Nomad" trend is mostly rich kids traveling on trust funds pretending their blogs are making money. Most online jobs pay a global rate usually around $5. an hour or less. Brands are easy to build, well paying clients are hard..

It can be done. Try stuff and try more stuff until you find something that works. Then keep trying stuff because what you found will run out soon.

Just my 2 cents.
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Old 10-12-2017, 09:09 AM   #4
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Welcome and good luck
I will say in defense to spending up to or around $2000....I got my skoolie from govdeals dot com and it came from a school district which keeps their busses well maintained. A mandatory inspection is done every 6 months to keep the state happy. I think if you don't want to spend alot then this might be one of your options to consider.
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Old 10-12-2017, 09:10 AM   #5
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$1-2k isn't even close to a real bus budget. Tho you can score a bus for around $1800 at auction. Then you have fuel, extra "oh ****" fund. Insurance this stuff all takes $$$$$. I'd say research more. Search for that perfect bus for you and save more money. Don't just jump on the first cheap bus you find. With major limited budget it needs to be a real nice bus that you got a good deal on. Look at buses with the dt466 or a 8.3 cummins is a nice motor too.
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Old 10-12-2017, 09:24 AM   #6
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being in a "digital" job is tough.. I am lucky as my work is portable to an extent, but not totally.. 7 years ago i and a busness partner started a company.. we do have home base wth servers and racks and such... when im programming and writing code i can do it pretty much anywhere.. when im working with clients I need to be at their sites.. when im in a hardware DEV mode i need to be at home base where i have unlimited fast internet, full server setups that run 24 hours a day with static IP's etc..

some of my client sites are in the suburns and I can drive the bus and park it there.. others are inner-city and theres no way i could go there with my bus...

if you are going full-time you need to have your work established before you go.. as mentioned you need a place to park, water, showers, food, lifestyle, if you are digital, how do you plan to getonline? and will a hotspot plan get you enough data per month, etc... plan this out before you jettison your apartment or house and take off...

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Old 10-12-2017, 11:29 AM   #7
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That's good solid advice Christopher.

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Old 10-12-2017, 12:22 PM   #8
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Lots of thoughtful replies. 1st thing is that we are only considering <30 passenger mini buses on a van chassis so engines found in a cargo or camper van... Most travel bloggers/vloggers are rich kids with trust funds and we want to change that. Real life budgets and experiences traveling the world. As our audience (instagram, youtube, blog, etc) grows, we will pursue endorsements, sponsors, collaborations, etc. The ultimate end goal would be a show on Travel Channel or similar. (we aren't holding our breath for this one)

To finance the endeavor, we're going to sell everything we don't use and continue working and save. My contract has the opportunity to go permanent, at which point I'd move into a campground or farm near my job to cut out the 40 min commute 1 way. And spend my 3 day weekend on the road. I'm not concerned with student loan debt right now since I'll be able to pay them off in cash with a lump sum next year (small inheritance).

Full solar setup, composting toilet and shower bucket are musts. This is why we moved away from vans. No black water and biodegradable grey water. Everything else will be 2nd or 3rd hand pulled from salvage RVs, etc. It won't be a luxurious $17,000 van/bus set up but it'll be comfortable and livable.
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Old 10-12-2017, 01:21 PM   #9
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definitely scope out places to park beforehand. some campgrounds wont allow Skoolies at all.. or wont allow any RV over 10 years old. and some campgrounds can be really expensive as well.

renting land from a private owner would be great if you can find one... maybe you offer to mow it for them or watch their house if they are travelling, etc when you are not on the road.

I definitely think you can pull this off with proper planning ahead. and if you are doing contract work, being able to take contract positions in other cities and move easily is an advantage.. you arent stuck in one place with a long lease...


Van Cutaway busses have the advantage that the mechanical and electrical systems on them are very close to the standard consumer van versions.. so you can get parts at o'reilly , autozone etc.. if you do need shop work you can often get them serviced in a "normal" garage and not a commercial diesel shop.
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Old 10-12-2017, 06:58 PM   #10
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Yes, we are in the planning stages now. Mapping a course and then will plot campgrounds, rest stops, etc. along the route so we always have alternatives just in case. It's seems so far away but I know it's coming faster than I think. We've reached a point where we could afford our current lifestyle and buy a van/bus but there's no reason to. We live in the most expensive state in the USA and I'm not down for working myself into the ground with only an oversized house and shiny import car to show for it.
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