How Two Travelers Converted Their Burning Man Bus To A Full-Time Home

Life & Culture Writer
12.06.17 3 Comments

Nick Cahill

#Vanlife is an Uproxx passion. We’ve been seduced by the commitment to independence and wanderlust that undergird the scene. And who isn’t down with the beautiful vans people are turning out and all of the photos from their trips to national parks and other glorious natural areas? As far as I’m concerned, nothing beats living vicariously through the wild spirits we feature in these interviews (besides actually joining the Mad Ones out on the road).

But, in an innovative riff on the central narrative of living on the road, there’s no van today. Instead we have a bus!

Jessica Perez and Nick Cahill (@bluebusadventure) are the owners and inhabitants of a converted 1988 Mighty Mite Thomas school bus. With just 100 square feet to play with, they have constructed one of the most beautiful builds we’ve ever featured and only our third skoolie conversion.

Perez and Cahill did most of the work themselves, learning as they went and drawing on the resources of their community. They can add that accomplishment to a long list of others — as both have excelled in their careers (Nick as a photographer and Jessica as a consultant) and logged a tremendous amount of travel time, including a lot of time at festivals. Yes, these two embody the photographer, bus lifer, Burning Man enthusiast trifecta for which we have searched so long and hard. It’s legit exciting.

Nick and Jessica connected with me via the phone on a break from their life on the road to talk about life before the bus, the conversion, and the surprises that sprang up during their transition to bus living. They have some solid advice for anyone considering joining the van/bus living community. Plus, they talked about how this move made their relationship better, which we have heard before. Forget couples therapy, get you a bus.

Nick Cahill

Alright, so tell me a little about your life before you guys decided to hit the road.

Nick: We both grew up in the Bay Area. I grew up in a little bit of a more outdoor lifestyle than Jessica did. My parents would take me camping in the summer, things like that. I ended up going to college in Lake Tahoe, Nevada. Jessica and I met while I was in college. She was out of college. And then she moved up to Tahoe, and we ended up getting the bus. Initially it wasn’t for living in; it was for Burning Man. And then we kind of took the next steps from there to move into it.

I’m outdoor adventure person. I love to snowmobile, I love snowboarding. A few years ago, I got into skydiving. I would say I’m an adrenaline enthusiast. I don’t like the word “adrenaline junkie” that much, ’cause it kind of has a bad term to it.

When I went to Tahoe, I had my camera, and I picked a route to go in life. The route was to go through the camera, so I took business management classes and digital art courses. Those led me to take photos of nature a lot, and then really get behind the camera. I got a good job as a media director for the largest military content network on the web. From there, I was able to work remotely, which allowed me to stay in Lake Tahoe. And I managed to get the cover of National Geographic on the side of managing that job and my lifestyle at the same time. It made sense for me to continue pursuing photography, which is one major reason we’re in the bus: To continue to pursue my photography.