Leslie Carvitto
by Leslie Carvitto
Posted July 13, 2019

Jamie’s introduction to van life began years before she even had a license to drive. She quickly became a fan of the VW bus, falling in love with the home on wheels that represented peace, freedom and a minimalist lifestyle. Jamie chats with us about her future travel plans with Bubbles, her 1976 VW Bus, and her advice for anyone wanting to purchase and restore a vintage bus. Follow their travels in Colorado.

Tell us a little bit about yourself, including where you are from, and where you are going.
“I’m Jamie! I am from Denver, Colorado, and currently a student at Colorado Christian University studying Health Sciences and Nursing. I am currently working as a barista at Starbucks to afford taking adventures with Bubbles. I love longboarding, camping, snowboarding, and hanging out with my Bernese mountain dog, Lilly.”

“I am unfortunately not in a place in my life yet to be living the full vanlife. Since I’m still in school, I don’t have the capacity to live in my bus throughout the year because of how cold winters are here. My goal is to be a traveling nurse after I finish graduate nursing school and live in Bubble full time while traveling the U.S. Fingers crossed everything goes as planned!”

What was your main desire for buying a VW bus?

“I have four older brothers who are all mechanics in some shape or form. They were constantly building cars and toys in my garage as I was growing up. When my brothers got older, they started getting into Volkswagens. It wasn’t until I was in 2nd grade that my older brother came and picked me up from elementary school in his ‘new’ 1974 VW Bus. I thought it was the coolest thing I had ever seen. 

I remember he set up the camper in the bed and let me hang out in it. Once I got older, I always loved the VW Bus era and the type of people it attracted. It represents a culture of people who are trying to maximize their experience out of life with as little as possible. The VW bus had remained constant in representing peace, love, and freedom and that was something I was always searching for. I also loved how universal the bus was as it served as a home on wheels. 

The renovation on it looked intense! What were some of the major updates?

“The renovation was very intense! It was completely renovated by URABUS. It took about four months from start to finish. The first update was fixing the body and eliminating all the rust and dents and re-welding new panels. That is always the longest part depending on how beat up the bus is. 

The paint is called Turkish and Blau Weiss. It is the original colors of a Split Window bus that I adored. Next was the engine. The original motor was removed and swapped with a 2.2L engine from a 1996 Subaru Legacy. Next, the whole interior was stripped. It was replaced with all white and turquoise panels and the same color sears.

The bed/bench was also redone with a queen size. The front seats were then swapped for matching, reupholstered Audi A4 seats which are so comfortable for long trips! There was so much hard work and love that went into restoring Bubbles.”

Where does your obsession with sea foam green come from?  

“The paint inspiration originally came from a T1 Split Window VW Bus. I loved the sea foam green because it kept that vintage hippy look, while still looking fresh and clean. It is one of my favorite colors, so I took it and ran. The all-white interior with seafoam green and all the windows made it very light and open on the inside, kind of like a greenhouse effect. It just has a relaxing and open feel to it like you belong on a beach. And since it is such a girly bus, everything has to match!”

What are some of the adventures Bubbles has been on? 
“I drive it to the mountains almost every weekend in the summer for mini camping trips, mostly Buena Vista, Leadville, Steamboat Springs and other places throughout Colorado. Since I am a solo girl traveler, I like to stay in the Colorado area because it is what I know best and where I feel the safest. Last summer was its first major camping trip to Salt Lake City and to Moab. It was the first full summer that I had Bubbles, so I had to test it out of state.”

Do you have any off the beaten path places you’ve discovered?

“Most places I go through are back roads outside of Denver. I love going through back roads of Boulder, Colorado because it is so beautiful.” 

View this post on Instagram

winter is coming!! ❄️

A post shared by Bubbles the Bus (@bubblesthebus) on

Do you have any road trips planned for this spring/summer?

“My plan is to be camping almost every weekend throughout Colorado. In August I am going to Rye, CO to be a photobus for a wedding for the week. I know I’ll take at least one big road trip this summer, I just haven’t planned anything yet. The next major trip I have planned is actually this December to Baja, California. The plan is to get a group of my friends and family with VW bus’ to all drive down together for New Year’s Eve.”

What advice would you give someone wanting to purchase and/or restore a VW bus? 

“Buying a VW Bus from the 1960-1990s definitely involves patience and a sturdy bank account. Restoring a bus is the absolute best, though! I had my bus restored by URABUS in Buena Vista, CO. They built it from the ground up. It has an immaculate paint job that I got to pick out, and upholstered seats that I also picked out. I got to choose the colors, foam, driver and passenger seats — also, my choice of engine. 

I wasn’t sure at first, but the engine expertise of John, the owner, helped me choose what was best for me. I wanted something faster than the original air-cooled engine because I wanted to make it up hills and through backroads. I am so happy with my 2.2L. It is virtually indestructible and drives smoother than my 2002 VW Jetta TDI that I drive all winter.”

“John helped guide me with everything on my bus to ensure it was everything I wanted and needed. It was the best decision I have ever made. The bus is so much fun and it brings me so much joy. I love the sense of freedom it gives as I can just pick up and go wherever and whenever I want.”

What are your 5 must-have items for van life?

  1. “AAA insurance because of their free 100-mile towing!”
  2. “A Yeti cooler instead of a fridge to keep everything cold for days.”
  3. “A Jetboil stove for cooking”
  4. “Mini tool kit (just in case) full of: wrenches, extra bolts and screws, screwdrivers, probe, extra parts, extra light bulbs, tow strap, jumper cables, and more.”
  5. “Bialetti coffee maker because coffee is a necessity.”

What’s your favorite part about owning a VW bus? 

“It is my absolute favorite thing. I love owning Bubbles, it is my car, home, and a safe place all in one. I love that I have the freedom to go anywhere and have a place to sleep (for free-ish!). I love the other van-life/ VW enthusiasts that I get to meet. They are all so sweet. Each person I have met on the road are so passionate about their lifestyle and just want to live a meaningful life that’s not in a hurry. I also love the waves and peace signs I get while diving from random strangers. It has brought me into a community of people that just want to live freely as well as minimalistic.”

Rapid Fire Q&A

East coast or west coast?

“West coast”

Sunrise or sunset? 

“Sunset. I’m not a morning person.”

Coffee time or happy hour? 

“Coffee time”

Mountains or the ocean? 


Route planning or spontaneity? 

“Destination planning but spontaneity on the way!”

Leslie Carvitto

Outdoorsy Author

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