You’ve scoured Social media and Google images, inspired by all of the lovely van conversions out there and weighed up whether camper van life is for you.
So, now you need to put your sensible hat on and decide what type of van will work for your needs.
There are so many vans to choose from but we’re just going to break down the basics like size and shape, we’ll leave advice about engines etc to the experts!
On our camper journey we went from a T5/T6 to a Transit Custom before realising we needed lots more space and the ability to stand up in our camper van was important to us.
First things first
Grab a pen and paper (yes, I’m old school) and answer these questions:
What are you going to use your van for?
Day trips, a week at a time on a camp site with hook up, long spells off grid?
Does it still need to be used as a day to day business van?
It would be worth considering if you could partition off some of the van to keep for business use, which can be converted into a storage area when using for trips.
Do you have adventure or hobby equipment you’ll need to make space for?
In our case it’s surf boards, SUPs, paddles, an inflatable canoe, mountain bikes... yeah a few things to consider, a hence why a small van wasn’t for us. Unless you’re happy to transport them on the roof or racks at the back.
How many people do you need to sleep/transport?
If you have babies or little children who fit nicely into narrow bunk beds, remember they will grow up and need bigger beds.
Unless you’re happy to share your bed with your furry friend, you’ll have to accommodate a dog or cat sleeping area.
The amount of belted seats required will also be an important consideration.
Are you or your travelling buddy tall or prefer to sleep completely stretched out?
If so, rule out a transverse bed, although there’s nothing stopping you having a narrower double, prepare to get cuddly!
How important is a shower and/or toilet in your camper van?
Some people insist on a full bathroom featuring automatic hot water, a little sink and toilet system, and I think if I was going to be living in a van full time for a long time, this would be something I’d lean towards.
However, think about the compromise you’ll have to make on space elsewhere.
If you’d like room to stand up you’ll need to go for a high top van, such as a Sprinter, Master or Ducato, referred to as H2.
Bear in mind that the larger van, the more tricky it is to find parking spots and travel down narrow country lanes. If this is an important consideration for you then it’s time to start thinking about where you can compromise on your camper van wish list!
By the time you’ve addressed all of these questions you’ll have a pretty good idea of how much space you’ll need.
This website has internal dimensions for most vans to help you make a shortlist and check out this useful comparison doc and then get out there and have a look at some real life vans.
If you really want to test out what type of van is best for you, try hiring from one from one of the many campervan hire companies to really get a feel for the space you'll be living/staying in.
Good luck with your search and once you’ve found your van to convert read our guide to designing your layout!