5 Key tips when building a campervan


Although flights and other modes of transport have become cheaper and more accessible over the years, camper holidays seem to remain a highly popular choice across the globe. A fully-functioning campervan is great for various types of holidays or travelling and can save considerable amounts of money on hotels in the long-run. Many also take upon themselves to build a campervan – typically by converting a regular van into one. If you, too, have caught the camper fever and are thinking of building one for yourself, here are our 5 key tips.

1. Be clever with your car choice

If you don’t already own a van, this is where most of your budget will go, unfortunately. Things like the age, size, power and existing functionality will be your key criteria when searching for a used van for conversion. However, vans can get very pricey, even when bought second-hand.

Getting an ambulance car, for one, is an unusual but nonetheless a good option for a campervan conversion. Used ambulances from European manufacturers tend to be a lot cheaper than vans and already have a lot of benefits, such as good insulation, lots of space, existing electrical wiring and built-in storage cabinets. Of course, there may also be certain drawbacks, so make sure to do your research before deciding.

2. Be energy self-sufficient

Energy will be the liquid gold of your campervan and it’s incredibly important that you are as self-sufficient as possible. You don’t want to get yourself in a situation where you are stuck with no heating or ability to make yourself some hot food all night, in the middle of nowhere.

So, if you are going to splash out on anything, we suggest you do that on good batteries and possibly solar energy to charge them throughout the day. There are also ways to connect your leisure battery to your car alternator, meaning that some of it can get charged while you’re on the road.

3. Use light materials

When building the interior of your camper van, it can be tempting to use some good quality materials that will look nice and be long-lasting. Unfortunately, heavy materials are highly discouraged in campervans. By making your camper heavier, they use up more fuel and make driving up hills more difficult.

Avoid materials like solid wood or steel and stick with lighter alternatives. For example, plywood or sheet aluminium cladding create a similar effect while saving you lots of unnecessary weight.

4. Storage is key

Storage is the one struggle that all campervan owners talk about – if you think you have enough of it, add some more. If you are planning to fully live in this camper for a week or longer, you’ll be surprised just how much stuff you will need to take with you.

The good thing about storage, however, is that you can add it to most unusable spaces in the van (and there are a lot of those). For example, under the bed, above the kitchenette, shelving on the walls and so on. Don’t neglect the front cabin either – you can easily fit a small fridge or a battery under the front seats.

5. Keep it stealthy

Lastly, as tempting as it is, don’t make the outside of your camper look like a living space. Avoid obvious “camper life” stickers, black out the windows and keep it stealthy in every other way. This will make your camper less attractive to thieves for breaking in and will avoid unnecessary confusion when parked somewhere in public for a day.

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