A Letter to Aspiring Buslifers

Dear aspiring Buslifers, 

Do you dream of hitting the open road and exploring all of life’s possibilities, but wonder how to take that leap? Do you wonder what it feels like to exchange comfort for adventure, but feel unsure if you have what it takes? Well, this letter is for you.  

As someone who has already taken that leap and exchanged comfort for adventure, I know that you can do it too. For once, I too only dreamed and wondered. And no, it’s not easy. It takes a whole lot of guts (and perhaps a bit of insanity), but a risk cannot pay off unless it is taken.  

Photo by: Lukasz Szmigiel on Unsplash

Something that always encouraged me to take this risk was Robert Frost’s poem ‘The Road Not Taken’ which reads:  

“Two roads diverged in a wood and I  —  
I took the one less travelled by,  
And that has made all the difference.” 

As cliche as it is, this quote has encouraged me endlessly to do what is less expected, and travel the world with my bus. And so I have decided to encourage you to get out there and live your Buslifer dreams, despite the extra challenges the pandemic has brought us. In cheesy yet undeniably inspiring travel quote form… 

Conquer the unknown 

“Life is a journey, not a destination” — Ralph Waldo Emerson 

Ok, let’s admit it. Travel isn’t all sunshine and margaritas. In fact, heading into the unknown can be utterly terrifying. After all, what if things don’t go as planned? Or what if it isn’t as you’d hoped it would be? We can’t help but have expectations of the future and plans of how we want it to look. The truth is though, nothing is ever as we had planned or expected. That’s something we all learned the hard way in 2020. 
 

In today’s post-pandemic climate, life is less predictable and controllable than ever. Almost every citizen in the world has had their plans canceled and their expectations of what the year would look like completely reversed. What’s more, we don’t know how long the pandemic will last and, more importantly (joke), how it will affect travel in the long term. But if there is one thing we have learned from these ‘uncertain times’, it is that we can roll with the punches. 

Photo by: Echo Grid on Unsplash

“A good traveller has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving” — Lao Tzu 
 

As tough as it is, I think it’s safe to say we have all realized during this pandemic that, actually, plans aren’t that important in the grand scheme of things, and expectations are not often met, and even less often exceeded. Therefore, there’s not much left to do except take life as it comes which, coincidentally, is the most important rule of Buslife. There — you already have what it takes! 

So, instead of worrying about the unknown, embrace it, for that’s when the greatest stories unfold. 

Let go of comfort 

“For the born traveller, travelling is a besetting vice. Like other vices, it is imperious, demanding its victim’s time, money, energy and the sacrifice of comfort.” — Aldous Huxley 

Yes, traveling in a tiny home on wheels can be inconvenient and uncomfortable at times, but here’s why you should do it anyway. 

We have gotten so used to having giant fridge-freezers, three-piece suites, and plush queen-size beds that we often find it hard to imagine that we could live with anything less. The bigger, the better, right? So why on earth would you want to swap your home comforts for a VW Bus that is small and restricting? Well, there are two reasons. Actually, there are many, but I will start with two. 

Reason number one: 

“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s OK. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind” — Anthony Bourdain 
 

While the VW Bus might be physically restricting when it comes to space and resources, it affords greater freedom overall. Yes, your home does have a surround sound TV and a toilet that you don’t have to personally empty, but it doesn’t allow you to see the world on your own terms. Space and comfort are a small price to pay for the freedom Buslife affords.  

Instead of waking up and sipping coffee in your back garden, imagine waking up and sipping coffee on a mountainside or in front of the Mediterranean Sea. Instead of working from your home office, imagine working lakeside before going for an afternoon dip. Trust me, it’s worth every inconvenience. Besides, you’ll find that most of the time your bus is just as comfortable. 

Photo by: Buslifers Ambassadors, Calluna Trip

Reason number two: 

“Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves” — Henry David Thoreau 

By swapping your home for a bus, you will learn a lot about yourself — and you’ll be forever grateful for it. Soon enough, you will realize how little you actually need in order to be happy. As a result, happiness will come a lot easier. And in those times where living in a bus is proving to be really inconvenient or uncomfortable, you will discover resilience and resourcefulness that you never knew you had.  

With borders closing and opening as fast as a London Underground turnstile, and stricter restrictions in place, it’s true that travel has become much more inconvenient. As a Buslifer, those challenges don’t deter us, they encourage us to utilize our resourcefulness and always make the best of a situation. When the alternative is staying home and waiting indefinitely for the pandemic to pass over and for life to get back to ‘normal’, restricted travel is not so bad at all. 

Say yes to life 

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover” — Mark Twain

Annoyingly, Mark Twain is right. As much as we hate to admit it sometimes, the things that we most often regret are the things we didn’t do. Hindsight is a cruel but beautiful thing. For example, if only I knew how doable Buslife was, I would have done it sooner. Nonetheless, I did it eventually and now I don’t regret a thing. 

We often say no to adventure because it allows us to predict our path in life a lot better. If we know what’s coming, we can be prepared. The problem with that is, you’ll always end up wondering “what if?” Therefore, we shouldn’t live our lives in wonder, we should live it in wander. I mean let’s face it, nobody wants to read a book where they know what’s going to happen next. They want twists, turns, and the odd cliff-hanger.  

Twenty years from now, everyone will be recalling their pandemic story to the younger generations. You still have time to make yours worth telling. 

Plus, “to say yes to life is one and the same thing to say yes to oneself.” — Dag Hammarskjold. 

classic vw bus
Photo by: Buslifers Ambassadors, Latina Kombi

See the world anew 

“And if travel is like love, it is, in the end, mostly because it’s a heightened state of awareness, in which we are mindful, receptive, undimmed by familiarity, and ready to be transformed. That is why the best trips, like the best love affairs, never really end.” — Pico Iyer 

Once you’ve said yes to Buslife and learned to embrace everything it throws at you come rain or shine, you will start to see the world in a new way. First of all, it will be bigger. Like, much bigger. And as your world opens up, so does your mind. For when you leave the familiar behind, you become more alert. Every road, accent, and currency is new, and you can’t help but pay attention. But whether you travel across the world, or just across the country, new surroundings are good for the heart and soul.  Everything is super-changed with wander and child-like excitement. As a result, you learn to live more moment to moment. 

“Not all those who wander are lost” — J.R.R. Tolkein 

Photo by: Buslifers Ambassadors Des Fenetres Sur Le Monde

Out of all cheesy quotes this letter has squeezed in, there is none truer than this. Buslife isn’t all about getting lost, although it’s inevitable you’ll take a wrong turn or two. It’s about finding yourself. People are multifaceted and have the capacity to continually surprise themselves with where life can take them and what they can achieve. And when traveling during a pandemic, the opportunity to find yourself is ever greater. Travel will continue to challenge us as the pandemic continues to weigh over our lives, but imagine how much it will make us stronger.  

Enjoy the ride 

I hope that by now I have eased your mind about the hesitations you have for post-pandemic Buslife, and filled your tummy with excitement to hit the road. Whilst travel may be harder now, it is no less rewarding by any means. That said, everyone’s comfort level is different when it comes to the do’s and don’ts of life emerging from lockdown, and — as long as they are within the law — that’s perfectly ok. If, however, you are ready to see what lies beyond the path untrodden. What is waiting for you within the unknown? What it feels like to relinquish your comfort for adventure. And what more you can discover about yourself. Then, hit the road and enjoy the ride — it sure will be an unforgettable one. 

To help you on your merry way, I will leave you with these final words: 

“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveller is unaware” — Martin Buber 

Wishing you all the best and many happy adventures, 
 
Emily — Buslifers 

Emily Draper
Author: Emily Draper

Having visited over 70 countries across all seven continents, it's safe to say Emily has the voice of a true traveler. She has lived with the Hare Krishnas in Chile, an Amazonian tribe in Peru, and a retiree named Jerry in a Wisconsin trailer park. Now, Emily has embarked on the coolest adventure yet: across Europe in her self-converted bus.

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