As a kid, my family flew out west and rented a van for a couple of weeks for a Chase family-style road trip through dozens of of America’s national parks, historic sites, and monuments. By my own recollections, that trip was part great adventure, part hilarity, and an absolute lot of screaming kids, screaming parents, and unending stretches of desert highway.
What I mean is, the trip was totally amazing and also the kind of thing most people in their right minds only attempt a handful of times in order to keep them special (and limited). Not so for the Davis household, aka the “Midwest Wanderers,” who’ve converted an old school bus into a motorized tiny home for their three-person, one-dog family to travel in together 24/7.
Meet the Midwest Wanderers.
Rachel, 26, and Luke, 28, were high school sweethearts who got married as soon as they graduated. The two pursued careers—Rachel at her own baking business called Sweets By Rae, and Luke as a pipefitter in Chicago. Today, the couple also has a 2-year-old daughter named Charlotte.
These Midwest Wanderers have attracted a flurry of attention for their truly amazing bus conversion, which was featured on Living Big in a Tiny House. Instead of relegating family road trip time to a couple vacation weeks a year, Rachel and Luke ditched their 1,500-square-foot home in favor of converting an old school bus into a 240-square-foot, miniature dream home that involved literally raising the roof, adding a wood stove, and sweetening the pot with all sorts of sweet creature comforts.
Turning a dream into reality often just involves a single step (or vehicle).
“At first it seemed like such a crazy, far out idea, the kind you only dream of doing but 'could never really happen,” the couple writes on the Midwest Wanderers blog. Then:
“The more we talked about it the more we realized we couldn’t shake the desire for this lifestyle of freedom. What do we really have to lose? Our big TV? Our comfy couches? Our yard? Our nice big kitchen? All these things are material possessions that can easily be replaced or lived without. This brought on an epiphany. We realized how much time and money we spend on our possessions and how much THEY own US! How does it make any sense that the things that are supposed to make us “happy” are really the things that take away what is most important to us -- time?”
Sure, we’ve all had these moments of contemplation. What is this all for? What is the point? What’s the use of working a job just to buy stuff? Why do we wait for weekends, days off, and vacations in order to feel alive? Except the Midwest Wanderers, upon having these thoughts, did something about them.
$4,000 and a vague idea will get you further than you might think.
The school bus ran Rachel and Luke $4,000, and took almost two years to be perfected. That remodel included adding spaces for a bathroom, two beds, kitchen complete with four-burner stove and fridge, living room, wood stove, porthole skylights, and several other custom details like a convertible couch and a fold-down dining table so each space becomes malleable depending on what’s happening.
Is there an actual plan?
Everyone wants to know if Rachel and Luke have a route planned out. The answer? Sort of.
“Our answer is yes and no,” Rachel wrote on the blog back when the journey began. “Yes because we know where we are going to go first. But after that… not so much. Basically, we know that our first trip is going to Nashville and after that we haven’t set anything in stone. There are just so many places we want to see that we haven’t been able to decide yet. Honestly though, we’ll most likely end up going west first. Last year we went to Seattle with our best friends and fell in love with hiking, the mountains, and just being outdoors.”
It’s a difficult rationale to contest: This life of the open road, with all the comforts of home.