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Life on the Road: Little Big Life


Currently parked on a farm in Margaret River, Australia, Chris and Vaida of Big Little Life are enjoying the slow life with their Bernese mountain dog Boris and their one-month-old son Oliver. Together, the family lives in a Volvo B58 bus full of second-hand treasures and lively plants. In a few months, they’ll head to northern Australia and begin an adventurous life on the road.

Tell us a little bit about your family including where you are from, and where you are going:

We are Chris, Vaida, Oliver & Boris – a little family striving for big things.
Chris is from Fremantle, Western Australia. Vaida is originally from Lithuania, Northeastern Europe. Boris is a Bernese mountain dog. The three met in Fremantle and became a family. Just a month ago Oliver came into the scene and made everything complete.

We created Big Little Life with a vision to spark positive change in society for people to live happier and more sustainable lives. We minimized our stuff, ditched our debt, unplugged ourselves from the grid and handcrafted a bus into a home on wheels. Now we think of the whole country as our backyard which is very inspiring and exciting!

 

What kind of vehicle are you living in and why did you choose it?

Volvo B58 bus. We chose this bus because it was really cheap and in great condition. It’s an ex-city bus and it drives really well. Volvos are known for their great engines and reliability, so that was important too. And the last but not least – it simply looks great!

What were some of the major renovations you made before moving in?

We renovated this bus from scratch. We took all the seats out, walls and ceiling, etc. We redid the wiring, installed plumbing, electricity, and gas. The biggest work was done in two months (September & October), then we kept working away since November and still have a few jobs to finish up. But we are nearly there!

You mentioned on Instagram that the birth of your baby Ollie has shifted your travel plans a bit. Do you still have plans to hit the road and which direction would you like to go?

We moved into the bus early in our pregnancy so wanted to take things easy and have the baby in Margaret River, WA as we really loved the facilities, our doctor and midwives. The bus wasn’t quite finished either, so we decided to wait until Oliver was born, settle in and then begin our travels.

Our plan is to head up North for the winter, all the way to Kimberley. Then take it easy and explore Northwestern Australia for a few months. Eventually, we’ll make it back to Southwest by summer and do trips around here.

What does slow and conscious living mean to you and what are some of the ways you embody it?

It means living up to our values as a family and doing it consciously. Being aware of our surroundings, the environment, and respecting it.

 

We care about nature, wildlife and our planet’s future, although we don’t go crazy about veganism, being 100% plastic free, etc. We believe it’s enough to be aware of your daily choices, overall environmental footprint, and its impact. There are so many people banging about one and only thing yet missing the point. Being conscious, asking questions, finding what works for you and being responsible, compassionate and tolerant is a good start.

What’s one major challenge and one huge win that comes from living in a small space?

The biggest challenge so far has been the transition, although not the factor of getting used to small space. When we moved into the bus it wasn’t quite finished and life wasn’t as comfortable. There was a mess everywhere because everything was still in construction state. We also didn’t have a proper shower, electricity, fridge, and oven. Once we ticked off those bits life in the bus became a dream!

The biggest win has to be the fact that we don’t actually need much. Living in a small space means you can’t have too much stuff, and yet that makes your life way easier and lighter. You also end up using and enjoying what you have, spending more time together as a family, doing what makes you happy rather than working hard for the things you own and barely finding time to live.

 

What does your day-to-day look like?

 

Our day-to-day life has changed significantly now that we have Oliver, but that doesn’t mean it became less fun. Ollie is the biggest reward, he’s constantly making us laugh and melting our hearts.
We usually get up pretty early, because babies don’t sleep like adults haha. Then Chris usually takes Oliver and Boris for a long walk around the farm that we are currently parked on so mummy could have some time for herself and some peace and quiet while sipping her morning tea.

Some mornings Chris, if he’s lucky, goes to the beach to get his so needed surf.
Then everyone gets into their “things”. Chris is either typing on his laptop, doing his remote environmental consultant work or working on the bus.

 

Vaida takes onto her mum duties, and if she’s lucky, she also gets some time to do computer work, or please the OCD side in her and does some cleaning or other housework.

Then Chris usually cooks lunch for everyone and we eat it together.
After that, we get back into our daily tasks and by afternoon we try to get out of the bus for beach or forest walks. In the evening we light a fire, cook dinner and enjoy our time together as a family, or as a couple if Oliver is settled in his bed.
This, obviously, is going to change soon after we start our travels. We are going to live a way more adventurous life and we can’t wait for that!

What are your 5 must-have items for living in your bus?

 

Our pot belly stove has been a life savior during these cold autumn nights.
Other than that probably has to be essential things such as shower, compostable toilet, washing machine, oven, bed, and our couch!

What’s surprised you the most about living in a bus so far? Have you learned anything new about each other in the process?

Hmm.. that living in a bus doesn’t mean giving up comfort and luxury. You can definitely have all that and more time to do whatever makes you happy. When we lived in a house we were working so hard to afford it, yet we didn’t find ourselves happy in the end. We were tired and miserable as we didn’t get enough time to spend together, enjoy our hobbies, etc.

We’ve learned that sometimes we have different priorities when it comes to living in a small space, but we still make a great team. Everything gets taken care of quicker and better with good communication and respect to one another.

Do you have long term plans to live in the bus?

We plan on living in the bus for a few years. We want to travel around Australia, then maybe do a New Zealand trip for a year too. Eventually, we plan on getting a block of land with a little farm where we could also park the bus and have a home base. The big dream is a sailboat which hopefully will happen in the upcoming years. We would like to have a few options, yet something stable where we could always come back to.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to travel Australia via bus or RV?

Be adventurous, smart and have fun! Also, don’t be afraid to build the bus or RV of your dreams, even if it’s something others haven’t done before. Use your imagination, be creative and brave. There are ways to get around and make things work. We often get asked how do we keep things still while we are moving yet we find it quite surprising that these questions are coming from people who’ve done conversions. A little bit of imagination goes a long way!

Rapid Fire Q&A

 

What book can you read over and over again?

Vaida: The subtle art of not giving a Fu*$ by Mark Manson. Although I highly recommend audiobook – the narrator adds a lot of character too!
Chris: The Antidote by Oliver Burkeman.
Boris: I like walks

Coast or mountains?

Vaida: both
Chris: coast
Boris: sand for days!

 

Go to meal?

V&C: Pasta!
Boris: cheese

Early riser or night owl?

V&C: Early riser!
Boris: always ready for walks

Favorite plant in your bus?

Ummm… All of them?!

 

 

Be sure to keep up with Vaida, Chris, and their dog Boris as they travel around Australia on their converted bus and document their adventures on their Instagram account. Want to travel your country in your own converted bus? Outdoorsy may have something in mind for you! 

 

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