8 things to consider before building your van!
What makes a van a home? How do you get it to feel the way that is perfect for you? How do you make your home on less than ten square meters as comfortable as living in a much bigger space?
CONSIDER YOUR PRIORITIES
I spent quite some time considering what it is I really appreciate in a living space.
What are the few things I do not ever want to miss, no matter how big my living space is.
And here's what I came up with during my planing phase:
➵ STAYING ORGANIZED
How can I have all my most important belongings (and yes I still own quite a bit) in my van without it being completely messy? Plan your storage realistically!
Even though you might like the idea of being a true minimalist - it might well be that you are not - yet.
Being realistic with which stuff is important to me, helped me figure out my planning appropriately. Also consider which things actually do need a storage space and then think about what your storage space needs to look like in order to fit this stuff. I knew for sure, that I did not want to have certain things laying around that I would have to move from one side of the van to the other again and again simply because they don’t really fit anywhere.
➵ PLANTS and other DECORATIONS
Yesss I love plants and used to have around 25 different ones in all sizes and shapes in my apartment that I left last summer. Apart from having to give most of them away, I knew that I will want to have some in my van.
So when planning your build make sure you consider this kind of space for placing your plant(s) because if you don’t beforehand you might realize later that thinking „ah it will fit somewhere somehow“ might not always work ;)
I used to live in a very, very bright apartment facing south! So there would always be loads of light in the rooms.
I still love that feel, and now a couple months into the vanlife there are times I‘m really missing a few more windows. I did wish for more than one side window when planning, but simply didn‘t want to spend any more money on windows when building. So my suggestion, if you're fond of windows and lots of natural light and are wondering wether you should or should not put in more windows, my take is - do!
I’m currently strongly considering a window addition for this summer.
➵ SOLAR POWER AND ELECTRICITY
Consider realistically what your use of electricity will be like and what places you are hoping to visit and stay at. For me it was important to always be on the safe side electricity wise. I am working online, so some days I spend at least half the day on the computer, sometimes more. Apart from that I have a 12V fridge running and various other little things that need power.
So being here in Morocco right now, well we are somewhat overdosed. Of course. Because the sun is shining pretty much every day all day - the battery doesn’t even sink below 98%.
So, it’s not just about the devices you’re running off your solar power, it’s also where you will park your van.
I am a passportholder of the country of Austria. Gorgeous place, but we get foggy falls and sometimes cloudy springs. Although I am not planning on actually being in Austria in wintertime (that’s when it’s definitely more overcast than not) I still wanted to enjoy the freedom of having sufficient power even when it’s been overcast for three days in a row or so.
So evaluate your needs and wants electricity wise properly! Write all your devices down, estimate the daily usage and add some more - then plan your solar installation accordingly.
➵ SHOWER AND BATHROOM
Yes, that one gets asked quite often.
I am a gypsy soul by nature that loves to travel. Apart from that I chose a partner who’s home in Austria is located about two and a half hours drive from where I am originally from, yet I still like to work and be with family in my hometown. I also wanted to reduce my fixcost which, when renting an apartment in a somewhat bigger city in Austria, is quite high. And lastly I like to get away from Austrian winters and travel to warmer places.
So vanlife was my choice and therefore I never even thought about not getting a bathroom and shower in my van. I know it would be possible to do without, but this takes me back to - CONSIDER YOUR PRIORITIES.
As I mentioned in the beginning, what is it that you would never want to miss in a living space, however big it is. For me it was having the convenience of not having to search for a place to pee or shower at any time. I built in a 100L water tank, a warm water boiler, a shower room of course and a toilet which we use only for the „small business“.
Yes you guessed it, if you already have a pet, it needs a place to sleep as well.
If it's a dog, more so than a cat.
Since I do not really (and my partner especially doesn’t) want to have my dog in the bed, there needed to be serious considering in the plan about where the dog will have her sleeping space.
So once that’s set, remember that you’ll also need space for dog food storage and maybe toys, leashes and treats. Consider that wisely and again, realistically. Will you want to go buy dog food every week, or will you be happy to not have to think about that too often and rather build a bigger storage. Build a bigger storage space for it is what I did.
I am a lover of cute lighting and also of practical lighting. So I properly thought about my light circuits in the van and ended up having six different light sources with a switch for each of them + three chains of battery powered fairy lights and a few candles.
So if you don’t want to have electric cables hanging around the interior walls of your van, make sure you really think about all the possible light sources you would want to have and lay cables for them underneath the covers + plan in shelves for candles and stuff you want to have sitting out, but still not randomly sitting around.
➵ EVERYTHING ELSE
At last, but very much not least, consider everything else that is of big importance and value to YOU!
For me, it is to have space to move. Space inside my van on rainy or cold days to roll out my yoga mat and move my body. Space to hang out, space to work. SPACE!
So I ended up putting in a platform of 1.90m x 1.85m at the rear end of the van without a fixed bed. Instead I’m using a japanese style folding futon to sleep on, which I can also fold into three parts and use as a „couch“ as well as have enough space for a fine yoga mat next to it.
So with the examples above I think you get an idea what is possibly possible in a van. That’s the beautiful thing about building your own... pretty much ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!
Just take the time to really and honestly consider your needs and then go ahead and figure out a way to make it happen on less than 8m2.
I hope this article helped you in one way or another with your personal planning and maybe even made you consider points you haven’t yet considered in your plans and build.
Much love and happiness! Shine on!
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