The beauty of camping is that it pits your sense of adventure against a compromise of comfort. In this you're offered different levels of experience through varying degrees of sacrifice.
Some people hike into the untamed wilderness with nothing more than a pack on their back, some pitch a tent near their car by the side of the road, and some keep to the coziness of a recreational vehicle. Out of these varying levels of adventure, tents and RVs have become the staple of camping in the US.
The third and lesser-known mode of travel that falls between the two previously mentioned styles often goes unrecognized and under-glorified: the campervan.
Campervans are highly popular and abundant in other countries around the world, such as New Zealand and Australia. But the United States, for an unknown reason, has been slow to adopt this nomadic option. The benefits are similar to an RV or trailer: you have a safe sleeping space, free from the concerns of the weather conditions and you can save money by preparing all your meals in your van. Not to mention, buying a campervan and building it for your travels is less expensive than other popular U.S. alternatives.
I came to appreciate the unique experience that comes with living out of a van while trekking around the southern hemisphere.
In my travels I noticed that many companies now rent out entire fleets of campervans—pre-configured, pre-designed and decorated—for people to conveniently use at a moment's notice. To me, this teeters on the side of RV camping rather than campervan camping.
While there's nothing wrong this approach, it's the people who create a campervan on their own, converting a standard vehicle into something more adventure-worthy, that beam with pride when talking about their transformed autos. If you're looking for an alternative to tenting but can't afford an RV, here's how to convert an old, dusty van into a makeshift home of vagabond splendor.
Choose a Van
The van you select to convert will ultimately dictate how much space you have to work with—and space is paramount in this situation. Look for a 12 or 15 passenger van; minivans are too small and limit your creative options. Minivans can however be a decent option if you're traveling alone.
Consider seating as well. If you only have two people living in the van, which is recommended, leave the two front seats and remove the rest. Look for a van with seats that fold down flat into the vehicle floor, so you'll always have them at your disposal.