Looking for van life ideas to create the perfect camper conversion? We’ve assembled this list of 25 inspirational van builds to help you out. Whether you’re starting a new build or renovating your old van, be sure to give this article a read, first.
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. Throw them up on your Pinterest mood board, and get inspired to build out your perfect adventure home!
The Best Van Life Ideas You Must See To Believe
Over the years, we’ve had the opportunity to peruse some truly plush and unique rides–but the VanLife is constantly on our minds. We spend a good deal of our time on Instagram looking at how other vanlife influencers design and execute their builds.
Here below, we present the culmination of our collective firsthand experiences (plus copious amounts of browsing the Internet): the top 25 best van clan ideas for any adventure!
Van Life Ideas 1-10: Practical Considerations
First and foremost, your van life ideas should be grounded in reality. It’s easy to daydream and go on flights of fancy about what you might do and how you might live on your adventure van. But remember that quality of life is important–as you’re going to be spending a lot of time in that space!
Idea #1 – A Stow-able Bed that Retracts into the Ceiling
This electronic, movable bed is our top van life ideal not only because it’s amazingly practical–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.
There are four posts that the bed base moves up and down; stowing away in unused ceiling space by day, then lowering down again just in time for bedtime. The advantages of this are that you simply make your bed in the morning, then send it zooming up, out of sight, giving you so much more space to play with through the day time.
This is the best, quickest way to have two completely different day and night setups. On the downside, the systems can be heavy and expensive, but if you can make it work then we think the positives greatly outweigh the negatives!
Idea #2 – Clever Storage Throughout the Van
Storage is essential within any home, but that’s especially true in van life. Because this is an alternative lifestyle, you’ll have to get clever with your storage ideas to meet your needs.
There are many different types of storage out there. 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–especially in the bed area.
When thinking about storage, remember that things slide around when driving. Smaller spaces work well, as the items within them have less room to move. 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!
Idea #3 – Solar Panels for True Off-grid Living
If you’re wanting to build a true off grid home, then solar panels are a must have on your van! This is one of the most practical van life ideas: Endless free power to charge all of your gadgets while you’re on the go.
Being able to draw as much power as you like, completely independent of campsite plug-ins will greatly enhance the feeling of independence of and self-suficiency. Once you’ve gone solar, you will never want to go back.
I know what you’re thinking: “what about when it isn’t sunny?” Well first, solar panels don’t need bright sun and clear blue skies to be effective, although they obviously work better in these conditions. Second, it’s quite possible to rig your van with a batter, where you can store the sun’s energy for a rainy day.
Finally, producing your own power to cook, heat showers, and power gadgets is a great way to lower your carbon footprint. So, what are you waiting for?!
Idea #4 – Nothing Beats Fixed Beds at the End of the Day
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.
Idea #5 – Swivelling Van Seats Up Front
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. Try making a feature out of the seats, rather than leaving them an afterthought for a little van life Aikido.
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 usually more comfortable than the standard bench seating, so it makes sense to utilise the comfort!
To really tie it all together, add some beautiful covers that go with the interior of your van.
Idea #6 – Garage In The Back
One of the biggest incentives to build a fixed bed is for the amount of storage space you can open up in the back of your van: a boot or ‘garage’ area.
This garage is a great area to store any outdoor equipment you may have, whether its climbing or beach gear. Depending on your setup, you can even get enough space to store a couple of bikes!
Overall, it’s great to have a space where you can chuck anything and everything without it taking up space in your living area. If you can accommodate it, try it out.
Idea #7 – Access The Cab With A Cut-Through
Many vanlifers prefer the cab and the back of the van to be 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 well-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 are in an unsafe situation. It’s also super handy when 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 mad space in the back!
Idea #8 – Keep Clean with an Outdoor Shower
Many people couldn’t imagine living without a full shower set up but, trust me, having a shower actually inside 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. You also need to be able to carry and store LOTS of water, and have a way to heat it too.
Adventuring in the modern age shouldn’t be about the constant search for water! But then again, 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.
Now, 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.
And even 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. However you go about it, outdoor showering is definitely one of the van life ideas to get on board with.
Idea #9 – Bunk Beds for Kids Living the Van Life
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 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 way to provide children with their very own space, even when space is tight. Why not build on this childlike 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 ensure everyone has enough space to sleep–and to prevent that one person from stealing all of the covers!
For best results, design your bunk beds so they can fold down to give yourself more space in the daytime.
Idea #10 – Table and Chairs for Working and Eating
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 when 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, however! Balance the two considerations against space.
Van Life Ideas #11-18 – Crafting Your Lifestyle
There’s nothing in the vanlifer’s handbook that states you can’t have fun with your camper conversion build. After all, you’re going to be spending a significant amount of time in your tiny living area. Shouldn’t it look and feel the way that makes you happy and content?
Here are some tips to help you craft your van-lifestyle.
Idea #11 – To Poo Or Not To Poo?
The ever challenging question: “should my van build contain a toilet?” Indeed, it is an important consideration, and one which may in large part define the rest of your build.
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, it’s fairly disruptive to your sleep routine to have to get dressed and put some shoes on to find a bush. And if this isn’t an issue for you, just 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.
Idea #12 – Warm Your Bones by a Van-friendly Furnace
Thinking of ways to heat your next van? Well, don’t miss out on this opportunity to add a flare of old-world comfort and romance to your van build. This is one of the van life ideas that is sure to impress your friends. After all, a log burner within a van never fails to be a stirring talking point.
If you’re living the van life in colder climates, then a log burner actually makes good sense. Not only do they produce copious amounts of heat when needed, they also lend your living space an unparalleled sense of cosy warmth. And believe it or not, they’re quite economical.
Just imagine curling up in front of the burner with a good book and a hot chocolate. Ahhh, bliss!
Idea #13 – Expand the Menu with 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!
Idea #14 – Charming 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. They’re 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 in. If you can get your hands on some that open, it would make a great way to bring the fresh air in.
Idea #15 – Beautifully Painted Geometric Flooring
This is a new trend that we’re starting to see in the world of van conversion, and we love it!
In particular, 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.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be geometric designs! Think of all of the different ways you could decorate your flooring, and make your van unique to you.
Idea #16 – Illuminate Your Van Life With a Skylight
Not content with a few windows to let natural light into your tiny home, then why not make your whole ceiling a window? We’re dead serious–this makes for an amazing feature and an even more amazing view of the starry night sky while laying in bed!
Sure, 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 by default, but by making the whole roof a window, you will never be short of natural light. You will, however, need one pretty big blind…
Idea #17 – The Log Cabin Van
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 it’s easy to see why.
Natural-finished wood really gives the impression of being in a rustic cabin in the forest, rather than 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 (especially considering the bends and curves of a van frame).
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.
Idea #18 – Cool Off Hanging in Your Hammock
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 it. So long as the hooks are attached directly onto the metal of the van itself, they should be strong enough to hold the weight of an adult.
Instead, the real issue is having enough space to do so. You want room 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.
But hey, 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!
Van Life Ideas #19-25 – Next-Level Upgrades
If you’re looking for a way to make your build something really special, there are a few good ways to put any extra budget or space to good work. None of the following van life ideas are essential, but we can bet you won’t want to live without them once you have them.
Idea #19 – Double Your Space With A Roof 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. That’s right, we’re talking about a super-cool 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 voila! You’ve got yourself a mini yard. It’s hard to picture a better place to relax and catch some sun or gaze a the starry night sky.
Idea #20 – Seating That Converts Into Bedding
As an alternative to a fixed bed, consider 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 room to play with 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!
Idea #21 – Extendable Kitchen For Outdoor Cooking
If you live or travel in climates that are warm and dry all year round, then this van life idea is a great space saver. What’s more, cooking outdoors can also be much more sociable than preparing a meal in your van–a nice perk if you’re travelling with other vans.
Design your build so the kitchen slides out of either your back or side door, allowing more space within your van for other things. Also consider investing in a pull out awning above, just in case it does rain. Awnings also double your shelter space, making your tiny home seem more spacious than it is.
Idea #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 will do just the trick.
“Dual purpose” is a great philosophy 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.
Idea #23 – L-track Van Conversion Systems
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!
Idea #24 – 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!) a semblance of space apart from one another.
Pods can be exciting for kids, as they can decorate their owns pod to really feel like a home away from home–making 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.
Idea #25 – Rope Surfboard Storage
Our final van life idea is also one of the most simple; we planned it that way to show you how often simplicity really is the key to getting what you want.
Attaching your surfboard to the interior roof of your van is an innovative way 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 could be easily stolen or damaged.
Obviously, you’d need to be a keen surfer to justify the space taken up by a surfboard in the first place. But with a bit of rope, you can shred waves without having to suffer cramped spaces back home.
Share Your Own Van Life Ideas
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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