Month: January 2013

While at the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous I took some interior pictures of different rigs to give you an idea of how some people are converting their vans into rolling homes. If there is one thing I have learned in my almost 11 years of vandwelling, it is that there is no right or wrong way to convert a van. Some are very elaborate while others are extremely simple and yet they all make their owners equally happy. The van becomes a reflection of the personality of its owner.

Their are two big factors that limit what your conversion will look like and they are 1) How much money you have to spend 2) How much handyman skill you have. Obviously, the more of either one you have, the nicer your van-home will be.  I get letters from people all the time telling me they would like to live in a van but they don’t know how to convert a van and they can’t afford to pay someone else to do it. In these posts about different van conversion my main goal is to show you that even with the absolute minimum of either money or skill you can create a cozy, pleasant little van home that you will love living in. We’ll start by looking at some very simple and cheap conversions.

Sarah's Astro from outside.

Sarah’s Astro from outside.

We’ll begin by looking at Sara’s Astro minivan. It is a perfect model of a simple and easy conversion. Let’s look at the many lessons she can teach us. In this picture we see her Astro from the outside. 1) In the door frame you can see her plastic drawer unit. I think that plastic drawers and totes are a vandwellers best friend! They are cheap, light and easy to install–you just buy them and put them in; nothing easier than that! 2) On the top you see her solar panel. If you can’t afford a a complete system, buy as large a panel as you can afford and place it on your roof during the day hooked straight to your house battery. Watch it’s voltage with a  voltage meter so it doesn’t overcharge, then put it inside when you are driving: simple, easy, cheap.

Sarah's microwave stand, porta-potti, bed and insulation.

Sarah’s microwave stand, porta-potti, bed and insulation.

In this picture looking in from the door you can see three valuable lessons: 1) The microwave stand she is using for a sink and storage. This is another cheap and easy way to convert a van. You just go to WalMart or Target and find a piece of build-it-yourself furniture or storage units, build it and put it in the van. Anyone can do it and it gives you instant organization and storage–two absolute requirements in a van. 2) You can also see her porta-potti. Again, just go to the store, buy it, and your biggest problem (how to go to the bathroom is solved. 3) you can also see the reflectix on the roof and styrofoam insulation on the walls. Sarah is from Canada, so staying warm in the cold is a very high priority to her.

In the rest of the photos, I will add my comments in the captions:

In this picture we are looking forward at the driving area. Notice that Sarah has turned her passenger seat around which gives her a very comfortable recliner to lounge in. To make a van a home it must be a comfortable place to hang around in and turning the seat makes that easy. The little cooler is her footrest. There's no way to be comfortable if you are cold so you can see her Mr. Buddy portable heater between the seats.

In this picture we are looking forward at the driving area. Notice that Sarah has turned her passenger seat around which gives her a very comfortable recliner to lounge in. To make a van a home it must be a comfortable place to hang around in and turning the seat makes that easy. The little cooler is her footrest. There’s no way to be comfortable if you are cold so you can see her Mr. Buddy portable heater between the seats.

Looking forward we can see the heavy, insulated curtain Sarah hung between the living area and the front driving area. This is extremely important in cold country but is also a requirement for stealth and privacy.

Looking forward we can see the heavy, insulated curtain Sarah hung between the living area and the front driving area. This is extremely important in cold country but is also a requirement for stealth and privacy.

Looking toward the back of her van we see the reflectix she is using as insulation. Notice also the duffell bag she is using as organization. Again, that is a simple cheap solution to storage.

Looking toward the back of her van we see the reflectix she is using as insulation. Notice also the duffel bag she is using as organization. Again, that is a simple, cheap solution to storage.

Here we see under the sink. She has a manual water pump that goes down into 5 gallon jug to give her running water in her sink. The sink drains into either another 5 gallon jug or straight out onto the ground.

Here we see under the sink. She has a manual water pump that goes down into 5 gallon jug to give her running water in her sink. The sink drains into either another 5 gallon jug or straight out onto the ground.

Looking from the back door, here we see her bed. This was a bed she bought from Ikea and cut down to fit in her minivan. Notice all the excellent storage it provides underneath.

Looking from the back door, here we see her bed. This was a bed she bought from Ikea and cut down to fit in her minivan. Notice all the excellent storage it provides underneath.

KoKopelli_EditI hope you got some good ideas from Sarah’s van, but most of all I hope you are motivated to see that if you can afford the price of a van, for just a little bit of time and money you can turn it into a great little home!

Bob