My girlfriend and I spent the majority of this year living in a campervan in Australia that I converted from a regular old Toyota Tarago mini van. We didn’t want to sink too much money into a van we’d only be living in temporarily, so we figured out a very cheap and easy way to convert our van into a home. Check out this video that I made:
Want a camper van to live the #vanlife, but don’t have the money for a fancy Sprinter setup or a Volkswagen Bus / Vanagon?
Here’s how I turned an old family mini van (a 1990 Toyota Tarago) into a budget camper for our Australian roadtrip. We did the conversion for less than $100. Taragos are a really good option for backpacker vans, but can do a similar build with just about any mini van… like an old Ford Windstar or a Chrysler Town and Country.
We named our van “Magnolia” aka “Maggie” and have driven all over Australia for the past few months, and have been having an awesome time! It’s not as big as the more expensive vans, but we’ve got enough space to do everything we need.
Full instructions are here on my other blog: Bandergrove.com
-This conversion doesn’t involve any permanent modifications to the van – all of the pieces are basically like furniture and not physically attached to the floor.
-This gives you the option of having 5 passengers ride in your van. We decided to keep the back bench seat so that we could have more than just 2 passengers ride.
-We use a big floppy foam mattress for the bed surface. It is very comfortable, but also allows us to fold it up when we have passengers. Another good option would be an air mattress. (If you use a normal “stiff” mattress you obviously won’t be able to fold it up completely!)
-Putting the kitchen in the back hatch is really clutch…you can basically cook off of your tailgate anywhere you go, even in a busy parking lot. It also keeps a really low profile, and you don’t need to set up any tables to cook with. I looove cooking in the back of the van. 🙂
-We used Reflectix (basically bubble wrap sheets with reflective aluminum on each side) to cover our windows, rather than the normal curtains that you often see in camper vans. We cut pieces that were slightly bigger than all of the windows, and used Velcro to stick them on to cover the windows at night.
Cheap & Easy Window Coverings for your Campervan with Reflectix
Here’s a follow-up video that I made on window coverings: