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Thread: Van Traveling

  1. Default Van Traveling

    Hello Everyone!

    I am currently planning a road trip for me and a good friend for a after college celebration that I intended to do in a van. I have a couple ideas for the set up of the van, just wanting a second opinion.

    I would get a work van and go on from there.
    A bed would go at the very back on a hand made bed frame above the wheels.
    I will be carpeting the floor.
    Putting up fabric in the back windows to keep the sun out, and light in.
    A make shift curtain will go behind the seats for privacy and to again keep the sun out of the back.
    I will use a camping stove top with two coils, and a microwave that will be built into a type of box. These will be powered by a deep cycle batter, I think.
    For keeping things cold, I will just use a cooler and ice, I think that's my best option.
    I will have one light, and will also be ran by the battery.
    I am cutting a hole in the top of the van and putting a vent/fan to keep the air somewhat going through.
    I've heard deep cycle batteries work best because they can run down to 50% battery, and then be charged by the car battery while your driving.

    All opinions and ideas would be GREATLY appreciated! Thanks everyone!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    Welcome to RTA!

    It does sound like you have done a bit of homework for this idea of a trip. I'm not an authority on van conversions, but a couple of things jump out at me (drawn from experience with RV's):

    The microwave will suck up a lot of juice. So when you are planning your deep cycle battery installation, be sure to include some way to charge it/them up. Our experience has been that two 6v batteries are better than one 12v battery.

    Whenever you cut into the roof of a vehicle, you increase the chances of leaks (rain and air). Be careful.

    Cooler and ice works well. Plan on buying a bag a day. Our price last summer ran anywhere from 99c per bag up to $2.79.

    Seek some advice on venting for the stove. You might also like a propane lantern for outdoor use, when you stop at a real campground.


    Donna

  3. #3

    Default

    I saw your post on my thread, and it sounds like you have the van idea all worked out!

  4. Default

    Thanks Donna!

    The deep cycle battery would be connected to the car battery for charging while driving. I don't know the specifics on that, but I'm reading up on it.

    Do you have any good ideas on how to have the fan but seal it? I was thinking the same thing.

    I guess it probably is cheaper to buy the ice than a battery to run a fridge, or is that not right?

    Now the stove, it says it's electric so would it be okay? Or should we just stick with a low watt microwave and eat according?

    Thanks!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Setting up the van

    From my experience a couple of things jump out at me. Buying a work van is fine so long as you insulate it. This is apparently quite easily done. Even with a fan, it can get very hot and muggy in a van with one person, let alone with two. There are quite a few roof fans on the market, lots solar powered with battery so they run overnight. Some even shut down when it starts to rain.

    As well as your privacy curtain, you might like to think about a sun cover for the front windows. The curtain will not keep the heat from getting into the back.

    Are you planning the bed for two to go east/west or north/south? You rarely have six feet width in a van. Putting the bed up above the wheels will give you tons of storage space.

    I'm not too sure about running an electric cooking coil as well as a low watt microwave off a deep cycle battery. Actually, the wattage is not all that big a deal, the lower the watt the longer it takes. From what I have seen, you will need at least two, if not more. Most vans with all these facilities seem to have solar panels on the roof to help charge the batteries on days when you do not drive. (Now you are getting to the point where it may be cheaper to go the car/motel way.) I'd get a propane or butane two burner, and use picnic tables where available, or carry your own. Remember, most truck stops/travel plazas have microwaves available for use, as do some commercial campgrounds.

    Solar garden lights are perfect for lighting up the van at night. Place them on the dash during the day. Make sure you have quite a few. Keep an led light for reading, etc. Small battery powered led lights are quite cheap. I got mine at a truck stop.

    Check out this site, and many like it, though most are focused on long term or permanent van dwelling - not just a holiday.

    Lifey

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    We spent $55 on ice for our trip. Though we were gone about 7 weeks, we only bought ice for 4+ weeks.


    Donna

  7. Default

    Lifey,

    That website is where I got my idea from! Haha. I agree with the the sun covers, just forgot to mention it. And we are going south to north, along the west coastline. That website made it seem like you could run the electric cooking coils on that battery. But i guess I'll have to research that more! But as being cheaper for car/motel we definitely want to go with a van, I've heard it's a ton of fun. Thanks!

    And Donna, that is really good news to hear! Thanks!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Note the difference.

    Just keep in mind that most of their advice is focused on van dwellers who do not travel much or far. They are not focused on roadtripping. Your needs are quite different from a van which is basically standing still most of the time.

    Note that virtually everyone of them has a generator to revive the battery. When you are travelling, there will be few places you can use a generator, especially if you choose to use places like truck stops.

    My reference to north/south, east/west is in the placement of the bed. Do you plan to sleep lengthwise or across the van. It makes a huge difference as to the space you will have for the rest of your gear. On the other hand, if you are more than 5'8" tall, you'll probably not want to sleep across the van.

    Lifey
    Last edited by Lifemagician; 02-15-2013 at 02:18 AM. Reason: added infor

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