Fitting out a van myself is something that I’ve wanted to do for years. My biggest inspirations were Eamon and Bec and Wild We Roam (shout out to everyone who also has watched their videos).
Now that I’ve finished fitting out my own van, and have started travelling in it, I thought I’d take the time to share a few things I’ve learnt from self-converting a camper van. This may help you know what to expect on your build, or maybe if you’re doing a build or have completed one, you’ll relate to these. These are obviously points that are from my experience, and everyone’s experiences fitting out a van is different. If you want to see more depth behind my build, watch my YouTube videos!
1. TAKES LONGER THAN YOU’D THINK
So, it turns out, watching time lapses of people fitting out their vans makes the process look so much quicker than it actually is. That makes sense, but at the same time, the time it ACTUALLY took me to build out the van ended up being so much longer than I actually thought it would take.
Whilst still working, it took me about a year to fit out the van. I wasn’t rushing the process though. I was doing it on my days off and also not doing it if I just didn’t feel like it. And even now, it feels like the van is forever a work in progress. You’ll always be making little adjustments here and there, or fixing things up.
2. TRUST YOUR GUT AND DON’T (ALWAYS) TAKE THE OPINIONS OF OTHERS
When you take on a project like fitting out a van, trust that you’ll get a lot of different opinions from the people around you. Some of it will be warranted, with experience to back the advice, and some of it won’t be. Some of it you should definitely welcome, and take on board, but you should also trust your gut.
If you’re anything like me, you’ll have done a heap of research before even buying the van. You’ll have watched YouTube videos and read countless blog posts about the different layouts, plumbing systems, electrical systems, whether to seperate the cab, etc. By all means, get the opinion and advice from others (I couldn’t count the amount of times I reached out for advice on instagram), but ultimately it is YOUR van.
So, in those times when someone disagrees with the way you’re building things, or thinks you should do something differently (and if it isn’t related to safety) then just trust your own judgement.
3. DO YOUR RESEARCH (WHERE TO SAVE MONEY AND WHERE TO INVEST)
Fitting out a van can be an expensive activity. HOWEVER, you can choose where you want to save money and where you want to spend it.
There are certain things you should definitely invest it, things like your electrical system. But most of the other things is a matter of choice, and what you see as more important.
It may simply be the difference with buying a sirocco fan versus buying a cheap Jaycar usb fan. Or maybe an upright Bushmans fridge versus a cheaper alternative. Maybe it’s the difference in getting a complete undermounted plumbing system installed, versus just having a 20L water can. Only YOU can make the call on what is important to YOU.
4. Build Community
By far, the best thing about buying and fitting out a van, has been the little community around it. Whether it’s being instagram friends with someone and getting advice on things when you need it, or even meeting up with them and becoming real life friends. It’s such an inclusive community.
So, definitely reach out to others to connect. If you’re reading this and are thinking of asking me a question about my fit out or van life itself, fire away!
5. ENJOY THE PROCESS
Fitting out a van is a tedious process. There are definitely times where things don’t go according plan, or a seemingly small job ends up taking the entire day. Those things are inevitable. But you can avoid getting burnt out and disliking the process of fitting out your van by taking your time, and relishing in your efforts along the way.
I had taken the van away so many times before it was actually complete. From pretty much nothing and essentially just camping on the floor, to just having a fridge or a bed, all the way to it actually being complete.
So, whether you’re thinking about self-converting a van, have already started or even completed the project, thank you so much for reading! Comment below, what lessons did YOU learn?