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A tiny home on wheels


 
Kaitlin Porter and family

SUMMARY: Kaitlin Porter (’06) and her family got back to the basics by traveling for more than a year on a converted pink school bus.


By Khalil Garriott (’04)

It’s one thing to long for a life you’ve always wanted to live, and another thing to actualize that dream. 

Kaitlin Porter (’06) actually did what many of us dream about. She quit her job at top-tier consulting firm Deloitte, left the drudgery and structure of an Outlook calendar-driven daily routine behind, and tackled a bucket-list item: traveling the country. She and her wife, Jennifer Bateman, sold their 4,000-square-foot home, bought a 170-square-foot school bus dubbed “Someday the Bus,” converted it and painted it pink, and embarked on an epic cross-country adventure with their now 14-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter for 15 months. 

“We had to make so many bold decisions, and nothing about it felt insignificant,” said Porter, who majored in international affairs. “We had to uproot our entire lives, including selling our home, quitting a great job, pulling our kids out of school and putting all of our furniture in storage.” 

Living tiny means getting back to the basics and being supremely attuned to what you need and what you don’t. The family of four had more meals together in more than a year on the bus than they had in the previous eight years. 

“I will admit, it took me a few months to adjust to days with no agendas, but when you strip all of the busyness away, there is a lot of time to be in the moment and enjoy the small things—especially around a campfire,” she said. 

They visited 33 states, including dozens of national parks. They also parked the bus and left the country, backpacking through Southeast Asia (before COVID-19) and spending a month in Guatemala. 

Becky (Porter) Jackson (’03), a fellow College of Arts and Letters alumna, said her sister’s bold move “turned out to be the best decision anyone could make ahead of 2020.” 

In a hot-pink script, the words “darling, no regrets” emanates from the back of the bus. A kitchen sign reads, “Follow your envy—it shows you what you want.” 

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Porter’s love of travel and adventure was influenced by her study abroad experience in Salamanca, Spain, while at JMU. She feels most alive when she’s taken out of her comfort zone and forced to adapt to a new way of being. 

“Studying abroad in Salamanca was my first taste of that kind of experience,” she said, “and I was hooked. Similar to Spain and learning from my host family, I’ve loved traveling around the country and learning from others who are also nomadic. We spent a week in a desert in Arizona with a family that was living on a bus with six kids and a snake! 

“It’s eye-opening to see how others live their values and how they earn a living,” Porter said. “There are so many different ways of being.” 

Porter and her family moved back to Atlanta this summer, as her oldest is set to start high school and her youngest is set to start kindergarten. 

Porter and Bateman are proof that even if you’re living tiny, you can live large with more quality time as a family. 

Follow Porter’s family’s journey through their “Someday the Bus” Instagram account, which is approaching 10,000 followers.

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Published: Monday, August 23, 2021

Last Updated: Friday, September 17, 2021

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