We’ve put together a list of 25 of the best and unique van life ideas out there for your next camper conversion, so if you’re looking to build out or renovate your van be sure to give this article a read before doing so. From electronic beds to a log cabin on wheels, we’ve scoured the internet to find the best and craziest van life ideas out there so that you can design the best van possible!
The Best Van Life Ideas
Here’s how to make your home on wheels stand out from the crowd
1. An Electronic, Movable Bed
I’ve put this innovative idea at number one on our van life ideas list for a reason… because it is just so cool! Struggling to decide between the convenience and comfort of a fixed bed and the thought of being able to pack it away and have more space? Well with a bed that can retract up into the ceiling you can have both! These amazing systems come as the frame-four posts that the bed base moves up and down on-going up to the ceiling during the day and then being lowered again ready for sleeping.
The advantages of this are that you simply make your bed in the morning and send it zooming up, out of sight, giving you so much more space to play with through the day time. This is the best, and quickest way to have two completely different day and night setups and are definitely worth considering when you convert a campervan. On the downside, the systems can be heavy and expensive, but if you can make it work then we think the positives outweigh the negatives!
2. Hammock Life
There is simply nothing better than spending a sunny afternoon lazing around in a hammock. With that in mind, next on our list of van life ideas is to add a travel hammock into your next camper conversion. The most difficult part of adding a hammock to your van isn’t hanging the hammock itself; as long as the hooks are attached directly onto the metal of the van itself and are strong enough to take your weight, then as far as installing the hammock goes, you’re good to go.
The difficult part of adding a hammock to your conversion is having enough space to do so. You want enough space for it to hang freely without banging on any of the furniture, so this needs to be thought about at the planning stage of your build. If you’re travelling solo why not try a hammock as your bed? It gives you ultimate freedom, and you simply unhook in the day time to be able to utilise all of that extra space!
3. Cut Through From Living Space to Cab.
Many vanlifers make the cab and the back of the van completely separate areas. So, next on our list of van life ideas is a cut through from one to the other. This is actually a legal requirement in some countries, but even if it isn’t in yours, it is something worth considering.
Being able to get to the cab from your living area means that you can always drive away without having to leave your van if you feel as though you are in an unsafe situation. It can also just be super handy if you leave something in the cab to just be able to nip through and get it.
Finally, it can give you more storage options as you can use the cab as an extension of your living area. Some people even store their fridges between the two front seats, freeing up some space in the back- something else to consider if you have a cut through in your van.
4. Log Burner
Thinking of ways to heat your next van? Well, don’t miss out on this opportunity to add a flare of romance to your van build. This is one of the van life ideas that is sure to impress your friends; a log burner within a van build never fails to be a strong talking point.
If you’re living the van life or travelling in a van in colder climates then a log burner should definitely be on your list of van life ideas to consider- they’re a great source of economic heating and look good too. Just imagine curling up in front of the burner with a good book and a hot chocolate. Ahhh, bliss!
5. Solar Power
If you’re wanting to make your camper conversion an off grid home then solar panels are a must have! This is one of the most practical van life ideas and once you have tried them out you will never go back. Endless free power to charge all of your gadgets while you’re on the go.
Electricity without having to think about reaching a campsite and plugging in is one of the easiest ways to make your van feel like a tiny home on wheels. I know what you’re thinking- what about when it isn’t sunny? Well, solar panels don’t need bright sun and clear blue skies to be effective, although they obviously work better in these conditions, but solar panels can still charge even on a cloudy day. So, what are you waiting for?!
6. A Fixed Bed
Just picture this; you’ve had an amazing day out on the trail, you’ve just finished eating a beautifully cooked meal, and you’re more than ready to climb into your warm, soft bed.
But wait, where is the bed? Oh, of course, it’s packed away and needs putting together and then making with a sheet and the duvet and pillows… nooooo! Avoid the bed building doom and consider a fixed bed in your campervan conversions.
Having a bed constantly out really makes a campervan feel like somewhere you could spend a lot of time. Having to build your bed at the end of each day just isn’t ideal, and anyone that’s been in this position would agree that having a fixed bed is a true luxury.
Some may argue that you lose so much space in the daytime but more often than not, you’ll find that even with a fixed bed you’ll still have enough space to have everything else you may want in a van, even a seating area and table. Plus, you gain so much handy storage underneath the bed, and by not having a space to pack your duvet into every day. This is one of the van life ideas that is seriously worth considering.
7. Bunk Beds
If you’re travelling with kids or in a group, then you are probably going to want more than one bed. The next suggestion on our list of van life ideas is a clever solution to this problem; bunk beds!
Bunk beds are a great space-saving solution in any tiny house, and there’s no reason why they can’t work in a van; just make sure that they are built strong enough to take the weight of a person and you’re good to go. Bunk beds are fun and exciting for small children and are also a great way for them to feel like they have their own space when living so compactly. Why not build on this childish playfulness and make a feature of the bunk beds; add fairy lights or ‘stars’ to the underside of the bed or accessorise with a ladder and some storage pods for toys and books.
If you’re travelling with a group of friends, bunk beds are a practical way to end sure everyone has enough space to sleep and that not one person is stealing all of the covers! Design bunk beds that can fold down to give yourself more space in the daytime.
8. Swivelling Front Seats
The cab area in campers is often lost to those hours spent driving and is rarely more than a dumping ground for outdoor coats and shoes that have nowhere else to go. So why not take on board our next point on this list of van life ideas and make a feature out of the front seats.
Enabling one, or both of the front seats to spin round and become chairs in the living area of the van means that you don’t need to take up extra space in the back of your van by building another seating area. The front seats in a campervan are often more comfortable than the standard bench seating often seen in some modified campervans, so it makes sense to utilise the comfort!
Add some beautiful covers that go with the interior of your van to really make the front seats a feature in your van build.
9. Porthole Windows
Van life and Boat life are close friends by nature, sharing many similarities as well as the sense of freedom that comes from being able to be on the move. So why not add a dash of the nautical to your next van build.
These cute little circular windows are a great way to make your camper conversion stand out from the crowd and are a feature piece within, and on the outside of your van. As well as looking good, portholes are a practical way to let the light shine into your off grid van and, if you can get your hands on some that open, it would make a great way to bring the fresh air in.
10. Turn Your Roof Into A Window
Not content with a few windows to let natural light into your tiny home, then why not make your whole ceiling a window?! This makes for an amazing feature and an even more amazing view of the starry night sky while laying in bed!
This is one of the rarer van life ideas out there, probably as many people would be unsure of how to pull it off, but if you can work it out then the views would surely be worth the effort! It can be difficult to get enough light into a campervan, but by making the whole roof a window, you will never be short of natural light. You will, however, need one pretty big blind…
11. A Seating Set Up That Converts Into A Bed
If number six on our list of van life ideas, a fixed bed, isn’t for you then maybe this point will be, a seating area that converts into your bed. There are many ways to make this idea a reality: slats that slide out from a bench seat to for a wider bed, a table that drops down between two bench seats to create the bed base, or benches that hinge open to form the bed.
Whatever works for you, all of these options share one thing in common; more space when the van is in ‘daytime mode’. By having a bed that stores away in the daytime you have much more space to play with to use during the day, most commonly for a large seating area, with a table. This is one of the van life ideas that could be a great option for travelling families!
12. Beautifully Painted Geometric Flooring
This is a new trend that we’re starting to see in the world of van conversion and is one of the van life ideas that is sure to make your conversion stand out from the crowd.
We love the way the geometric pattern looks almost 3-D, it really pops out at you and would give any conversion an edge. It’s also sure to be a cheaper alternative to other flooring options while still looking amazing. It does have to be geometric designs, things of all of the different ways you could decorate your flooring and make your van unique to you.
13. Outdoor Kitchen
Next on our list of van life ideas is an outdoor kitchen. If you live or travel in climates that are warm and dry all year round, then this idea is a great space saver. Cooking outdoors can also be much more sociable than preparing a meal in your van which is excellent if you’re travelling with other vans.
Design your build, so the kitchen slides out of either your back or side door, this means that you have more space within your van for other things. If you’re going to have an outdoor kitchen, then it might be a good idea to invest in a pull out awning above, just in case it does rain, this would also double your space, making your tiny home seem much bigger than it is.
14. Clever Storage
Storage is essential within any home, and in a home-on-wheels every inch of space counts, so it’s important to be clever with your alternative living storage ideas.
There are many different van life ideas out there on different types of storage weighing your campervan. Drawers work better than cupboards in a van as it is easier to access their contents and they can be kept organised more easily. Pockets and pouches on the walls of your van can be a great way to store small items such as books and phones and can work really well in the bed area.
When thinking about storage, remember that things slide around when driving, so smaller spaces work well as the items within them have less room to move, and also remember that any shelving will need something to keep the items from falling out- rope can be a good solution for this.
Get clever and us every nook and cranny in your van, you can never have enough storage!
15. Roof Sun Deck
When you travel in a van, the whole world is your back garden, but sometimes it’s nice to have a space that is wholly yours. Next on our van life ideas list is a super cool way to build yourself, if not a garden, then a decking area that comes with you everywhere- a roof deck.
Simply attach a ladder to the side of your van and mount a decking area to the roof of your van- much like a roof rack and you’ve got yourself a mini yard! I can’t think of a better place to relax and catch some sun or gaze a the starry night sky.
16. Table and Chairs
If you’re planning on spending a long time on the road or to living in a van full time, then a table to sit at is one of the van life ideas worth considering. Most people use a table every day, whether it be to eat at, work at, or play games on, a table will always come in handy.
Many people often think about the seating area, and the table is just an afterthought, but if you need somewhere to get some work done then a table is essential. This doesn’t mean you can’t build a super comfortable seating area around the table and create the perfect space to eat dinner together.
17. An Oven
Many vanlifers get used to making stove-top meals, but sometimes there is just nothing better than a tray of roasted veg and chicken or a simple oven pizza and chips. If you find that you often rely on an oven when cooking and plan on travelling long term in your van, then there’s no reason why you can’t squeeze one into your conversion.
An oven is one of those van life ideas that completely depends on your individual needs, but they really can work in a van so don’t discount it from the off!
L-Track is a great way to be able to change the entire interior of your campervan quickly, and is one of those van life ideas that is great if you need different things from your van depending on the time of day, or how many people you have on board.
With smart design, you can change the number of beds, bunk beds or seats available quickly and easily and still ensure that everything is safely secured for driving!
19. A Log Cabin On Wheels
Next on our list of van life ideas is wooden cladding. This is becoming a popular way to build out the interior of your campervan, and I can see why, the rustic wood really gives the impression of being in a rustic cabin in the forest, not of being in a campervan. It is also a practical way to build the interior walls of your campervan as cladding is lightweight, affordable and easy to work with wishing the curves and bends of a van.
If you want to build a cosy cabin on wheels that really stands out then wooden cladding definitely something to add to your list of van life ideas.
20. To Poo Or Not To Poo?
The ever challenging question; should my van build contain a toilet? Number 20 on our list of van life ideas tackles this question head-on. If you’re a nighttime pee-er, then you are probably going to want to consider fitting a toilet into your tiny home design.
It’s true that you can nearly always find a public toilet during the day or, failing that, a suitable bush for your privacy. But during the night, however, this becomes much more difficult, especially if you’re city camping. If you ever intend on wild camping in the city, then a toilet is pretty essential as you can’t just pee on the street, and you probably won’t want to wait until midday to find a toilet.
Even if you’re wild camping in the wilderness it’s fairly disruptive to your sleep routine to have to get dressed and put some shoes on to find a bush- remember 50% of the population aren’t blessed with the ability to wee standing up. So, if you plan on spending a long time in your van, then a toilet might be a good shout.
21. Sleeping Pods
Travelling as a family but want a little more privacy than a campervan usually provides? Then consider integrating sleeping pods into your design. This is one of the more unique van life ideas out there but is such a great way to get the whole family on board- especially with older children. These little pods mean that everyone feels like they have their own room, giving children (and parents!) some much needs space from one another.
They can be exciting for kids as they can decorate their owns pod to really feel like a home away from home and can make going to bed seem a bit more inviting. It also means that kids can go to bed before the adults without too much disruption, and those wanting to stay up later can even keep the lights on!
Be clever with the design and you can still have enough room for the rest of the van to feel spacious during the daytime.
22. Flip Down Table
Fancy a table but don’t think you have enough space in your van for one? Then maybe a flip down table is one of the van life ideas for you.
Dual purpose is a great way to squeeze more essentials into your van build, especially if you have a smaller van. Your flip down table could also double as a cupboard door or a picture frame when secured back into back into place. A flip-down table doesn’t have to be fancy to look good or function well, some rustic wood and rope would make a usable table that will look cool too.
23. Rope Surfboard Storage
Attaching your surfboard to the interior roof of your van is such an innovative way to be able to store your board inside. It’s practical and becomes a great feature within your van, giving it a beach boho vibe. It also means that your board is kept safely inside your van, instead of on the roof, where it can be locked away. If you’re a keen surfer, looking for a solution for where to store your surfboard, then this is one of the van life ideas that you could consider.
24. Outdoor Shower
Many people couldn’t imagine living without a full shower set up but, trust me, having a shower in your van is often more of a hindrance than a help. With a built-in camper shower, you lose so much space within your tiny home, and you also need to be able to carry and store LOTS of water and have a way to heat it. Adventuring isn’t about the constant search for water. However, it is nice to be able to take a shower when you want one.
This is where an outdoor shower like the Rinsekit comes in.
There are many ways to attach a shower to the exterior of your van- mounted to the back door is a popular route to go down. Alternatively, you could mount a shower to the roof of your van. Solar showers are starting to appear on the market, meaning the sun heats up the water used for showering which is a great, hassle-free, option. If you don’t want to mount a shower to your van, there are many portable options out there which save on so much space inside.
Outdoor showering is definitely one of the van life ideas to get on board with.
25. Garage In The Back
Finally on our list of van life ideas is the garage area within the back of a campervan. One of the biggest incentives to build a fixed bed is for the amount of storage space you can gain in the back of your van- a boot or ‘garage’ area.
This garage space is a great area to store any outdoor equipment you may have- climbing or beach gear and can even be big enough to store a couple of bikes. It’s great to have a space where you can chuck anything and everything without it taking up space in your living area.
We hope you’ve discovered some new van life ideas and that you’re inspired to put some of these whacky tricks into your own build. Let us know what your favourite van life ideas are by joining us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!
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