We spent £4K turning our son's old school bus into holiday home, it's rusty and prone to leaking but we love it

A THRIFTY couple have revealed how they transformed their son's old school bus into a holiday home-on-wheels – spending £4,000 in total and turning to YouTube videos to make it a DIY job.

Tracy Walker, 39, and husband Jamie, 43, who live in Bristol, decided to pursue their dream of travelling with their two children, Archie, seven, and Isaac, four, when Archie’s school listed its old bus for sale in September 2020.

They scooped it up for the bargain price of just over £1,000 and were thrilled to discover the 17-seater bus had only 34,000 miles on the clock.

“It was a bit of an impulse buy to be honest, but a bargain not to be missed,” revealed stay-at-home mum Tracy.

“I always had the bug for travelling and seeing the world – more so now I have kids – and I want them to see and learn about different cultures and ways of living.”

Tracy and her husband Jamie set to work transforming the old vehicle, which they nicknamed Betty, and ripped everything out including the seats, carpets, plastic panelling and rubber flooring.

However, the renovation process wasn't exactly plain sailing and they quickly discovered – to their horror – that the bus had rust patches that needed welding and tackling.

Not only did the couple replace all the seals, but they removed the windscreen and sealed every crack they could see.

After learning the van was prone to leaking, Jamie drilled a hole in the floor as a temporary solution, before they then replaced the front discs, pads and calipers, and gave Betty a new battery.

Tracy said: “We ripped everything back to its shell, sealed everything and started with the insulation.

“There was so much conflicting information online with what to do and how to use it. We used Celotex and expanding foam to hold in place and make sure there were no airholes.

“In the gutter and doors where we couldn’t use Celotex, we used recycled bottle insulation wool. We then vapour-barrier-ed it all – that made our van look like a space ship.

“With the flooring we did the same but we cut out all the grooves as we didn’t want to lose the head space.”

The next step was cladding the ceiling and inserting electrical wiring, as well as ply wood on the walls.

The couple used YouTube videos to teach them how to do everything and had a hand from an electrician friend, Justin, who helped with the electrics and welding.

We learnt as we went along and made so many errors, but just had to adapt or live with it

Tracy said: “There was nothing we didn’t do apart from the electrics and welding.

“We drilled holes in the delicate fibre glass roof, side panel and floor for things like solar, vent, fan, and electric hook-up – that was scary as a wrong measurement means you have a hole in your vehicle," Tracy revealed.

“We learnt as we went along and made so many errors, but just had to adapt and make it as a feature or live with it.

“I would lie if I didn’t say we nearly divorced a hundred times – and lost count of how many times we said ‘never again’.

“We did all the work outside our home on the road too; often we would rotate so someone could be with the kids or we got them to help us.”

To maximise space, the dining table was built to pull out into beds for the family to sleep on during their travels, while overhead cupboards and compartments minimised clutter.

Once the van was ready to be decorated, the family chose bohemian neutral tones and left the exterior untouched, with Archie’s school motto still painted on: “Learning today for life tomorrow.”

I would lie if I didn’t say we nearly divorced a hundred times – and lost count of how many times we said ‘never again’

In total, Tracy and Jamie spent £4,000 on their renovations, which they completed in August 2021, and they've been documenting their journey on Instagram via @never_stop_exploring_vanlife, where Tracy shares snaps of their travels

They recently returned from Betty’s maiden voyage to Wales, where they visited castles and beaches, and now have more ambitious plans to tour Europe in the van – with Austria, Hungary, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Romania top of their list.

Tracy added: “I don’t think there is anywhere we don’t want to go.

"We would love to take a year out while the kids are young but financially we don’t know if that will be possible.

“But we have so many places in the UK that need exploring.

“Archie is so excited that we have the school bus and has to tell everyone that it’s his.

“We are so blessed and fortunate to have this opportunity.”

Meanwhile, a mum shares 'I lost my home so moved into a cluttered van with my kid – we have to choose between hot water and heating but I love it'.

Plus, a family transforms old van into LUXURY motor home complete with a kitchen, dining table and bed for £18K.

And one woman transforms run-down caravan using B&M and The Range bargains and finishes just in time for her holiday.

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