The idea of living in a van can feel daunting for some, which is why these incredible van life hacks should put your mind at rest.
For many, the notion of not having enough space, the need for a shower, or a longing for a full-size kitchen area can prevent them from experiencing this incredible movement, but that’s all about to change.
Just because a home is ‘tiny’ doesn’t mean that the ideas inside it can’t be big. The way that you utilise every inch of available space is the whole key to van living, and if done right, you get a small house with more tricks than Doctor Who’s Tardis.
Featured Image © Our_Venturing_Van
Van Life Hacks For Every Conversion
What Are Van Life Hacks?
Van life hacks are essentially clever tricks and design elements that you can incorporate into you own campervan conversion.
A ‘hack’ is a way of making something that seems hard or confusing seem much simpler or a way of making something that would otherwise seem quite difficult a whole lot easier.
The van life hacks that we’re covering in this list are all original creations and prove that the van life community are some of the best problem solvers on the planet.
Can I Do These On My Own?
You certainly can, although some of them will take a little more work than others. Still, there’s no reason whatsoever why any of our readers couldn’t incorporate these van life hacks into their own vans, and we’d love to see the outcome!
How Does This List Work?
We’ve listed 11 van life hacks below, each with the name of the idea or accessory in the title.
We’ll give you a brief overview of how it has been made, why it’s useful, and who made it so that you can follow their journeys and put any further questions that you might have straight to the creators.
Remember; the alternative living community are always around to help you out, so don’t be afraid to ask for help!
The first of our van life hacks is one that many people quibble over in their design phase.
The argument of ‘static’ or ‘stow-away’ bed is one that divides camper enthusiasts, especially those in smaller vans or who are adamant that they want a sofa.
Charlie and Grace from Van On A Mission have come up with a great solution for their bed/settee set up, with the cushions quickly slotting into place to make a bed that is not only full-size but also the length of their van!
Their blankets and pillows store neatly away in a flip-up cupboard that you wouldn’t even know is there, and the whole process, including putting their bed base together, can be completed in a matter of minutes.
It certainly looks as though we could have a nice sleep on there…maybe we could have a snooze while they go out on a walk.
2. Interior Shower
‘But I can’t live without a shower!’ is something that hear all too often here at Van Clan HQ. Well, thanks to the next two van life hacks, you won’t have to!
Ben of Sweet Van Life has created an incredible ‘pop-up’ interior shower inside his camper. This shower isn’t a permanent fixture , meaning it can be set up at a moments notice and doesn’t detract from the beautiful interior of the van.
Here comes the ‘hack’ part. Underneath Ben’s sliding table is a shower pan and the curtain itself, neatly folded away. Simple pull back the table, hook the curtain to the roof, grab the shower head from the wall, and Ben can get clean without soaking his sofa or his kitchen! Genius!
We love the fact that you certainly wouldn’t expect to see a shower in this build, and yet the proof is in the photo. It’s an incredible idea and one that will leave many of you reaching for the sketch book to draw out your plans!
3. Exterior Shower
Of course, if you like to shower with a little bit more space or just like flashing your body to the bears, then his outdoor shower designed by Lightravellers may be more up your street.
This outdoor unit comprises of a pull-out shower deck made from pallet wood an easy-to-construct shower rail that sits in place on four hooks.
The deck appears to slide out on a couple of runners and looks mega sturdy; perfect for any ‘shower dancers’ out there.
Slide the curtain around you, grab the shower head, and you’re good to go. This curtain keeps your bed dry and, if you’re in a secluded spot, you can get clean while taking in a breathtaking view. What’s not to love!
4. Hiding Table
Some people really want to have a table in their build but enjoy having the extra floor space that you get without one. The next great idea in our van life hacks list solves this problem with a small desk that miraculously appears from the sky!
Bianca and Andrea from Ciao_Dolcevita have come up with the savvy storage solution of keeping their table stored not on the ground, but up on the roof!
A simple pulley system allows them to lower it to their desired height for eating or working at laptops while standing up. The table also makes up the middle section of their bed, and once the pulley is stored away, they can sleep soundly.
This is a great option if you’re tight on space, and it’s also a nice focal point too. How many vans do you see with a floating table!
Sitting on your comfy bench/table setup and looking at the outside world is one thing, but being able to pull your entire living room outside is one of the coolest van life hacks that I’ve ever seen!
Now Tarek doesn’t have to worry about finding a comfortable place for a picnic or trying to find the right-sized stump to stick his laptop on. He can have the comforts of home while the sun shines down on his face.
The whole ‘living room’ unit slides out on runners and is supported by legs that also act as levellers. Add a couple of Tiki Torches into the mix, and you’ve got the perfect ‘drive-in cinema’ for watching movies under the stars.
6. Raising Bed
I’ve always liked the idea of having what I call a ‘magical bed’ in a van, but the notion seemed as though it was out of a ‘normal persons’ technical expertise. How wrong was I!
Ceri and Will of Tothemountainsnback have absolutely nailed this design and created a raising bed that not only provides them with ample seating space below, but it also looks incredibly comfy too!
So, how does this thing work? Well, the bed platform raises and lowers electronically, and the underside of the bed is clad to look like the roof of the van. It has LED lights built-in which provide light while you’re sitting below, and the actual roof of the van has a skylight for stargazing.
If you’re first impressions are ‘there won’t be much room to stand up’, then just remember that there’s plenty of room for you to sit down underneath, and that’s exactly what a sofa area is for.
The build remains light and airy, and this is a perfect example of how to make use of every inch of available space. I love having a ready-made bed to get into at night, but I can’t call mine down from the roof like some bed-wielding wizard.
7. Pull-out Storage
The ‘boot’ or ‘garage’ space in your camper is where you can really get creative with your storage. Plus, if you live or travel in a small van, then the chances are that you like to spend a lot of time outside.
This outdoor storage and worktop unit built by camper conversion team Built For Advanture is perfect for Van Life Australia. It provides a great place for cooking or storing bulky items without clogging up the interior of your living space, and it slides out super-smoothly too!
It’s hard to believe that such a big unit could fit inside this van, but it all slides back in neatly without a hitch and utilises that under-bed area perfectly.
What’s more, you can even use this worktop space for cooking indoors if the weather is bad, and the cupboards can still be used from the inside. Brilliant!
8. Motorised Spice Rack
The next idea on our list of van life hacks may well be more of a gimmick than an essential piece of kit, but we can’t deny that it is a brilliant one.
Dominik of Fruendship fame has come up with a clever way of covering a window/crawl space into his cab area. He’s made a motorised spice rack that moves up and down with a remote control!
If that isn’t thinking outside of the box, then I don’t know what is!
I do a lot of cooking in my van, and having a fully-stocked spice rack is essential for whipping up food with your top cooking accessories. And think about it, what else can you cover a cab window up with? A picture, or a blind?
At least this spice rack provides a bit of security too. If there is garlic in there, then Dominik won’t ever get robbed by vampires!
9. Fold-out Table
If, like fellow Van Clan writer Rose, you are a messy eater, then having a table you can use while sitting up in bed is a genius idea. It’s also the right height for resting a laptop or iPad on and won’t affect your posture.
So, why has this table made it into our list of the best van life hacks on the internet? Well, not only is it a table, but it’s also a drawer too. This unit pulls out of the slide-out kitchen area at the back of ‘Sam the Van‘. The whole build is like a swiss army knife!
Flip out the finely-crafted legs, and you’ve got a table thats long enough for two to eat from.
These little tables are great for if you want to eat while out on a picnic or for rolling dice while playing a board game on the grass. The concept is original, and we love the design on the front!
10. Pop Top Roof/Extendable Bed
What do you do when your camper doesn’t have enough tspace to stand up in? Answer – you add a pop top roof.
That’s my girlfriend Rose sat in the camper, and I took this picture while out travelling with the Four Wheel Campers team through California in 2019. These units already come with the pop-top built-in, but the way that they work is just incredible.
The system is super easy and can be set up in under a minute. Six exterior clips keep the roof secured down, and when it comes to erecting it, the gas-assist lifters mean you can push the roof up with one hand.
Having a pop-top roof keeps your camper more streamlined and allows you to get under those pesky height barriers in supermarkets. You can also park nearer to the beach and get into the cheaper parking lots too!
Aside from having cool a cool roof, these camping pods are well-stocked out and have lots of cool features like an extendable bed. The mattress unit lifts up for tonnes of extra storage, and the bench seating area can even house a shower pan!
Check out our article on living in a Four Wheel Camper for more info.
11. DIY Camp
The last of our van life hacks is all about the DIY lifestyle and the spirit of self converted campers.
You may well have already come across Frank, Selena, and baby Fiete while on your travels through Instagram. Known as Pine Pins, they travel through the Black Forest, Germany, in their van and live a simple, relaxing way of life.
What impresses me about Pine Pins is the amount of DIY hacks that they use every single day. From hanging outdoor worksurfaces to hand-built pop-out tables, Franke and Selena have made some incredible pieces give their daily DIY camp such a homely feel.
Van living is all about clever ideas, and the Pine Pines van is jam-packed full of them. Check out their adventures for lots of stunning van build inspiration and to follow their story!