"Bedroom Van" turned REAL van on the road

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CosmickGold

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Bob Wells and I made a video together a while back titled Get Ready For Van Life! How You Can Set Up a "Van” in Your Bedroom!!

If you saw that, you've likely wondered how my plans for a real van worked out, hoping I'm out there now and on the road in my van. Well, my plans went great, and yes, I have a real van I live in now, on the road. You can find some meaningful details about how I acquired this perfect van in the last chapter of my free online book titled A Lifetime of Magic.

In addition, I wrote and posted the below as my answer in the recent thread Interested in talking to people van living by choice - Making a documentary. I hope there's no problem in my making the same post twice, the first time was to answer [I][B]Sirdancalot[/B][/I] in his thread, and this second time is because this is where people go for "Share Your Story" posts. So here's mine:
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I'm still in Arlington, Texas, where I bought and built out "White Cloud", the 1998 Chevy Express 3500 raised-top van I live in. I've wanted to take off for New Mexico, Colorado, and Washington State for these past two years, but my girlfriend is seriously handicapped and needs an assistant daily, so I'm still parked near her window most of the time.

I tell the marvelous way I acquired my van -- in the condition I wanted it to be in -- in the last chapter of my free online book A Lifetime of Magic.

The floor of my van is white linoleum over inch-thick foam insulation, which makes it very soft for knees to crawl on. I have a six-foot-high ceiling, but still, the softness of my floor makes it so comfortable to get down to pull out a box from under the bed, etc. I've seen pictures of damaged and calloused knees from nomads crawling around in their low-top vans every day. So I cringe when I see van-build videos with hardwood floors being installed, thinking "Why?? Don't they know what that's going to do to their knees?"

My walls and ceiling are covered with the cheapest press board (pressed paper, not wood chips) available from Lowes in 4'X8' panels for $13 each, which comes coated with a thin layer of white vinyl on one side. That's exactly what I wanted for easy cleaning and for plenty of light which keeps bouncing around inside my van even though entering through dark-gray tinted windows.

Inside the walls and ceiling, I have plenty of Havlock sheep's wool insulation, which insulates against outside noise as well as the cold. Sheep's wool eats harmful chemicals from the air, absorbs water when over 60% humidity and releases the water back when the air is below 60% humidity. I intentionally left one-inch gaps between all wall and ceiling panels so the wool stays free do its jobs most effectively. A pleasant side effect of so much wool exposure is that in the night, I literally feel like I'm sleeping out in nature rather than in a tin can. Sheep's wool is so great.

The dark-tinted windows allow me to see anyone outside at night without them being able to see me. Along with that, I have floodlights mounted on the roof in all four directions, made of arrays of super-bright LEDs which can light up the neighborhood (or forest) around me if I need to see what's going on out there. The switch to turn these lights on is in easy reach from my bed with me hardly needing to move.

The same close-by location also holds a microphone I can grab to talk to anyone out there. The mic goes to a 100-watt PA speaker which blares through a hole I cut in the floor of the van for it. The sound it makes outside is extremely loud yet soft to my ears inside the van. This is because I covered the PA speaker with a layer of sticky-backed foam insulation meant to insulate car floors and doors from sounds, which does its job amazingly well. The mic also has buttons on it to blare horns, buzzers, and sirens extremely loudly outside through that 100-watt floor-mounted speaker should I feel threatened by anything or anyone.

Contrary to what you see in every other van, I have no kitchen, nor would I want one. In other words, there is no frig nor ice chest, no stove for cooking, not even a mounted sink. Instead, my diet consists primarily of Chlorella/Spirulina tablets for high protein and all essential nutrition, peanut butter (which grows no germs because it contains no water), eaten along with mayonnaise (which doesn't grow germs because of its high vinegar content. Each spoon of peanut butter does not stick in my throat because of the slippery spoon of mayonnaise I alternate with. Every day I also have two or three bowls of water mixed with oats, powdered milk, and ground pecans. (So delicious.)

Instead of a kitchen, that spot in my van holds a washing machine for all my clothes, so I never have to go to a public laundry. After the spin-dry cycle, I hang my still-damp clothes from 60 small hooks on the ceiling in rows above my head. The fan mounted in the rear wall blows outside air across all the clothes for a few hours until everything is dry.
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I pour some white vinegar into the bottom of my pee jar and poop bucket which -- believe it or not -- stops all bad smells. I have no poop smell nor pee smell to deal with, and the white vinegar prevents any germ growth as well.

My water storage is in four 5-gallon stackable jugs, held to the wall by four bungee chords. A pump placed in one jug at a time, feeds a sprayer at the end of a hose to fill my clothes washer, wash off anything else dirty, and for me to take a shower. However, when water is cold, I heat water to a boil in a pan and then mix it with cold water in a bucket. then I move the 12volt pump temporarily from the jug to the bucket to take my shower.

So shower water doesn't run everywhere while I bathe, I unfold a collapsible dog-bathing pool for me to stand in. Since I don't use any shower curtain, some water naturally splashes out even though I'm careful, but it's not a problem as it soon evaporates, or I can dry it with a towel if too much water.

I felt a little sad when videos show a beautiful kitchen sink mounted on a lovely counter with a faucet and drain built in. That is, until I watched a video where the van dweller ran out of water at the sink, had to go out the side door to move stuff out of the way so she could pull the empty jug out from under her sink and remove her pump. Then go to her back door, dig out more belongings to reach a second water jug hidden inside, drag that heavy jug out and carry it around to the side door where she repeats the entire process again in the opposite direction, putting everything back starting with the water pump.

Her process is so long and complicated in comparison with mine. When my jug goes dry and the pump stops pumping, all I have to do is move the pump out of one jug and into the next jug right beside it, right there where I'm working anyway, which only takes a few seconds. How simple! So I'm no longer jealous of these beautiful van layouts I see. My layout is far from gorgeous, but it is so straightforward and practical.

I also have a steel safe mounted to the floor to keep my laptop and other valuables in, should I ever have a break-in. But I doubt that will ever happen because my van looks the opposite of stealthy. It looks like someone is living in there, 24/7, who probably has a gun and knows how to use it.

On my roof are four 100-watt solar panels raised three inches above the roof where all can see them. This height has two purposes: (1) Solar panels make more electricity when cooler, and the three-inch height lets plenty of cool air pass under them. And (2) it helps the van blatantly scream to all around "I'm not stealthy! OK? Someone is proudly living in here! So don't even try to mess with me!"

By pure coincidence, as I was mounting my four solar panels, a couple of guys were busy on the roof of the building beside me mounting solar panels up there as well. They yelled down to me on my van, "Hey! I like your solar panels!" I yelled back, "I admire yours!"

And that briefly, is my story. I love my van. I love living in it, and I have no intention of ever going back to "sticks'n'bricks".

Tommy Paul
 

Fun2bme

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Very cool. Thanks for sharing. You have some great ideas.
 

frater secessus

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Get Ready For Van Life! How You Can Set Up a "Van” in Your Bedroom!!

I think it's a neat idea. I started setting up a Cardboard Aided Design in a spare bedroom in ~2016 and the "van" was pretty well laid out by the time my actual van came onto the scene. It was a harsh mistress, making me confront the tiny physical space and what could/couldn't come along. My whole power setup was in place, except solar panels which don't work so well indoors.

Longtime dweller @lennyflank tells the van-curious to try living in one's bathroom for a month, but you can't use the toilet, shower, or running water. :)
 

CosmickGold

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I think it's a neat idea. I started setting up a Cardboard Aided Design in a spare bedroom in ~2016 and the "van" was pretty well laid out by the time my actual van came onto the scene. It was a harsh mistress, making me confront the tiny physical space and what could/couldn't come along. My whole power setup was in place, except solar panels which don't work so well indoors.

Longtime dweller @lennyflank tells the van-curious to try living in one's bathroom for a month, but you can't use the toilet, shower, or running water. :)
How cool that you lived in a "Bedroom Van" as I did. We're brothers! In my bedroom, I had it all laid out just right for a narrower, shorter cargo van. Then when "the law of attraction" brought me the right van, it was a foot wider, 4 feet longer, with windows all around I couldn't bear to cover up! So there were a lot more changes between bedroom van and outside van than I'd anticipated, including a foot-wider bed to sleep in! Ha!
 

vanbrat

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90% 0f my van inside is a bedroom. But I like to cook so the back opens for my kitchen. I stand on the ground and use it mostly outside. I hate cooking smells when I sleep. So it has a floor to ceiling wall between it and the rest of the van. I have an awning and unless it is really stormy, I can cook anywhere. If it is stormy, we eat at a restaurant.
I don't yet have solar panels that stay outside. I don't have a roof rack yet, but plan on one to carry my kayaks. I don't know that I will ever have my solar panels permanently mounted outside but have some that can move around wherever the sun is. My Jackery moves to wherever I need it. Shore side to blow up floatie's. Table side for movie night projector. Inside when needed for fridge thing, computers or chargers, fan, music, etc...
Doggy is my theft protection right now. He is big and scary looking and when we are out and about, he is always on duty. Not so much trained just is.
I need to put a swivel on the driving seats so we can have seats for when we want/need to be inside more.
I can't bear to even think about not having big windows either but like that I have thick covers for when we are sleeping. I had to figure out how to seal them to the frame when sleeping 'cause I like it dark dark when sleeping.
 

thebarefootbadger

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I love the concept of anti-stealth. Wanting to be under the radar can make a lot of sense, but how much nicer to just live your life and stop crouching in the back of your car.
 
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