BuyitforVANLIFE is alive and running!

Boom. Sup. To give anyone reading a little background, Kate and I were engaged when we started this van conversion endeavor, and perhaps all of the researching and building acted as a nice break from wedding planning, but our big day went splendidly. And after all the commotion quieted down, we are left with warm hearts, great memories… and our big white monster, Jean-claude Van Ram.

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While living in our van full-time isn’t the goal, we loved the idea of having a project that could bring us to new places along the pacific coast for beachside camping, surfing, and spearfishing trips without having to worry about finding designated campsites or hotel rooms. We initially thought of building a truck bed camper, but a van offers a lot more flexibility and the room to sit upright. Because of these needs, we wanted our custom camper design to be spacious, durable, and cheap, while still looking somewhat classy.

Some other requirements of ours when planning:
Side windows. I specifically wanted a van that had side doors with windows, that opened outward (not sliding). Sliding doors seemed to be a waste of valuable space, since you cant really attach anything to that inside panel.
Sleep two people comfortably (so, a full-sized bed)
Bed should convert to a sofa/bench so that we can read and hang out in the daytime.
Storage, storage, storage. We live in a small apartment with a whole bunch of outdoor gear, so being able to store some in the van was key. The camping stove, chairs, small table, lanterns, etc all live in the van now.
Electrical – charge phones/lights/etc.
• Some sort of desk space. I work remotely and Kate is in school, so having something to rest a laptop on was necessary. We solved this by having a long, low shelving unit across from the sofa. When we’re seated, we can work on our computers next to each other with plenty of room.

Fixing rust spots on a van

Lots of light surface rust on the roof, especially in the little concave spots that water collects in (stupid design). Here’s the spots sanded and bondo’d.

new paint job for the van. Rustoleum!

New paint job, using the Rustoleum method. Worked.. pretty well.

Why the website?

We must have spent days searching online for how-to’s, material suggestions, and the proper gear to outfit a camper van conversion such as ours. It was difficult because so many folks have varying opinions and methods, and believe me, we read them all. Not everyone needs a picture-perfect, hurricane-proof, around-the-world camper van, but it was useful to read what goes into those types of build and pick and choose what was important to us.

The typical “buy it for life” product philosophy usually involves spending lots of money on an ultimate-quality item that will last you a lifetime. At BuyitforVANLIFE, we have our fellow vandwellers lifestyle in mind as we utilize our recent research and experience in suggesting gear that will hold up well while still leaving some cash for gas!