Once you have chosen a van (or, while you are still dreaming about one) it’s important to sit down and have an honest talk with your partner (family, self) and decide on the priorities of your build. It’s important to start your design from a place of empathy as you will be spending a lot of time in this small space. If you are going to be sharing it with others, it is critical that you are both/all on board and have laid out your hopes, dreams and non-negotiables.
On our last road trip, inspired by this post on Steph Davis’ blog we started talking about our top ten priority list for our buildout. We considered our values, our family and the activities we would be using the van for and came up with the following top ten (plus a few more):
1) A permanent bed. This will be Queen sized so we can fit the whole family in it on cold or stormy nights. It will always be a bed. No folding, stowing or schlepping bags or bins around to sleep. (Update: We actually have let this, our #1 priority go a bit. For details see this post)
2) Ability to cook inside or outside. We don’t want to be required to cook inside. We love the social time around the communal picnic table at camp. That being said. It will be nice to brew up a cup of coffee on cold mornings or be able to cook a meal without being exposed to the elements if need be.
3) Ventilation. Four bodies on month+ roadtrips. ’nuff said. Also, the ability to cool your living space by creating air flow is nice. A Fan-tastic fan will be an early buy, also screening on windows (either permanent or attached with magnets.)
4) Lots of storage. No more schlepping backpacks and tubs fore and aft to create space.
5) Sit up to read and relax. I am an inveterate night owl and reader. I want enough headroom and space to be able to enjoy a book and a comfy place to lounge.
6) Get out to pee at night without stepping on people. Self-explanatory but important in a van sleeping 4 people.
7) Be able to stand up inside. After years crammed into a truck topper on rainy days we want to be able to stretch our legs!
8) Access to rear storage from main cabin. We want some way to access the full length of the van without having to go outside and around.
9) Organized clothing storage. For some reason, the kids’ clothes always end up all over the inside of the truck. It’s amazing and seems to defy the laws of nature. So, storage for laundry both clean and dirty.
10) Fridge. Fresh food and cold beer!
11) Cargo net across the slider opening. Safety precautions while we have a toddler.
12) Awning. After a trip to Moab in July (Not the best time to visit!) we found our friend’s awning to be a welcome respite from the driving sun.
13) Transport bikes. As cool as it is to hang out in the van in Rifle between burns the bikes are just a bit easier to park. Plus, you can start warming up on the way to the crag!
See you out there