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After years with an ecamper I'm considering joining the vanlife. For those of you that have already joined, what do you do you know now that you wish you knew back then, before making your decision on which van/conversion/etc to go with?
I purchased a Transit T-150 about 9 months ago, it's primarily a work vehicle that I outfitted with Dewalt Tough System drawers and boxes. The reason I chose that product is that they "slide/lock" into arms that hold each side of the box or drawer inplace are are rated for use in vehicles and meant I didn't have to build or fabricate the van's interior. These allow for quick removal of the work system and when you fold the arms/mounts you have the full width of the vans interior. I can remove these in about 10 minutes and simply install the play boxes for the activity of choice. I usually go alone so I use my backpacking hammocks for sleeping in the van when I choose to sleep inside. But that's very infrequent as I prefer hanging in th trees. I have a picture of the van partially filled with boxes/drawers prior to completion.
My plan is to have mountain biking, ATV, backpacking and general car camping drawers and boxes that are staged in my garage and ready for a quick swap. For now I am just using a good cooler.
I really like the design Adventure Wagon has and plan on either copying or buying their bunk bed system at some point.
I actually did real vanlife full time in an all aluminum step van that we built out with a bed, shower, bathroom back in the 80's with my wife shortly after we married. That was a great time! We both regret selling it to this day.
100% do it. Best decision we ever made! So much freedom and personal learning.
We bought a 2016 RAM Promaster and we absolutely love it! I specifically like the promaster because it is slightly wider (which makes it feel roomier) than a Sprinter or Transit, and usually more affordable.. but I’ve seen great conversions of all those and more!
You don’t need to fully have a plan before diving in, but definitely do a lot (a LOT) of research and have a basic idea of what you want going in (do you want a solar system? Bathroom? Sink? Stove? Oven? Will you be living full time or just traveling? Warm or cold climate? Etc). Once you start, everything else will fall into place soon enough!
There are so many great resources out there for van conversions. We loved Bec & Eamon, Far Out Ride, & Gnomad Home just to name a few. From our experience, most van lifers are so happy and willing to share their experience, offer advice, chat about builds, and meet up- even the big social media accounts!
Best of luck!