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Vanlife Blog

This Vanlife Blog is designed to walk you through all the steps for getting into Vanlife. And how to thrive once you hit the road.

Keep this page open and return to it as your guide for every step of the process.

We built out our self-converted campervan in Spring 2019 and have been living in it full-time since July 2019. This DIY campervan has led us to some epic adventures in the United States

We absolutely loved building out our campervan ourselves and want to share our knowledge with you so you can “Do It Yourself” too! You will find tips on beginner guides building out your own solar, plumbing, best vanlife products, and more.

We also have found great ways to live #vanlife to the fullest and know all the ins and outs such as finding wifi on the road, how to make vanlife more comfortable, etc.

But first, these posts can help you decide if vanlife is right for you…

How to Choose The Perfect Van For A Campervan Conversion

A Chevy Express, Mercedes Sprinter, and Ford E-350. A lineup of vans in a parking lot.

Choosing a van for a camper van conversion is the very first step. There are so many factors that go into choosing the right van. This vanlife blog will guide you through helpful steps to choose the perfect van for you.

First, you will need to find a van in your budget that fits your needs. And you probably have a lot of questions. We’ll help you answer those questions.

Do you need a van that’s tall enough to stand up in? How many miles it too many miles?

What brand of van is most reliable? And what’s the difference between different makes and models?

Or maybe you have your heart set on a 4×4 van, but at an average of $10k more, could you live without it?

If you are buying used from a private party, it’s ESSENTIAL to get a Pre-Purchase Inspection. Unless you are a very experienced mechanic, it’s really the best way to ensure that they van is mechanically sound. So call around to mechanics near the sellers location and set up an appointment to have the vehicle inspected.

You don’t want to invest a lot of time and money into a van conversion to find out the van isn’t ready to go the distance.

How Much Does A Campervan Conversion Cost

The cost of a camper van conversion varies greatly depending on if you DIY or get a professional van builder. We’ve seen some DIY campervan conversions done for under $500, all the way up to professional van builds costing nearly $200,000.

But in general, an average van conversion costs between $5,000 – $20,000. This is just the price of the conversion materials (not including the van itself, and any labor).

Our vanlife blogs below give more specific cost breakdowns for different types of campervan conversions.

Van Tour Of Our DIY Van Conversion

First Steps Of The Van Conversion

Once you have your van, you can start the planning stage.

The first step is figuring out what your priorities are. What are your must-haves, and what can you live without?

  1. A bed
  2. A fridge (or just a cooler)
  3. Do you need a desk?
  4. Running water?
  5. Room for bikes?
  6. A bed for your dog?

Only you can answer these questions for yourself.

Ultimately, Vanlife is about compromises. Some compromises are due to budget, and some are due to limited space.

You can look at other van conversions done with your specific van and see how and what they manage to include in their van conversions.

Once you have your list of priorities, it’s time to decide on the best campervan layout for your conversion.

We have an entire step-by-step blog post dedicated to the van conversion build order.

Campervan Conversion (The Fundamental Stuff)

Make sure you are comfortable with proper campervan insulation and ventilation.

You will need to choose the right insulation for the climate you primarily travel in.

And make a plan for campervan ventilation. Not only for climate control but also for managing moisture. Humans add lots of moisture to the air simply by breathing, cooking, wet clothes, etc.

Then it’s time to plan your flooring, walls, ceiling, lighting, etc.

Vanlife Solar And Campervan Electrical

Solar Panel tilt mount on a campervan

There are tons of different ways to get power in your camper van.

An off-grid solar setup is a popular choice for getting electricity in your van. But installations can be intimidating.

So plug-and-play portable solar generators are a common fallback for people looking for a simpler method.

Or other options include simple portable batteries, gas generators, or alternator charging.

Furnish A Van Conversion

Campervan interior with decorative wallpaper cabinets.

Furnishing a van conversion is the fun part and maybe even the scary part. This is where you get to choose how the van is going to all come together.

There are tons of different products to choose from, so it can be hard to know which one is best for your camper van setup. In this vanlife blog, we break down all the different furnishings and products that go into a van and the pros and cons of each product.

Campervan Finishing Touches & Personality

Drawer Slides For Campervans

There are a few final touches that need to be added to a DIY Campervan conversion, such as latches, drawer slides, drawer handles, paint, etc.

After that, you are ready to add some character and personality. Things that make your van feel like home.

Jake and Em looking at eachother in the door of the campervan telling each other what it's like living in a van

Just like any home, you want to add a splash of personality to your camper van conversion. Or maybe just cover up some of those spots where your handiwork wasn’t perfect. Our van theme was rustic funk and personally, we love how it turned out.

Vanlife Gear

CGear Sand-Free Mat

Great campervan accessories and toys to take Vanlife to the next level.

Making Money $$$ On The Road & Staying Connected

Emily holding money on the hood of our van

While I think all of us wish we could just live in a van and not have to worry about money, it’s just not possible. So we have some helpful tips in this vanlife blog to earn money on the road and stay connected.

And don’t worry you don’t

Boring But Important Stuff

Just like when living a traditional life, there comes some boring but important stuff. Such as having an address, how to get and receive mail, insurance, and more.

How To Handle Vanlife Through The Different Seasons

Vanlife isn’t that easy during all the seasons of the year. Unlike houses that have heat and air conditioning on demand, most van conversions have limited climate control.

The joy of vanlife is that you have the ultimate freedom to travel where you want.

Many people who live full-time vanlife will head south in the winter and north during the summer to stay comfortable year-round.

Or maybe you’re going to be chasing endless powder days around ski resorts. This vanlife blog provides helpful tips to stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

Where To Park A Camper Van

free campsite in arizona on the ledge of a canyon wall

Figuring out where to park in Vanlife is one of the main challenges. Some places have tons of great options, others, not so much.

Paying for a campground might earn you some extra comfort and amenities. But honestly, Jake and I try to avoid campgrounds as much as we can because they often cost $30+ per night.

We always aim for the best free places to park. Combined with not paying rent, that makes vanlife super affordable.

We have found tons of great free camping options, plus helpful memberships for camper vans.

Tips For Living Vanlife

Now it’s time to live your best life out on the road. This vanlife blog provides helpful tips for where to park, how to find bathrooms, showers, staying entertained, and more.