A converted van is an investment. We think about it the same way we would a custom home. Many components go into it (or don’t) that will directly affect your experiences living, traveling, and/or working in it. So, it’s crucial that an ample amount of planning occurs before you write the check for your van build.
In turn, any good van conversion company will start by asking you a lot of questions. This discovery process is crucial to ensure that your van fits your unique lifestyle needs, but it also may expose you to things you hadn’t even considered or known about.
Here are a few high-level things to consider as you begin thinking about your van and how you want it built:
The Layout of Your Van
Your van’s layout is one of the many things that can make or break your van life experience. Given that the footprint of a van is small, efficiency and practicality are huge!
And, there is no “one size fits all” answer to the layout conversion, so here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Do you need a dedicated place to work?
- Do you need a shower?
- How much time will you spend cooking in your van?
- Do you do a lot of activities like climbing, skiing, or mountain biking (activities that require space for gear)?
- How do you want to sleep – sideways, futon style bed, etc.?
- Where do you want your bathroom to be?
- Do you want a lot of natural light, or do you prefer going stealth?
- Will you be traveling with pets?
- Will your travels take you to summer climates, winter climates, or both?
Your answers to these questions will significantly influence which layout best supports your needs and lifestyle.
The Type of Van
There are several options out there for van conversions. The three most popular choices are the Mercedes Sprinter, Dodge ProMaster, and Ford Transit. And, within each of these are various sizes and standard features. One thing to keep in mind is that bigger is not always better.
If you’re contemplating what type of van would work best for you and your needs, here are a few things to consider:
- The number of adults and children that will be in your van.
- The duration of time you’ll be spending in your van – full-time, weekends, week-long trips, etc.
- Your skill level with general auto repairs.
- Where you will be spending most of your time – cities, rural areas, etc.
- Where you will be traveling – paved roads, mountain passes, freeways, etc.
- Your comfort level with driving large vehicles.
- The number of things you’ll be traveling with – minimalist versus “I want to take a lot of stuff.”
- Your budget for repairs, maintenance service, and parts.
Taking into account these points of consideration will put you in a better position to see which van makes the most sense for you.
The Insulation in Your Van
While many things can make or break your van life experience, we felt like this one needed to be in the top three of our list. Here’s why: Insulation is a critical part of your van build because it affects how you’re going to feel in both warm and cold environments, along with how efficient your power systems will be.
No matter how high-quality your heater, van, or air conditioner are, insulation will impact how these systems operate. For instance, if you have your heater on full blast, but your insulation isn’t ample, you’re going to be cold. On the flip side, if you’re in a warm-weather or humid climate, your fan and air conditioner aren’t going to give you the coolness you’re looking for.
Whether you’re doing a DIY build or hiring a van builder, ask about their process and materials for insulation. Being cold or hot can make even the most awesome adventure miserable, so this is an important one.
When you reach out to the Altitude Vans team, we’ll ask smart questions, share recommendations, and take your answers to build a van that will support you and your lifestyle. If you’d like more information, have questions, or would like to schedule an initial consultation, please reach out. We look forward to hearing from you!