Bumfuzzle Bus - Tiny House Blog

Bumfuzzle Bus

Followers of the Bumfuzzle adventures have seen the intrepid couple go from sailing around the world in a catamaran to driving around the world in a VW bus. Their latest adventures: sailing in a beautiful, but cranky, 43-foot Spindrift Pilothouse in Mexico has come to an end and Pat and Ali have moved their two small children aboard a 27-foot 1966 Dodge Travco camper to explore the interior, rather than the coast, of the Americas.


Pat and Ali have always been up front with what they spend on their tiny homes on wheels and water. The Spindrift was eventually costing them too much money in repairs and docking fees. When traveling the interior of Mexico, they were essentially not living in their boat—but still paying for it. Pat writes in the Bumfuzzle blog:

“In my opinion keeping a boat that you aren’t using is one of the stupidest financial decisions a person can make. Two years, $500 a month dockage/hard storage is $12,000. Paying somebody to keep an eye on it $2,500. Coming back after two years to repair everything that has been neglected or just simply stopped working while you were away, another couple of thousand easily.”





Still wanting to travel, homeschool their children and live in something with a little style, the couple purchased the vintage Travco online sight unseen for $9,000 and added another $12,000 of repairs and additions including solar power, custom mattresses and new upholstery. The bus has a living space with a dining table, a fold-out couch, plenty of seating, a back bedroom with two beds for the children, closets and a bathroom.




The bus (just like their other modes of transportation) is clean and minimalist without a lot of toys or clothes. In fact, when the family of four left Mexico, they only had six boxes of belongings. Pat says in the Bumfuzzle blog:

“Six boxes. We have two kids. Are you wrapping your head around this? Because I’m not. I really don’t think about our minimalism as minimalism, if that makes sense. I never think about it at all. It just is. I guess we’ve lived this way for so long now that it has become second nature—it’s no longer a conscious decision. In fact, it’s not a decision at all. But I think it is a way of life that enables us to go on doing exactly whatever the heck it is that we want to do. Being able to load all our belongings on an airplane for $200 makes that big move from one country to another feel a whole lot more doable than wondering, “How could we move? How could we change course? How could we get all of our stuff from here to there?” For people like us these would be the worst questions we could ever find ourselves asking. We need our mobility. It’s a part of us.”


Photos by Bumfuzzle.com


By Christina Nellemann for the [Tiny House Blog]

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Kieran - April 21, 2014 Reply

Very cool . . . . love the functional, uncluttered and airy design.

Mags - April 21, 2014 Reply

How do they afford all this? What do they do for a living? I know I couldn’t afford to be dropping thousands like this. Usually travel means you can’t/don’t work, and working when you get there means it’s lower pay because you just don’t have contacts to get a good job fast/easy. They must be work at home writers or have a trust fund…

    JoVina Harris - April 21, 2014 Reply

    That was the same question I had. I love the idea but then I start thinking of the costs of travel period. I don’t have children or husband but I’m turning 50 this year & grounded taking care of elderly parents. When they pass, I’d like to hit the road with my dogs & just go see America. I read the blogs & see the cool ideas; I just can’t figure out how they happen financially. (sigh)

      Vicki James - April 24, 2014 Reply

      Jovina, just read your comment and I have to say, if you got the guts, & the know how to handle the small stuff that comes up – GO FOR IT!!
      I have been a full-time RV’er for four yrs, the last six months constant on the road; I have cats, I’m in my mid-fifties, I travel alone, and I wouldn’t trade places with anyone!
      I do, however, have a lifetime of traveling under my belt, as well as auto racing and construction, so I handle most things that come up, otherwise I keep good insurance and roadside assistance!
      I wish you luck and happy travels!

      Vicki James - April 24, 2014 Reply

      JoVina, I skipped over your financial question, sorry. Myself, I am on a modest disability so I plan my routes accordingly with the price of gas being what it is!
      I do not galavant around the country at will, much as I would LOVE to be able to do that! I visit friends, lakes, mountains, etc. I stop in small towns at churches. I take all back roads, I stay off interstates and even highways. I’ve looped thru the Midwest, went down to Texas, across the south, and in a few weeks I will head north from Florida back up toward Indiana! Steady as she goes! 😉

    tavlnc - April 21, 2014 Reply

    He’s a stockbroker or something like that, in the financial field. Probably lucrative enough to have this lifestyle. I do love the vehicle.

    Willow Meadows - April 21, 2014 Reply

    Hi Mags, I think you would be surprised by what you cando on the road for income. We are in Australia and spent a lot of time travelling, and found A.we could live far more simply than before and B.we were able to produce small easy things for weekend markets. Also a big trust fund would definitely help.

    Kassandra - April 21, 2014 Reply

    A lot of full timers (people who live permanently in their RV) do what’s called workamping. Where you work and live in a campground. So many of your hours worked (usually 12) go toward paying for your site and all the hours worked you are compensated for. There are places all over the US that offers this. Couples usually work the same hours and have the same days off. But couples who have kids usually home school and choose to work opposite shifts but still have the same days off. It’s an awesome free spirited life style for sure. My boyfriend, 2 dogs, and I have been living in our rig for over a year now. I love it! Some gigs don’t pay very well, but we get by… especially not having many bills (3 total: car payment, phone bill, & insurance). It’s not really about the money for us, our dream was to travel and see the country.. and we’re living our dream!

    Anne - April 22, 2014 Reply

    Location independant is quite common for young people… Many companies will let you work from home and free-lance work is lucrative now. The internet freed all.

    Will in Central FL - April 24, 2014 Reply

    They definitely are not trust fund babies. He wrote a book with another guy that lives this way on a smaller scale.
    And here is the story of how they made the decision to sail around the world.

Mischa - April 21, 2014 Reply

Very inspiring:) Thanks for sharing information about your family and life! I am an aspiring minimalist…..I have a business which I make jewelry and various artistic accessories from salvaged items. This poses a problem with being a minimalist, so, I try to keep my personal and business very separate. Two years ago, I refurbished a 1971 caravan, in hopes of taking life on the road. Until I can fulfill my dream, I will enjoy living vicariously through your posts.

Shelley - April 21, 2014 Reply

What do they do for a living? We both currently work from home and couldn’t swing this, even with our really flexible jobs.

Freddie - April 21, 2014 Reply

I had the same question. Who doesn’t want the freedom to travel wherever and whenever they wish? Only thing stopping me is a whole lot of bread. Share your secret with us Bumfuzzle. Please.

Sue - April 21, 2014 Reply

My son actually bought their boat after another owner in between and sailed it for several years. The Bumfuzzled blog about their round the world sail before their children is really hysterical and well worth reading. It seems they had some financial success early on in their careers in business, but I’m not sure if I am remembering that correctly…..

Colleen - April 21, 2014 Reply

The answer to the question of how they manage financially might be here: http://www.bumfuzzle.com/books/

Karen - April 21, 2014 Reply

Super cool.
Goes right with my ‘#lovevintagevehicles feelings.
can’t wait to read the rest of your blog!

Bob Ratcliff - April 21, 2014 Reply

Having also lived in an RV’s for years (and had a 27′ sailboat too), I understand why you’ve chosen this delightful lifestyle. There’s many who comment about how do you make a living? Asking for less out life is cheaper but I’d look at your current RV lifestyle as just being a chapter in life, not a forever situation. At some point you too will finally drop anchor and find a tiny home that you’ll enjoy the rest of your life. That’s when you’ll earn more income for retirement and create a different form of stability your kids will need once they’re in school. Those of use with wanderlust understand our mobile lifestyle, but everyone usually hits a stage where it’s time to enjoy life a bit different way. Meanwhile you’re creating memories and a family bond that’s priceless – CONGRATULATIONS!

Wendy - April 21, 2014 Reply

Are these Trust Fund babies? Is that how they can afford to simply roam around the world? Unless you have a NY Times bestseller- almost impossible to live off of income from books. My curiosity piqued- I read the reviews on Amazon.com for their books. Interesting. They don’t seem like very nice people, and frankly, one of the greatest aspects of traveling, in my opinion, is meeting, appreciating and understanding people whose experiences are different from your own. Good luck to them, but they are lucky they didn’t end up like these people:

    Bum Friend - April 21, 2014 Reply

    Wendy, Pat was a day trader before they began their life of travel. They were raking in the cash in Chicago and decided to sell it all and see the world. Since then he continues to support their family not only by selling books, but mainly from swing trading in the stock market. If you READ his book Live On The Margin, not just the comments about it, you can learn more about his methods. Also, I have met them and I can understand why at first glance you might think they’re ‘not nice,’ but they are. The feeling you’re getting may stem from Pat not really being very outgoing and/or his brutal honesty. If you want to know more about their personalities, you should just start reading the archives on their website before judging.

      Wendy - April 22, 2014 Reply

      You’re right- I didn’t meant to come off as being judgemental, and I shouldn’t comment before reading the books myself. I was just put off by how many people mentioned what seems to be disdain for other “cruisers”. The fact is I have spent a lot of time in marinas and really love marina culture, which in my experience is about the friendliest in the world. I have found the people I meet in marinas to be incredibly friendly, helpful and generous.So that is where my knee-jerk reaction came from. I’ll have to check out their blog for myself; hopefully the reviewers on amazon.com were mistaken and they really aren’t as disdainful of the people they meet as these reviewers seemed to find them.

    Aaron - April 21, 2014 Reply

    I’ve had some pen-pal type correspondence with Pat for nearly a decade and he’s always been unbelievably perfectly nice to me; a complete stranger

    Pat did make quite a bit of money a little bit younger than most people do but he is entirely self-made and def not a “trust fund baby”

    I know another young woman that worked as a teacher making about 40k a year and she’s current’y travelling the world indefinitely on a motorcycle

    1) She got rid of debt and stopped wasting money on crap
    2) Bought a condo in a popular part of town and immediately rented out rooms; so the payment was made and she lived rent free for a couple of years
    And now she rents the condo out and her mom manages it for her so that’s income going forward

    I’m not sure if it’s paid for or not so she may be in a somewhat more fragile position but the bottom line is that living small and free like this is totally doable for *anyone* if they are committed to actually do it

    But when you have a $400 car payment and $160 a month for cable TV it’s a LOT harder to get there

david head - April 21, 2014 Reply

great story.good luck.

MD - April 21, 2014 Reply

The way they afford it: according to Tiny House Listings, the guy is a day trader. They sell e-books about their travels. They also have a blog that includes a PayPal donation button.

Lindsay - April 21, 2014 Reply

read their book ” Live on the Margin” for the answer to what they do and how they afford it. They are not trust fund babies.

Willow Meadows - April 21, 2014 Reply

Cool story guys, love your van and lifestyle. You seem to be the envy of many, and we found the same thing.”I would love to do it but…” and then some excuse why not to. Stay well and happy.

Karen Conley - April 21, 2014 Reply

Unless there is reason to think these people are operating a Ponzi scheme…Can’t people w/ money decide to live minimally and share their experience? I’m really inspired by the six boxes they can make do with. I so want to let go of more “stuff” . Cheers to you and your experiences…

Candace - April 21, 2014 Reply

I love their blog and I love how honest they are.

My son’s babysitter worked as a teller at a bank and her husband was a grad student. They were not making much at all but they were careful with expenses, living in a tiny apartment and riding their bikes instead of buying cars. They saved up enough to travel around the world for a year. If they could do it anyone can, it’s just a matter of priorities.

Jeffrey - April 21, 2014 Reply

LOL at these comments. Another thing not brought up yet that I find noteworthy, I Too have been following the Bumfuzzle blog for over 10 years, and, whenever they are in the area, I always meet up with them for Pizza and Beer. They meet with fans/friends and family regularly, and, whenever I meet up with them, let me say that they WILL NOT pick up the tab. I gladly do as it is such an honor to have followed along in their adventures for so long, just to be sitting right next to them. They are real, down to earth people who are a pleasure to meet and be around.

Yes, Pat worked at the Chicago, then I believe Minneapolis Exchange. Go to the first posts of the blog and you get the whole story of why and how they did it. It is really not that expensive folks.

    Bob Ratcliff - April 23, 2014 Reply

    “They will not pick up the tab?” While it certainly looks like they’re great parents – one of the most important lessons is it’s just as important to give as to receive. Giving includes spending your own money when you’re enjoying others. Not always expecting someone else to pay for your dinner. Another oddity is how they’ve embraced the simple life yet if it wasn’t for tech and the fast dash in the stock market, they wouldn’t have had the resources to live “their” dream. Can’t we find a balance somewhere? It’s starting to sound like they keep everyone posted with their blog with free wi-fi. Meanwhile I actually spend money when I’m using someone else’s connection and of course pay for high speed at home. Life is a learning experience for everyone.

      alice h - April 23, 2014 Reply

      Not sure why they should be expected to “pick up the tab”, though paying their own expenses would be fair. If the person picking up the tab (assuming this means pays for everybody) resents it then they shouldn’t do it and if they don’t resent it there isn’t a problem. It’s up to all parties directly involved to sort out to their satisfaction.

      Anne - April 23, 2014 Reply

      It sounds like they have found the balance. Not sure what the ‘picking up the tab’ has to do with anything… They could not possibly pay for every fan who asks them to meet for dinner. Where I come from (unless agreed to differently before hand) the one who asks, pays. Common etiquette.

      I will not comment on their WiFi use, as your opinion is a purely American one… Those who do not wish to share, secure their network. (Most of the world considers radio waves in any form a free service.)

Michael Paul - April 22, 2014 Reply

I have always been fascinated by those who are willing to throw caution to the wind and just start out in another direction….I grew up with very little and chose stuff over the freedom they chose….it really takes confidence and belief in oneself to do what they are doing….I must admit that I admire them but continue to surround myself with more stuff…..I think it is a poverty consciousness….but that is what makes the world go round….yesterday I,, flew, today I will play with one of my classic cars, tomorrow off to the woods in my RV and then home again to start the cycle all over again with my best friend and wife of 47 years. I am thankful that we are not all alike it would be awfully crowded in the nations campgrounds.

Jennifer Lindahl - April 22, 2014 Reply

Pat and Allison are my cousins. Yes Pat is a stockbroker and he is very good at what he does. I commend them for the life they are living (wishing I could join them!) and how they are dedicated spending so much time with their family. I would be proud to say over and over, they have taught us much to stop and smell the flowers, enjoy your kids! Lord knows we concentrate too much on technology, and as much as we love it, pat and Allison have gone back to the basics of life and are teaching their children valuable lessons in life to not only enjoy it but to make the most of it in a healthy and happy way. Proud to call them my family, and love being apart of their adventures even when we are with them.

Shell - April 22, 2014 Reply

That’s really cool. I think it’s awesome that they found a way to live their dreams. : ) Namaste

Edward Thompson - April 22, 2014 Reply

I have lived in a lot of RVs, and on the road for many years. I can tell you that the lifestyle can be challenging for a family, But the rewards are There.
Live the good life my friends.

Steve Pitchford - April 22, 2014 Reply

I am bumfuzzeled!

I also take great solace in knowing that money is not the motivator for everyone.

Happy trails,

5 links I love — hudson valley, NY family photographer | Kate Callahan Photography - May 14, 2014 Reply

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