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The first time I began to realize the potential of a van was when I encountered this blog post on Bearfoot Theory. Her open layout which manages to incorporate a work table, bed, shower, toilet, kitchen, and more while looking good was a revelation. Along the right side of this post, you can also see Pinterest pins of other things which have inspired me along the way.
I began having more conversations and was only mildly surprised to find that I had several friends who had either converted, or were planning to convert, a van. I was intrigued by creative solutions, like hooking a diesel-powered stove into the gas line of the van… which could also double as a heater. I’ve always had a fascination with high-efficiency, low-space, specialty solutions to specific problems. The unique space and resource constraints posed by a van conversion offered no end to these kinds of problems.
Some of the most useful resources I found were…
- The /r/vandwellers subreddit.
- The #VanLife instagram hashtag and Pinterest board.
- Conversion guides like VanDog Traveller and Gnomad Home.
… and many others I’m sure I’ve forgotten at this point. I started putting together my own Trello board with ideas and inspiration. Before long, I realized I had mentally committed to the project without ever realizing it.
There are so many van builds out there. Take the following picture of the van belonging to a friend of the family. It was built by Sportsmobile, one of the van buildout companies mentioned above. He prioritized a rugged vehicle that could survive just about anything, hauling his road/mountain bikes, and having all the amenities (microwave, kitchen, etc).
But my priorities were a bit different. I was willing to sacrifice some of the off-road ability and ruggedness for a bit more coziness. I wasn’t too interested in things like a built-in air compressor for tires or satellite TV. Instead, I decided to prioritize just two things:
- Park-anywhere (look like a standard cargo van outside, be of a standard size).
- True tiny-home (cozy interior, have good amenities, allow me to do work).
Notably, a low price point is not on my priorities. Many vandwellers get in to vanlife to save money, but my priority is more of a mobile home/workstation that lets me take short or long trips without sacrificing (much) comfort of home.