Living in a van is pretty simple. But if you want to take your game to the next level, check out this tutorial video for ideas on making your ride more livable.
1. Choosing the Right Vehicle
Consider choosing a van or pickup with plenty of space. You should be able to remove the seats or it should come gutted like an ex-electrician vehicle. Diesels are great options because of fuel efficiency.
2. Designing the Interior
Camping in your vehicle is often a cramped activity, so designing an efficient interior which maximizes space is crucial. Stack functions so that each area serves multiple purposes. It will make your dwelling more comfortable and organized. Here are some features to consider:
Ventilation: Make sure that you have a method of getting fresh air inside when all doors and windows are closed. If only one person is sleeping inside, then cracking windows is usually enough. For two people or more using a ceiling pop vent is highly recommended.
Privacy: If you want to have the option of parking in urban or suburban areas, consider tinting your windows or installing curtains.
Security: Aside from curtains and windows, a great, cheap theft deterrent is the classic “The Club.” If you have valuables, a safe that is bolted into the fame of your vehicle is a good idea. For self-defense a big can of pepper spray on your door is always a good idea.
Heat/Insulation: Consider covering walls with 1 inch foiled eps insulation and ply wood. Other kinds of insulation will break down with tire vibrations. This will help regulate the inside temperature from extreme cold and heat. If you are in a cold area, consider using a catalytic propane heater. Exercise extreme caution- make sure your space is well ventilated and free from other objects that could catch fire. Do this wrong and you could DIE. The best is a wood stove with adequate flashing to prevent fire. Again this is extremely dangerous and should be done at your own risk.
Sleeping area: A raised bed is best for cleanliness (you won’t be walking on it) and use of space (underneath can be used as storage). Use at least a 1″ thick piece of ply. Either mount on the roof brackets if using a bubble top or bolt L bars into the walls and drill the plywood into them. Consider splitting the bed into two pieces and not drilling into the piece near your feet so you can remove it when hauling large objects.
Storage: Storage space is always best installed on the floor or along the walls. It supports weight and minimizes movement during driving. Subfloor storage (underneath your feet) is best if possible.
Food prep: An area to cook and prepare food is key for long or off the grid trips. Many use a metal bowl for a sink. A double burner propane stove is a necessity–large 20 pound propane tanks cut down on waste containers and are necessary for long trips to remote destinations. Make sure you have a door open while cooking.
Water container: Five gallon jugs with a pump are the way to go. You can fill up at any spring or bulk water dispensary outside of most US grocery and drug stores.
Electricity: An inverter and a designated deep cycle battery, voltage regulator and high powered inverter are key for running electronics off solar. I use Goal Zero solar panels atop my Rocket Box when on trips to trickle charge my battery and charge my Goal Zero Yeti battery.
Swivel seat: Captain mounts are awesome for maximizing space and are available for many vehicle models third party. I have one on my passenger side–flipping the seat to face the rear allows for more space and is a great place to read from or eat a meal.