Build Addicts: Raven and Brie of @asoulvacation
Names: Raven and Brie
We’re Raven and Brie (@asoulvacation on Instagram). We met in 2017 working as designers
in the tech industry in NYC and have been best friends ever since. We’re both adventurous,
love to travel, and crazy enough to want to live in 250 sq. ft. together. So we bought a bus!
From what we’ve seen, most people who join the skoolie community are either couples or
solo travelers. We haven’t seen two people in our situation doing this together (but if you are, hit us up). As best friends and former coworkers, we already have a foundation of good communication and collaboration which seems to come in handy when you’re building a house from the ground up and have no idea what you’re doing. Our professional backgrounds are in solving design problems, so we have unique perspectives and experiences when it comes to working within design constraints and using what we have to create an ideal solution.
We also see it as an exciting and unique challenge to go from living in NYC (a city of abundance with everything at our fingertips) to living off the grid.
Last but not least we are funny af.
What made you take the leap and get into this lifestyle?
Just over a year ago, we were on a beach in Indonesia thinking about how unfulfilled we were with our lives back home. We were both unhappy at work; feeling depleted and longing for something more. We were going into the office day in and day out sharing the feeling that there had to be more to life than the corporate 9 to 5. We dreaded going in every day and were always counting down the minutes until we could go home.
On top of that, we couldn’t ignore the kismet of the situation: being two grown adults living comfortably in our favorite city in the world, who wanted to uproot our lives and do this at the exact same time. It would make sense that one of us would want to live in a bus but the fact that both of us individually wanted to go on this adventure was something that we couldn’t let pass.
We decided to capitalize on that and go for it—so we quit our jobs and fully invested ourselves into this lifestyle.
How and where did you find your bus?
We looked around for months for the right one, searching high and low on eBay, Facebook,
government surplus sites, and really every lead we could find. We eventually found an ad on
Craiglist for a bus lot in Ruckersville, VA (M&M Auto Salvage) that had over 100 buses in their inventory. We took a road trip to see them for ourselves, and after checking out almost all 100 of those buses, a three-day deliberation, and an inspection from two mechanics, we found our girl, bus 579.
What was important to you while looking for a bus?
We were looking for something with minimal rust (which is why we had to go a bit south), no
leaks, relatively low mileage, and good tires. Structurally, we wanted a bus that wouldn’t bottom out on hills and since roof raises are so expensive, we wanted to find something with the highest ceilings possible.
Why did you choose the bus that you did?
We went back and forth between getting a dog nose vs. a flat nose for a while. We ultimately
went with a flat nose because it gives us the most living space and has a better turning radius.
Specific to our bus, we really liked the straight, wide stairs in the front, the two emergency exits, and space for a comfortable, little nook in the back. Being inside it just felt right to both of us, so we knew it was the right decision.
What features will your bus have?
We will have a couch, love seat, hideaway dining table, full kitchen, full bath, two bedrooms,
reading nook, roof deck, as much storage as possible, and be primarily solar-powered with
backup energy sources.
What did you factor in when laying out your floor plan? Why did you go with the layout that you did?
Living together as best friends versus as a couple or solo traveler means that our requirements are a little different than the typical build. So, one of our main priorities is creating a home where we both have our own space. We also want to be able to cook a full meal in our kitchen and for the whole thing to feel as open as possible. Although moving into a bus definitely means downsizing in space, we want to bring as many of the comforts of our current homes with us as possible. Shout out to Raven for working her magic on this one!
What is your design style?
Modern minimalist meets feminine chic. Functional, clean but cozy, fresh and inviting. We want to create a harmony between form and function and use what little space we have as efficiently as possible.
What have your biggest challenges been?
Leaky windows! We thought taking out our windows and reinstalling them would give us better insulation, and while it might have, it also ended up causing more problems and headaches.
We lost track of the number of new leaks we had, and it feels like we wasted months of our time just trying to fix them. Apart from that, just figuring out how to do literally everything—it’s all new to us so we have to take the time to research and learn before we can actually go ahead and start a new task. Not going to lie, it’s also a real bitch working through the winter in the northeast when you don’t have a shelter to work in. Hello, weeks of frostbitten fingertips and toes! We may have single-handedly raised the stock price of Hot Hands.
What have you learned so far throughout this process?
We’ve learned that anyone can learn to drive a bus, and having the proper tools will make
your life so much easier. Working on your windows in the cold creates it’s own set of unique
challenges—all the materials you’re going to use (we’ve tried them all) live their best lives in the heat so it might be worth it to wait a few extra months. This is a marathon, not a sprint, and it’s hard to account for things that might go wrong when you’re learning as you go. Things have taken so much longer than we could have imagined, so we’re learning to adjust.
Lastly, community is so important. We’ve relied so much on other people’s advice and experience and it’s been the key to our build. The skoolie community really seems to rally and help each other, and we love that so much.
Who in the community do you look to for inspiration and how-tos?
@MEREDITH and PACO, @Bussy McBusface, @Gilligan Phantom, The Hightail Bus,
@claysanabus, and of course @navigationnowhere! Huge thank you to all of you!!
What are your plans once you get on the road?
We are SO looking forward to this day! We plan to travel full time across the U.S and Cana-
da, and see as many beautiful places as possible. We know that driving a diesel bus is bad for the environment so part of our mission will be offsetting that as we travel, whether that’s by directly helping the environment or just doing good where we can.
We want to always try to be present and never take any part of this experience for granted, to enjoy our situation wherever the wind blows us and face our challenges head on and with gratitude. And most importantly, enjoy life and this new sense of freedom.