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Cedar Bend Travels: Family of 6’s Bus Life

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Nineteen states and five National Parks later, the Chardoulias family of 6 (@cedarbendtravels on Instagram) is enjoying life on the road in their converted coach bus!

They raised Labradoodles for service and therapy work for a living, and it was challenging to travel. Their bus is 45 ft. long and eight ft. wide, giving them enough space to house the six of them and take their work (the pups!) on the road. So they removed a third of their belongings, sold their 4-bedroom home, and DIYed this bus renovation!

We interviewed Whitney’s mom about their tiny life, so check out the Q&A at the end of the post!

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Living, Working & Traveling: Family Bus Life!

Here’s the exterior of the bus. Pretty big!

While they have a 6×6 playroom, Whitney says the kids would prefer to play in the kitchen with them.

And what a glorious kitchen it is! There’s even a dishwasher.

What do you think of the twinkle lights on the ceiling?

A snuggly electric fireplace makes the living room cozy.

It has such cute shelving with a touch of green.

Kids climbing and being kids!

Here are the bunks! The youngest sleeps with mom & dad.

But that doesn’t stop him from wanting to climb into his siblings’ spots.

Here’s a view of the middle bunk. They’re 6 ft by 3 ft.

Looking out the window in Mom & Dad’s room.

The Master fits a king-sized bed!

Three boys under three!

Here’s the bathroom. They have a full shower/bath and a composting toilet.

Another view of the bath before it was repainted.

Safety first! Everyone is buckled in on the road.

VIDEO: Bus Tour

Interview with Whitney: Family Bus Life

What are your name(s)? Andrew and Whitney Chardoulias, Kids are Quincy (girl, 7), Fletcher (boy, 4), Rowe (boy, 2), and River (Boy, 1)

How many people (and animals) are living in your bus? Six people, two adults, and four kids. Animals vary, we raise Australian Labradoodles so we always have at least one adult dog with us, and often have a litter of puppies with us too.

Where do you live? How long have you lived tiny? When we are stationary, we are parked at my parents’ farm in Muscatine, IA.
So far, we have visited 19 states and five national parks.

What do you do for work? Or do you travel full-time? We raise Australian Labradoodles, a dog bred for service and therapy work.

Why did you decide to go tiny? What are you hoping to get out of living tiny? We wanted to travel and found it challenging to do with our job. By converting the bus, we can take our pups along with us while we travel. The biggest thing we hope to get out of this is exposing our kids to as much as possible. We love that they can read about mountains and ocean life in a book and then also experience those things firsthand.

Why specifically did you choose a bus (instead of say an RV/van/tiny house on wheels)? Because we needed room for our dogs/puppies while on the road, we decided to go with a coach because it had more room than a traditional skoolie and we could modify it to fit our needs. Also we can keep it temperature controlled while we are driving.

How did you first learn about bus life? Instagram!

How long did it take to finish your bus? It took about a year, but that included all the mechanical work we needed to do.

How did you build your bus? Did you have any help? Did you do it yourselves? Andrew did most of the build himself. We did have some help along the way, but for the most part, Andrew did everything.

Are you comfortable sharing how much your tiny home cost? What are bills/utilities like compared to before? We have spent around 70k on our bus, including replacing the engine and transmission. Without those two significant expenses, the price would be closer to 40k.

How did you find a place to park and live in your bus? We are fortunate that our parents own a large farm in Iowa.

Before going tiny, what was life like? We had a large four-bedroom house in town that we absolutely loved. It was a really tough decision if we wanted to sell our house because we loved it so much, but we really wanted to travel.

Is there anything from your old life that you miss? Our neighbors!

What benefits are you experiencing after going tiny? All the traveling we can do.

What’s it like living in a bus with children? Any particular difficulties or benefits? The kids transitioned easily onto the bus, when we ask them if they are ready for us to buy a house and live permanently in a house again, we get a resounding no! I would say the biggest difficulty is keeping up with laundry. With six people, we go through a lot of laundry, and we don’t have a machine on the bus. Our RV parks always have laundry facilities, but it can be a pain to haul the laundry there and back.

What makes your bus special? The size of it! It’s 8 ft wide and 45 ft long, so it’s big! I think our buildout is pretty unique as well.

Is there anything you’d change about your bus now that you’ve been living it? Our bathroom door location. I would move our door into the hallway; it doesn’t open very wide where it currently is.

What helpful advice would you give to others interested in going tiny? Get rid of as much as you can. We downsized so much and still have too much stuff. The process of converting the bus was incredibly stressful because it had a lot of mechanical issues, so we wanted to throw in the towel so many times, but I’m glad we pushed through.

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More Like This:  Tiny Houses | Bus Conversions | One Wild Ride with Lexi & Tyler: From Traveling to Homesteading in their Bus ConversionSkoolie Bus Life with Teens (& A Huge Bathroom!) | Family of 4’s Passenger Bus Turned Home in Australia

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Natalie C. McKee

Natalie C. McKee is a contributor for Tiny House Talk and the Tiny House Newsletter. She's a wife, and mama of three little kids. She and her family are homesteaders with sheep, goats, chickens, ducks and quail on their happy little acre.

Latest posts by Natalie C. McKee (see all)

{ 7 comments… add one }
  • Jamila
    June 12, 2020, 10:24 am

    This is the first coach bus that was converted into a home that I love and I love how you and your husband designed all areas. The kitchen is awesome sunny and bright and the lights in the ceiling makes it such a wonderful space!
    The children’s beds are spacious and when the little is older where will he sleep?
    I really enjoyed the video and it’s so clean with having four little ones. I love your home!!!

    • Natalie C. McKee
      June 12, 2020, 1:04 pm

      I saw on Instagram that she said they may need to revise the home set-up once the baby is older.

    • Marsha Cowan
      December 21, 2021, 1:33 pm

      What an amazing build! Its so organized and lovely. The colors are perfect, and the kids bunks are well done. The kids look very happy there.

  • Pete Wilson
    June 12, 2020, 6:27 pm

    Looks very nice, bright, and comfortable. Who wouldn’t like it.

    • Natalie C. McKee
      June 14, 2020, 12:57 pm


  • Rosa Espinal
    June 21, 2020, 12:28 pm

    Honestly, if my boys weren’t so tall, I would do this in a heart beat but I have two tall 16 and 18 plus an 11 y/o girl, so we could never do this…I wish that we could, coz we would be able to travel if we so wished or stay stationary, win-win. I absolutely love this home, it’s very well designed and this children are so adorable.

    • Natalie C. McKee
      June 21, 2020, 12:43 pm

      That does make it trickier to get everyone to fit!

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