Bus Life

Bus Life: The Most Ridiculous Questions We’ve Been Asked

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Bus life – people are always curious about it, and we field questions regularly about our lifestyle.

Two weeks ago, Tiny Home Tours did a YouTube tour of our bus on their channel. Yesterday, our story was featured on The Daily Mail, and then picked up by The Sun. Minus the ridiculous headline {a gross misuse of a quote in the article}, it was pretty cool. And we were so pumped and honored and grateful.

Until I made a rookie mistake and looked at the comments. Sweet Jesus, you should never, ever look at the comments.

Comment after comment of the most hateful diatribes I’ve ever seen. Insults about everything from my hair to our relationship, how selfish and horrible we are as parents and dog owners, and what a drain on the society we are. And I won’t lie, it tanked us for a few days.

But then we were reminded by our friends on Insta to follow the light and ignore the dark. Those who see the story and want to follow will, and the ones trolling your account probably do it to just about every article or post they encounter, so you shouldn’t take it personally. Further, when people are that rude, it really says more about them than about you – but I digress.

People are always curious about bus life. These are some of the more ridiculous questions we've been asked about bus life. | Since We Woke Up | sincewewokeup.com

We decided that we would laugh about it, and turn it into a “Most Ridiculous Questions We’ve Been Asked” segment, treating the insults as if they were actually really silly questions being asked instead of sad statements of how the author spends their time being hurled via the anonymous safety of a computer keyboard.

Without further ado – the most ridiculous questions {insults} we’ve been asked about bus life! {Side note, these are not the exact comments. In many cases, I’m squashing quite a few comments together to create one cohesive one. Internet trolls are always the most well-spoken lot.}

QUESTIONS ABOUT OUR PARENTING

“So the kids only travel with you part-time? That’s not right. Obviously another mid-life crisis mom dumping her kids off with their real dad so she can go be selfish and live her own life.”

Actually, it’s called joint custody, and most divorced parents have it. Whether I lived in a traditionally built home or a bus, I still would only have my kids part-time. However, I get to see my kids more than most parents, because we homeschool. I get to hang all day with them, meaning during the times Mike and I take off to travel alone {about a month or so out of the year total}, it’s during the time their dad is spending quality time with them.

Further, husbands one and two and I are pretty great friends, and when we aren’t traveling we park at his house so the kids get the best of both worlds. He works during the day, Mike and I work from home and teach the kids, and at night we all workout and have dinner together. I doubt many kids of divorced parents have such an amazing set up with all their parents supporting them and working as a team, and I doubt many parents get to spend as much one-on-one time with their kiddos as we do. I dug way back to find photos of our untraditional family of five going waaaayyy back before bus life was even a thought.

People are always curious about bus life. These are some of the more ridiculous questions we've been asked about bus life. | Since We Woke Up | sincewewokeup.com

“If your kids travel with you, why is there no mention of them on your Insta and why don’t they have beds on the bus?”

They actually did, when we first built the bus. But after traveling for a while, they told us they didn’t like being confined to their bunks while we drove and would prefer we had a bigger living room we could all hang out in. So we tore out the bunks and designed a large living space with one regular couch and a murphy couch that folds up when it isn’t being used. We actually used their bunk mattresses as the pads for both couches. Now when we travel they can sit in the front area and converse, and at night, they both still have a bed.

We don’t feature them a lot on our Insta mostly for privacy reasons – they’re their own people and should have some say in what is online about them. They are featured, with their permission, on our story highlight bio and occasionally when we travel.

“Your kids are teens, I can’t imagine they like living that lifestyle.”

They don’t, full-time, which is why we have the setup we do with their dad. When we travel, they enjoy seeing and learning about new places. When we are back at home base, they have their rooms inside their dad’s house and prefer having their own space. It’s all about balance. I love that my kids are well-adjusted teens who love all their parents and appreciate that there is no one “right way” to do life. I also love that they learn important life lessons along the way – that a family doesn’t have to be traditional to be happy, and that if you have a dream, you should follow it, even if others don’t understand it.

QUESTIONS ABOUT OUR LIFESTYLE

“Your Instagram is obviously fake, you said you were bankrupt so trying to pretend you like living in a small-ass bus instead of being forced into it is ridiculous.”

We weren’t bankrupt, and this was a choice. But it wasn’t an easy journey. While these people obviously didn’t read the whole story, let me reiterate.

We owned a business and a three-story home. Fitness was our life, and we dedicated most of our waking hours to helping people overcome their health and confidence issues. But at some point we realized that:

  • We were actually worse parents because others got more of our time than the kids did.
  • We were spending 12 – 14 hour days killing ourselves at a job to pay for a lifestyle we never had time to enjoy.
  • Not everyone appreciated the amount of time and dedication we put into our job. It was never enough. There were certain clients who you could spend hours of your free, unpaid time with, clients who we were quite literally emotionally draining ourselves for or almost going to jail for, that would absolutely turn on you when you quit being able to give them the level of attention they required. After several run-ins of this type that completely negated the good we were trying to do in people’s lives, we were emotionally drained and fitness had become a trap.

We saw a documentary about bus life, decided it was time for a life change, got our house and business under contract for sale and dove into the bus. It was at this point the financial disaster struck.

Our clients, seeing we were leaving and checking out, started leaving en masse, hurting the gym’s income. The buyer for the gym was forced to back out when her father had a heart attack and she needed to be able to travel home to be with her elderly mother more. Our house fell through two days before closing when the buyers tried to commit tax fraud.

Since we’d already financially committed to and started building the bus, we were stuck between the three and our financial situation was dire. We were absolutely on the brink of bankruptcy.

But we learned so much from that time, about ourselves, what we were capable of mentally and emotionally, and what it felt like to push through to the other side. A few weeks later the house sold, we ended up closing the business, selling half of our equipment, donating the other half to an awesome non-profit that provides fitness health programs to veterans, and finishing out the bus.

Which we do, by the way, love.

“Your husband sighs every time you talk in your video, which psychologically means he doesn’t like you.”

I’m not even sure how to go about answering this, so I’m not. Mike, the sigher, says, “Our relationship is not perfect, no one’s is. But we’ve spent almost every hour of every day together for the last eight years, and I’m madly in love with my wife and my life. I doubt most couples could spend as much time together as we do in a small space. Sighs or not, there’s not a thing I would change about my life. Or her. Maybe they should think about the psychology of a person who sits behind a keyboard typing rude things to people they don’t know anything about.”

People are always curious about bus life. These are some of the more ridiculous questions we've been asked about bus life. | Since We Woke Up | sincewewokeup.com

“Another drain on society, stupid welfare people mooching off people who actually work for a living and aren’t hobos.”

Actually, we do have jobs! And we aren’t on welfare, never have been even in the worst times. Mike and I both write SEO content for blogs online, meaning we can work remotely from wherever we happen to be. We actually make more money now than we did even when we were in nursing school working in that field {yes, we did attend college} or owned our own business. I also edit content for the same company and run our Instagram, which is a small but growing side hustle.

We have even have private health insurance {the same one we had while running our own business for four years} and life insurance and insurance on our traveling little home.

“Visit them again in ten years when they’re dealing with the fall-out from not thinking about their future and they don’t have a backup plan.”

This is us thinking about our future, interestingly enough. See, before we had the hundreds of thousands in debt that most people have on mortgages and cars and credit cards, and life that mostly owned us as we spent hours every day working for the money that kept it all going.

Today, we’re mostly debt-free. With the sale of that big house and all our stuff and the business equipment, we paid off that horribly expensive lifestyle and funded a bus conversion. We don’t have huge payments or the utility bills a big house does, meaning almost everything we make goes into our own bank account to either be saved for the future or to fund our adventures.

Because of this lifestyle, we save more monthly than we used to in four, and get to choose where our money goes instead of living paycheck to paycheck because it’s spent before it gets there.

“This isn’t an economical financial choice – between diesel and RV parks and the like this is an expensive lifestyle.”

You’re right, diesel isn’t cheap. Neither are bus repairs that sometimes come up. But we don’t have utility bills, or mortgages, or credit card payments, or a bunch of other monthly bills that arrive with owning a normal lifestyle. We also get to choose when we drive, meaning our monthly spending is our choice. Propane for our stove and fridge and water heater are cheap, and water is also an easy thing to find and fill on the cheap. Our woodstove is mostly kept running from free wood others aren’t using and are trying to get rid of, so Oliver is the least expensive house we’ve ever lived in.

We don’t often park at RV parks – when we are spending time in our home state with family we have places to park, and when we’re traveling we prefer the beautiful BLM land that we can appreciate and enjoy off-grid for free. We also like BLM land because most people don’t respect it, and we always do our part to clean up what we find left from others and take it out with us.

QUESTIONS THAT WE CAN’T BELIEVE PEOPLE THOUGHT TO ASK

“You are horrible dog parents, your poor dog squashed in that tiny bus. And you feed him horrible food, you look like healthy people and yet that’s what you feed him?”

You should do some research on Great Danes – they’re listed as one of the best apartment dogs because they spend most of their time laying around, sleeping. As I type this, Apollo is laying at my feet on his squashy bed, where he’s been for the last two hours and will likely remain until we force him to get out and run around for a bit outside.

People are always curious about bus life. These are some of the more ridiculous questions we've been asked about bus life. | Since We Woke Up | sincewewokeup.com

I don’t even have an answer to the food thing. Our vet told us the expensive grain-free foods are mostly a hoax and many that were tested did indeed have the same levels of BS that the cheaper brands do. He turns seven tomorrow, older for a Great Dane, and has never had a single health issue, so I guess, for now, we’ll probably just continue to not worry about it. We do appreciate your concern for animal welfare, however, being vegan. We love all animals, our dog included.

“With all that shit in it, this bus probably limps down the interstate at 30mph.”

We did our homework before we purchased a bus, meaning we waited for the perfect drivetrain to come along, a DT466 and Allison 3000 combo. Deconstructing the bus and removing everything out of it before building, as well as being incredibly thoughtful about what we put back in, means that Oliver weighs little more than he did hauling loads of high schoolers around and far, far less than his rated 36,000 pounds. We haven’t ever pushed him to his max, but we did hit 85mph before we decided to stop trying. Admittedly, on long steep grade hills, he does slow to between 40 and 50 toward the top.

“Another example of a woman taking all the credit for a man’s hard work.”

Another one I will just let Mike answer, since I’m too busy laughing. I bled and sweat for this bus, but don’t take my word for it.

“This bus was a group project. Tawny’s dad contributed to the plumbing and metalwork, her brother to the electrical, and us building the rest. Tawny designed the entire project, start to finish, and worked hand in hand on every single project. I can’t remember a single project she wasn’t physically involved in and helping with, besides the fact that we all worked from her plan. There were things neither of us could have done without the help of her awesome family, which we credit in every single post we can, but this bus wouldn’t be what it is without her.”

People are always curious about bus life. These are some of the more ridiculous questions we've been asked about bus life. | Since We Woke Up | sincewewokeup.com

“Why would you want to live in that cramped little space?”

Most people who come on the bus immediately remark how large it feels. And it does. Further, we had three stories in our old home and spent 90% of our time in our bedroom, kitchen, bathroom and living room. All of which we have on the bus. We even have a washer and dryer. I don’t feel like I’m missing anything at all, and this space is more than adequate for our needs. Plus, living small teaches you to appreciate what you do have instead of always wanting more.

BUS LIFE + US: NOT EVERYONE WILL UNDERSTAND YOUR CHOICES, BUT THAT’S OKAY

Bus life isn’t for everyone. And many people probably can’t understand why we would choose to live in a bus instead of embracing “The American Dream” of the beautiful home in the lovely neighborhood with new cars and mowing your lawn every Saturday. And that’s okay.

The world takes all kinds. I personally can’t understand why anyone would trade time now for a bet that you’ll still be healthy and able and financially secure enough to pursue travel and time with your loved ones later. I didn’t care for yard work and maintaining a three-story home and spending five days a week slaving away from home so I could {hopefully} enjoy two off and get everything done that I didn’t have time to do while I was at work. And that’s okay too.

People are always curious about bus life. These are some of the more ridiculous questions we've been asked about bus life. | Since We Woke Up | sincewewokeup.com

Bus life comes with its own perks and own pitfalls. The bus could breakdown and need repairs. I have to empty my toilet and fill water tanks and find places to park when we travel. But I can change the view out my bedroom window whenever I feel like it. I get to spend all day, every day with my kiddos while they learn. I’m saving for my future. I’m saving for my future. We create every day according to what we feel like, no places to be, no deadlines, no clock to punch. Some days we sit and write all day, some days we drive, some days we just sit and enjoy whatever beautiful place we happen to be.

And finally, I have a life that I love. Bus life isn’t the only life, but it’s the best part of mine so far.

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