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If you were given a decent mini-van, along with a budget of $750 to turn it into a camper, how would you do it?
It is assumed you have a power drill, basic hand tools like pliers, screwdrivers, wrenches and wire strippers.
A hand saw or skil saw. (You can cut plywood, in other words.) You can remove the seats.

A person gets off a flight with a smart phone and the clothing in their bag(s).
You need to outfit the mini-van for them to make a one-year trip as comfy as possible.

The idea, is to come up with three varying designs. Itemizing the parts required to make a "one-click camper kit" for the van.

One of them may have a tent, another may concentrate on stealth...yet another on military style minimalism.

There is a very good possibility we could see a demo of three or four examples in a "most popular contest." (Might even make the next RTR on it's way through.)

The idea here is, with one-click, you get everything in van A or van B or van C.

While big solar and a fridge is unlikely, a chip cooler and an auxiliary ciggie-plug battery may be a good thing. For many, an ice cooler could be the way to go.

A shower tent and solar bag shower might be great for some...while truck stop showers and bird-baths may be for others.

The idea here is not to sit in one spot for a year. It is for a week or two here, another three days 500 miles away, then a music festival 1200 miles from there.

How would you spend the money to make your ideal travel-minvan?
First question, what do you consider a 'decent mini-van'.

The reason I ask is that I lived out of Chevy Astro for well over a year with it completely outfitted  with a pull out double bed and a counter surface big enough to cook on. Also had a porta potti. I'm sure I didn't have $750 US in to it.

BUT I also tried to outfit a Grand Caravan for even weekend camping.

IMO and YMMV, the only true 'decent mini-vans' are the Astro and Safari. None of the others that claim to be 'mini-vans' come close to interior cargo room and head space. It will make a big difference in layout and comfort!
Excellent topic here.  I hope it gets a lot of discussion and views. 

I like the 3 form factors you have detailed as well and there may be sub classifications that could follow them too.

I'll start giving this thought.  

Here is an image of  the floor dimensions of a 2014 Ford Transit Van just for an example.  At 4 years many businesses will be writing these off (after 5 years) and then selling them soon.  Thus,  there may be more people considering one of these opposed to the mini vans in the past.   But if anyone would like to post
floor & elevation images of earlier mini vans then please do.

[Image: 2014%20or%20newer%20TC%20Dimension.png]
Astro vans are tough for sure.

Lets stick to Caravans for the sake of this...or the small Fords as outlined above.
Front Wheel Drive. Max MPG. No off road considerations either.


"Decent" minivan, meant something anyone can find for $6,000 with low miles in good shape.
A vehicle the non-mechanic would be able to drive for 50,000 miles with few, if any breakdowns/repair costs.
I'm an old backpacker. To me, the vehicle is just a metal tent that moves. So all I really NEED is a sleeping bag on the floor, a place to store food and water (that I don't need to carry on my back), a camping stove for cooking, and some type of solar to charge my laptop.

Everything else is "luxury".

(Oddly, that is not very far off from what the inside of my van actually DOES look like... Wink )
I like your thread idea, was just thinking about starting a thread for a bullet list of the main components needed to make a full time mini RV from scratch since I havnt seen one yet. could be helpful.

the image eDJ posted reminded me of something Ive thought about in the past. I never altered the floor plan in my van because im not a full timers except for once for a six month 'tour' I lived out of it full time. so my set up has been geared toward a modular and completely removable equipment.

Ive had the idea that maybe something like a big crate that could be loaded into the van and unloaded that was all set up. it might take a fork lift though or at least a couple of healthy men. but based on the same idea as the old slide in truck campers.

Astros/Safaris are really a mid-size van and the last year was 2005 so they are kinda old for the newcomers to get into. I do wonder if there has been anything since in the small van market that can haul 4x8 sheets? I dunno, havnt looked into it hard but thats a good indicator for sizing also.
(03-16-2018, 11:14 AM)JD GUMBEE Wrote: [ -> ]"Decent" minivan, meant something anyone can find for $6,000 with low miles in good shape.

For that kind of money you might get a Transit Connect in XL trim (no power anything) that was fleet owned with 180,000 miles and pretty much beat to death.

A low mileage 2010-2013 TC in XLT trim in good shape will START at $11k with 80k miles.

The Ford dealer in town had a 2012 XLT wagon with 126K miles and it sold for $8k in less than a weeks time for sale.
That is why I chose a Caravan as the model for this base design.
You actually CAN find several in the 5-7K range with 75,000 or less miles on them.
Most times, you can get to 125,000 pretty trouble free with them also...and they deliver good MPG.
But that lady, "Jerry" on Bobs video has a SWEET TC design. There are others out there also that have been done very well.
Bang for your buck though...if on a tight budget, it is going to be a Caravan.

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One thing I see that would make a huge difference in this project...one way window stickers.

If anyone knows where to buy this stuff cheap, it sure would be a good addition to this thread.

Simple curtains inside are needed at night...but to drive around, the one way stickers would be excellent.
Done without any design but the color of the van, they should be pretty cheap.
Stealth-wise, they have become common enough that service vans regularly use them...and they hide your curtains at night.


I am trying to work out a "Jam Band Festival" van.
The $250.00 for a tent that wraps around the back is a full third of the budget...but if you were to setup for a week or more at a camping area in the State Forests...what a huge difference it would make for space. Nothing would remain outside the van during travel. Light weight. Etc.

I wonder...has anyone used one of these little gems?
https://www.amazon.com/Petforu-Cookware-Backpacking-Ignition-Canister/dp/B015SRB58U/ref=sr_1_3?s=outdoor-recreation&ie=UTF8&qid=1521223815&sr=1-3&keywords=propane+camp+stove

I really like the "kit" format.
I would suggest "awnings" be a consideration as we come into the spring/summer of the year.  Most would want to be outside their rig  after being cooped up in it through the winter.   But the awning would offer the creature comfort of expanded space,  a roof to be under while outdoors and out of the sun's strong rays in order to avoid sun burn.  Awnings can be rigged cheaply or more expensively.   But it is one of the most sought
conveniences by new RV'ers

In this thread below, HDR points out the merits of having a roof rack to build an awning to.  I agree,  and it's how I  built the awning on my second rig by using a couple of ladder racks. (see Van Conversion first link in my signature section)  Having folding camp furniture to use with one's rig inside or out may add to one's satisfaction
and comfort with living out of a Van.   And not cost that much either.


Give the thread a look.

http://www.cheaprvliving.com/forums/showthread.php?tid=17316&highlight=awnings
(03-16-2018, 10:44 AM)JD GUMBEE Wrote: [ -> ]While big solar and a fridge is unlikely, a chip cooler and an auxiliary ciggie-plug battery may be a good thing. For many, an ice cooler could be the way to go.


What is a chip cooler?
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