Important note, so that you know. I am running my site ad-free, this makes me happy as I hope it does to you as well. If you happen to follow and buy something through one of the links below, I may earn a small commission. This costs you nothing extra, and it helps me support local businesses and keep this site ad-free! Check out my full disclosure for more info.
If you know me, you are aware that minimalist living has been a fascination of mine for a very long time. It’s fantastic that tiny houses and van living have become so popular. I have been thinking about this topic for so long that I finally decided actually to start doing something and stop just thinking about it.
Over the last few years, I have transitioned from the thought of a tiny house into looking into van life. This is mainly due to the freedom van life brings. A vehicle provides you with the ability to go where you want and when you want.
There are so many different options today, but one of the best is the one pictured here (maybe I’ll get there someday)!
There are tons of blogs and articles talking about a variety of vans and their conversations. If you are handy, you can make just about anything you would put in a house, into a van.
I’m sure you have seen them, but some of the options include trailers, trucks, pop-ups, rooftop tents, and Sprinter vans. Most of these will cost you thousands of dollars, up to the cost of a house!
For me, I like the 4×4 Sprinter vans. The only downside to them is the ones I looked at a few years ago were about $70,000.
Continuing my quest for the minimalist lifestyle, I have been looking at other options. You know, the ones that cost a few thousand dollars tops. What I have found is if you build it yourself, you get to keep the costs down. There are options to have other companies do a majority of the work for you, but then you are going to spend money too.
So, the quest continues what I should do. During my research, I have found some exciting builds and some things that I didn’t even know existed.
I read an article about the capabilities of the President’s limo. Now, that is what they posted to the public, and I’m sure it can do a few other things. But how cool would that be to include in your van build!
You cannot go far without seeing a converted camper van in today’s world. Most of them look cool (if you ask me), and the few I’ve been able to check out are a dream. They are also extremely easy to spot, and I can imagine many others can easily spot them as well.
For me, I like the stealth approach. The idea is being able to have a regular looking vehicle that you can still camp or live in. With the few trips I’ve taken with my vehicle, I know there is one thing I want to have, and that is having standing room.
On my last road trip, when I was in Utah, it rained for a few days. It was no fun being inside a vehicle that I couldn’t move around in and was not able to stand in. Oh, and if you forgot, this was during the start of COVID, and most of everything was closed.
Having a vehicle that you can use as a daily driver, as well as a camper, would be ideal. There are even options for those that want the stealth approach too. My favorite so far is the Nissan Recon. From what I can tell, it has everything I would ever need and the best price tag I have seen.
The best part is you buy it, and they build it! So for someone that doesn’t really know what he’s doing, this would be fun! Now I just need to get the money.
If you are interested, check out the video below about the Recon. One funny thing I found is that Steve-O has a Recon too, and it seems like he likes it.
My Current Setup
Below I will give you a brief overview of my current setup. I was initially going to include it with this post, but it became super long. My new thought is that I will create a separate post for those of you that are interested.
For starters, I am not going to lie, and I’m super excited about my build! I’m happy that I finally took action and stopped thinking about what I wanted to do.
Vehicle – Toyota Rav4
I have enjoyed this vehicle all around. It gets okay gas mileage, for the price, and is comfortable to drive and sit in. The one thing wanted when purchasing a new vehicle was real four-wheel drive. But, I have been impressed with the Rav’s all-wheel drive.
The Rav has gotten me to some neat camping spots, not to mention my daily driver.
Now let’s get to my sleeping configuration. As you have guessed, I will go camping in a tent, but if I have my car, I sleep in it instead. For me, this provides easy setup and takedown and is much more comfortable. The easiest thing to do is to fold the back seats down and toss them in a sleeping pad.
This option was okay, but the seats don’t fold perfectly flat. This leaves for not the best sleeping angle. To combat this, I would sleep at an angle or curl up. But, there are times that you just want to sleep flat.
Then you add in a cooler, your camping equipment, and other needed stuff, and there isn’t a lot of room in the back of this small SUV.
My next option, and what I did for my last road trip, was to fold the seats again down but also use a long foldable table I had. This allowed me to sleep flatter, and I will admit much more comfortably. I still used my sleeping pad, as I have done in the past. But there still wasn’t a lot of room to move around.
I have been thinking about other options since my last road trip. Due to the strong desire to escape onto the road more often, I knew I needed to come up with a better option.
Click here to learn what I did, in a nutshell, I decided to go with a PVC build. It’s much lighter and allows me to make simple and fast fixes if it’s ever needed. My other thought is that if I’m on the road and want to add something, it’s an easy fix. You can also find PVC pretty much everywhere you go.
Making You Car Comfortable
To be honest, having a comfortable place to sleep is the most important. At least it is for me. So far, I have found a few things to make sleeping in my care a lot more comfortable. I’m sure I can make a long list, but here are my top nine that come to mind:
- Bug netting over the windows
- Blackout curtains
- A sleeping pad
- Two fans
- Spray bottle or shower
- Command hooks
- Extra hooks
- Good cooler
As for the sleeping pad, I have a 2.5″ pad that I have used for years. Recently I also decided to upgrade my sleeping mat, and I now use the Exped Megamat 10. If you have never seen it or slept on it, let’s just say it’s the best I’ve ever used. It is defiantly something you only will use for your vehicle or at your base camp, mainly due to weight and size. But this thing is so dang comfortable!
I’ve seen some fantastic van builds. There are some things I would love to do with my build. I think it’s essential if this is something you are interested in doing is to make good use of your vertical space, set everything up for your needs, and have fun with the process.
I am so excited to have built my platform. I am still in the process of making changes, but the first step is done! For now, this seems like it will be an excellent setup. I cannot wait to take it out!
And the best part, I am out on the road! That means I’m currently checking if this build and setup are working for me.
Do you have a dream of converting a van, or better yet, have you converted a vehicle into a camper/sleeper setup? Let me know in the comments below, and I would love to hear about it.
If you have any ideas for me, please let me know. I welcome all comments and emails. Get outside, and happy travels!