Buying a van and transforming it into a mobile adventure base is a massive commitment. It took us two years of peering at builds and how-to articles on Instagram or Pinterest (plus a move) before we committed to that plunge. After all, building out a van is a pricey proposition, whether you do it yourself (time is money after all) or drop it off at the closest van conversion specialist.
Before taking the plunge, I had invested almost two years researching van conversions, creating Pinterest Boards and creating pages of Google Docs. An opportunity to test drive a van conversion with local outfitter Outside Van sealed the deal, and two seasons later we have a workable mobile adventure base. Not everyone values bike storage space over a toilet like we do though, and for many, an RV is a better option.
For those only planning a few trips a year, the investment takes a long time to pay off. Guest contributor Shelley Trupert presents us with an alternative option: renting a van or RV to get a taste of the van or RV life before taking on what is essentially a second mortgage.
Renting a converted van or RV or a Weekend Getaway
Guest post by Shelley Trupert — Van conversion is a commitment, there is no doubt about it. So many people are interested in van life or want to have a home base that can travel with them, but they really are not sure where to start. Deciding between a converted van or a larger RV involves multiple considerations. You really don’t get a feel for what you need and what you can do without until you’ve gone on a few trips or spent a few weeks in a vehicle.
For those not ready to jump in, renting an RV or campervan can be a great way to see if it is something you want to do long term. It is also a simple and exciting way to take a road trip. With online platforms like Outdoorsy.com, anyone can search by size, style and location, then pick up the vehicle to head off on an adventure with comfort and the security of 24-hour roadside assistance.
When it comes to outdoor adventures, the options have really expanded since custom converted vans have begun to gain popularity. There are also so many more RVs to meet the needs of everyone from the basic weekend camper to those living fill time in their vehicle. From large motorhomes to airstreams, teardrop trailers, to stylish campervans and covert converted vans, each choice has its advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages to a Converted Van
Easier to Drive
Let’s be honest, most of us don’t have experience driving larger vehicles like RVs. They can seem bulky and hard to manage. A converted van has advantageous dimensions which means you can pass under tall barriers or through narrow streets in city centers with no problem. Because they’re smaller and easier to drive, this also means they’re easier to park, especially if you’re trying to park in parking lots or busy tourist spots.
Typically converted vans tend to be cheaper than an RV, though it depends on the model of the van and the amenities it has. In fact, in some cases, a converted van can cost up to ½ the price of an RV. Filling up the tank of a converted van is also quite cheaper than filling up the tank of an RV so you will save some cash on gas.
One of the biggest advantages to a campervan is the aesthetic. Today the converted van is fashionable and totally Instagram worthy. Vans are equipped with wood paneling, memory foam mattresses, countertops, coolers, decor, and more. What more could you want whether you’re out in the desert, beach or forest?
Stylish is one thing but those sleek looks have another advantage, it gives you the opportunity to look inconspicuous. Whether parked at the beach for the day or at a remote wilderness campsite, a converted van will not draw as much interest or attention as a large RV, or travel trailer.
Advantages to an RV
What converted vans lack is space. RV’s often include full kitchens (including a stove, fridge, and microwave), bedrooms (with queen-sized beds), a living room, and a full bathroom (hot shower anyone?). Oftentimes they also include an outdoor area where you can set up a picnic table and enjoy lunch and dinner around a bonfire.
Because you have so much more space in an RV, they tend to be more family friendly. If you’re looking to bring multiple people, you will have the room to do so. So, bring your kids, your neighbors, and your dogs. Everyone is invited!
Many people have said that converted camper vans don’t have the insulation that an RV has. And while this may not seem that important, if you are traveling during the chillier season, having heat can be extremely important. Propane furnaces and winterized options make traveling by RV more versatile to a wide range of weather and temperatures. Plus, you have more room to store blankets to wrap yourself up in just in case!
Still not sure what kind of vehicle you want to take? Think about how much space you need, what kind of trip you want to take, how comfortable you are driving a larger vehicle, what your daily budget is, how many people you’re bringing, and where you will be staying. Both converted vans and RV’s have their pros and cons but no matter which one you choose, you will have an adventure to remember.