New potential Sienna owner

My name is Jenn and I live with my beagle and seven hens in western Quebec and I hope that I have found the right place to learn about converting a van.

I am in the process of looking for a van to build out for weekend to week-long road trips and learning what I want and need for something long term.

The van that I am close to making the decision on is a Toyota Sienna. It’s a mini van I know. I wanted Toyota’s quality and I’m a half-decade away from retirement, so it will serve as a suburban runaround vehicle in addition to weekend and holiday van home. I was initially sceptical of the idea of using a minivan as a camper, but I met a vanlifer in a Chrysler Town & Country and I love Foresty Forest’s Youtube channel. If they can thrive months on end in minivans, then I can enjoy 2-7 days until I build something for trans-continental travel. Hopefully, as I close in on the end of my working career, I hope not to have the backyard farm and the setup to allow me to travel from St. John’s to Victoria to Tuktoyaktuk and possibly down into the US and Mexico if the pandemic clears.

The goal for the minivan is to make a folding couch/bed that is removable and use in-floor seating areas as storage. Since I have no desire to stealth camp at this point, I am not concerned about being too inconspicuous. I used to have a teardrop trailer and I would still have it if it weren’t for a storm that split a neighbours tree and part of that tree crushed my trailer like a foot on an empty beer can. Because of the small space, I don’t want food or cooking equipment in the van. I plan to build out a 40x48 utility trailer like the back end of a teardrop for my kitchen and storage of low-value items. Sleeping in the van and cooking outside would be not much different than the teardrop experience except that there would be far more space that I would have had in the 4x8 trailer.

What I want to learn is how to manage moisture levels in a van without a vent, keeping insects out and maintain privacy non-destructively.

Talk to you soon.

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Greetings & Welcome!

Moisture: Ventilation is the key here. Get rain visors for your front windows so you can leave the cracked an inch or two, then add a fan to circulate the air throughout the cabin. Alternatively, if you have opening windows in the rear, you can point a fan outwards, and it will draw the air from front to back.

Insects: No-See-Um screen attached to the outside of your van with magnets.

Privacy: One arm of binder clips will slide in on the sides, front, and back of your headliner. Sometimes I’ve used twine with the binder clips to create a curtain rod, other times I just put the clips on the curtain, and tuck them in without the twine. For a divider behind thee front seats, you have lots of options… Spring loaded shower curtain rods or closet rods, bendable fiberglass tent poles or fishing poles, bendable PVC pipe. Lots of creative ideas for curtain rods going across the van. Oh yeah, vehicle clothes bars too.

Black fabric facing out is the least noticeable.

General: Lots of layout options are possible, but foul weather happens… For this reason, I prefer my kitchen, toilet, & shower to all be usable without leaving my van. I accomplished this in a 80’s Dodge Grand Caravan with roughly 4’x8’ usable space. It was short on storage space, but otherwise it was a full featured camper. I made no modifications either inside or outside to the van. I simply removed the rear seats because they were not stow-n-go. I did add a swing away hitch hauler on the back, which helped a lot.

Good luck & keep us posted, we’re glad you’re here!

Cheers!


"Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst." ~ Murphy


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