Vanlife, How to Get Started on a Van Conversion

Vanlife, How to Get Started on a Van Conversion

You are ready to join vanlife. Let’s dig in and explore what you need to know to get started.

You have finished your lease on an apartment or sold your home. All of your belongings are secured in a storage unit. A storage unit is great to keep organize all the things you may need throughout the seasons like sports gear and clothing.  By now you have set aside some important objects you’d like to take on the road.


Its so much fun seeing our van take shape! The framework for the benches are coming together and we’re super happy with our overhead storage – From Instagram@vanbuild360

 What style van have you decided on? Will you be living in it full time or part time. By this point you have probably figured out what amenities you want and can’t live without like will you need a way to shower or will you be using your gym membership instead. Is your van large enough to build a bathroom. What about your kitchen options. Do you like to cook a full range of meals? Then you may require and oven with a cooktop or even a microwave. Some vanlifers keep it simple with just use a singe electric induction cook top. Which brings to mind, will you be storing propane inside the van or outside? There are precautions to take if storing it inside. If you will be using electrical appliances only, then you need to consider what size battery (Amph) you will need and wether you will use AGM batteries or a lithium battery. Each has its pros and cons. Will there be solar panels on the roof or can you manage with a portable solar system?

All of these ideas and more will determine what your floor plan will look like. Before I started my first build I tracked carefully for weeks what items use daily, things that were essential for me. I took note of what items I used most in the kitchen, what I kept on my night stand, the clothes I could manage the best and grooming habits as well as what supplies I needed to work comfortably.


Would I need a certain amount of space to sit or lie on when meditating or working on a hobby.  What type of sporting gear would I need to carry along. Will your pet need it’s own space? It sounds overwhelming for a,  give or take, 60 sq ft van. You are probably not surprised by now at what you can pack inside and outside of one if you carefully design your floor plan. 

You may be excited to roll up your sleeves and dig right in with or without carpentry skills. That shouldn’t stop you. Many people have built their custom vans perfect for their lifestyle with no previous skills at all. Lucky you if you have experience or friends to help. You do save a lot of money by doing it yourself. If that’s not your bag you can hire a professional custom van builder to customize your dream van.

There are many other details to plan when getting started in the van lifestyle. It’s an ongoing process even after the build. Hopefully this article has helped you to begin. 

If all of this is exhausting to think about, you don’t have to customize a van at all, you can always buy a prebuilt campervan new or used if your budget allows. The cost to build any van can range greatly from $2,500 to over $ 250,000

“Just when you think it can’t get any worse, it can.
And just when you think it can’t get any better, it can.”

– Nicholas Sparks

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