How to Convert a Van in 7 Days

Nate Murphy helps Harriet build a van conversion in just 7 days. Nate is a climber and built his van so he could travel and climb more. On his website Nate provides a ton of info on DIY van conversions.

In this video he works with Harriet to build out her van and shows all the steps. If your considering a van build this can give you a glimpse of the process. Photo credit Nate Murphy.

Two Humans and Two Dogs Living in a Conversion Van

The following is a guest post by Jayme & John from Gnomad Home.

Hey there, we’re Jayme and John from Gnomad Home! We’ve been living and traveling in our 1996 Chevy Express high top conversion van since April of 2017. Joining us in our adventures are Nymeria (3) and Delilah (7), our four-legged companions. We joke that our dogs are the reason we built the van in the first place – we wanted to give them more than a backyard to run around in and dog walks on more than just pavement.

Before we moved into our van we were living the typical 9-5 lifestyle with a two-story house in the suburbs, struggling financially and squeezing in travel whenever allotted vacation time would allow. We talked about doing “one last hurrah” before we had kids, and then a friend introduced us to ‘#vanlife’ (we didn’t even use Instagram at the time). We immediately knew this was the path for us.

We quickly began transitioning our lives. We found our van in middle-of-nowhere Illinois and bought it for $1,500 cash, brought it home, gutted it, and began building. At the same time, we sold all of our belongings, built our online businesses, and rented out our house. We made about $10,000 from selling everything, which helped us in the first few months of our adventures. This past September was the first month our income from our online business surpassed our expenses. Now, it’s our main source of income and it continues to grow. Since then we’ve also sold our house, so we are officially committed to this lifestyle!

Below is an interior shot of the gutted van.

Below is an interior shot of what it looks like now.

Our van has three solar panels mounted on the roof, and a portable one we can plug in and prop up if we’re parked in the shade, or if we need additional power in overcast weather. We have two deep-cycle AGM batteries under the bed that run our ARB refrigerator, LED lighting that is recessed into the ceiling and hooked up to dimmer switches, multiple USB charging stations throughout the van, a Fan-Tastic Vent fan, and a 1000-watt inverter.

We can carry 20 gallons of water – 14 gallons inside our kitchenette in a stainless steel container. Our water tank is attached to a foot pump, which we cannot recommend enough! It helps control the exact amount of water you need so there’s very little waste, and you have both of your hands free for washing dishes. The water then drains into a PVC contraption we mounted underneath the van that gives us the option to either carry our grey water with us or drain it onto the ground below.

Our stove is a two-burner denatured alcohol stove from Dometic that we absolutely love, and since it is denatured alcohol there is no risk of damaging chemicals leaking, and zero-risk of of explosion.

Our couch pulls out to a queen-sized bed, which is a must for two humans and two dogs. Above the bed is our closet storage, and above the cab is our ‘pantry’ of dry goods. Music is very important to us, so we built our bed high enough to fit multiple instruments underneath. We travel with a guitar, banjo, mandolin, ukulele, cajon (which doubles as a spare seat inside the van), djembe, and fun smaller knick-knacks like shakers and foot tambourines.

We’re glad to have met you all and thanks for checking out our home! If you’re interested in building your own rolling home, be sure to check out our blog gnomadhome.com. It’s JAM-PACKED with FREE information to help guide you through your own tiny home building process. Safe and happy travels to you all!

See more on the Gnomad Home Instagram.

Pete & Taylor at Always the Road

Meet Pete & Taylor – vanlife nomads and explorers. They blog at alwaystheroad.com and have even written a 100+ page ebook on how to build a van conversion. Now they’ve embarked on building their second van.

A little thing happened while they were in school, they skipped class and hit the trail for nine months to backpack Southeast Asia. That rip did the trick – they were hooked on the nomadic lifestyle.

They have a lot of learning to share, with the van build and with living on the road. If this lifestyle speaks, sings, or shouts to you head on over to alwaystheroad.com and follow them on instagram at @alwaystheroad for the latest photos.

That there is Sedona, Arizona near Oak Creek Crossing. I know that without them even having to say because I went to high school just down the road from there. Beautiful place Sedona.

Oh and this is Snoop. He’s a 90-pound lapdog who snores when he’s awake, crushes you while cuddling, and has not one vicious bone in his body. He loves the #vanlife too. Woof!

Photo credit to Pete & Taylor.

Adam & Vanessa’s VanLife Experience

Van dwellers Adam & Vanessa visit with tiny house dwellers Derek & Hannah at their homestead in Saint David, Arizona and get the full van tour! Adam & Vanessa also share what they’ve learned so far living a full-time vanlife.

Adam & Vanessa built their van over 3 months and it cost about $28,000 US (2008 Sprinter van plus customizations). Inside they have a fully functional kitchen, bed, tons of storage, and a hidden composting toilet. They built all the cabinets themselves including the reclaimed maple countertops.

Image above and video below by Derek from DIY Homestead Projects. You can follow Adam & Vanessa’s VanLife adventure on the Create Wondr YouTube Channel and the Create Wondr website.

Dylan Tours Jenna’s House – Jenna Tours Dylan’s Van

Jenna Spesard & Dylan Magaster have traveled all over North America interviewing folks that live alternative tiny lifestyles. In the two videos below they tour each other’s tiny living spaces.

Jenna lives in a tiny house that she’s traveled in for more than 25,000 miles. She’s currently living in Oregon but spends much of her time these days traveling the world. On her YouTube Channel you can find many (but not exclusively) Tiny House tours and interviews. Subscribe to Tiny House Giant Journey on YouTube.

Dylan lives in a van conversion. The van cost him $2,000 and the DIY conversion was just $3,500. So while his living space is not as comfortable as Jenna’s it gives him the freedom to travel and live the life her wants. On his channel you will find many (but not exclusively) VanLife tours and interviews. Subscribe to Dylan Magaster on YouTube.

Photo at top via Jenna’s interview with Dylan.

Professional Model leaves Beverly Hills to Live in a Van

Dylan Magaster shares an interview with Philippe LeBlond, a professional model who downsized to van life and isn’t looking back.

Beverly Hills didn’t make him happy, so he decided to leave the big house and move into the van and live a life of adventure. Philippe shares gives us a tour of his van and what he’s learned from 3 years of #VanLife in the video below.

Here’s one thing he says in the video:

“#VanLife makes you a millionaire, life-wise. Do it!” – Philippe LeBlond

I think the same can be said about tiny house life! In fact a van can be as much of a tiny house in my book.

Be sure to follow Dylan on Youtube… he meets the most amazing people on the road.

Oh and don’t miss out – follow Philippe on YouTube too. Below is a video from Philippe’s channel.

Below are some photos from Philippe’s Instagram.

Philippe at sunset.

Climbing, hiking, exploring. You make your own adventure.

Some sights can only be seen when you take to your feet. Hike on!

OK… who is his photographer? Nice one!

More napping.