Van Life

VAN TOUR: Ultimate DIY Off-Grid Van Conversion with Bathroom | Comes with A View

VAN TOUR: Ultimate DIY Off-Grid Van Conversion with Bathroom | Comes with A View

Come in for a van tour of Scott's (aka Comes with a View) 2016 170” Sprinter Van Conversion with a bathroom.

One of the things we love most about #vanlife is connect with other people who live in a van! Scott was one of our first van life friends, and we finally got around to filming a tour of his DIY van conversion. It took him 6 months to complete this off-grid camper van into his home on wheels.

One Stop Van Shop | Everything You Need for Your Van Conversion

One Stop Van Shop | Everything You Need for Your Van Conversion

We know how overwhelming it can be to make sure you’re getting everything you need for you van conversion, so we put together this one stop shop for your van life needs. We added in a few extras that we love in our van!

DOES VAN LIFE SUCK? 5 Things to Consider Before Living In A Van

DOES VAN LIFE SUCK? 5 Things to Consider Before Living In A Van

Wondering if van life sucks? Here are 5 Things you should consider before living in a van:

  1. Filling up your water tanks

    If you have a sink and/or a shower in your van, you’re going to have to find somewhere to fill up your tanks every week. Where will you fill them up? And how easy is it to access your water tanks?

VAN BATHROOM TOUR | is having a bathroom in a van really worth it?

VAN BATHROOM TOUR | is having a bathroom in a van really worth it?

Wondering if having a van with a bathroom is really worth it?

Well today we’re sharing some pros and cons of having a bathroom in your conversion van.

If you’re looking for details and what we used for our bathroom in our van, check out this blog post. And if you’re looking for plumbing details you can find them here.

Pros of Having a Bathroom In Your Van:

  1. You can shower any time you want! That means first thing in the morning, late at night or after a hot sweaty day. This was a must for us - we both like to shower every day so we knew we wanted a shower in our van. Outdoor showers are unrealistic to use whenever you want because you have to be OUTSIDE, which likely means you won’t be getting naked and you’ll have a lot of people staring at you.

Sprinter vs. Promaster | Which van is best for you?

Sprinter vs. Promaster | Which van is best for you?

Finding the Right Van for Your Van Conversion Can Be a Challenge.

There are many options when it comes to purchasing a van. However you really only have 3 options that allow you to stand up in your van:

  1. Mercedes Sprinter

  2. Dodge Ram Promaster

  3. Ford Transit

Where to Park Your Van Overnight | VAN LIFE TIPS

Where to Park Your Van Overnight | VAN LIFE TIPS

One of the biggest and sometimes the most stressful part of van life is figuring out where to park overnight in your van.

After living van life for over a year and a half, here are our tips and go-to’s for where to sleep overnight in your van…

Van Conversion Solar, Batteries, Inverter & Electrical Details

Van Conversion Solar, Batteries, Inverter & Electrical Details

One of the coolest things about vanlife is the ability to use solar power to power everything in your van. We upgraded our electrical system from our last van so that we could run our 2.5 gallon water heater without any issues. This system runs everything in our van great! We do turn off our inverter at night so that the hot water heater is not running when we don’t need it, so we highly recommend getting a switch for your inverter so it’s easy to switch off at night!

VAN CONVERSION CONVERTIBLE BED AREA

VAN CONVERSION CONVERTIBLE BED AREA

One of the first aspects of any van build or van conversion is to decide if you want a full time platform bed with storage underneath or if you want a convertible table bed area. Since our van is a live/work situation we wanted the flexibility to have a table/desk area to sit at during the day while we work. Let’s face it, if we had to sit in bed to get our work done, we wouldn’t be productive at all. That’s why we opted for a convertible table bed area instead of a full time bed.

Van Conversion Plumbing Details

Van Conversion Plumbing Details

If you’re looking for details on our Sprinter Van’s plumbing, look no further. We got ya covered! As you probably already know, we opted for a “wet” bathroom (meaning the toilet is in the shower area so it will get wet). We wanted to save on space, so we cantilevered the toilet over the shower pan using steel studs.

VAN CONVERSION BATHROOM DETAILS

VAN CONVERSION BATHROOM DETAILS

Wondering how and why we built a bathroom into our Sprinter van? We’ll share the details about how we fit a shower and toilet in our van in this blog post.

Van Conversion Kitchen Details

Van Conversion Kitchen Details

Looking for details on a van conversion kitchen? Look no further! Get all the details for our converted Sprinter Van kitchen, including a farmhouse sink. We share our tips for converting your own van, living in a van, and more on this van life blog.

VAN LIFE ESSENTIALS: 5 Van Life Must Haves

Today’s blog is all about Van Life Essentials!

There are 5 things we definitely couldn’t live without in our van:

  1. Aeropress & Electric Kettle

    If you’re a big coffee drinker, having an aeropress and electric kettle are game changing for making a quick, delicious coffee in the morning. The electric kettle we recommend boils water within 30-60 seconds and is great for making 2 cups of coffee. The aeropress is so easy to use, can’t break in the van and it’s super easy to clean.

  2. 12 volt Fan

    This fan is a must-have for those warm summer nights! Let’s face it, in the summertime nighttime temps can be a little too warm for great sleep. So we plug this fan in and point it directly at us to keep us cool at night.

  3. Hand Vacuum

    Having a small, portable vacuum is perfect for van life. We love this Black & Decker vacuum - has great suction and works great on small particles of sand or dog hair. We use this at least once a day to keep our floors clean.

  4. Tek Towels

    Tek towels, also known as backpacking towels, are great for living in a van because they take up way less space than a regular towel. Regular towels are bulky and big. On the other hand, tek towels are lightweight, dry quick and are space saving. We love these sea-to-summit brand towels.

  5. Sun Shade

    Last but not least is this Mercedes Sprinter Sun Shade. Not only is this sun shade great for keeping out heat due to the sun, it’s great for privacy! We put this sun shade up every night in our windshield to make sure no one can see in our van, and to make sure no one can tell when we have the lights on. During the day, this sunshade is great for blocking out the sun rays which heats the van up.


Planning Your Van Conversion Layout: 3 Tips

It's a pretty exciting time in #vanlife. 

We hear from people everyday who are planning their own van conversion and we wanted to help ease some of the growing pains by offering 3 Tips For Planning Your Van Conversion Layout.

1. What is a Priority? 

It can be easy to get carried away with all the "what-if's". 

Would it be awesome if my van had a retractable 50" flatscreen tv? 

Yes.

But is that a Priority?  Hell to the no. 

Priorities are those features you will USE MOST and that are most important for what you will be doing with your van.  When we designed our layout these were a few of our top priorities. 

- Built-in Dog Crate
- Private Bathroom/Shower (Hot Showers)
- As close to King sized bed as possible
- Enough Power to work from anywhere
- Closet and Dresser for Clothing

These 5 priorities affected all of the layout options we came up with and ultimately we were able to build a super functional layout around the priorities. 

cannon beach van 1.jpg

2. See at least 5 vans in person

The van community is very collaborative. We all share layout ideas, components and cool design features with each other. Take advantage of that by seeing at least 5 different vans in person. Meetups are a great way to see other van builds and cool layout designs.

If you don’t have any meetups or vanlifers in your area then take a look at prefab models at your local RV dealerships. There are some beautiful designs that can inspire you or maybe show you what you don’t like. Try to get a feel for the space. Moving around in your van is important so see what it’s like walking through the van, entering the bathroom or even picture yourself taking a shower.

40 hours of freedom sprinter van conversion san simeon designing layout

3. Consult with an expert

Even if you decide to build your van yourself, talk with someone who has built multiple vans or builds them professionally. This can save you from making painful mistakes or spending unnecessary money on components you may not need or a design that simply isn’t possible for reasons you have yet to consider.

I have calls like this often with people interested in having us build their van and there are usually 1-2 ideas I have to tell them are just not realistic.

Looking for more help with your layout? Checkout our Van Layout Guide.

 
 

Looking for someone to build your custom van?

Complete the Van Build Inquiry Form by clicking the link below for a quote.

Custom Van Build Inquiry

 

10 Changes We Made to Our Sprinter Van Conversion

Want to avoid some of the Van Life mistakes we made on our first Van Conversion?

Check out the 10 Changes We Made to Our 2nd Sprinter Van Conversion:

  1. Less Windows

    Our first van conversion was a 2008 Dodge Sprinter 170” Passenger van, which meant it had windows all the way around. In fact, it had 6 different windows in the back as well as the windows on the back doors. This caused a few issues:

    • our bathroom had a window in it. Pretty awkward to shower in there. We ended up putting a shower curtain across the window, but then it would stick to you when we showered.

    • It wasn’t very stealth - because we had so many windows, it was nearly impossible to keep light out, and on the flip side, not let light out at night time when we had the lights on.

    • it got REALLY hot. Insulation is nearly worthless if you have windows all the way around your van.

    On our second van conversion, we cut back on the number of windows to be more stealth, to have better insulation and to have a more functional van on the inside. This meant we didn’t have a window in our bathroom anymore - yay!!

  2. A Smaller Kitchen

    We opted for a smaller kitchen area in our second van build to give us the option of installing a seat at the sliding door for another passenger.

    We don’t miss the extra space that we had in our first in our first van because it gives our new van a much more open feel.

  3. A Smaller Sink

    Since we made our kitchen smaller, we decided to opt for a smaller farmhouse sink as well. The sink is made by the same company - they make the sink in two sizes. One is 19.625” x 14.5” and the other is a 14.5” x 14.5”.

    We opted for the square 14.5” x 14.5” sink on our second van to be able to save some countertop space. The sink is still more than big enough to accommodate washing large pots and pans.

  4. Tile Bathroom

    Our first van we used a vinyl tile that is meant for flooring. Over time these vinyl tiles started to fall off of the walls in the bathroom.

    On our second van we opted for REAL tile. I know, crazy right?! We used small white subway tiles and gray grout. We absolutely love the way it looks and it’s even more waterproof than our last van. So far, we have no issues with the grout cracking and everything is holding up great.

    One of the reasons we went with real tile is because we used a foam backer board instead of heavy hardie board. This saved us over 100 pounds in weight, so adding in real tile wasn’t an issue.

  5. The Lagun Table Base

    Our first van conversion had a pedestal bolted into the floor for our convertible table/bed area. This did not allow for much room to get around the table since it was fixed and unable to move.

    On our second build, we opted for the Lagun Table Base. This base is incredible because it’s not mounted into the floor so you can easily swivel the table from side to side or even completely remove the base so you have an open seating bench area.

  6. A Full Electrical Panel

    Our first van conversions electrical setup was hard to get to. We had our solar controller and monitor in an upper cabinet that we stored a lot of bedding in, so we often couldn’t see what was going on.

    On our new van, we decided to create a full command center where we could access our battery monitor, switch our inverter on/off, see our water tank levels, turn our Espar heater on/off, etc. This is way more functional and really easy to access.

  7. Added an Espar Diesel Heater

    Our first van did not have a heater unless we were running the van. We definitely experienced too many chilly mornings and evenings, so the second time around we installed an Espar Diesel Heater.

    This heater runs off of the Diesel from the fuel tank of the Sprinter van and it’s super efficient. We installed in under the passenger seat and it heats the van up in about 2-3 minutes.

  8. We Made Our Countertops 3 inches Taller

    Our first van’s countertops were lower than standard countertop height.

    On our second van, we raised them up 3 inches to make them a standard counter height, which allowed us to add one more drawer to our dresser area for laptops and office stuff.

  9. Went with 6 Inches of Memory Foam instead of Just 4 Inches

    Our first van only had 4 inches of memory foam for our bed area. Over time, we both woke up with back pain because our hips were hitting the wood beneath us at night.

    We increased our memory foam to a full 6 inches and now we sleep like babies! Another 2 inches made all the difference when it came to getting a good night’s sleep.

  10. Added an Aluminess Rack & Ladder

    On our first van, we had the solar mounted and screwed directly into the roof of the van.

    This time, we opted for an Aluminess Rack and their solar mounts to be able to easily secure our solar to the van without drilling holes into the roof. Not only that, but the Aluminess rack makes it easy to store extra things on the roof like inflatable SUPs, a Thule box, etc.


GET THE VAN LAYOUT GUIDE

SOLO FEMALE VAN TOUR | Divine on the Road's Transit Van Conversion

Wondering what it’s like to be a solo female traveller?

We were lucky enough to have Sydney from Divine on the Road stop by our van conversion shop in San Diego with her new van. She gave us a full tour of her 2017 148” wheelbase Transit Van.

Not only that, but she shared some great tips on solo female van life, and how she stays safe while traveling alone.

This is her second van conversion - her first van was a 144” Sprinter Van that she had converted by the same builders who built this transit van. She decided to go with a Transit van this time due to quite a few mechanical issues she had with her Mercedes Sprinter due to poor maintenance from the previous owner.

For her, the Transit van was a more affordable option the second time around, and she’s super happy with her decision. Not only that but her van conversion is gorgeous!

You can follow Sydney and her pup Ella on their Instagram @divineontheroad

https://www.instagram.com/divineontheroad/

VAN DWELLING AS A FEMALE | What is van life as a female like?

Wondering what it's like to live in a van as a female? Well I'm answering your top questions about what van dwelling as a female is really like. We've been living in our van for the last year and a half so hopefully this helps answer some of the common questions about van life. 

I asked you guys on our Van Life Instagram what questions you had about living in a van as a female...

So I sat down and answered the top questions I got! 

And I #keepitreal, so if talking about periods and sex is too much for you, then don't watch this video! I want to always be transparent and honest with each one of you about the realities of van life, and what it's actually like.

Hopefully this helps you decide if van life and life on the road is for you.

Be sure to follow our Van Life Youtube channel for weekly updates. And hey, maybe we'll run into you on the road somewhere :) 

Van Life Jobs | 3 Ways We Make Money Living in A Van

Van Life Jobs | 3 Ways We Make Money Living in A Van

The #1 question we get is "How do you make money living in a van?" It's such a big topic if you're thinking about going full time in van life, so we wanted to break it down on how we afford to travel full time and work remotely on the road.

Vanlife Essentials: How We Stay Cool & More

It doesn't take long to realize what you can't live without in Vanlife.

So we've added a few items to our Vanlife Essentials list to help you fellow travelers live a better life on the road. 

This little "Air Conditioner" has made a huge difference for us on really hot days in the van.  It's not by any means a full blown air conditioner but it will provide some relief and cool down your van.

This has been a fixture in each of our builds.  Part charging station and part functional switches for 12v components like water pumps or ball valves. 

We try to leave a small footprint and love these razors that keep us from constantly burning through disposable razors.  

Life Changing!  This fully biodegradable and non-toxic tank treatment has made a huge difference in our grey water holding tanks. 

These are just FUN!  Toys for the road make the adventure that much more fun. 

DIY Custom Sprinter Conversion Van Tour with Bathroom

We set out to build the ultimate tiny home on wheels for traveling and working on the road. 

After traveling in our first van for almost 9 months we decided to build a new van with some minor modifications.  Our latest van includes everything we need to live and work remotely full-time. 

  • Kitchen with Farmhouse sink
  • Enclosed Shower with hot water heater
  • Urine Diverting Toilet
  • Convertible King Size Bed/Table 
  • Mini Fridge
  • 300 Watts Solar 
  • 300 Amp Hours Lithium Batteries
  • 3000 Watt Inverter/Charger
  • Aluminess Rack/Ladder
  • Espar Diesel Heater
  • Built-in Dog Crate Area

We've now put over 10K miles on our latest van and are super happy with this build. We've traveled from California to Michigan and even across Canada to explore Banff & Jasper National Parks. 

Overall we stuck to a very similar layout from our previous build.  Most of the changes we made were pretty minor based on our experience living in the first build.  

Curious what changes we made? Checkout the video below as we break it down for you. 

Want to see the full list of specs from our latest build?  Click here

Interested in building your own van with our layout?  We've got you covered with our Van Layout Guide.  This membership site includes material lists, electrical and plumbing diagrams as well as measurements for most aspects of our build. 

 
 

How to Install Solar Panels to Your Custom Sprinter Conversion Van

Installing Renogy Solar Panels to our
Sprinter Van Conversion

Building out a van you have lots of different options when it comes to power.  We decided to run our entire electrical system on Solar Power using the Renogy 100 Watt Solar Panels and Renogy Rover Solar Controller. 

Using these components we are able to charge our 3, 100 AH LiFePO4 Battle Born Batteries. 

If you are considering mounting solar for your van conversion you have many options for mounting systems.  On our latest van we wanted to incorporate the Aluminess Roof Rack for additional storage space and they also make a great platform for having a drink, taking photos and mounting your solar panels. Aluminess even makes clamp on solar mounts for seamless integration of your solar panels. 

In the video below I walk you through the process of installing our panels to the mounts, the mounts to rack as well as running the wires through the roof using waterproof cable clams.