“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” – Lao Tzu
This is the story of Benoit Lafond, Paul Aubert and Antoine Alberteau, founders of Bemyvan, and originally three French buddies who dreamt of traveling differently. With the will and determination to make the adventure of a lifetime.
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January 12th, Natasha is born. A beautiful yet big baby of 39 feet and over 12.5 tons!
After 2 months of hard labor in Phoenix and San Diego, and with the help of their carpenter friends, the gang created what will become their first prototype of the bus hotel and dedicated travel companion for the next nine months on the road.
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Natasha is a school bus converted into a rolling hotel, which can host up to 6 people, outfitted with a real bathroom including shower and toilets, along with a large fully equipped kitchen and a living/dining area to accommodate everyone in a modern and optimal comfort setting.
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“Our build-out began and along with that, the idea to create an itinerant hotel concept to share our passion for traveling with others”, explained Benoit. And that is how Paul, Benoit and Antoine kicked off their travel company La Brigade du Voyage, alias the Travel Squad.
Bus hotels or rolling hotels are custom-built buses initially used for tour operating, in which travelers are passengers by day and hotel guests by night. This concept originally developed in Germany back in 1945, was revamped by La Brigade du Voyage with their modern & chic converted school bus Natasha.
#Labrigadeduvoyage in Argentina
The Travel Squad / La Brigade du Voyage
Ready to hit the road! Starting from San Diego, La Brigade du Voyage undertook an international roadtrip of more than 29,000 miles on board of Natasha, throughout 15 countries of Latin and South America, and hosted on the way over 100 travelers willing to join this unique and exciting rolling adventure!
Itinerary of La Brigade du Voyage in Latin and South America, 2017
This roadtrip was nourished by incredible encounters with local people, new stunning landscapes to discover everyday, and exceptional moments shared with friends. On their checklist, some of the beautiful countries they visited: Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Equator, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina.
#Labrigadeduvoyage in Mexico, Sian ka’an
For more pictures, visit their Facebook page: @Labrigadeduvoyage
Along this one-of-a-kind nomadic journey, Paul, Benoit and Antoine were able to fully explore and understand their clients’ needs on the road:
- how to live comfortably in a rolling hotel that should feel like home and be as functional?
- how to fulfill a journey with new sensational and fun activities every single day, regardless of the location or the weather?
Equipment storage for outdoor activities
“Each traveler was only here with us for a short amount of time, therefore we had to optimize every moment to create a unique and thrilling experience for all”, Paul explained.
They have thought and engineered beforehand ingenious ways to store all the recreational materials on board of the bus (rooftop rack, rear hitch and racks, indoor storage). Wherever Natasha is rolling, there is always an activity that La Brigade du Voyage can offer, at anytime:
…hiking in a tropical forest or on the top of a volcano, kayaking or paddling on a river or a lake, surfing on the waves on the Pacific Coast, bicycling on the dirt roads of the back countryside, enjoying an outdoor home cinema night, fishing with the locals and eating some fresh catches,…
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“I had a blast, this trip was a-ma-zing!
I literally don’t have any other words to describe how unique this adventure was with La Brigade. I was visiting Mexico when I met Benoit. I was far from expecting how exciting it was to hop on a school bus and sharing some funky bits of life with other overlanders like me!”
Josh, an American tourist (and amateur surfer since then!)
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Another essential aspect of living on the road that needs to be taken into account is self-sufficiency. While you wander far out in the wilderness, away from all the cities, you still need to have optimal access to electricity, water, heat and Internet at all times, in order to cook, shower, sleep and work in the best conditions.
With her 120-gallon fresh water tank, a pack of 6 lithium batteries of 100Ah each, a propane heater system and a wifi booster, Natasha provided the necessary support for tourists to enjoy their trip without worrying about any discomfort or lack of supply.
In addition to that, as Benoit was working part-time remotely for his other digital activity, he gained knowledge in what type of equipment and working space fits the best for digital nomads.
The American Outdoor Experience
This successful roving journey led Paul, Benoit and Antoine to pursue their hotel on wheels tour guiding company. Back in USA, and following a real enthusiasm for their concept, the crew expanded the family and brought to life a little sister: Barbara!
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Barbara, a flat nose school bus, was designed to accommodate 8 people, 6 in bunk beds, and 2 in a double bed, located in the master room at the back of the bus.
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The Brigade elaborated a dedicated program to discover and explore the beauty of the West National Parks, open to tourists from all around the world. “We wanted to help international tourists live an original and unique American adventure on board of an authentic yellow school bus”, Paul stated.
The yellow school buses are known worldwide as one of the most iconic symbols of North America. They are seen everywhere on the media, and do reflect part of the inherent American culture. Surprisingly though, other parts of the world use yellow buses as well, mainly because of their high visibility and thus safety for school students.
The tours allowed the hundreds of tourists to visit the most beautiful places in USA, such as Grand Canyon, Zion, Yosemite, Sequoia, and Yellowstone.
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“Between deserts and forests of giant trees, plains and canyons, great natural spaces, and big cities, La Brigade du Voyage plunged French travelers into the American dream!”
@ the Amazing Vanlife Community
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“I felt such a feeling of freedom on the road, being in constant movement and seeing new stunning sceneries everyday… Coming from a big city with very little nature in my surroundings, I was amazed to experience such great connections with nature.
Oh and on top of that, all the fun we had together…sharing joy with people coming to live the roadtrip of their life…made me feel so alive. I wish those vacations were my everyday life!”
Melody, medical worker
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“It was an exciting adventure overall, but we had to temporarily put the activity on stand by, as like many other travel companies, because Covid-19 hit and impacted the borders, closing all possibilities for international tourists to come visit USA,” Paul said.
“And that’s how we started creating the original B-Hotels. A miniature version of our bus hotels, fitted for individuals willing to live the dream life of the outdoors….from home!”
The B-Hotel Leon, roadtripping in Red Rock Canyon
Mybushotel and its B-Hotels
With the cabinet making expertise developed overtime and after receiving a few hundreds of people aboard their yellow converted buses, Benoit, Paul and Antoine decided to gather their professional carpenter friends and focus their activity on building tiny homes on wheels from smaller buses, accessible for everyone.
Mybushotel’s workshop based in Las Vegas
The #vanlife can be a big step to engage, it may feel like a radical change and it is not the easiest move to make on your own. “We wanted to help making the outdoor living experience reachable to everyone, regardless of the travel experience, the age or even the financial status.” In other words, you don’t have to be an experienced traveler or nomad to acquire your own B-Hotel.
From building custom buses to vans, Mybushotel, now known as Bemyvan, has shown their expertise in transforming a vehicle into a real & authentic home on wheels. After years of work with numerous clients, listening to their projects and needs, Bemyvan has now developed three layout styles specifically outfitted for most of the vanlifers:
- B-Home: the authentic home on wheels for full-time and off-grid living (with indoor shower!)
- B-Adventure: the adventure van for recreational use, practical and compact, yet spacious inside.
- Be-Digital: dedicated to digital workers, this connected home on wheels offers all the equipment to work off-grid.
Bemyvan listens to their clients’ projects and dreams, and offers a build outfitted to their needs, from the chassis, the layout, the design, to the equipments.
“We make sure to accompany our clients step by step and offer them guidance to make this experience to the outdoors as smooth and reassuring as possible,” explains Paul.
They ensure working with high quality material and robust vehicles to guarantee their number one priority: safety. The new vans chassis Bemyvan builds on are preferred for their solidity and long term reliability, from trustworthy partners with whom they worked with since the beginning of their activity. They can source a vehicle for you, and offer financing options too.
Unlike most building companies, Bemyvan has proven their uniqueness by giving a warm and homey vibe to their hand-crafted creations. Inspired by their French culture, they brought back the luxury of the European hotels and the design of the tiny Parisian appartments, with high quality upholstery and home-made carpentry.
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“This is not just any campervan, this is a home on wheels. For you to feel just like at home.”
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B-Hotel /biːhəʊˈtɛl/, n. :
Tiny house on wheels built from a van or a bus, with the interior design of a real home.
B-, abbreviation for “be” (to exist, to have real existence, to be alive) and “bus”. Hotel, borrowed from historical French “hôtel” (meaning a large town house or mansion; a grand private residence).
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Within their first year only, Bemyvan team sold 26 outfitted tiny homes on wheels. As a result of their success and due to an increasingly high demand, they have since then recruited a team of cabinet makers and decided to implement their building activity on vans exclusively.
“We put importance in keeping this company at a family size, as we value the quality of our work and with that a good complicity in the team. A good build is the result of a good team work.”
And that is how the B-Vans’ experience started-off.
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Every adventure has a beginning, and yours starts now. When are you going to hit the road? Ready to take the next step?
We offer a selection of converted vans available now for sale, or you can opt for building your own B-Van with the team, from the selection of the vehicle to every little detail of your personalized tiny home on wheels.