How are you satisfying the wanderlust in you? For this Utah family, known as The Hey Moon Club, a nomadic lifestyle enticed them into downsizing their lives and converting a school bus into a home. Life on the road has been full of amazing sights, lifelong friendships with fellow nomads, and some challenges to overcome. The Hey Moon Club, consisting of Preston, Amanda, and their three (soon to be four!) children, emulates how fulfilling it is to chase adventure, be present in the moment, and live minimally. We are excited to feature this unique family as a Mark Maker.
Can you tell us a bit about yourselves?
Preston: Dreamer, runner, inventor, dad
Amanda: Green thumb, positive thinker, health and wellness enthusiast, mama
Rilo: Independent, adventurous, smart
Eddie: Happy, loving, energetic
Winn: Wild, messy, and more wild (his middle name is Wilder, after all)
We grew up in Utah County and we love it here. Aside from Utah, we have lived in many places (including other countries), but Utah will always be home.
We love hiking, photography, traveling, swimming, and movie nights.
How did you come up with the name “The Hey Moon Club”?
The song we danced to at our wedding has the lyrics, “Hey Moon, please forget to fall down.” That always stuck out to us and we interpret it as a need to cherish the moment because it will pass even if you ask it not to. So just be present, which is what we always aimed to do while living this adventure with our family.
What inspired you to live in a bus and travel from place to place?
We had just sold our first home. We wanted to travel, wanted to be out of debt, and needed a place to live. A bus fits all three of these criteria!
What alterations did you make to the school bus?
Your typical school bus has, roughly, a 6-foot ceiling, which makes the space feel EXTRA small, SO we rolled up our sleeves and got to work. We raised the roof an additional 20 inches which required cutting the top half of our bus off and that was a little nerve-wracking at the time because, if this doesn't work, how do you come back from that?! Luckily, it all went very smoothly and we successfully upgraded from our low, cave-like ceiling to a refreshing vaulted ceiling feel. It did wonders for making the space feel more open.
In addition to the roof-raise, we added flooring, a bedroom for us with a loft above for our girls, a bathroom, kitchen with full-sized fridge, burner and oven, plus a little living room complete with a tiny wood-burning stove for warmth, and a futon couch for visitors. All of the appliances and outlets being powered by solar. In the very back of our bus is our “garage.” This is a space we could access from the emergency exit to keep garage-type items, such as random storage, camping supplies, tools, etc.
What are some of your favorite places you have traveled to?
For our first venture, we went on a “test trip” to the Southern California coast. Everything had gone so smoothly the whole trip and we were feeling wild, so on our way back to Utah, we made a detour to Joshua Tree National Park—a place we’d never been. We were only going to spend the day there but ended up breaking down in the camp spot that we had parked in! We were able to order the part we needed in town, but it wouldn’t arrive for a couple of days, so we found ourselves unintentionally camped out in one of the most magical places! It was the off-season, so we mostly had it to ourselves and, on top of that, the weather was divine.
Another unexpected favorite was visiting the little town of Novato, California, located in the Northern Bay area. This was another place we had only planned on being for one day. We ended up making friends through Instagram with a couple who lived here. After chatting back and forth, they told us if we were ever in the area to come visit! So we did. Again, the plan was to be there for a day, but we felt so connected to this family so quickly that one day turned into two, which then turned into two weeks!
Outside of these unexpected experiences, some of our favorite planned excursions were spent boondocking in Southern Utah where we witnessed a rare super bloom spring and our day trips to Sequoia National Park and Yosemite! Both places were just incredible and awe-inspiring.
What has been most difficult about living in a bus? Most rewarding?
272 square feet does not allow for much privacy or alone time. Sometimes this was challenging, but we always found ways to remedy it. Our favorite solutions were, without fail, getting out to exercise every day, allowing each parent their alone time, finding a good park or outdoor area to let the kids explore meanwhile giving us time to talk uninterrupted. Lastly, having a pretty solid bedtime routine so, no matter what the day held, we’d have a couple of hours in the evening to make plans or watch a movie.
Another difficult aspect was finding places to park. Utah abounds with BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land which, following certain guidelines, is free for the public to stay on and that was ideal for our self-contained unit. California, however, was much trickier to find parking in. BLM doesn’t really exist there. The size of our rig in crowded California and the price of parking became a fairly regular issue for us while in the Golden State. Thanks to this challenge, however, we were able to find some awesome resources which led us to some pretty unique places to park! One of our favorites being a lemon farm in the tiny farming town of Avocado, California. We got to meet more people this way which was a pretty good tradeoff.
Speaking of the rewards of living this way, aside from spending so much quality time with our family, a reward would definitely be the people we met along the way! We have met, and made lifelong friends, with so many different people from all walks of life. One warm, winter night in the desert near Lake Havasu, Arizona, we found ourselves spending our nights around a campfire with a group of fellow skoolie dwellers. These three couples and two individuals we’d only met because they, too, were traveling in and living out of converted school buses. There we were laughing, singing, and talking about life with the stars shining down and the fire light dancing across our rigs circled around us. Four 40ft skoolies and two shorties. What a neat experience! Nothing else would have brought us together except for this unique way of living. Without this connection, we would have missed out on these great personalities, insights, kindness, and friendship each of them had to offer! We have a Polaroid of this group on our fridge. We only spent a couple of days with them but, in that time, we ate together, laughed together, hiked together, helped each other solve unique skoolie problems, and finished each others’ varying “house” projects.
How has tiny living impacted your growing family?
It helped us to slow down and appreciate life more. We focus much less on things and much more on experiences and being present with one another. It really helped us simplify our lives in general. For example, our youngest spent the first year of his life living on the bus. It was very eye-opening to see what very little our newborn/infant/baby needed while we lived on the road. We’d get questions like “Where will you keep all the baby stuff?” There’s all the outfits, the swaddles, the carriers, the seats and swings and jumpers, the wipe warmer, the high chair, etc. Don’t get me wrong, the baby gadgets are cool and all, but when it comes to those, it turns out all that babies need are to be clothed, fed, changed, and loved—and you can do that without the hundreds of fancy baby products! It wasn’t just with our baby that we noticed how little we actually need to live comfortably. Across the board, from little to big, our lives were pleasantly simplified. It has also made us much more aware of our footprint and made us more mindful in the way that we shop, prepare food, handle waste, etc.
What do you hope others will take away from your way of living?
There’s not a manual for life. It’s okay to take the road less traveled! You don’t have to do it in any specific way. If you have dreams or goals that seem crazy, those are the best ones to go after!
What upcoming adventures do you have that you’re excited about?
There’s always a new adventure around the corner. Right now that new adventure is baby number four!
What advice do you have for someone looking to do more traveling?
Go right now. Timing is never perfect, so just plan a trip this weekend and go. I 100% guarantee there are amazing places within two hours of you that you have never been to. Just go.
We’d like to thank Amanda and Preston for sharing their adventures and passion for traveling—we have certainly been inspired. Rustico is deeply rooted in exploration, so this really hit home for us. If you’d like to keep up with The Hey Moon Club, follow them on Instagram.
Have a Mark Maker in mind? We’d love to hear about how they’re making an impact in their community. Let us know here.