Do you like to travel and spend time outdoors? Do you like the idea of traveling in an RV but don’t want to spend lots of money buying and maintaining a camper? A DIY camper van conversion can give you everything you need, and without all the cost.
Today, many people are converting Mercedes Sprinters, Dodge Promasters and Ford Transit vans into fun, customized recreational vehicles. You can do some or all of the interior build yourself if you have the skills or want to take on the challenge. On the other hand, you can find companies like Outside Van that will do the conversion for you.
Below, you can check out an example of a Sprinter van conversion. It includes a kitchen, toilet, bed, lighting, storage, solar, electrical system and more. These guys even sell a book on how to do it yourself.
How to Save Money on Used Camper Vans:
If you want to save yourself some money, buy a used van or other vehicle. Whether you choose to do the conversion yourself or hire someone to build out the interior, you will have already cut your cost down significantly.
eBay actually has several good deals on vans for camping, like Mercedes Sprinters and Ford Transit Vans. In fact, some of the sellers will even ship the vehicle directly to you for free. (Talk about effortless car shopping!)
How to Convert a Minivan into a Low Cost Stealth Camper
On the other hand, let’s say you already have a minivan or want to buy one to convert into a camper. You can do that too. William Myers actually wrote a great how-to guidebook specifically for minivan owners.
You can buy it for less than $15, and it shows you how to cost-effectively transform a “soccer mom” car into a comfortable camping van. For example, it includes instructions and photos to do the following:
- How to build a comfortable bed
- Setting up a toilet in your minivan.
- Steps for building a space-efficient kitchen.
- What refrigeration system to use.
- How to set up a TV.
- Tips for installing a cooling fan.
- Where to add storage so it doesn’t crowd your space.
- Setting up a functional and portable power supply.
How to Live for Cheap in a Camper Van Conversion:
Jason Odom, author of Vanabode: Happily Camp, Travel and Live Forever on $20 a Day, is one of those people that has turned van camping into a lifestyle. Plus, a highly enjoyable one at that. In his book, he talks about how the average person only spends about 4 hours a day to spend in their house or apartment (when you remove time spent at the office and sleeping). Therefore, van living is not much different, except the mortgage or rent expense is not there.
He argues that he gets a better night sleep in his van than a hotel room, and he shows others how to do the same thing. He has a section in his book that overs van set up and the cost of outfitting. This includes arranging your Vanabode for awesome sleeping, plus cooking, food storage, bathing, laundry and even making money while traveling.
Several other van camping enthusiasts have also written books on the topic – some focusing on living in a van to cut costs or get out of debt, like Robert Wells, author of How to Live in a Car, Van or RV–And Get Out of Debt, Travel and Find True Freedom or Tynan, author of The Tiniest Mansion.
Even if you are just planning a week-long camping trip to a national park rather than escaping the rat race, the advice found in thee books can be very helpful. As you might expect, these van dwellers have a lot more camping experience than most people…
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