Bon voyage, London.
That’s what a young couple will be saying in about a month after they finish converting an old shuttle bus into a tiny home and set off for an adventure across the country.
Bobbi Jo Brown, 23, and Riley Zimmer, 26, bought the bus from an auto repair and sales company in May and have been working on the project since.
“I work in construction, so I know a lot about building, and I also have the resources for building,“ said Zimmer. ”I also managed to take a bunch of scrap from recycled materials and build that into our bus.“
Zimmer, of London, and Brown, born and raised in Germany, met while travelling in New Zealand about three years ago. A year later in Australia, they were introduced to living out of a van.
“We lived in a van for a year and travelled around the country. We loved it,“ said Brown, who is waiting on approval for a Canadian work visa. ”It was pretty small . . . so this time, we wanted to size up a bit.”
The bus, a 2005 Ford Econoline E-350 cutaway van, is 20 feet (six metres) long with 13 feet, six inches (four metres) of living space.
The van cost roughly $ 7,000. Zimmer said the solar energy system, plumbing, wood and other materials totalled an estimated $ 5,000.
“We may be spending a lot of money, but not half as much as you’d pay on a down payment on a house,” he said. “There’s no mortgage and no rent. In the long run, it’s quite feasible.”
The pair have installed new flooring, bathroom walls and framing, and are now adding a plumbing system. Also in the works are a water tank and a 400-watt renewable energy source.
The hope, Brown added, is to design a bus that can let them travel for two weeks “off the grid” with fresh food.
The duo plans to make their first stop in British Columbia, where they have jobs set up for the winter as a snowmaker and ski lift attendant.
After that? Off to the Pacific Coast in the U.S., said Zimmer, noting they’ll have to wait for the land border to reopen.
Zimmer, who is also a singer-songwriter, plans to use the time on the road to focus on his music — to “tour and live at the same time,” he said.
“That’s why we are really happy to be doing this — to not necessarily be stuck in a job or situation that we’re not really content with. It’s kind of cliche to say, but if things don’t work out somewhere, we can always arrive somewhere else and start over there,“ said Zimmer.
Since starting the project back in May, Brown and Zimmer have documented each stage on their YouTube channel, called VagaBonVoyage, which has 413 subscribers.
The process has been challenging but rewarding, thanks to their supporters, Brown said.
“There’s a really nice community online . . . people really respond, and there’s so helpful,“ Brown said. ”It’s amazing.”
The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada