My husband and I have been thinking about this for a while and we have decided to bite the bullet and finally agreed to buy a van to convert to a campervan.
I have friends who bought a van conversion through Gumtree but this was in Australia. This meaning they could travel throughout Australia without paying a fortune for accommodation. They did this on a cheap budget with the view to either sell on the van or scrap, it when they when finished travelling. This is what inspired us to do this ourselves. I thought I would discuss the process we have gone through so far with you all.
Why do we want a van conversion?
Well, as you know we have two beautiful dogs and a passion for mountain biking. We love to travel and take the pups with us. It is not always the easiest as a lot of hotels don't accept dogs. Mountain biking is awesome but it can be super cold and wet and come back to a freezing car to change clothes and get warm is not the best. Plus I worry about the dogs getting too cold or hot in the car. Our dog Millie has mild hip dysplasia so she can't bike with us. It would be nice for her to have somewhere to chill when we are biking. So we started to discuss getting a van. We did look at motorhomes but these are super expensive for something reliable and would fit our needs.
What do you need in the van?
We had to go through all the pros and cons of getting a van to convert ourselves. What does the van definitely need to have to make it doable?
1. First a bed. We need somewhere to sleep for us and the dogs Enough room for a big dog bed.
2. Bike storage for up to four bikes.
3. Biking kit storage.
4. A good heater. I hate being cold.
5. Somewhere to cook
6. a small sink.
7. we need a seat.
8. table to eat at.
When we worked out the minimum things we would need. It became apparent we needed a big van. I did not want a toilet or shower in the van. I can think of nothing worse than this in the small space of a van. Just the basics for a few night away or going to a campsite.
What size of van?
Well taking in to account the above we needed a big van. goodbye, small van easy to park vans and hello long wheelbase. We had a look at ford transits. We were pretty certain this is what we wanted until we looked at them and yes they can be big but they just were not big enough. We looked at a lot of these and none of them fitted our requirements. We decided on a Fiat Ducato. This has a long wheelbase and it is taller than the ford transit and a bit longer.
What we wanted in the van.
The van had to be at least registered in 2010 and less than 100,000 miles on the clock. Be clean inside and out. This was really important as I have asthma and there are some things you can not clean out of a van. We wanted a full year's MOT and good tyres. Preferably no advisories on the MOT and complete service history. I know we are not asking much, are we? we also want something that is not to expensive insurance wise. Of course I will be checking van insurance quotes so I get the best deal.
Where to find a van.
The journey to find a van is a long process. I had visions of us turning up at a garage and boom we have a new van. Nope, this is not the case.
We both spent hours on Gumtree, AutoTrader and local van sale facebook groups. Hoping to grab a bargain. We even went to a British car auction. But no luck there either.
This was a long process made harder by the fact that there appeared to only be six Fiat Ducato vans in our price range in the country. We travelled 535.6 miles one day to look at a van, that we were told was in amazing condition. We got there after a marathon drive to find a van that looked like cement bags had been tipped over the inside and had no wing mirrors as well as a lot of cosmetic damage. The photos we were sent was of a van they had previously sold. Yes, my husband had asked about the condition and was told how excellent it was. At this point, I lost faith in humanity and by the humanity I mean van sales centres in Reading.
Back to Gumtree we go and finally, we find our van. If you haven't used gumtree before where have you been? living under a rock? Ok, I Joke. it's an awesome site. It reminds me of ads you used to get in the newspaper but are now all online. it's super easy to navigate and there are loads of bargains.
It makes looking for a van super easy. Gumtree is not just for Vans but everything you can imagine. We even sold our old furniture through gumtree when we moved house. So drumroll Please
We bought a 2012 Fiat Decato with 70,000 miles on it. it is super clean and is an ex Joiners van. The gentleman who sold it to us said he kept it super clean as he gets a £500 bonus from the company he works for, for doing so.
I'd like to introduce you to the Duke.
I will be updating you all as We go along with the Duke's progress. So don't forget to check back for more posts and lots of tips and trick to help you convert your own van.