If We Could Do It Again…(Vanlife)

After traveling across North America for the past 3 years, we have come to realize that there are a few things we would change about our van. The following post will go over what changes we would do, if we could do it all over again…

  1. Smaller Van : We chose to go with the extended Mercedez Sprinter van because at the time it was the only van that was available right away and offered 4 wheel drive. Now, there are newer vans coming out often and most have front wheel drive. If we could do it all over again, we would probably choose the Dodge Ram Van with front wheel drive. We realize that the Dodge van would provide less space overall, but having a smaller van would allow us to park in regular spots more often. And even though we have used the 4 wheel drive often, we know that front wheel drive would work just fine. Choosing a Dodge van would also mean we would be switching to gas instead of our current diesel van. There are pros and cons for a van switch. But ultimately, we believe we choose a great van (Sprinter) and will be continuing to live in it.
  2. Propane system: Our intention in the beginning was to have no propane in our van. We ultimately settled on having a Denatured Alcohol stove because we thought a propane system would have been too much work. This stove works great, but having a propane system would have given us different options for the stove (more burners) and an oven. We have also noticed through our travels that getting propane can be easier and cheaper than getting denatured alcohol. For example, in Canada there are no denatured alcohol products. After doing a lot of research, we found that we could use Methyl Hydrate instead.
  3. Different bed setup: Our current bed setup works because we are in a longer van, but if we went with a shorter van, we would end up sleeping horizontally across instead of vertically. We would also raise the bed a bit more to allow us to store bikes underneath. Soon, we will be back at the workshop to implement this new design.
  4. Less Solar Panels: This one is an easy fix which we will be doing soon, but because we charge our batteries through the solar system and the alternator, we realized we don’t need to have two large 260 watts panels mounted on our roof. When we return to Maine for the fall, we will be taking one of the panels off and will be building a deck on the roof which will allow us to have space to hangout outside and have extra storage.

 

Honestly, there isn’t a lot we would change. We are happy with our current layout, even though we have adjusted and changed a few things a couple of times over the course of three years. We hope that those that are beginning to outfit their vehicles or those that are just interested in conversions will appreciate and understand that plans change and designs won’t always work. And that’s okay. It’s part of owning a space.

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