A green van parked up in a car park in a forest. All alone and no one around.
Crafts / Travel

My Favourite Ever Crap Craft

We made a campervan! Not really crap or a craft but it is bright green and very homemade. Using a long wheeled base Mercedes Sprinter we bought in 2017 we slowly converted it into a family camper. For a while we had debated what to buy campervan, motorhome or stick with camping. After lots of debate, imagination and calculations we decided to buy a van. We didn’t originally plan to do it ourselves and hired a company but that fell through. So while I was pregnant in Winter and on our lovely and very very kind parents drive we converted it. It wasnt easy and there wasn’t a whole lot of specific information on converting a campervan but Mike researched and I designed to create our beautiful Vans Gruber.

Do not ask me any specifics. If you want advice or have questions Mike runs the Vans Gruber instagram account and posts more detailed information there.

I love our van and it is one of the best things we have ever done and invested in. But it isn’t perfect and it is still not finished nor do I think it will ever be. To be honest It is more of a fancy and expensive portable tent and what I call more glamping. There are definately some benefits and some cons when comparing to a motorhome. We were really concerned with motorhomes and the safety of car seats. Being pregnant with B meant we had to really consider how our family would grow and what we would need would be forever changing.

So far we have travelled around France for three weeks just planning it as we went along, we have been on adventure after adventure at the weekend and this year we went driving around Dumfries and Galloway. As a family with young children it has definetly made going on holiday a lot easier. It is an intial expense but the holidays are so reasonable and you can make them as cheap or as expensive as you want.

Mike says he would never convert another van but the situation we were in was not ideal. I was getting heavily pregnant and increasing ill from pregancy. It was winter, we were outside and it was really cold and the fact we didn’t have access to the van apart from weekends as it was stored elsewhere meant it was a slow process. If we ever have to replace or need to upgrade our van I would prefer to buy a cheaper, older model of motorhome and upgrade it ourselves. I hope we never have to do that but I think it is an easier and less stressful option if you are restricted on time, tools, skills and cash.

Layout

In it we have two front seats which swivel and two seats behind for the boys. We do have a bracket for a third seat but have it just as a possible guest. In between the rows of seats there is a removable and adjustable table. So we can swivel the front seats around and sit a the table together. We mostly eat outside together so rarely all four of us sit at the table but the boys love the table for activities and eating breakfast.

Behind their seats we have a kitchen with a 2 ring gas hob and a sink that sits on top. Underneath we have the waste water container, storage, a fridge and our heating. Above we have cupboards. Were keep light food, cooking utensils and cutlery. We also have storage under the bed, down the side of the bottom bunk which we need to make more presentable and official. We are clever with how we store items and we plan meals and food so we dont have to much excess.

Then we have a bunk bed. Underneath is a double bed from Ikea that we bolted down. Then we built a bunk for the boys above which is actually a king size. We have built this over time. J orignally slept where the table was on a mattress on the floor like a little crack den before we built a single bunk. Then we extended it for B adding a removable divider down the middle . This was to stop B falling out when little and for the boys to not roll into or smother each other. They switch between having it in and having it open plan depending on how annoying B is being. Which is often.

We also have a toilet but it is built into a box and the end of the bed. It is hidden and is the base for the ladder into the top bunk. We use it when we are wild camping and for emergencies. At first I was adamat that we would not use it and it was an emergency but we use it loads and literally don’t care anymore. It’s not like we ever have any peace on the toilet at home anyway. Number 2’s are encouraged to be done elsewhere if possible but if you have a small child who needs to go it is really handy.

Reality

It is cramped at times and we have to be minimilst but we very rarely spend a lot of time in the van. It makes us get up and go out. We will have lazy mornings or an afternoon but there is only so much time you can stay in the van before it gets boring. We would rather go walking in the rain and come back for a hot chocolate and a biscuit.

Motorhomes have more of a homely feel and are more spacious and have living areas making it easier to stay inside. There is the benefit of not having to dry everything out if it has been raining like when camping in a tent. It is a nice hybrid of both worlds.

Parking occasionally is difficult and we have to look for a drive through space in car parks – using twon spaces length eays. But driving on the road is no different from driving a car as it is the same size as most delivery trucks. Finding campsites is easier if you are not too fussy on facilities but most places have toilets and shower blocks of some sort.

We added solar panels to reduce the need for electric hook up but we are concious of what we use. Water is the other thing to consider. We have 40 Litres 2 x 20 litre bottles and that lasts us for a weekend easily.

If I am honest I dont miss hotels or any other holidays. These are the best holidays I have ever been on and the boys absolutely love every time we go away.

Let me know if you have any questions or let me kniow about your campervan.

Author

jenny@jenjensdesigns.co.uk

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