Ah, to be young and in love – but what does that have to do with a school bus? Well, it’s time we told the story of Felix Starck and Selima Taibi. These two young love birds are an inspiration to us all with how they act around each other and their dreams for their future. Selima is a musician and Felix is a filmmaker. The young couple was desperate to travel the world for inspiration and learn about themselves.
So, as they embarked on a journey through North and South America, no one could have predicted what they did. The German couple took this school bus and turned it into something truly special. But how? Let’s find out…
The Name Of The Game
Together, the couple named their expedition ‘Happiness’. This was an homage to what they wanted to achieve by the trip, but also how they made each other feel when they were together. For Felix and Selima to travel the world, they realized they needed a way to transport themselves, and also find somewhere to sleep at night.
The best way to do this was to use some sort of automobile. While most couples might use a Motorhome or caravan, Felix and Selima decided to use a school bus! They started to look for the perfect school bus in America from Berlin. And their adventure was off to a start!
Let The Work Begin!
Much like when you get a new house, you expect to make it over and turn it into your own place. Well, Felix and Selima felt the same way about their newly purchased bus. Even though the bus had everything they needed, it was missing a few magic touches. They decided to renovate it to make it livable.
Along the way, the happy couple would be sure to post updates on their social media accounts. They informed their readers: “We got all of the flooring out yesterday, but we found one huge hole in the floor. The bus has a lot of rust, but that’s the problem or the risk when you buy a bus located in Florida while in Germany.”
Do It Yourself!
Part of the fun with an adventure like this is doing it yourself. If you’re going to transform a school bus into your portable home, why would you let others do it? Once they had arrived in America for the journey, they divided and conquered the challenges!
Felix worked hard on reworking the flooring, whereas Selima redesigned the exterior by removing the stickers on the outside. Before long, the bus was getting its first major overhaul. What was the next big challenge?
Turning Rust to Dust
Since they bought a cheap school bus, there were many problems along the way. After purchasing the bus for just $9,500, they realized it was full of rust! Initially, they were disappointed with the amount of rust – until they considered it just another challenge to overcome.
According to their social media, Felix posted, “We found more rust yesterday. We’re gonna fix the holes by screwing in some metal sheets but before we have to get rid of the rust.”
Searching For A Mentor
It turns out that ‘optimism’ isn’t enough when it comes to renovating an entire school bus. Neither Felix nor Selima actually had professional carpentry skills! This meant that removing the rust, or working on the rewiring, was actually far more difficult than they thought.
Luckily, they connected with a carpenter in North Carolina who offered the young couple some invaluable advice. After taking extensive notes and learning the ropes, they managed to make it work!
Joining The Family
Even though he might not be good at carpentry, their new friend was an invaluable addition to the team – Rudi the Mountain Dog! Despite his lack of opposable thumbs, his adorable eyes and smile made for the perfect mascot!
During Expedition Happiness, Rudi joined Felix and Selima for the exciting ride. It’s a good thing they converted a large school bus and not a small caravan! But would they finish the job? It seems something else might get in the way…
The couple (and Rudi!) decided to start most of the initial hard work with the kitchen. This is so they could also eat and use running water. Of course, the bed frame was already assembled so they could always nap if they needed to! After a while, it started to come together.
When converting a bus into a home, it is essential they every single piece of space is used in the most efficient way. Once the cabinets were put in place, it started looking more like a home.
Expanding The Bathroom
Of course, a bathroom is an important part of a newly renovated school bus. Not only do you need efficient plumbing, but it needs to be a certain size so you don’t feel too claustrophobic! As Selima got down to design it, Felix posted, “painting our teensy tiny toilet.”
Once they realized that the bathroom would be much smaller than the average one found in a home, they had to improvise. Together, the couple painted it white and glued handmade tiles on the walls to make it look more homely. Another challenge faced, another challenge won! But they didn’t stop there…
One of the most recognizable aspects of a school bus is the bright yellow color and the big black lines running across the sides of it. Felix and Selima knew they had to make a change and paint it something different. But what would it be?
Initially, the plan was to paint it bright white so it would stand out on the road. However, as they applied their first coat, they realized it was actually gray! It turns out that they didn’t plan it properly and the color was darker than they had anticipated. Let’s take a look at the finished interior, shall we?
A New Home
Wow, would you believe it? After all the paint, plumbing, piping, cutting, and framing, the interior of the bus was complete! As you can see, once the carpentry was complete, they finished it off with additional plug sockets and furnishings.
They decided to divide it as much as they could: one side could be used for food preparation whereas the other side has enough space for TWO desks. Amazingly, they inserted two screens for them to both work on their art and filmmaking. It was imperative that they could work on updating their social media followers with films and musical numbers.
Bedroom In The Back
If you’re building a home from scratch, then it’s important to build a place to sleep! As we saw earlier, Felix and Selima had designed the bed frame at the back of the bus, but now we can see it in its finished form. What do you think?
Can you believe that the couple had no prior carpentry skills? Looking at the photo now, it looks like a professional had completed the job. We can’t imagine how satisfied they must have been to see this finished. We love the bookshelves at the top!
Where’s The Power?
Anyone who rides in a motorhome knows how important it is to have storage and power cables. But how did they find the space to include it on the bus? Well, Felix offered their social media followers a look in the very back of the bus. Here, we can see the extra space for storage, as well as power batteries and power grids to get some juice!
The couple also inserted solar panels on the top of the bus to gain as much energy as they could from the sun in the sky. This surely balanced some of the costs required for powering the massive bus. Good thinking, guys!
What About Rudi?
You’re probably wondering what Rudi was up to all this time? Well, we didn’t forget about him! Felix and Selima even dedicated a spot in the corner for his very own bed. Just look at that happy face he has!
Now, Rudi can sit in the corner near the sofa while they snuggle up and watch a film in the evenings. With a huge garden to play with outside, it looks like Rudi is living the dream! But where did they keep everything else?
As well as the storage in the back of the bus, Felix and Selima also knew they needed more storage for things like clothes, pots, pans, and accessories. So, they designed these cupboards underneath the sofa so they could access anything they needed at a moment’s notice! Very cool.
This way, many more things can be stored in the bus while they drive around the country to their destinations. Next time you need to change your T-shirt, don’t forget to flip the couch! What about these small additions…?
The Finer Details
Ok, so the couple has done an amazing job so far. Now that they have completed the construction of their new motorhome, now was the time for the finer details. They chose signs like this to design the interior of the bus. ‘Live Simply’ is the perfect message to complement the frugality and modesty of living in a small bus!
Even though they may live simply now, we all know the journey to get there was anything but! After designing the entire bus, the couple deserves a bit of time to relax and enjoy the fruits of their labor. What do you think?
Time To Go!
When all is said and done, there’s nothing else to do but hit the road! Finally, after 12 weeks of planning and building, Felix and Selima were ready to hit the highway and see the world. They wrote: “After 12 weeks of daily failure we are quite done with the conversion and now we are ready to take our beauty all the way down to South America.”
They were inspired to see everything from Alaska to Argentina. While it sounded ambitious, they were determined to make it work. They had everything they need – including themselves.
The Wheels On The Bus Go…
Delighted to finally hit the road, it was here where the couple named their journey ‘Expedition Happiness’. They thought that it was the perfect name to encapsulate all the hopes and dreams they had for their adventure.
While they were already filling friends in on their adventure, it was now when they created all their social media channels. Now, people could follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube. Would they make it to their next destination?
The First Stop
Felix and Selima are natural lovers of the world. As artists, they’re amazed at all the wonderful things that Mother Nature has to offer. This is why they chose their first stop in Banff National Park, Canada. The park is known for its beauty and natural monuments. Of course, they had to see it for themselves!
They took their new home on to the road and drove all the way along the mountains and lakes. It was here where they pulled over and Felix snapped this shot. He wrote: “Banff National Park we love you!!! Mowgli is enjoying the sun and me and Rudi go for a hike.” What did Rudi think about all this?
A Living Dream
What could be better for a dog than traveling the world and having national parks as your backyard? Just look at his face! Every time they pulled over, Rudi would jump out and explore his new surroundings. We can’t imagine much better for a Mountain Dog like Rudi.
Canada must have been one of the best places in the world for Rudi to get in touch with nature and explore everything it had to offer. Where next for the couple and their happy dog? Well, Alaska, of course! Let’s take a look.
A New Country, A New Park
After seeing the wonders in Canada, it was time for Felix and Selima to explore parts of the United States. They started in Denali National Park, Alaska, where they could live among other campers surrounded by blue skies and waters, gray mountains, and green trees.
Can you imagine anything better? Now, they were getting completely comfortable in their journey together and the logistics needed to travel in a school bus. Their next location would prove to be the total OPPOSITE of Alaska…
Death Valley, California
As Felix and Selima ventured along the West Coast, they found themselves in the spooky Death Valley. It wasn’t just the snowy mountains that these two wanted to see. They couldn’t believe the difference between the Canadian parks and the hot deserts of California.
Selima wrote on their Facebook page: “Death Valley was one of the most impressive places on this trip (so far.) Rudi feels way better by now and kinda gets used to the heat.” We’re glad everyone still enjoyed it!
But before long, their luck ran out and something terrible happened…
A Sudden Sickness
While driving south down the US, there was one member of the team who felt increasingly worse over time. Sadly for the couple, it was Rudy who was getting sick. They decided, sadly, that it was time to end the trip.
While their social media followers were completely shocked by the sudden stop, they understood what had to be done. So, after only a few weeks and a few miles, Felix and Selima put an end to Expedition Happiness. They initially put the bus up for sale and were determined to see it finish its journey – even if it was without them.
Learning Lessons Along The Way
Just because the adventure was cut short, it doesn’t mean that Felix and Selima didn’t learn a bunch of lessons along the way. Of course, they gained wisdom, they grew together as a couple, and learned how to tackle adversity.
They stopped their adventure in Mexico, which means they still bought, converted, and traveled in a renovated school bus! That’s an amazing achievement for anyone, let alone a young couple. Thanks to their photos and videos, their journey will live on forever.
One thing the German couple kept highlighting in their videos was the ability to live a frugal life without many of the things society tells you that you need. They didn’t just live in close quarters from each other, but they also built everything themselves – teaching them the value or hard work.
Others can be inspired by their journey, which can be seen on social media channels across the internet. If you think you can live a frugal life like them, then why not try it? Here’s how you can get involved…
Why Not Airbnb?
Two years after their trip, the young couple is giving strangers the chance to live as they did! Felix has posted the bus on his Airbnb and now rents it out for young people to do the exact same thing he once did with his girlfriend.
If you’re inspired by their journey, you can book your own adventure today. For those who would rather stay at home, well, you can catch their film on Netflix… here’s how.
A Film With A Lifetime Of Memories
Over their whole time together, Felix and Selima filmed and produced their own documentary – it even ended up on Netflix! At the time of writing, ‘Expedition Happiness’ has more than 280,000 Facebook fans and 152,000 followers on Instagram.
Overall, they have inspired hundreds of thousands of people around the world to follow their dreams. For this young and optimistic German couple, dreams really can come true. Would you ever do something like this? Let us know!