Couple Trades Condo for Shuttle Bus to Give Their Senior Dog the Ultimate Retirement

How one couple decided to ditch the “normal” life for a shuttle bus with their aging dog.

  • Amy Warner and Michael Ross live on a 2002 converted shuttle bus with their senior dog, Gibson.
  • They sold their condo in Calgary to travel and give eight-year-old Gibson the finest retirement.
  • The couple spends the winter in Baja and the summer working in Canada.

Every dog dreams of spending all its time with its humans and playing outdoors every day. Gibson, a lively eight-year-old Lab Dane mix, can now call this dream a reality. He lives in a converted shuttle bus with owners Amy Warner (28), originally from England, and Michael Ross (31), originally from Ontario. 

Before the bus life, the couple lived in Calgary, where they owned a condo. Amy was a dog groomer, while Mike worked in an oil field. He was home a week at a time, once a month. 

“Being apart the majority of the time was hard on us,” Amy comments. “All we wanted was to spend more time together.” At eight years old, Gibson was entering senior age and spending much of his time at home alone. 

couple and their dog in the desert
Photo Credit: Amy Warner and Michael Ross

Mike and Amy picked up Gibson from a local rescue center in Alberta when he was three months old. His favorite activities are playing in the ocean, snuggling up in bed with his humans, and getting energetic ear scratches. 

The couple has always had a passion for travel. In the summer, they used to take trips in a truck with a rooftop tent, bringing their pooch along. In the winter, Gibson would stay with friends or family on international trips. But this would leave all three heartbroken.

It was time for a change. Mike and Amy wanted to spend more time together, travel, and give Gibson the finest retirement.

Burnt out from her dog grooming job, Amy started working at a local brewery – a much more fun gig. Mike stopped working on oil rigs and got a job in Calgary. While living together full-time, they planned their nomadic future and looked for buses for sale.

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Ronda, the Converted Shuttle Bus

dog standing in front of a shuttle bus conversion
Photo Credit: Amy Warner and Michael Ross

Ronda is a 2002 E-450 with just 86,000 miles. She was listed for sale for $6,500 CAD. “We got a steal of a deal that took us months to find,” explains Mike. “I saw her on Facebook Marketplace while at work and rushed over to take a look at her. She was ours within the next two hours.”

He thinks they spent around $35,000 CAD on the conversion. Mike and Amy wanted to turn the bus into a home on wheels with all the modern comforts without breaking the bank, so they bought lots of materials and equipment second-hand. The most expensive add-on was the electrical system, which set them back about $12,000 CAD. 

The conversion took them months to finish because the couple worked long hours to save money while learning woodworking, carpentry, plumbing, electrical wiring, and mechanics. 

shuttle bus interior
Photo Credit: Amy Warner and Michael Ross

“It was overwhelming at times,” comments Amy, “literal blood, sweat, and tears (mostly from me) went into this build. I still don’t have feeling in the tip of my right middle finger because I slammed it in the door during the work.” 

The couple installed everything themselves. 

They built a platform bed in the back and a house for Gibson under it so the pack could sleep together at night. By the bed, there’s a split kitchen with a three-burner propane stove-oven combo, an apartment-sized fridge freezer, an espresso machine, and a deep sink. 

The couple also built a custom-made couch that turns into a bed and a dinette. This is opposite a large shower room decorated with modern tiles.

The interior of Ronda looks incredible – it’s modern and cozy with warm and bold colors. 

Mike and Amy fitted a diesel heater to stay toasty in the winter and three fans to keep the bus’s interior cool in the summer. The couple spends most of their time off-grid, relying on 1,200 watts of solar, 560AH lithium batteries, a 3,000-watt inverter, and a DC-DC charger.

Selling a Condo to Travel on a Shuttle Bus Conversion

Photo Credit: Amy Warner and Michael Ross

Before leaving Calgary in November 2023, the couple sold their condo and almost everything they owned. “We saved up enough to support ourselves for six months,” recalls Amy. 

“I love the freedom of spending every day together doing whatever we want,” says Amy. I absolutely love living on the bus, too. I thought living in a space so small might take some getting used to, but it just feels like home. Living in a bus is similar to living in a house, just smaller.” 

Mike especially enjoys meeting like-minded people along the way, who soon turn into friends. “Traveling to new places and bringing our home with us is amazing,” he comments.

Sharing a small space has brought the couple closer together – they improved their communication and learned to be more patient with each other. Gibson loves every minute of it, of course.

Photo Credit: Amy Warner and Michael Ross

But living on a converted shuttle bus isn’t always Instagram-worthy. Breakdowns are the biggest hurdle. “It’s hard when your home isn’t running,” says Amy.

Ronda broke down on Amy’s birthday in 2023, just four days after they left Calgary. The bus lost all power in the middle of an intersection in Idaho Falls and wouldn’t turn back on. 

Mike and Amy called for a tow and hired a mechanic. After being ghosted by the guy and receiving a misdiagnosis by another “helpful mechanic”—which resulted in a temporary fix—the couple broke down again in Salt Lake City. 

Luckily, a friendly local mechanic let them park outside his house and helped them solve the real issue: a faulty ICP. He guided Mike through the repair and let him use his tools and garage.

A Typical Day on a Shuttle Bus Conversion

Photo Credit: Amy Warner and Michael Ross

The couple travels slowly–they don’t drive more than five hours a day and enjoy spending a week or so at every camp spot they like. They mainly boondock and camp on BLM-managed lands. Although if they need a break, they’re happy to splurge on an RV park with a swimming pool every once in a while.

“We typically wake up, make a coffee, have a family cuddle in bed, and go outside to enjoy our coffee in the sunshine,” says Amy, “Gibs has his time to play, either in the ocean or around our campsite, [and] then we make breakfast.” 

The three spend the rest of the day enjoying the beach, wandering around town, or watching a movie when the weather isn’t good. Around sunset, they enjoy a drink on the rooftop deck and have dinner. 

Photo Credit: Amy Warner and Michael Ross

“[It] sounds idyllic, but that has truly been our life for the last six months; we just do whatever we want, whenever we want,” says Amy.

Mike and Amy will spend the summer working in Calgary, living on the bus to save money for next winter. Amy will return to her full-time job at the brewery, while Mike will work in a potash mine out of town. He will spend two weeks away and one at home. 

“There will have to be some sacrifices and discipline over the next six [months] to be able to travel for the winter again,” explains Mike. 

After the summer, the couple will decide whether looking for remote work might be a good idea, as it provides a steadier income stream. But Amy confesses: “We love being able to be fully present and have no commitments while we are gone.” 

So far, Mike and Amy have traveled through California, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, Utah, and Arizona. During their first winter on board Ronda, they spent three months in Baja soaking up the sun and playing on their absolute favorite beach with Gibson.

Next year, they hope to drive up to Alaska via the eastern coast of Canada and back down to Baja.

The couple doesn’t see an end in sight to this fantastic adventure. “It has truly been the best thing we have ever done,” comments Amy.

Follow along with their journey on Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/mikeandaims

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