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  1. #11


    Quote Originally Posted by AZBuck View Post
    Part of being able to travel in a vehicle smaller than a full-sized camper van will be dependent on your age and your ability to recover from a night sleeping in the somewhat cramped confines of a converted minivan. <snip, Snip>
    I am a certified senior citizen, owning my National Park Pass for several years now. My outfitted minivan camper is surprisingly good sleeping (even with my wife next to me!). You will, however, need some flexibility climbing in and out of the bed... it ain't the Hilton with a king-sized bed ;) Sometimes I pine for a Transit Camper Van, but then I would really need another vehicle, pay higher insurance costs, etc., and at that point might as well stay in a motel.

    What I enjoy with my "rig" is its convertibility -- and while in campervan mode is drives and handles like a car/minivan, not like a truck. I do upgrade to midgrade gasoline when it it fully loaded and if you are not along the coasts or New England the price premium isn't much (and as it gets higher MPG on midgrade it is actually becomes more economic).

  2. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by AZBuck View Post
    Part of being able to travel in a vehicle smaller than a full-sized camper van will be dependent on your age and your ability to recover from a night sleeping in the somewhat cramped confines of a converted minivan. If you haven't already purchased your vehicle for this trip, I'd like to offer just a thought that may change the way you think about what you'll need. When I was younger (and single) I piled on a LOT of miles in three cars that you probably wouldn't even consider: a 1957 SAAB 93, a 1972 AMC Gremlin, and a 1979 Subaru Outback. I managed to sleep quite comfortably in each of those even though they'd be considered compacts at best.

    The SAAB actually came from the factory with a conversion kit that let you fold down the rear seat and use the entire length of the car from dash to back bumper as a flat bed. (Scroll down a bit HERE to see what this looked like in a later model. After I broke the hinge on the front passenger seat back of the Gremlin, I realized that I could do the same thing by folding down the rear seat back and folding the passenger seat back up against the dash. And I made a point of making sure that the same was true when I bought the Subaru. Each of those cars had enough cargo room that (as long as I was traveling solo) I could carry enough cargo and still leave the entire length of the right side of the car free for a quick 'conversion' to a bed. They also all got incredible mileage which while it wasn't so important when gas was 30¢/gal, but could make a difference today, as would the purchase price of the vehicle.

    As I say, just a thought.

    I too am a certified senior citizen, but at 5'-8", 154 lbs, I don't feel cramped on a camping sleeping pad... However, the 2 man tent I have does not feel particularly roomy.... Of course, the tent being on the ground makes it much less convenient to ingress or egress. I had a hippy van back in the day and it was pretty easy to get in and out of it. However, the platform I built was too short for use as a bed. I'd build the longest surface I could to put my sleeping pad on.

    The gasoline cost is a big issue. I'm hoping a minivan will give better mileage than a van conversion or a pickup truck camper... I'm sure I'm not considering everything involved and I'm sure to be surprised later when my mistakes become apparent.

    I think that being clever with the design and build of the conversion will keep the GVW lower and thus improve the fuel economy.

  3. #13


    My Odyssey gets rather good gas mileage and power/response using mid-grade gas. The fully loaded van MPG between Maryland and Missouri averaged 27-29 mpg. Most segments between Missouri and Calif were in the 25-28 mpg depending upon "local driving" in more urban areas or around some of the national parks. One small segment was as low as 22.9 mpg which was mostly uphill and more stop-and-go, really an outlier. Overall, I have been very pleased with gas mileage and driving comfort. Amazing fact was in not burning a complete quart of oil on my road trip from Maryland to Los Angeles, up the coast to Point Conception, back to Los Angeles, through Utah and then Salt Lake City to St. Louis to Orlando, FL (I had to divert to FL to take care of ailing parents and did not return to Maryland for another 6 weeks, so had my tires balanced and rotated at Costco but did not need servicing until returning home). And, yes, I checked the oil dipstick on level ground with a cold engine!

    Vehicle leveling while camping is something to pay attention to. I mitigate this by keeping some high density foam blocks in the van that can be placed on the fore or aft bed platform support structures.

    There are obvious advantages to a pop-up roof or built in high roof (such as a Transit van) but these vehicles also have disadvantages in terms of overall ownership costs, where you can park, and driving comfort. One more plug for the Oddysey, this van turns a nice tight radius, better than many compact sedans.

  4. #14


    Looks like you have the same plans as I do. I am thinking of doing Alaska trip in my Sienna minivan as its paid up and I can put some mileage on it now.

    I done couple extended trips (TX to PNW and TX to Nevada/Cali) in my Sienna minivan with custom bed. For simplicity I removed a driver side middle seat and folded all back seats as Sienna has middle seat removal option. Build a custom bed for one person using Home depot light weight slim and flat door frame ($20) and IKEA table legs from two ($8) tables. Used eight legs for good support. Also purchased IKEA 3" twin bed mattress topper for $70. You can get cheaper toppers for additional support. All cloths and other stuffs stored in plastic storage bins under bed. I also had removed both middle seats to add a bicycle with bed in one extended trip.

    The custom cut windows shield covers came handy for night privacy and temporary insulation. Got roll of Double Reflective Insulation from Home Depot ($17) and custom cut for all windows except windshield. Taped up a black non-reflective cloth ($10) on each cut piece side facing out to keep low profile. Tinted windows come handy as well in this situation.

    Best long trips I had was in minivan as it's just so convenient not to have to look for hotels or make it to booked hotel 100s of miles out of way.

    I travel for business and routinely stay at Hilton/Marriott properties. However having a vehicle with custom bed at all the time beats any Hilton/Marriott property. I was able to rest any time of day/night and keep low profile at nights during rest stops.
    Last edited by jm98; 09-17-2018 at 12:12 PM.

  5. #15


    The only few thing could have come handy:
    - Portable Charger like Yati Goal Zero or newer
    - Couple roof mounted solar panels or portable panels
    - portable refrigerator

    I had space for all these in minivan and some.

  6. #16
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default The Dodge, my van and the Alcan

    Quote Originally Posted by glc View Post
    Lifey (Lifemagician) did use a borrowed Dodge Grand Caravan one year before she bought her E-150 high top conversion, so that would be doable (but cramped).
    The Dodge I was so generously offered by friends was a Caravan, not a Grand Caravan. When I was in Ft Nelson BC campground, I was parked next to a couple who had a Grand Caravan. They had build a bedframe well up off the floor and stored all their requirements under it. There was not really much room to sit up on the bed, but somehow, they managed. They were on their way to visit their family in Dawson City YT. They told me that only that morning they had been presented with a new great grand daughter in FL. Both were in their eighties.

    Mine was much more modest. I had a mattress behind the passenger seat and a good quality sleeping bag. All my thngs were stored next to that. The ventilation in the van is good, being able to leave the rear opening windows ajar.

    My current Ford conversion van has been constantly modified ever since I have had it. A bit each trip, much in the way landmariner describes.

    The Alcan

    Four times I have driven to and from AK. The last trip, only a couple of years ago, I noticed that the highway has been very much straightened and levelled. This might be fine for all the transport which travels on this road, buit it by-passes the areas where in the past I have seen most of the wildlife. However, last trip I also noticed that not far north of Ft Nelson there is a roadside sign "Old Alaska Highway". The two roads join up again by Jack's Place (worth stoppinjg for lunch), just south of Muncho Lake BC.

    Now that the heavy traffic no longer goes along this stretch, hopefully the wildlife will return, as I had noticed a distinct reduction in the number and variety over the years.

    And I would have to agree - The Milepost is a must on such a trip, and its map is invaluable.

    Last edited by Lifemagician; 09-19-2018 at 12:44 AM. Reason: typo

  7. #17


    If you want to look at cool dodge caravan conversion. maxvan dot com is right in your neighborhood in Tucker GA.

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