By Mark McConville
MEET THE family of NINE who packed up their lives to travel the country in a self-converted school bus.
Michelle and Steve Lawson, from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA loved travelling with their seven children – Caleb (16), Jacob (13), Joshua (10), Matthew (6), Liam (5), Charlotte (2) and nine-month-old Owen – so much that they purchased a 2005 International DT466E for £11k.
They then spent £14k converting the bus into their own cosy home over the course of six months before hitting the road on their first trip.
The couple had been thinking of converting a school bus for a while but were finally convinced to take the plunge after Steve’s mother passed away.
“We love to travel with our kids, and since we home school and own our own photography business, it was usually very doable for us,” they said.
“On our trips, we’d dream of travelling in something bigger, something we could even sleep in. Enter the idea of a Skoolie.
“We had been toying around with the idea of getting one- and then unexpectedly, Steve’s mom passed away in February of 2017 with her only regret being not buying an RV and travelling more with us around the U.S. She would often say that she’d get it one day.
“That one day never came for her. We didn’t want to make buying our skoolie one of those ‘one day we’ll do it’ things.”
The bus has an impressive 265-square-foot of living space while two triple bunk beds and a king size bed provides ample space for everyone to sleep.
The Lawsons own a photography business, Michelle Lawson Photography, and make their income from that while they now unschool their kids. They also explained why they love living on a bus.
“Life is learning and yes, 100 per cent unschooling is the way to go,” they said.
“We believe that life is learning and the best way to learn is to do. Also the big kids really help the little kids learn too, they are a huge help along the way.
“It’s the simple life. It’s waking up in the morning and finding adventures or just taking it slow. We love not really ever knowing what we are doing.
“Life on the bus is such a fun thing. It’s filled with community and togetherness and adventure and we love it. It’s been such a blessing to us. Seeing the world, learning, growing, exploring, reflecting, going on the simplest of adventures- and all of that really stirs in us a joy and the root of it all is that we’re together. Living simply. Being connected. Loads of time to just sit and talk and draw and laugh.”
The family are currently back home in Fort Lauderale but so far they have explored Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Texas and Louisiana in their bus.
“We would definitely recommend this lifestyle to any family because of the freedom it allows,” they added.
“Living a more simple life allows for the things that really do matter to take preference. Cultivating the things that matter most.
“We love the uninterrupted family time. We love waking up together in a new place almost daily and really-always having a new adventure. We love watching every sunrise and every sunset together. Eating every meal side by side. Never being bored. Doing life together.”
For more information see https://www.instagram.com/wildandfreelawsons/