Wanderbus: Adventure, sustainably

by Malila Freeman

The Wanderbus is an off-grid, towable mobile tiny home that encourages connection with nature and environmentally sustainable behavior.


Wanderbus ready for travel:

The Wanderbus is fully equipped for travel with either a truck or a car, and the tiny home component is fully detachable from the vehicle to allow for easy exploration with the vehicle during the day.

Wanderbus set up and rotated:

The unique rotating design of the Wanderbus allows for more space for environmental features (see below) as well as patio and outdoor space.

Key environmental features:

The Wanderbus includes several important environmental features that help adventurers learn about and live with tools for sustainable living.

Floor plan:

The layout of the Wanderbus is compact yet efficient, including all of the major components for comfortable living.



With the increasing threat of climate change, more and more people are becoming interested in both connecting with nature and developing more environmentally friendly habits. According to data from the US forest service, recreational attendance at US national parks has dramatically increased in recent years, demonstrating that people are interested in connecting with their natural surroundings. A survey by Forbes indicated that 77% of people in the United States are interested in learning about more sustainable life choices, establishing that there is a high need for tools that make learning about sustainability easier. While people are clearly interested in connecting more to the environment, for many this may seem to be an overwhelming and daunting task. Staying at or camping in a national park is not necessarily easy, especially if you do not already own the necessary equipment. Furthermore, RV rentals are often expensive, with nightly rates starting around $200, and they’re largely centered in the Western region of the United States. RVs are also, for the most part, not environmentally sustainable, requiring a lot of gas and energy to operate. Therefore, in order to increase accessibility to the environmental experience, we’ve designed the Wanderbus, a towable tiny home with a revolutionary rotating design that is intended to both enhance nature connectivity and teach about sustainable living practices. The Wanderbus is available through an affordable rental system in which adventurers choose a location (or locations) that they would like to visit, and the Wanderbus guides them on their journey. The Wanderbus service is primarily directed to young couples, especially with young children, or anyone wishing to embark on an environmental experience with effects that last long after the actual journey is over. Therefore, there is an emphasis on affordability, ease, practicality, sustainability, and education that is lacking with other similar companies and services. 

Wanderbus’s emphasis on connectedness with nature largely appeals to the inspiration principle of awe-vastness. As is immediately clear when you enter the Wanderbus website and scroll through beautiful and radiant photos of national park destinations to choose from, one of the main goals of a Wanderbus journey is to experience the ever-reaching vastness of nature and everything it has to offer us. With the option to choose from a variety of national parks, either close by or far away, Wanderbus provides adventurers with the opportunity to get out and explore nature with minimal planning and stress. The Wanderbus is designed for comfortability as well as environmental sustainability, meaning that adventurers who might be cautious about “roughing it” in the outdoors do not have to worry. Because the tiny home portion of the Wanderbus disconnects from the car or truck that it is hitched to, it is easy for adventurers to stay mobile because they can leave their home in place as they go out to explore for the day. The design of the Wanderbus also utilizes mirrored glass, meaning that adventurers can look out on nature at all times, but outsiders cannot see in. This allows for constant, in depth engagement with their natural surroundings. One key feature of the Wanderbus is an LCD monitor installed in the living room space, which not only helps adventurers to plan and navigate their trips, but also provides relevant information about their destination throughout the duration of the trip. Upon arrival, adventurers will have the opportunity to watch a video on their national park of choice, which not only recommends activities, but also discusses particularly interesting features of the park and their history. In addition, the video will include information about the park’s current state in relation to climate change and human misuse, and will provide a projection (both visual and numerical) of what will happen to the park if human behavior continues in the same way. There will also be a section on the LCD screen providing tips for how to engage with nature responsibly and reduce recreational carbon footprint. Through these methods of engagement, it is Wanderbus’s hope that adventurers will feel inspired by the vastness of the natural world and establish a relationship with and an understanding of nature that encourages them to engage with it (responsibly) and protect it in the future. 

The off-grid design of the Wanderbus as well as the goals of the Wanderbus ecological adventure depend significantly on the inspiration principle of elevation. Because adventurers are able to plunge first-hand into an environmentally sustainable and minimalist lifestyle, they are able to learn about what it takes to maintain, or at least work towards maintaining, this kind of lifestyle on their own. Features such as the solar panels, rainwater harvesting and local water filtration and circulation system, composting systems, and LED lightbulbs allow adventurers to experience environmentally friendly home features, perhaps for the first time. Additionally, because the Wanderbus is portable, adventurers are forced to live minimally, with less space and features than are available in a typical home. The LCD guide helps to demonstrate and encourage virtuous environmental living, as well. Depending on how involved the adventurers want to be in their journey, the guide offers a range of videos that help promote an environmentally friendly living style, such as: environmental living tips; logs for daily habits; instructional videos for how to use, install, repair, and purchase environmental features such as solar panels; DIY environmental projects, such as urban gardening; and carbon footprint calculators and trackers. Overall, the adventurers are encouraged to engage with as much of the guide material as possible in order to inspire them to adopt more environmentally sustainable practices and habits that will carry over into their day-to-day lives. By witnessing and experiencing environmentally responsible practices, hopefully they will be inspired to apply what they learn on their Wanderbus journey even after the adventure itself is over. 

Overall, the goal of the Wanderbus is to provide an easy and affordable environmental journey to those who are especially interested in connecting more with their natural environments and learning about environmental tools and concepts. From the easy-to-navigate rental and travel process to the many ecological design features of the Wanderbus to the hands on guide experience, it is our hope that the Wanderbus journey inspires a sense of nature connectedness through awe-vastness and a continued dedication to environmental responsibility through elevation.

Link to zoom presentation: https://harvard.zoom.us/rec/share/wOA2LY-q6H9LY4H3xXPgW6wFEaW0aaa823QXrKUFnx3u1OhblymCUg1Rso1pRBb4?startTime=1585099200000

Link to google slides: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1QLN_DhzdmEfMWInKjR1USLF0eD7FrjGU9wmh2naC_wE/edit#slide=id.g71f5762ed3_9_2

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Su Yang March 25, 2020 - 1:29 pm

I love this–the prototypes are beautiful! I especially like the sustainability aspect and how it not only utilizes sustainable technologies, but also teaches people about their surroundings and environmental impact. One thing I’d look into is the viability of the sustainable technologies being used–sunlight is oftentimes difficult to capture and use because of various factors, and materials that do a better job at absorbing light can be expensive.

I actually saw something similar on Shark Tank the other day–a company called Boho Camper Vans (https://www.boho.life/) rents (and sells) camper vans for as low as $150/night. Might be interesting to look into because the concept seems similar to yours 🙂

Marisa Trapani March 25, 2020 - 3:43 pm

I was super impressed with this product– really well thought through & beautifully designed. One of my few lingering questions is how long is the rental period for a WanderBus? I am unsure how long people typically spend camping and exploring national parks but if the intent is to have people cultivate a sustainable living skill set, then the rental period should be a few weeks, minimally? Additionally, I’m curious about the economic barrier which renting one of these may represent for national park visitors? Could a product like this simply deepen a growing divide between the hypereco-conscious elite and the rest of the population in the context of a world were sustainable products remain a luxury?

YUNING ZHANG March 25, 2020 - 9:25 pm

First of all, your graphic is AMAZING! Love the design of your front page and interface which communicates the inspiration well to potential users. The idea of increasing access to environmental journeys makes total sense to me as it strategically connects people to the natural environments. It seems like you are encouraging people’s dedication to environmental responsibility through elevation, which depends on the awe-vastness of the journeys – an acupunctural solution to the environmental issue, and can be even more effective when easier access is guaranteed for a bigger market.

Wanxi Yang March 25, 2020 - 9:40 pm

I like your design since you essentially provide a better design for something that people are using now, so I think there is a large chance that people would easily adapt to the idea. The design image looks so nice! I would love to try it out if it is available. One thing I am wondering is how much do you expect building such a bus would be. I think if you can do some cost control, it would be a wonderful product. The inspirational part for me is that this provides an opportunity for people to live sustainably and gracefully at the same time. It’s promoting a lifestyle that might be appealing to many people.

Nourhan Shaaban March 26, 2020 - 12:21 am

I Love this – the pictures make me want to be part of this experience. Your appeal to someone who is environmentally aware also appeal to a user’s sense of identity – many of us want to be seen as people who are conscious and environmentally aware. This is a product I want to be real, and it is original – but I’d love to learn more about how it would actually be “practical” – what are the actual user groups that may be using this and how?

Amazing work! super inspiring.

Kongyun He March 26, 2020 - 4:07 am

I love the idea of creating a rental mini-home. As the younger generations become more aware of the environmental impacts of traveling and are gearing towards shared businesses, this idea provides a sustainable alternative to owning mini-homes/RVs or even a car. I love the car uses renewable energy, recycle and reuse water, and many other eco-conscious features, but I think the car will become a more luxurious experience than an affordable one because of the high costs. I also wonder if the car itself could be a hybrid or electric, but it may impact the daily mileage allowed.

Adam Gordon March 26, 2020 - 6:26 am

I love this project! I am super interested in sustainability and the tiny house movement. I could totally see this product coming to market. The design is clean and simple which pairs wonderfully with the minimalist design. I think the product would be even more convincing if the rental information was more clearly broken down. I really find the sustainability and eco-friendly goals attractive.

Vivian Zhou March 26, 2020 - 8:57 pm

I really enjoyed this solution and would love to use it if it existed! Just like the Abeona group, you guys address some problems that come up frequently in relation to travel — the environmental footprint, as well as accessibility/affordability. Encompassed in one RV-like vehicle are many built in features that make the travel process easier, simplify life while travelling, promote a more personal connection to nature, and more. However, I think that is definitely contingent on what the pricing will look like for renting such a vehicle.

Nan Yang March 26, 2020 - 10:59 pm

The concept is fascinating!
Personally, national parks are my favourite places to visit to flee away from urban mundanes, to learn from nature and refresh spirits close to wilderness. Wanderbus is such a brilliant idea to have towable tiny home rental services to travel around. All sustainable design features especially the LED Screen that monitoring and recording the usage and information data of energy consumption and carbon footprint are environmentally committed to leaving minimal carbon footprint to nature.
One more point that I find might also be interesting to this project is that what if the operation of the Wanderbus could generate fuel(Biogas? or electricity) in supporting the motion of vehicles so that it could save gases or electricity used on the journey. Because the most carbon-consuming portion of the trip usually goes to the gas when there are few public transportation options to national parks and we all have to go there driving private cars.

Danielle Green March 27, 2020 - 3:24 am

What an incredible concept. I love this idea to bring sustainability to travel. Travel is such a life-changing experience, but admittedly, we do need to be more thoughtful about the ramifications and effects the constant movement of people has upon the world. You’ve presented an interesting solution with the detachable tiny house. The renderings you designed for this project are simply beautiful! You really did a phenomenal job on the graphics. They feel really professional. I’m a sucker for a webpage that’s highly visual and really driven by its imagery. Your site also enables me to envision where I can travel on a journey with the Wanderbus, inspiring a sense of wonder and awe. I also like the name itself, as it’s a cute play on words of “wonderbus.”

Do you think you could expand this into a sustainable hotel or resort experience of sorts? I feel like there is so much potential for growth and development with this concept.

Eleanor Blum March 27, 2020 - 3:24 am

I was really struck by how innovative this product is. I really like how you guys took something as stubbornly clunky as an RV and totally rebuilt it with an orientation towards being environmentally responsible. I could imagine this product making exploring national parks more appealing for several new demographics which is a really cool thought. I imagine that in order to flesh out the alignment with inspiration and giving meaning (which you already do so well) even more you could lean in further to the idea that national parks are a public works project to begin with and that slowing environmental impact is as well.

Anthony DeNitto March 27, 2020 - 3:41 am

Very cool idea!! I love the idea of sustainability, both in the physical sense of having solar panels and a low carbon footprint, in addition to the ethos of the product. Having a guide is an interesting piece, because I wonder how much would be different than your phone or something. My question is would this be something that people could afford? It seems much more luxurious than your conventional RV or trailer, but I could be wrong. I’d travel in it though!

TJ Song April 7, 2020 - 9:30 pm

I like this idea a lot! I particularly liked the mock up created. I understand that you are trying to appeal to people who identify as environmentally friendly and aware. I think that the idea is very unique but I am curious how cost effective this business model for the actual product could be? Who is buying these kinds of products now and is the need for more big enough?

Jing Chang April 12, 2020 - 9:16 pm

I like this idea of designing a portable little cabin on wheels which could provide unique adventure experience in national parks. The idea of sustainability also gives Wanderbus its exclusive characteristic. However, I would suggest that the design of the bus itself and the accommodation experience could be more related to the tourist sites they are at. Or, different buses could have different themes. This design could go further and more specific.

Ana Maria Delmar April 20, 2020 - 12:26 am

Your visuals and renderings in this project are stunning. and I find the idea super fun, going along with what other people have said, it could be fun to have themed or specific buses. The environmental and sustainable aspect is incredibly important I’d say for any success of a new product launch.

Zach Snyder April 20, 2020 - 1:22 am

Big fan of the app, and I especially like how it is essentially an upgrade to the various things people use now. The eco-friendly part is very inspiring because it closes the gap between using eco-damaging equipment and enjoying nature. By providing this experience as a way to enjoy nature and traveling, there is no longer the need to toggle through so many opitions of enjoying a trip (hotel, rv, etc..).

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