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Full Version: I'm taking the plunge - retiring the Fall of 2019
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Hello fellow van/car/RV dwellers  Smile I haven't posted for awhile because life happens - family, work and resting this ol' body - one has to focus on priorities.  Now that my slate is clearing - I'm minimalizing and making plans to sell my home and retire this Fall of 2019.  I'm a primitive camper and love the outdoors - I will be traveling and living with my golden-doodle at my side - kids are grown - it's Mom's time Smile My plan is to meet you all at the WRTR, RTR or before in the caravans.
I haven't decided if I'm doing it in a van or mini-van yet because of the all encompassing time factor of building out a cargo van right off - so I'm thinking of starting out in a Chrysler Pacifica or a Toyota Sienna - one of the larger mini-vans - and upgrade when I meet others and experience what would best for my situation.  The 2 major factors that will fashion my mode of transportation and living is that I walk with a walker and I have my 90# golden-doodle, Ollie, at my side - so whatever I choose will have to accommodate the ease of my walker and the care of Ollie. 
Any ideas that worked for you starting out on the van-life adventure would be appreciated... Also, I need to have my dog trained to stay away from snakes.  Bob Wells mentioned that there is a training I can pursue for my dog in some of his videos.  What does it entail?
Your future friend Smile
Hi KathyLee - welcome back.

I'm starting in a van, and I don't think the time factor of building it out is a big deal for me. I just bought 1x3 furring strips to glue onto the floor. After that I'll get insulation and 1/2" plywood - and that plywood will be pre-cut at Home Depot to fit into the van without me doing anything more to it - to begin. There will be 4 sections. One of those sections, I may eventually replace with a larger piece as I'll need to use a jigsaw to make it fit exactly. I might bolt my cot to the floor, and have a rug, a chair, and a desk for my art supplies. Nothing built in, at the beginning. That will come later. Next project will be a bathroom... I think it will all be pretty simple to get started. I'm planning to leave in about three to four weeks.

So my philosophy is - keep it simple and don't stress over anything. If possible.
Hi travelaround - thank you for your reply - I envy you and wish you well - I wish my departing date was right around the corner - like yours Smile   Yes - my first choice is buying a cargo van and build it out as I go.  My bookaboo is that I won't have the $ or time to do a build out until I sell my home and retire from a rewarding but emotionally draining job. So what would be the wisest way to get going as soon as everything is tied up???  I think I could do the basics to the van just enough to get on the road and go from there... when I finally have everything pretty well tied up here in Indiana. 

What kind of van are you using? What kind of insulation are you using?
I lived out of a Chevy Express passenger van with all rear seats removed for 4 yrs. I changed things as the months passed as I found better ways to organize things. You do the best you know how at first but it's a process & you'll make improvements as you go along.

Probably the #1 item on a build list is to make the vehicle as well insulalted against the elements as possible.
The best thing I did to insulate from heat & cold in addition to having a thin sheet of styrofoam under the plywood floor was to fit one and a half inch thick styrofoam over reflectix into all the windows behind the drivers seat and the long window beside the passenger side doors. Once weather got hot I realized Reflectix alone was not enough. Being a passenger van, it had ledges that helped keep the styrofoam in place. I cut the reflectix a bit larger than the window so it would tuck in at the window edges.

For sleeping warmth I'd advise flannel or (my preference) personal size fleece blankets to sleep between and a comforter of your choice. Mine isn't down. I bought a king size comforter at a thrift store that I use doubled over on the coldest nights. I will add a quilt under the comforter sometimes. But the thickest pile of quilts will not keep you as warm as sandwiching yourself between fleece and topping off any additional covers with a comforter. Cover your head with a bit of fleece or sweater and you'll stay snug with outside temps in the upper teens with just eyes & nose uncovered.

I cut reflectix to fit all other windows leaving a couple 3 to 5" tabs at the top of driver & passenger window pieces so you can roll the window up on those tabs to help keep it in place. With windows open on the shady side of the vehicle and reflectix covering sunny side windows and hopefully a breeze, you can keep the inside of your van comfortable.

In my van the wall space between drivers seat and bed has a sheet of styrofoam also, mostly held in place by stuff placed in front of it. I'm a woman but function over-rides fashion. I don't need pretty. I need to be warm/cool.
I'm not sure if all this is helpful with the kind of vehicles you mentioned. 

I will also add that although I'm very attached to my Chevy Express, I've always regretted not getting something I could stand up in from the beginning. Crawling around on knees or standing stooped over is hard on the body after a few yrs. I had a large solar panel on the roof & didn't see how adding a hi-top would work for me.  

You may look at that issue differently. But once you are set up and on the road do you really want to take everything out and trade vehicles? imagine the steps needed to change vehicles. Maybe camped in the desert. Your stuff needs to come out...on the ground? covered with a tarp?  it may be windy, rainy, hot...dust will sift over all your possessions. You are sure to have essentials at the bottom of the pile...somewhere. 
Sorry... I'm not being very positive here. So I'll stop. 

I'll be returning west via southern Indiana from KY at some point in July. Are near I-64? I could stop and chat if you'd like.  Private Message me with your general location (no need to be specific on location now).
Thanks for the insulation details and adjustment details judyg!!! This is what I need in thinking thru what is best for me and Ollie.  My youngest son said "Mom - you need a van that you can stand up in".  He's right - despite my desire to be flexible and go... I should get a van with a high-top right up front and build out as I go - wisest idea. Between your input and travelaround's input so far - I CAN DO THIS!!!

Yes - in July I will have a better idea on my situation and timing of everything so a connection with a fellow van-dweller might be a very good thing.  My friends and family giggle and agree that van-dwelling and traveling fits me, but they are wondering how all the logistics will fall into place - as I am.  Will try to PM you at a later date - I'm closer to I-80 - maybe we can meet half way in between if nothing else.  Smile
I haven't bought insulation yet but it will probably be some kind of foam board. I like the idea of putting a layer of thin styrofoam right under the plywood.

If you're selling a house, it might be a good idea to wait and buy your van when you have more money to spend on it.

Today I tried to start on the floor, and it didn't take long to realize I didn't know what I was doing. I had to come back inside and watch a YouTube video on how to open the Gorilla Construction Glue - and yes, there's a video showing a man doing it! So I went to Walmart to buy a hacksaw and decided to buy a sander too, to sand the edges of the furring strips that will be visible. My first power tool ever. I'll be sanding the edges of the plywood too, some of them - like those next to the sliding doors. I just tested it out and it works with the Rockpals battery I bought so next I'll do the sanding, then I'll glue down the boards.

I didn't buy the insulation yet because I didn't want it taking up room in the back of the van while I'm trying to glue down the furring strips.
Kathy, don’t underestimate the comfort you will need. Standing up is a great thing. You can always throw in a cot and head to a van build party for help.

I’m just south of you in KY and have space to camp if you get thru here.

Judy’s - Are you my neighbor? I’m in between Owensboro and Bowling Green. Come on by
Thanks Cammalu for the encouragement and the offer for camping - might take you up on that when this van-life is my reality.  Yes - the more I think about it a high-top van with dual sliding doors would be best for my situation - just how that will come together is the question, but I am trusting that options will open up in due time.  Getting the basics done and hope to get to a van build is my aim. Smile
Welcome to the forum!

Don't discount buying a regular cargo van and having the high top added afterwards. IMO it's best to aim for the best van you can afford (mileage, condition etc). Holding out for one with a high top AND in good condition can make the wait interminable. If you've got 4 strong willing friends a used high top can be added for minimal cost if necessary, otherwise there are several places on the continent that can do the job for you.

About those sliding doors - I'd really recommend barn doors instead. The sliding doors refuse to remain open when you want them open and close by themselves when you don't - unless of course, you've managed to level your van. IMO they are a PITA. They're also way noisier to close at night when you're trying to be just a little quiet... Rolleyes The tracks have proven to be way more problematic than door hinges.
Either one I'm open to - but since I use a walker I would it easily accessible to store it behind the driver's seat when I get out of the driver's door = a sliding door would make it easier mobility-wise.   I'll be shopping around for the best option this summer. Smile
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