I converted a double-decker bus into a mobile hostel with my twin and best friend. Four years later, our business is thriving.

  • During the pandemic, my best friend, my twin sister, and I decided to renovate a double-decker bus.

  • After renovating it, we started a mobile hostel business, where we take people on trips.

  • Four years later, our business is going strong, but there are changes on the horizon.

Over four years ago, I bought a double-decker bus with three friends. We dreamed of converting it into a mobile hostel where we could travel and take people with us on our adventures. We thought it was the perfect combination of our passions for entrepreneurship, adventure, and traveling.

All three of us didn't have any experience with DIY or construction; in fact, we had never built anything before — let alone converted a double-decker bus into a mobile tiny house.

But now, four years later, the bus is finished, our hostel business is thriving, and we're about to embark on our trip to Iceland this summer.

The team came together during the pandemic

When Lisa, Jolisa, Eileen and I started this project, which we call La Karavana, no one knew what to expect exactly. Before we started to renovate the bus, Eileen was a total stranger to me and Lisa was my best friend.

And then there was Jolisa, my twin sister. Even though we obviously knew each other very well, we had never worked together. I knew I could count on her, but I also had mixed feelings; we were always compared as twin sisters. As kids, we tried to live separate lives; we went to different schools and universities, lived in different cities, and played different sports. Now, we would run the same company, live in the same house, and share an office.

the author and her twin sister, and best friend hanging outside the double-decker bus
The group outside their renovated bus.Freek van der Weijden

So, starting this mega project during the pandemic with my twin sister, my best friend, and a stranger was a leap in the dark. None of us had experience renovating or starting a business, but we knew we could get it done if we had each other.

Renovating was no easy feat

It took us over a year to convert the bus, so of course, there were difficult moments. Whenever the bank account was empty again, we had to chip in from our personal accounts to afford necessities like the fridge, mattresses, and new wood to build the interior. And for some of us, our money was running out. The financial situation was becoming a source of real frustration for us.

We struggled with many building issues, including a leak and broken windows. We also had to build in the middle of the winter when temperatures were below zero.

Luckily, there were many more good moments. We all managed to get our truck driver's license, and I still remember the first time we drove on our bus together without anyone else. It was just a short distance around the neighborhood, but it was true magic. We were all super excited and proud.

It was then that we realized we were pulling all this off together; we didn't need anyone else.

After renovating, we started our business together

Lisa decided to leave the group to start another project, but the three of us then had to start our hostel business aboard our newly renovated bus.

The first step was convincing people to join us on the road. We had to build a website, find the right pricing, and have people trust our ability to organize a nice trip for them. The workload didn't get any less, but we were so excited every time we saw a booking coming in. However, we had to cancel some of our trips due to a lack of guests in the first year. This was very frustrating.

bunk beds inside a converted double-decker bus
Inside the mobile hostel.Freek van der Weijden

But in our second year, all our trips were fully booked. We could hardly believe it. The hard work paid off; people believed in us and were willing to spend their time and money joining us on a road trip.

So many times, we had to pinch ourselves to check if this was really happening. Looking back at the last couple of years makes all of us smile. So much has happened; we've learned so much and met so many beautiful people.

Now, we are heading to Iceland

We plan to put our bus on a cargo ship to Iceland so that we can do trips there. Obviously, this also comes at high costs, so it's not the best business idea ever, but we are excited. We work from a passion to show places we find special. It's something we, luckily, all have in common.

We're not in it for the money but for the things we experience and can have others experience. I think that's vital to our good collaboration and friendship.

This will be Eileen's last year, which makes it a very special year too. After four years, it's time to spend more time with her friends, family, and boyfriend. We'll try to enjoy this year's trips together as much as possible.

Read the original article on Business Insider