Mom, Dad, 6 Kids & a Double Decker RV bus conversion: RV Podcast #366

 Mom, Dad, 6 Kids & a Double Decker RV bus conversion: RV Podcast #366

In Episode 366 of the RV Podcast we meet a Mom and Dad who plan to spend the next several years traveling the country with their 6 kids in a double decker RV bus conversion.

Sound ambitious? Oh yeah, and then some.

This week we meet Dane and Deena Eyerly, aka the Double Decker Family. If you look closely in the interview, in which we caught up with the couple as they stopped alongside a road for lunch, you'll notice the kids in the back of the van they are using until their bus conversion project is done.

To see a video version of the complete podcast, including their interview, click the player below.

For an audio version of the podcast, click the player below:

And for an edited transcript to read of the interview, scroll down the rest of the post.

Table of Contents Podcast Outline: Each segment by time

Each topic in the podcast is listed along with the exact time in the podcast in which it occurs. Scrub on the player timeline – video or audio – to whatever segment you are interested in. Links are also listed to the stories, articles and resources we mentioned.

Interview with the Double Decker Family on their RV Bus Conversion

touring the country in a double decker RV bus conversion
The Eyerly family will be touring the country in a double-decker RV bus conversion

Here is a lightly edited transcript of our interview with the Eyerly Family:

How they settled on a Double Decker Bus RV Bus Conversion for their epic road trip adventure

Mike Wendland: Let's have you guys tell everyone what you are doing and why you're known as the Double Decker Family.

Dane Eyerly: We're taking a two-year road trip. We've got six kids, ages range from nine to three, the youngest, the youngest are twins. We had six kids in five years, planned.

And we just decided last year, well early last year, around the 4th of July, we wanted to do something pretty epic with them. We were on a road trip ourselves with the kids and they all behaved really well.

They did very, very well so we decided, hey, why don't we just do this full time, that would be our epic adventure and started looking into it.

We looked into just regular RVs, Class A's, and then we really looked into skoolie conversions and things like that. Ultimately, what we found and settled on was a double-decker tour bus that we're currently having converted into our roaming tiny home.

Mike Wendland: Now a double-decker bus is not really a tiny home. That's going to be pretty big. We'll show some videos of it on our YouTube channel with this podcast and we'll put some pictures on our blog and we'll link to… You're starting off with a YouTube channel so as you get going, people are going to really be following and we'll link to that, but this is pretty cool.

A double-decker bus. Well, where does one find a double-decker bus, and what gave you the idea to convert it into a home on wheels?

Where they found the double decker bus

Mom, Dad, 6 Kids & a Double Decker RV bus conversion: RV Podcast #366 1
Leaning toward a skoolie…

Deena Eyerly: Well, we had looked at skoolies quite a bit and we were leaning towards a skoolie route and so Dane was just looking at buses all over the internet and we came across a halfway converted double-decker bus and we were, oh! And I think it was just on maybe eBay or something like that, that we found it.

Dane Eyerly: I found it on busforsale.com and it would say halfway converted, it had been used, there's a tech company in San Francisco that used it like a hotel on wheels. They had already converted it to a hotel.

Deena Eyerly: No, I was saying the partially converted one, the first double-decker that we saw. We found one that was…

Dane Eyerly: Oh, yes, yes, yes, yes.

Deena Eyerly: We found that one was a partially converted one online and we were, that's it, that gives us enough square footage to have. Because it was either we were going to have to sacrifice our living space so our kids could have individual space or it was either/or.

We could either have individual space for our kids or living space and we're, oh, that would be great, so we started looking at double-decker buses.

Dane Eyerly: And then I found the one on busforsale.

Deena Eyerly: We've seen them on eBay and busforsale and I think there was one other website.

Mike Wendland: Who is doing this conversion for you?

Dane Eyerly: The company that's doing the conversion, it's a company based up in Utah. They are called Apex Customs and they specialized in car restorations and then started doing some school bus conversions. I think ours was the second or third bus that they did at all.

Mike Wendland: How long has this process taken? And you're about ready to take off in it, but how long has it taken to get this done?

They're RV Bus Conversion is taking WAY longer than they thought

Dane Eyerly: That's quite the question.

Deena Eyerly:  We dropped the bus off in August of last year.

Dane Eyerly: Yeah. August we dropped off the bus, they started working on it in September and we were supposed to have it in March. We're now seven months over schedule, which is why we're on the road right now. We just decided, look, we're not going to let the bus delay our family adventure so we decided, hey, just load it up in the van and we'll do…

Typically, so right now what we've been doing while we're waiting for the bus is day trips, three, six hour drives where we can go out and come home in one day. Today we're actually doing a two week trip right now. This one's a little bit longer and we're staying hotels along the way, which is a whole nother matter.

The kids are road schooled. Dane can work from the road

Mom, Dad, 6 Kids & a Double Decker RV bus conversion: RV Podcast #366 2
Road-schooling and Home-schooling

Mike Wendland: With six kids. You guys road school the kids then and will homeschool them right now, right?

Dane Eyerly: Correct.

Mike Wendland: Tell us about your background. How can you, are you going to be able to work from the road or how are you going to finance such a epic trip like this?

Dane Eyerly: We actually get that question quite a bit from anybody that follows us and ultimately I've worked with software startups for the last few years.

We save pretty well, we're pretty frugal overall, so we've saved pretty well. Ultimately had the funds to be able to buy the bus and pay for that conversion in cash and now on the road, because with a software background, I'm building websites and apps and softwares.

I'm working on a software for road schooling as well as reciprocal program software. I'm working on things like that. That's how we're financing it, really. We sold everything. We sold our home, we sold everything that we owned, everything that we had, packed all down into a five by 10 U-Haul trailer before we took it all to Utah while we wait.

The goal for this epic road trip in their RV Bus Conversion

Mike Wendland: Your goal is, as I read, one place is to visit every national park?

Deena Eyerly: Our goal really is to spend two weeks in every state, but we want to do the national parks. We're getting our kids little endurance up, an hour ago we just did a mile hike with no shade.

And that's the longest that they had done with no shade so we feel like we're getting their endurance up so that we're able to, by the end of the trip, be able to do some of those really cool hikes that are longer, but that everybody talks about in the national parks.

Dane Eyerly: We're fascinated by not just the national parks. We want to go to as many of those as possible and take the bus. Obviously, the bus isn't going to be able to go into the national park. So they all have size limits, it's 43 feet long, so it's not going to fit anywhere.

And so it's really been for us a matter of planning places of national and state parks, where we can then unhook the tow, the van, drive in and do the exploring parts. We've done a lot of endurance training with the kids.

They're in a van as they wait for the RV Bus Conversion to be finished

Mom, Dad, 6 Kids & a Double Decker RV bus conversion: RV Podcast #366 3
Balloons

Mike Wendland: You tow the van you're in now, is that what you'll be towing?

Dane Eyerly: Correct. It's a Ford transit van.

Mike Wendland: A Ford transit. I was just going to ask you that. And right now, you're on the side of the road, somewhere in New Mexico. You just came from the Balloon Festival, didn't you? Weren't you there at the Balloon Festival?

Dane Eyerly: Yeah. This morning we were in Albuquerque at the balloon festival. We were on the road for a whole day, we came down from the Salt Lake, Utah area. Drove down to Albuquerque, stopped a few places along the way and then we decided if we're this far down for Albuquerque, we might as well hit some other New Mexico sites.

After the Balloon Festival, we went to Valley of Fire, which is just volcano stuff. I'm fascinated with volcanoes and lava rocks and stuff. We were in the Valley of Fire. I can actually still see Valley of Fire over here, my shoulder, I can see Valley of Fire, which we just left and we're headed to White Sands tonight and Carlsbad National Park and Guadalupe Mountains National Park today, tomorrow.

The RV Bus Conversion is supposed to be done “soon”

Mike Wendland: And when do you pick up the bus and Deena, your thoughts about living in a double-decker bus?

Deena Eyerly: Oh man. We're not sure when we're going to get the bus, we're just crossing our fingers that it'll be done when we get back from our trip. I'm a little nervous about it, because I'm a little bit of an anxious human, but actually being on the road is really calming to me and I've enjoyed minimalizing my house. I feel a lot better when we have less stuff.

And I don't know, I'm excited about being on the bus. I'm sure it'll have a lot of learning curves and stuff like that. I have six kids and so I have to feed them and we have a little tiny oven and that'll be an interesting learning experience.

Dane Eyerly: Deena is anxious and stressed and she suffers from depression and anxiety, things like that. And so as we were preparing for this, we talked a lot about how that was going to play in the bus.

And when we take a couple of these smaller road trips in the van, it was interesting to see her stress load. We came from a larger home, larger, we came from an average 2,500 square foot home. But when we got in the van and we traveled, her stress levels just dropped and the depression, things like that totally dropped, We're out in nature, it's fantastic.

I'm really looking forward to it. I've done road trips my whole life with my family. We both come from large families. I've never spent a day in an RV, I've always done road trips in a van. I'm looking forward to it, a new adventure, something different.

Mike Wendland: And the kids, they have to be grooving on this. This is great. They're seeing new stuff all the time. How are they doing with it at all?

How the kids like life on the road

Deena Eyerly: They really enjoy it. They particularly love nature. That's why we want to go to the national parks is because every time we get in nature, they just get so excited.

They get a little grotty when we try explain science things for them, but they're, “Oh, we don't want to hear about the educational stuff mom, we just want to go adventure.”

Dane Eyerly: We are trying to, everywhere we go, give them that education and tell them about what it is we're looking at. The Balloon Festival this morning's a great example.

We tried to sit there and explain to them the science behind the hot air and what makes the balloons go up or what makes them go which direction with the winds and things.

Mike Wendland: They just probably wanted to ride one, right?

Dane Eyerly: Exactly. I think I got asked maybe probably at least 50 or 60 times, “Mom, could we go in one of those?”

Mike Wendland: Tell us, before we let you go and finish feeding the kids, get back on the road, tell us about this, you said it's a two year epic road trip and you mentioned two weeks in every state.

Dane Eyerly: On Average.

How the are planning a two year road trip

a map used to plan travel in a double decker RV bus conversion
One of two huge wall maps they are using to plan their adventure in their double-decker RV bus conversion

Mike Wendland: How planned out are you?

Deena Eyerly: Well, we were significantly planned out and then we get bumped back so much.

Dane Eyerly: The bus build, we had built it all around it was supposed to be done in March and we had then decided, okay, the kids get done with school in May, we'll just go pick up the bus in May, we'll hit the road. And we had it planned out, starting in June 1st.

Planned out everywhere we would go, following the weather pretty much, 70 degrees, but then the bus got delayed and so all our plans changed. We're just ultimately going to meet up to where we had planned. We had got a massive map on our wall.

I think it was a four foot by five foot map on the wall of our home that we had literally drawn out with dry erase markers our entire route.

We are pretty planned out as far as the general areas that we want to go. We've researched RV parks that'll fit our bus, all that kind of stuff, where we can go for cheapest. We're frugal so cheap is good.

Deena Eyerly: Yeah. And we've done the research on, we've asked on lots of groups about what boondocking spaces would fit ours and what Harvest Host places will be able to fit our bus and things like that and/or accommodate us. And so we've done a lot of research on where we can stay for sure.

Dane Eyerly: We're not perfectly planned out, but fairly well.

Mike Wendland: We want to check in with you regularly once you get your bus and we'll again share your new YouTube channel with everybody because people will love following that. But I just applaud you for this. This is an epic trip.

The kids will remember this forever and you've got at least two years of have traveled planned and I bet it's going to be more than that. Fingers crossed for you that you get that bus.

Dane Eyerly: Everybody tells us two years is not enough and we'll end up loving it and staying on the road for a lot longer.

Deena Eyerly: That's true.

Dane Eyerly: That may be the case.

Mike Wendland: All right. Dane and Deena, the Double Decker Family. Thanks for being on the podcast and we'll be checking with you regularly to see how it goes. You should be getting the bus soon so let us know.

Dane Eyerly: That's right. That's right. Thanks so much, Mike, you guys take care.

Deena Eyerly: Thank you, bye.

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Mike Wendland

Mike Wendland is a veteran journalist who, with his wife, Jennifer, travels North America in a small motorhome, blogging about the people, places, joys and adventure of RV life on the road at RVLifestyle.com. He and Jennifer also host the weekly RV Podcast and do twice-weekly videos on the YouTube RV Lifestyle Channel. They have written 10 books on RV travel.

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