Our Home For The Next 6 Months

As mentioned previously, we’re beginning our trip with a road trip around Canada and the US, and since it would be extremely pricey to stay in hotels every night, we’re going to camp the majority of the time. The comfort issues and setup time associated with tenting made it something we would rather not do for 6 months straight, so we needed to find an affordable solution that was comfortable for us to live and work in for that long.

We contemplated buying a Volkswagen camper van, but there were three main factors that kept us from doing so: they’re expensive (at least if you want one that’s not too old), selling a camper van in the winter would be difficult in the couple of weeks we’ll have before leaving again, and it can be hard to get parts and service for Volkswagens (and if horror movies have taught me anything it’s that breakdowns usually happen in a tiny town where the only garage is run by a lone alcoholic hick who’s the last holdout against mutant hill-people/creepy corn-dwelling children/alien monsters).

We spent quite a bit of time exploring our options, and it became my favorite thing to think about when walking to the office in the morning. Eventually, after many sketches and daydreams, I came up with a serviceable plan for camperizing a regular minivan. About a month and a half ago we finally bought a 2006 Dodge Grand Caravan with middle- and back-row “stow and go” seating (meaning the seats all fold into compartments in the floor). We felt ridiculous buying a minivan when we don’t have kids, but did it anyway and named it Django.

I measured out the interior space and sketched the plans out in Adobe Illustrator to work out the details of the process, and what we’d need in terms of supplies. The basic plan was a bench seat with storage and a pedestal-style table that folds down into a bed. Here are those drawings (click to see them bigger):

plans for camperizing a minivan
plans for camperizing a minivan with bed down

We pulled out all the “stow and go” seats so we can use the compartments they folded into as additional storage. Thankfully, the seats came out more easily than I had anticipated. All told, the actual camperization process really didn’t take all that long. If I had done it all at once I think I probably could have finished in 2 solid days.

Below are some before and after photos. We’ve made a couple of minor tweaks here and there, such as adding some canvas pockets in the back storage area, but these basically show the finished product.

Here are the before pictures with the seats up:

camperizing a minivan
camperizing a minivan
camperizing a minivan

And with the seats still in, but folded down:
camperizing a minivan

With the seats removed (front storage lids up):
camperizing a minivan
camperizing a minivan

Seats out, front storage lids down:
camperizing a minivan

In process, base of seat (hinged seat has storage underneath):
camperizing a minivan

Without seat back, showing storage:
camperizing a minivan

Finished product, table up:
camperizing a minivan
camperizing a minivan

Finished product, bed down:
camperizing a minivan

Rear storage area:
camperizing a minivan

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7 Responses to Our Home For The Next 6 Months

  1. Jesse says:

    That is amazing!! Love the way you guys transformed that van.

  2. Elliot says:

    Hi, I am about to embark on a tour of canada for 6 months and love this plan. I am travelling with my girlfriend but also want to have the option of keeping 1 or 2 extra seats for occasional passengers. With your design wound you be able to still use the first row or rear seating if taken out from the stowed position?

    Also do you have any other photos or detailed plans I could possibly use?

    Many thanks and love what you did!!

    • admin says:

      Thanks! This is it for photos. I did the plans in some design software and used tools in the software for dimensions, so I can’t really give you anything more helpful than what you see. The measurements would only be useful if you had the exact same van anyway.

  3. Bill Lee says:

    Love your site and plan to read the whole thing in the near future.
    I’m about to camperize a Toyota Sienna to drive to my son’s home in Alaska. I like your design but I’m not sure about the space I have available vs needed bed size. I would appreciate your input.

    How long did you make your bed and what was your van’s back of driver’s seat to rear hatch dimension?

    Thanks
    Bill- Waterville Maine

    • admin says:

      Glad you like it! We made our bed 4×6′, which is just a touch smaller than a double bed. From the back of the seats to the tailgate is 8′ at the bottom, a bit less higher up because the seats lean back a bit.

  4. Chri says:

    Wow ! I really like the way you did the plateau that transforms in table or bed. I am a new owner of a grand caravan too (2012) and I also removed the super deluxe, long console we have between the front seats. We are from the montreal area, in Quebec, and are planning to go to the Atlantic provinces this august amd Arizona next year.
    I have just one question…. why Django ? hi, hi. But it sounds good.

    • admin says:

      Thanks! We naked it Django after Django Reinhardt, the “father of gypsy jazz” (a play on Dodge Caravan/gypsy caravan). Good luck on your trip!

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