The boom in campervan conversions and how to create your own

Due to travel restrictions on travel abroad, an increasing number of UK holiday makers are choosing to ditch the long-haul holidays in favour of a staycation. According to research, Google has seen a 500% increase in searches for Staycations in the last year due to COVID-19. However, now that international travel is allowed once more, it’s interesting that staycation bookings in 2021 have still jumped by 300%.  

For people looking to avoid lengthy quarantine and expensive testing, a trend is emerging: the campervan. 2020 was crowned the year of the campervan and this is showing no signs of slowing. Campervan enthusiasts and professionals alike have been buying and converting vans into luxurious mobile homes. 

If you fancy yourself as a competent DIY-er, then keep reading to find out how you could convert an old van into a holiday home. 

How to create a DIY campervan

What van should I use?

The first step in creating a campervan for your next staycation is deciding which vehicle is going to be the base. A lot of this boils down to personal preference, and what size you would be happy driving. On the whole, smaller vans are cheaper to buy and run and are easier to park and drive. However, larger vans may be more comfortable for cooking and relaxing as you can stand fully upright. 

Some of the most popular vans to convert include the Volkswagen Transporter, Mercedes Sprinter and the Ford Transit Custom. 

Designing your conversion: what you need to know

When designing your build, you want to think of things in two lights: essentials and luxuries. 

To make sure you get it right, start off by making two lists. The first one will be what your campervan needs. As the title implies, this is a list of the essentials in your campervan-to-be. The ‘Must Have’ list contains all the elements your van needs for the work, expense and sacrifices of building a campervan to be worth it. 

This could include:

  • A comfortable bed
  • Cooking facilities 
  • A way of keeping food cold
  • Good storage space
  • An accessible first aid kit 
  • A clear walkway

Once you’ve done this, move onto your “luxuries” list. Here live those features of your future campervan which would make your campervan more fun, beautiful or unique but aren’t critical enough to make the “must have” cut. These could include:

  • Dedicated art supply storage
  • Powered running water
  • A method of showering in the van
  • USB charging points
  • A place to plug in laptops 
  • A dining bench and chairs. 

Once you’ve decided on your mix of essential and luxury items for your project, you can move onto the exciting part – the build.

Starting the build: what you’ll need 

Before you can start to work your magic on your van of choice, you’ll need to begin collecting the tools for the job in hand. 

Whilst you can spend hundreds of pounds on tools, it’s recommended to start with the essentials. It’s usually recommend to buy: 

  • Good quality combi drill – it’s likely you will have to drill through both wood and metal. Therefore, a good quality combi drill will allow you to easily drill through both wood and metal. Just don’t forget a drill bit set too! 
  • Cladding and insulation – for the cold winter nights, you’ll be grateful for cladding in your new campervan. 
  • Batteries and solar panels – you’ll want to have some sort of power in your van, so you’ll need to consider what size batteries or solar panels you’re going to use. Look at your appliances first to decipher the wattage. 
  • Water and gas – you’ll want to have at least two 25L jerry cans that can be used for waste and water. 

And there you have it! Although it may sound like a lot of faff to begin with, campervans offer virtually unlimited staycations and are an easy way to pack up and experience new pastures. 

Where will you go in yours?


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