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Lynchburg couple joins newest trend in tiny house movement

Lynchburg couple uses Skoolie to save energy and money when traveling (Emily Swecker/WSET)

LYNCHBURG, Va. (WSET) -- "No reservations, no nothing. Freedom of the open road."

That's one of the reasons Michael Smith and Cosette Conaway said "Skoolies" are taking off.

"The original plan for me was the off-grid house then it kinda went towards hey we can travel in this," Smith said.

A Skoolie is a school bus that has been converted into a recreational vehicle.

Smith and Conaway custom built theirs, and on the outside it may still look like a bus, but on the inside it feels like a home.

"It has a wood stove, a normal cook stove with an oven," Smith said. "It has a washing machine, stores 200 gallons on board, a nice bedroom, enough storage room for everything."

Their Skoolie, nicknamed Trampas, also has a TV, radio, and air-conditioning all designed to work off-grid.

"It has 800 watts of solar on the top of it," Smith said. "It has a big battery system so you don't need power from anything."

"The benefits are that the cost of not staying in hotels, being able to keep and eat and fix our own food because it's off grid we can pull up anywhere and set up and we're good to go," Conaway said.

But there's more to it than just saving money.

"It gets people's attention. People walk up, we meet a lot of people which we really enjoy," Conaway said. "We take them through the Skoolie and socially it's a great attractor."

"It's great just to be able to walk out in the front yard or in the driveway and jump in and go where you wanna go," Smith said.

Smith said Skoolies are extremely safe, get good gas mileage, around 14 miles to the gallon, and can be pretty inexpensive.

He said on the low end you could buy a used bus for around $2,000 and renovate it for 2 to 3 thousand more, but of course the sky is the limit when it comes to customization.

You can follow Trampas' journey around the country here.

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