You can convert just about any van into a very functional camper with a few well thought out additions. By creating a comfy place to sleep, adding storage and applying tinting to your windows or hanging curtains you can make a cozy little traveling house for you and your family. You can even make your van dual purpose by making customizations that can be easily removed for city driving.
Things You'll Need
- Foam or 3/4 size mattress
- Curtain fabric or window tinting
- 3/4-inch screws
- Ratchet set
- Tape measure
- Storage containers
Remove as many seats from the back of your van as possible. You will probably be able to do this without tools, but keep a ratchet set on hand in case you need to unbolt them. Keep in mind that all of the passengers you plan to carry will need a seat with a seat belt. As a result, camper vans work best for housing one to two people, but can potentially house four, especially if two are children.
Build a platform to fit your mattress or piece of foam. This will allow you to store your camping gear under the bed in plastic tubs or milk crates. Figure out how much clearance you will need under the bed for the containers you choose. Make sure that the platform is not so high that you cannot comfortably sit up on it when the mattress is added. You can make a simple platform from 2-by-4s, or invest time and money into making a more professional-looking raised bed. Consider making the platform easy to take apart, so you can replace the seats back and carry more passengers.
Decide whether you want to hang curtains on the windows or apply window tinting. For best results hire someone to tint your windows, but DIY kits are available.
Make curtains by measuring the height and width of your windows. Allow three inches of extra material on the tops and bottoms and two inches on the sides. Hem the sides with a sewing machine. Fold the tops and bottoms over and sew them, allowing enough room in the channel you are creating to run your clothesline through.
Tie knots in the ends of your clothesline after you have run it through the curtain channels. Screw through the knots and into the interior of your van to affix the curtains to the spot you want them. Make sure not to drill any holes into your van's electrical wiring. Look in your van's owner's manual for a wiring diagram.
Tips & Warnings
- Consider whether you plan to re-sell your van. Making permanent changes can affect its value.
- Always make sure that your customizations do not interfere with visibility while driving.
- Photo Credit Digital Vision/Valueline/Getty Images
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