How to Convert a Bus Into a Camper

Updated February 21, 2017

Bus conversions run the gamut from weekend sleeping quarters to elaborate rolling accommodations. Modifying a school bus into a camper permits the owners to install everything they need and eliminate the things they don't, all within a 260-square-foot area.

Buses for sale are typically, in good condition. School districts discontinue use due to age even though the maintenance history may be impeccable. Starting with a solid structure, free from mechanical defects, keeps expenses low and generally speeds up conversion time.

Design the bus and complete projects from the front to the back. Beginning work in the front allows you to move materials through the rear doors. Plan to build the kitchen and bathroom in close proximity. Locating these two features near one another will save you money and hassles when installing plumbing.

Remove the bench seats from the bus. Keep the seat cushions for under-seat storage. Bus seats can be removed using a ratchet and sockets. Fill the holes left by the bolts with a fibreglass resin filler.

Tint the windows. Install blackout curtains that can be drawn closed while parked. Blackout curtains increase your level of privacy and permit you to sleep during the day.

Insulate the walls using batt insulation. Batt insulation, which is used in many remodelling jobs, adds a soundproof barrier to the walls. Muffling outside road noise will make the converted bus feel more like home. Panelling is a durable alternative to wall sheathing and it will install over the metal framing supports. Installing padding and carpet will also reduce noise and increase comfort.

Install storage space whenever possible. A bus is bigger than an RV, however cramped spaces and storage can be an issue. Building storage compartments under the bed and under bench seats help to keep things organised during trips.

Install storage tanks depending upon your needs. Storage tanks for fresh water and sewage come in varying sizes. If you plan to use the converted bus for extended off-grid stays, or if multiple occupants will be travelling, install systems that will meet those requirements.

Locate propane tanks and generators in the under-bus storage compartments. Size these systems according to your future needs as service hooks-ups may not always be available. Store seasonal items in the under-bus storage compartments as well. Seasonal items include grills, folding chairs and other outdoor-living items.

Install RV appliances such as compact refrigerators and cooking units that are made to run off propane or a generator. Install only the systems you need. Cooking needs vary widely and 12-volt appliances are sold to replace the larger conveniences in a kitchen.


Purchase a roadside assistance package in case of emergencies. Paint the bus in neutral colours; campground associations aren't fond of eccentric paint schemes. Locate fire extinguishers in accessible areas. Parts that commonly fail, or hard- to-find items, should be stored on the bus. Use recycled or discount items to reduce expenses.


Carry common tools on the converted bus at all times in case of mechanical failure. Don't overload the bus. Place the heaviest items near the axles to spread out the load. Use wheel blocks when parked. Follow the rules of each campground.

Things You'll Need

  • Ratchet and sockets
  • Fibreglass resin filler
  • Window tint
  • Insulation
  • Panelling
  • Flooring
  • Power tools
  • Building materials
  • RV appliances
  • Generator
  • Propane tank
  • Water and sewer tanks
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About the Author

Dakota Wright is a freelance journalist who enjoys sharing her knowledge with online readers. She has written for a variety of niche sites across the Internet including “Info Barrel and Down Home Basics.” Her recent work can be seen in “Backwoods Home Magazine.”