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):
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: