We're Getting a New Van!

But why???

In the beginning of our book we mentioned that most of us are building our first van out. Not a lot of people at this point have built out more than one. Personally, we learned a ton about not only how to build a van, but how to build a van for us. We’re super happy with how our van turned out and really wouldn’t change much about our design. So why are we building a new van?

The primary reason is that our situation is changing. Instead of full time traveling, we’re looking into the future towards full-time work. While most of the requirements are similar, some things are different. On the road, as long as weather permitted, we were outside of our van. We were enjoying the fruits of nature, playing, having fun. In other words, we weren't working. We didn't have jobs. Our new van will need to have a bit more inside space for those rainy and cold days. We’re no longer going to be driving north in summer and south in winter. Instead, we’ll be in one spot, where seasons can’t be left behind. 

Another reason for building a new van is overall comfort. We love our van, but being 6’1”, I (Richmond) can’t stand up quite straight inside. That’s a big issue if you’re going to be spending more time inside a space. We have a great “living room”, but no great solution for a table to work on. Our van was not designed for laptops and since we're going to be working again, this is more of a requirement. Our kitchen is functional, but very small. Ideally we look to cook outside whenever possible, and sometimes (when the weather turns) it’s just not.

We also want to help someone realize their dream of living on the road. Building a new van creates the opportunity for us to sell our current van to hopefully help those who aren’t as interested in the building process but more interested in the hitting the road part. And by providing someone with a great living space, built with love, they will help us finance our next van! We hope that’s a win-win.

Now, the fun part: our next van is going to be a Ford Transit!
A ton of thought (and some recommendation) went into this decision. On our trip we met a new friend, who has been building out his Ford Transit and we've had van envy ever since (thanks Ben)! Here are the big selling points:

  • It has 6’8” of vertical space! This is over 6” higher than our current Sprinter. 
  • We’re pretty set on the extended length van. It has 4’ extra length inside the cargo area.
  • It’s also wider! We’ll have a couple more inches of horizontal space and every inch matters. Instead of just over 50sqft in our cargo area, it’ll be almost 75sqft. 
  • We bring our Sprinter to one mechanic and he’s amazing, but finding good Sprinter mechanics is hard. We’re hoping that Ford parts and labor will be easier to find and less expensive.
  • We’ll be getting the diesel engine. At least in theory it’ll be very similar to what we have now (inline 5 cylinder turbo diesel).

All this being said, it'll be sad to leave the Sprinter behind. I feel like we’ve learned a ton about the car, being very involved in all the repairs and just being around it all the time. I see why mechanics who know the van love working on it. It's very simple. Hopefully some of that knowledge will be retained in the new van. 

Not only will it be a new type of van, but we’ll be changing some of the design as well. Having the extra space is responsible for most of the changes, but now that we’ve been in one for so long, we know exactly what we want. Here are some of the new design decisions we’ve made:

  • Full height storage for clothing and gear
  • Redesigned bench seats
  • Built in stovetop (possibly with an oven)
  • Diesel cab heater
  • Adjustable, removable tables
  • Underbody grey water storage tank
  • Redesigned roof storage
  • Swivel seats

We’ll be rolling out our design in the near future and hopefully purchasing a van soon! So stay tuned.