27-year-old Amy Butler and 33-year-old David Laws are living out their fantasy travelling around Europe in a converted luxury “shore bus” – and it is only costing them 15 euros per day. The group met in 2014 while residing in Dubai, where Butler was working in petroleum and gas recruitment and legislation was a design technology instructor. Three decades later – having got engaged while taking a Tuk Tuk ride in Sri Lanka – the couple are on their final adventure before they intend to settle down and start their own eco-friendly guesthouse someplace in Europe.
Butler and Laws began their trip in August driving from the UK to France, from where they led to northern Spain before driving through Portugal. And they are doing it with a 2005 Fiat Ducato mini bus that they paid 5,500 euros ($7,365) for in April, which they have since renovated so as to utilize it for their journeys across Europe. The couple have recorded their experience from start to finish via their site, such as the construct they said took four weeks of long 12+ hour days, and two weeks more than anticipated.
They originally had a budget of 12,000 euros for the bus conversion and 5,000 euros for the travelling, but said that they ended up moving about 6,000 euros over budget on the renovation.
“Our ambition had always been to make something that resembled the quality, finish and function of a small studio apartment, and we think that is what we achieved; with the slight ramshackle look of an old seaside beach hut,” the couple said. After stripping it to its bare aluminium shell core condition, insulated it, implemented electrics, general plumbing and gas installations – with no idea of how any of these systems worked. They commented, “(It) completely drained our bodies and soul to get it here – but we were finished – and what we saw we were in love with.”
The results are fairly impressive. The bus now looks like something close to a lavish – albeit comfy – vacation cottage as opposed to a mobile home, as a result of the focus on detail and luxury soft furnishings. There is a kitchenette, which is decorated with handmade turquoise tiles, and also includes a hob, ceramic sink, mixer tap, cupboards, and shelves for cookery books with only a few minor checkups from hot water service repairs needed.
The couple wrote it was “(the) hardest part of the build, took us days to work out how to get the cupboard doors on, and we had to router out the solid wood counter top for the sink and stove. We also made all the tiles and the spice rack.”
The couple have made the most of the tight space. They were able to set up network services and security to access internet and Facebook within the hut. There’s also a stylish (miniature) lounge area with a large window, presumably a fantastic place to respect the surrounding landscape. At the end of the couch, which pulls out to make a double bed for guests, there’s a pull-out seat that doubles up as a laundry box, in addition to baskets for storage beneath.
Some of the luxury finishing touches include the aluminum light fixture and handmade artwork and cushions. The kitchen and lounge area leads to the bedroom, where the beach hut design continues. They added that they used a moodboard of heaps of pictures stuck into a corkboard to make the interior layout of the bus. The bedroom is fitted with a cozy double bed, in addition to a projector, and that the couple use to transform their space into a personal cinema where they can play movies and films from their cloud backup services. The bus also has its own shower and bathroom, which seem pretty lavish by mobile home criteria.
And, of course, its own homemade wine rack, which they call the most significant part the bus. The couple managed to get by on a budget of only 15 euros per day. They said that they love making their own food,” they said. “We have made lots of dim sum and ramen.” They added that they still have not had a single debate on their excursion, despite living in such close proximity. They said that they are loving life on the open road.
San Sebastian in Spain is their favorite place so far – thanks to the tapas – and they would also like to see Italy, Slovenia, Croatia and Romania – if their shoestring budget permits. Their trip is also serving as research to their next venture. Finally, they want to build their own eco-friendly guesthouse someplace in Europe, where they could grow their own vegetables, keep livestock, and build treehouses, yurts, and yet more bus conversions.