Vanlife has become a widespread phenomenon, and thousands are considering building or designing their first on-the-go home. It is never too late to start your first adventure, and camper vans are all about functionality, practicality, and versatility. While aesthetics seems to be the main focus for many van life people and youtube channels, it is important to know that your van is both your home and your car. There are many important things to consider when building or designing your portable home beyond design, and some hacks will have a large payoff when it is time to hit the road. These are a few additions that you can incorporate into your next build to make your next adventure memorable and enjoyable:
Most campervans will only seat two, but attaching a swivel to the passenger seat can be a great addition for a small space. If you do not have a divider, it can expand the front cabin, and the seat can become multipurpose. Swivel seats can add additional seating in a van, and with a desk, it can also serve as a small workspace or solo eating area. This is especially important for smaller builds with limited working and eating areas. Adding a swivel seat can be DIY’ed for several hundred dollars or premade into your build design. Shorter passengers may find it uncomfortable if their feet do not reach the ground due to the added height of the swivel. A great way to mend this is by adding a footrest.
Truck Side Steps
Side steps are a popular addition for many van lifers and not just for stylish trims. Installing truck side steps allow for easier access in and out of the van which can be great for van lifers with raised heights or those with children. Mobility access is definitely one of the largest perks of the sidestep. In addition, the side steps extend from the van and can protect the bottom of the van from scratches and dents, which can be extremely common if you are off-roading. The trim can prevent roads filled with stones and debris from damaging the van’s base.
One of the best things to add for a traveling van is a roof rack. Roof racks can hold a ton of gear or be used as a hang-out spot for summer nights. For van lifers who love off-gridding, the rack can also be installed around or in addition to solar panels. Having a roof rack is a great way to add outside storage and maximize your minimal square feet. Roof racks are extremely customizable and can be a great way to elevate your next or first build.
If you plan to travel full time in your camper van, you are likely an explorer at heart. Not every van lifer will want to see the mountains and woods, but most do, so the all-wheel driving experience is a great addition to your build if this description fits you. All-wheel drive ensures that no trail or route is off-limits, and you have more freedom in choosing your adventures. Exploring and camping will be a breeze if you can plow through dirty roads without fear for your safety. Consider the upgrade an investment when you do not have to hang out in overpriced and overcrowded parking spots.
Solar panels are a great way to make your ride a little more off-grid-friendly. Solar panels can be as cheap as several hundred dollars depending on your energy use. Charging in a sunny area during your trip will allow you to have electricity and comfort for days or even weeks in remote locations. Not having to be dependent on the campgrounds can open up many camping options for you. Adding solar panels to your ride will allow you to immerse yourself in nature without sacrificing the comfort of electricity.
Tinted Windows and Locks
While van life has become more common, it still has certain dangerous possibilities. Many van lifers have decided to go with a stealth build to increase security, and tinting your windows is a great way to do so. Tinted windows will allow you to see outside without others being able to peek inside. When your entire life is in a van, you will not want others to have the ability to peer inside. In addition, it can also help keep heat out of the van and make your AC (if you are lucky enough to have one) more efficient. Be sure to check what is legally allowed in your state or travel destination for tint levels.
Windows are a great way to have natural light in your van, but it is also easy for someone to break in. Adding window locks to your sliding windows is a great way to deter break-ins and thieves. This can also allow you to crack a window open without fear that someone would take advantage of your small moments of sunshine and fresh air.