Choosing the right van!

Hi there!!

I’m new to the forum and to van life but my fiancé and I have always had a dream to convert a van and travel!

At the moment we are trying to decide what kind of van to buy. We like the idea of having a van big enough to fit a very small loo/shower and a possible baby bed. However we also like to “wild camp” as it were and want to be able to travel and drive on smaller roads to get the most out of our travelling experience rather than always needing to stay at campsites.

Does anyone have any advice on what vans might fit these desires? I know it hard to find one that accommodates both but any advice would be great. We previously looked at a Fiat Ducato but wondered if that might be too large? Then we worried that smaller vans such as a Renault Trafic might not be able to accommodate us for space? Ah so difficult!

Thanks so much in advance for any tips and advice!

Greetings & Welcome!

I’m from the USA, but spent a year traveling Europe, the Middle East, and the Orient. Length & Width were never a problem for me, but height was a constant worry. The factory camper vans & motorhomes were MUCH better in every way than those converted by rental companies.

The factory campers had isolators and generators so power was never a problem. The rental converted ones had solar panels, and power was ALWAYS a problem. With them you needed to make sure you charged all your electronics from the dash while driving, IF the dash outlet even worked.

Unless you’re just tossing a mattress in the back and taking off, I highly recommend a factory camper van or motorhome. Unlike self converted campers, factory campers retain their value if you keep them all original. In the end, they will save you a lot of time, money, and headaches. The factory campers also frequently have far fewer miles on them, have been better maintained, and much better treated.

DIY camper vans are usually a very poor choice for newbies, and if they stick with the lifestyle, most build several, losing money on all of them, before they eventually go with a factory camper van or motorhome. The promoters target newbies because the experienced aren’t as likely to fall for the line of BS. The promoters only care about your money, not you, not your comfort, not your success, just about your money. Never forget that! They are sleazy salespeople that will look you in the eye and lie to you, while they have their hand in your pocket stealing the money from your wallet. They are NOT your friends!

Floorplans are important. Some might feel cramped, uncomfortable, or inconvenient. Others might feel just right. You can’t tell this from pictures or videos, you must experience this in person. Go through all the motions that you will likely do every day. Make the bed, make a meal, do the dishes, use the bathrooom & shower, (All make believe of course…), what about workspace, and comfortable seating. How do you fill propane & water, what about dumping your tanks. All of these things matter more than you can imagine. Hold out for one that feels right, you’ll be glad you did.

You want mechanically sound, reliable, comfortable, & convenient. Be on the lookout for leaks, visible damage, soft spots on the floor, walls, or ceiling, and moldy/musty smells. Last but certainly not least, don’t be afraid to walk away if it doesn’t meet your standards. Some people look for months before they find the right one, but all are glad they were patient.

The best buys are often not advertised. Take a drive into the country and keep an eye out for ones that look like they’re not being used. Some people have been given expensive factory campers in excellent condition for free using this method, and many other have only paid a fraction of what they were actually worth. Quite often, older, simpler vehicles are a better choice than newer more complicated ones too. “The less you have that CAN go wrong, the less you have that WILL go wrong!” ~Murphy


"A cheap factory camper van or motorhome will save
money both now and later." ~ TruthMatters