Camping has become increasingly popular lately. More and more people choose to either buy a small camper and use it from time to time or get rid of their properties and go full nomad for a while. 

Unfortunately, campers aren’t cheap, which is the main reason most interested in this form of recreation tend to ditch the idea. However, there’s another route. You can make your own camper, and today we’ll discuss how. 

Plan Your Expeditions

Designing and making a DIY camper is all about knowing what you expect from that camper. Different people have different ideas on what it means to camp. For some, going for a trip somewhere means parking the camper in a designated parking lot and enjoying all of the amenities at such locations.

At the other end of the spectrum, you have people who would park their vehicle on top of a remote ridgeline if possible. Finding your preference ahead of time can point you in the general direction of the type of vehicle you need. 

Naturally, if you’ve never been camping or if you’re not much of an outdoors person, you may not have a defined preference. This is why your first DIY camper should be a constantly evolving experiment of ideas. 

Choosing the Right Vehicle 

Building a DIY camper can be easy or difficult, depending on the type of vehicle you choose as your foundation. The most popular choice these days is to find a van and convert it into a camper. You can build your van in a variety of ways. There are levels of complexity to fitting out a van for camping. 

Full Conversion 

Doing a full conversion is usually the more expensive route. This means ripping out everything in the cargo space, designing a custom layout, installing custom furniture, appliances, and more. Full conversions usually mean getting a van with plenty of room to stand. That means Mercedes Sprinter, Ford Transit. Dodge Ram Promaster or similar. 

Going for a full conversion is a great idea if you plan on spending months at a time traveling around the country. Larger vans require more maintenance, but they also offer more comfort and more room. 

Modular Designs 

Going with a modular design means converting a van or a smaller delivery vehicle into a camper where you can change the vehicle’s configuration as you see fit. In other words, you’re building an insert that can be mounted on the vehicle and removed as necessary. Modular layouts are a good choice for smaller vans like older Dodge Ram vans or similar. 


Do Your Prep Work 

Preparation is key when building a DIY camper or caravan. You’ll want to be methodical and thorough when stripping the van and removing the stuff you don’t need. Check each uncovered section of the van for damage and patch things up as you go. 

Build a Solid Foundation 

Once the van is gutted, cleaned, and inspected, it’s time to build the foundation of your interior. You’ll want to figure out where each of the interior elements will go before you start cutting any boards. Are you going to have a modular bed or a fixed bed? 

Are you going to arrange your most important appliances along the van’s walls, or will you use a custom design? You’ll definitely want to answer these questions if you want to build a functional setup.

Install the Primary Elements First 

Once you’ve built the frame for the cargo space, it’s time to install the necessities. Think about your needs for a moment. How often do you cook, and how much fuel are you using? This will tell you how big of a kitchen you’ll need and how much space you’ll need to allocate for various accessories.

What about storage? If you travel light, you can get away with utilizing extra space around your main interior elements as storage. However, if you plan on bringing plenty of luggage with you, you’ll need a dedicated storage space. 

Tweak as You Go 

Building a DIY camper, a process continues even after you’ve been on your first few road trips. As you enjoy your van, you’ll learn what works and what doesn’t. Be prepared to make tweaks on the go, and don’t worry about stepping outside the box. After all, you’re the one who is going to spend most of the time in your van. Make it into a place that you enjoy spending time in. 

Once you get some miles and some experience under your belt, you’ll slowly start to form personal preferences. Use your first camper to experiment and find the right formula for you.