The Ultimate Van Camping Guide for Beginners

For some people, they didn’t know that turning a van into a full-blown camper was possible. If you are one of these people, there’s no need to worry. Even though this idea has been around for the past 10 years or so, it’s become popular only in the last few—pretty much since the beginning of the pandemic.

However, let’s move on to the reason why you’re here. You’ve seen all these other people posting pictures online of their campervans and realized that it’s time to join in on the trend. While getting into this pastime may seem complicated, this ultimate van camping guide for beginners is here to show you that it’s not too hard. After giving it a read-through, you’ll be able to take the steps toward creating your own campervan in no time.

Pick Out a Type of Van

Before you can decide on what you do and don’t want for your campervan, you need to know how much room you’ll be working with. Unlike a traditional RV, you’ll have a limited amount of space, so you’ll need to find a van that will suit your needs. Here are the main types that you can use for yours.

Standard Cargo Van

The most common choice among enthusiasts is the standard cargo van. You can buy a used one pretty cheap, but even brand-new ones can be reasonably priced if you know where to look. Either way, this option will give you the most bang for your buck. The back area will be spacious enough to fit the things you need while not being too large for driving purposes. Options such as the Ram ProMaster and Ford Transit will be perfect for your campervan transformation.

Official Campervan

However, if you have the extra money and don’t have the time to build your campervan, you can buy a prebuilt one. These official campervans, also known as class B RVs, typically come with a built-in kitchenette and a small sleeping and living area. A few types might even have a bathroom option if you want to shell out the extra cash.

The main reason some people go for these more expensive models, though, is that they can get high-top or pop-top variations. Both of these options allow owners to stand up straight while inside. The added bonus of a pop-top one is that you can lower it while driving, allowing you to not worry about any restrictions that come from having a larger vehicle.

Basic Minivan

If you want to save some money and use something you already have, nothing is stopping you from turning your family minivan into a campervan. You can apply all of the same transformation techniques for this type of vehicle as well. You’ll need to remove all the seating in the back and find a way to cover the windows if you desire some privacy while inside. Other than that, you’ll be happy to know that using a minivan will be more fuel-efficient, saving you even more money down the road.

Figure Out What You Want Inside

Whether you build your campervan or buy a prebuilt one, you need to figure out which items you’ll need and some that you’ll want. Not all of these options will be required, but they all have their benefits.

Portable Restroom

Unless you sprung for a model that came with a toilet, or you plan on only staying at official campgrounds, you’ll probably want to bring your own portable restroom. These can be a simple pop-up tent with a toilet and showerhead or an actual bathroom trailer that you can connect to the back of your van. Either way, this is something you’ll want to make sure you buy unless you want to live like a true outdoors person.

Power Generator

While it’s possible to use your van’s battery for minor electrical needs, that’s usually not a wise choice if you plan on camping out in your van for more than one day. That’s why a separate power generator is a must if you plan on using any electronics on your trip. You can find a smaller gas or solar model that’ll easily fit into the back of your van while not in use.

Cooler/Fridge

If you’re going to camp out in your van for only one or two nights at a time, you can probably get away with using a cooler. If you want to take week-long trips or live in your van for a while, you’ll need an actual fridge. Either way, having an area to store your food is necessary.

Camping Stove

Of course, you’ll need a way to cook all that food as well. While your van might come with a kitchenette, a camping stove will be the best choice for preparing your food. This will make cooking your meals way more accessible and keep any food smells out of your van in case any hungry animals get a whiff of what you’re making.

Portable Heater

This option is only a necessity if you plan on doing any camping during the winter months, but a portable heater can still have its uses on a chilly summer night. While campfires are the best way to stay warm, you can only have them when the weather allows for them. When it’s raining or extra windy, a portable heater will help ensure that you stay warm.

Bug Deterrents

Finally, the final thing in our ultimate van camping guide for beginners that you’ll need is something to keep the bugs out. While special lighting and scents do a decent job of deterring insects from approaching your campsite, none of them are perfect. That’s why you need to get yourself a bug screen for your van.

Here at The Bug Wall, we offer these screens for your van’s back and side doors, and we’ve customized them to fit specific vehicle models perfectly. If you decide to go with the Ram cargo van for your campervan transformation, you’ll want to check out our ProMaster mosquito nets. They’re the best way to ensure that you don’t spend your nights covered in bugs.

The Ultimate Van Camping Guide for Beginners