Please check me on my "plan"

Hello All!

This will be my first entry into van life and I have spent a good amount of time researching and building my “plan” for entry into this adventure. Here is what I have come up with. This is all based on a budget of 5k or less to include the purchase of the Van. If anyone can provide feedback on the feasibility of this plan, that would be awesome. I am trying to keep this plan realistic and “under-ambitious” since we all know execution of a plan is usually harder than coming up with it. :sweat_smile: The point is to get out and enjoy the lifestyle. Not spend a year building it.

  1. The Van.

This is my first van and will also be my first experience living in a van. This is not intended to be a full time living arrangement but rather a weekend/extended weekend traveling solution. I have toyed around with the idea of buying a E350/250/150 cargo van and doing a complete build out, but it seems to me that this would be a rather ambitious entry and might not be the most time/cost effective method. While I do have the skills to manage this type of project, I don’t feel like it’s the right direction for me based on the other options out there. Instead, I am looking to find a ford conversion/passenger van for my starting point since much of the “work” has already been done. I would still do some small buildout items such as installing a permanent bed with storage and counter space but that would be about it. Thoughts on this? Any benefits of a full build out that I might be missing? I have had my eye on the early to mid 90’s Ford Econoline conversion Vans or the G20/30’s. Any thoughts or recommendations on either of these models? Is there an ideal year that I should be looking for? I have searched around online for common mechanical issues with these vans and it looks like there isn’t to much outside of regular age wear and tear.

  1. Solar Vs Generator.

I have looked at some “turn-key” solar options with battery banks and while this looks like a manageable endeavor for install, I don’t see the point of the effort if I’m already not doing a full buildout. Instead, I have been looking at some generator/portable battery bank options out there that would still get me through a long weekend of traveling but is a little more cost effective and realistic for what I am looking to do with my van. Thoughts on this? Any input or recommendations on a generator vs a battery bank. I have developed a list of electrical items that are important to me to have in my van and that is, climate control (A/C for sure) somewhere cold to keep food, power for lighting and charging/running small appliances (Hot plate, small espresso maker, coffeepot, etc). Would a generator setup be able to provide me with the ability to support these things?

  1. Running Water.

I do want some kind of “running” water option in my Van. I have been looking at some foot pump/hand pump options with a 5 gallon potable and dirty setup. Seems fairly simple to setup and realistic to use. Any experience with these types of setups?

  1. Insulation.

If I start with a conversion/passenger van, are they already insulated enough or will I need to add extra insulation? If so, to what extend would I need to. Would really hate to dig into the already finished headliner and walls.

I am open to all opinions and feedback on my plan. You all are the experts and Im just here trying to learn. Thanks for taking the time to help on this!


My advice before you do anything is check you can get insurance on the type of van you intend to buy then go from there once you have that sorted we can help you.

You don’t say where you are located

Thanks for the response! Good point. I hadn’t thought about insurance being a possible issue although I was able to verify I would be able to get coverage through my current insurance company. (USAA) quite easily on somthing like an econoline. I currently live in Virginia Beach.

ah ok . . . .

the reason I mentioned that was because I had done lots of looking and planning on a particular type of van only to find out that I couldn’t insure it.

I think the insurance aspect should be the first port of call for anyone wanting to do this.

Check you’re entitled to drive the vehicle as well that’s an issue most don’t even think about.

I live in the Uk and I had originally planned to get a minibus type vehicle but anything over 3 seats is just a nonstarter

I then wanted to go for a 7-5 ton cargo lorry and again I had started the plans only to find out that the DVLA won’t reclassify that vehicle.

So I’m now looking at a Luton box van and I’m all good to go I’ve got commercial insurance lined up that ain’t too bad considering and once it’s all done I will have to get it reclassified as a campervan with the DVLA and then I can insure it as such.

Not sure if these issues affect you folks across the pond but I think the points are good enough to consider no point in doing all the work only to find you cant insure it or drive it

stay safe out there


Passenger/Conversion vans are a great options. They come with a pre finished interior, and opening windows can save you from the need to install roof vents. Those 2 advantages alone can save you $1k+, not to mention a ton of time. No added insulation is needed either.

Solar Vs Generator.

Your desire for A/C and other high power items pretty much is going to make a generator the best choice for you. This will also allow you to have a minimal battery system to handle the lower power loads. With an isolator to charge while driving, and a battery charger to plug into your generator, you should be well prepared power wise.

Running water…

Running water is a double edged sword. It’s nice, but plumbing can also freeze… So that’s a hurdle that needs consideration. I’ve opted for dollar store dish pans for sinks, and trigger spray bottles for water delivery.


"Don't be scared, BE PREPARED!" ~ Road Warrior

We have a very rudimentary plan for water. Pipe from jug directly to pump directly to faucet. Then from the sink directly out the bottom. No hot water and nothing special. The faucet is also acting as a shower head for us. We’ve been without it for a year now. At least with van #3. It’s not a necessity but a very nice to have.