Stylish van conversion enables couple to go on permanent road trip (Video)

Dylan Magaster
Video screen capture Dylan Magaster

Most people probably imagine van-dwellers as youngsters who shy away from the typical 9 to 5 jobs. But that's not necessarily true: people who choose to convert and live in vans full-time come from all walks of life.

For Joe and Emilie of Permanent Road Trip, it was a conscious choice taken after 20 years of working in the corporate finance and non-profit worlds. To recharge, they would go camping as often as they could -- about 100 nights a year in a tent. Finally, they realized that if they cut down on their expenses, sold off their house and stuff they didn't need, they could actually do it full-time -- but comfortably in a converted van, instead of tents. Hear their fascinating story and tour their incredibly well-crafted van via filmmaker Dylan Magaster:

Dylan MagasterDylan Magaster/Video screen capture

The couple's van is a Mercedes Benz Sprinter van, bought with 25,000 miles on it. The couple made a few changes to help make the front seats more multipurpose by modifying them so that they could swivel around.

At the middle of the van is the kitchen sink and cabinet, which actually hides the propane tank and camping stove, which can be used on the outside of the van. Joe notes that when propane is used in an application where the appliance is turned on and off, such as a stove, it's "super safe" (relative to appliances that might be running all the time, such as a refrigerator). Their EcoTemp shower water tank is located here too. The sink is a bar sink, which can be covered with a fitted cutting board to increase counter space.

Dylan MagasterDylan Magaster/Video screen capture

The van has been fully insulated and is outfitted with a 300-watt roof solar system. Inside, there's more kitchen counter and storage; the couple have a inductive stovetop and toaster oven that is plugged into shore power. But as Emilie points out, when they designed the van they thought they would be using them at campgrounds, but so far, after almost a year on the road, they've only used it a few times.

Dylan MagasterDylan Magaster/Video screen capture
Dylan MagasterDylan Magaster/Video screen capture

The sleeping platform fits a double-sized bed and is elevated enough to store gear underneath, accessible from the rear of the van, via the double doors. To get up to the platform, there's a moveable storage box that serves as the couple's step up and also as their dog's bed. When it's not used, it's shifted up to the front, in between the seats.

Dylan MagasterDylan Magaster/Video screen capture
Dylan MagasterDylan Magaster/Video screen capture

The crowning touch here is the couple's cabinet fronts, which were designed by a friend and sport a lovely laser-cut graphic of mountains and sky, etched in warm wood.

Dylan MagasterDylan Magaster/Video screen capture

There's a lot of thoughtful details in this van conversion that make it really feel like a cozy home, instead of a vehicle, from the custom-designed kitchen to the visually striking cabinetry. Van living is not for everyone, but it's not too much of a stretch to say that it is, at least, inspiring more people to consider alternatives. See more over at Permanent Road Trip.

Tags: Less Is More | Living With Less | Small Spaces | Transportation

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