vandwelling dreams
Hello to all, 
My name is Martha and I am looking to buy and start outfitting a van as a camper in the next 1-2 years.  I have done SOO much research via computer and YouTube.  Bob has been a favorite for quite some time!  I probably won't be "full time" in my DIY camper for about 5 years but as soon as I get something mostly done, I can at least start to travel part time. The time I have before I buy a van will allow me lots more time to gather ideas!  I guess I should say that I am a 50-something female in Tennessee.

I have dreamed of travel and looked at a lot of options. I thought an RV was the way to go.  But Class A's are WAY too big and expensive, and I have not been impressed with the construction / durability of most Class C's.  I don't want to pull a trailer for road safety / personal security reasons. So, for a long time I thought I needed a Class B RV.  I wanted the smaller vehicle for ease of driving, and thought I could not do without a flush toilet and a shower. The Class B's are SO expensive that I was not going to be able to even get a down payment together for quite some time, and I also worried about the low ground clearance. That was very discouraging! Doing a DIY camper van cuts the cost from a used Class B (I was looking in the $60 - 70K range) to probably $30 - 35K and I will have a reliable and really nice van, in a much shorter period of time!  Doing a DIY van also means better gas mileage, better ground clearance, and the (hopefully) the satisfaction of a job well done.

My current thought is to get a GMC Savana 2500 / Chevy Express 2500 cargo van and add a 20" hightop with some windows (it's referred to on most sites as a bubble top?) and build it out. I would include space for a composting toilet plus the usual galley, bed, and storage. I want to use solar power for most things, with propane for cooking and heating. I'm hoping to be able to follow the weather so that a rooftop vent + fans will be enough cooling. 

It scares me because I'm not the most handy person ever.  But I will be able to pay for some of the more heavy-duty / complicated stuff like putting in the solar & adding the high top. I have some friends and relatives that I hope I can rope into providing some extra hands. Most of the things I'm thinking to do myself aren't "complicated", they just require some sweat equity.  

Well, that's probably too much information for an introduction.  Congratulations if you've made it this far!  Hope to see you elsewhere in the forum. 

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The following 1 user says Thank You to MarthaMeanders for this post:
AbuelaLoca (07-18-2017)
I suggest not having a toilet in small van
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Welcome to the forums!

There's a lot of build threads out there that will help you figure out what you want, where you want it and how to get it in there.

I second the GMC Savana 2500 as a great starting spot!

And Bardo, a full size Savana has more than enough room for a toilet whether it's a porta pottie or the one I have - a C-Head separating toilet!

For a full-time senior woman on the road a toilet in the vehicle is mandatory IMO.. Rolleyes Big Grin
Worry is a misuse of imagination!

Lady Arabella - 2002 GMC Savana 2500, fiberglass high top DIY conversion  
Link to the building of her here:
Full-timer as of November 24, 2015

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The following 2 users say Thank You to Almost There for this post:
MarthaMeanders (07-19-2017), AbuelaLoca (07-18-2017)
yeah I know there's room, I have one. I'm in the process of taking it out because it's utterly foul.

I'm replacing it with something like this

[Image: 345475-zoom.jpg]
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Howdy Martha from Texas....

Yeah my van could sure use a high-top but my plan is to buy a boxvan with a bigger motor so I can pull my trailer, but otherwise I sure like camping in my van.

Darn thing gets around 20 mpg on the highway. (if I keep the speeds around 60-65 or less)..not too shabby!

A Class C is lucky to get about 10 mpg...huge difference if you plan to travel a lot.

Plus I can park the van in just about any parking space that a car can use...

Anyway, welcome!

Live to Ride, Ride to Eat.

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Welcome to the CRVL Forums   Smile 

I'll offer you to look at my two websites below for your research effort.

The first is a simple build out of a Van for weekend camping trips and Day Trips to
see various towns and places in your locality.   It' s a great entry level project that
can be further developed as you wish to on longer journeys.  By staying in your van
over night you can save $100+ in Motel fees,  prep food and picnic to enjoy eating in
the great outdoors,  and sleep in the cool summer evenings in the woods.  The money
you save this way can purchase a lot of gasoline and food and you'll have money left over
for inexpensive State & Federal Park camp sites if you like.

The lower site is a portal of useful information & links that will make life on the road more comfortable and
convenient.  I would urge you to become familiar with it in your research.  In the site there is a link to the Nationally Syndicated Gyms....such as Planet Fitness and many others.  If you have a membership you can
navigate in your travels to stop by one of these every day or other day to use the showers, bathrooms,
lounge (where you can recharge or Cell, Laptop,  while watching TV) and as you freshen up and change into clean clothing you will be more able to enjoy being on the road.  And it is quite affordable.

Recently I saw a woman at Sam's Club parking lot near me.  She had a Mini-Van with a high top on it.  It was enough that she could stand up in it as she looked to be about 5 and a half ft tall.  I noticed her rig had a ladder bolted to the right rear door but it didn't seem functional otherwise. (no roof rack)  She did have a roll out awning on the side of it,  so if she had a bed, a kitchenette inside and some water jugs/ice chest I would figure she would be in great shape to travel.  The Van did have windows.  This image below isn't quite like hers but it would give you an idea.

[Image: DSC_0042-495x400.jpg]

Hers was a Chevy Astro Van.   But such an outfit if in good shape with lower mileage
could be a great beginning,  fuel efficient,  loads of fun.  If you shop around or contract
an Auto-Broker,  to find one for may pay a little more but be in a rig quicker.
Then you can keep your eyes open for the next one.

All the best !
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Welcome Martha to the CRVL forums! To help you learn the ins and outs of these forums, this "Tips & Tricks" post lists some helpful information to get you started. We look forward to hearing more from you. highdesertranger
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Welcome Martha! Personally, I love the idea of a composting toilet and have built one for my step van. The solar stuff is tricky, but just ask specific question and you'll get great answers from the folks around here. Welcome to the journey...even if you're not moving on wheels you're already on the trek. Looking forward to seeing your progress!
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Welcome Martha!!

                    YARC inductee  -  The unHoly Mascot 
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Welcome aboard MM !
Stay Tuned

Weirdo Overlord  YARC
12 "Stinkin'Badges"  a "Full Monty Badge" 2 "Just Ignore Me" clusters  4 "Pine Cone" clusters  one "Stinkin' Badger" and 3 of the coveted "Flying Manure Spreader"awards! (What a "Stinkin' " honor !) + ROOIRIA

1981 Travelcraft Class C - 23'
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