FIVE Reasons Why a Minivan Is Perfect for Van Life
Look at the ADVANTAGES of choosing a minivan for the “van life”.
The "mini Vanlife"!
The original GoneCamper conversion for minivans was expressly not designed for the full-time life of a “vandweller”. As described at GoneCamper.com, the minivan conversion provides a bed for travelers, plus a kitchen to store cooking utensils, water, a stove and cooler. The GoneCamper was built with vacationing campers in mind (typically couples, but often singles) who need a roomy and economical vehicle for work and play when they are not camping.
Camping at a Wisconsin state park
For economical travel and comfort on the road, few vehicles can compete with the minivan. It has a long wheelbase for a smooth ride, gets great gas mileage, and has tons of room. Minivans are designed with a cargo area that will haul a sheet of plywood back from the lumberyard. This 4-foot by 8-foot space is used to the maximum in the GoneCamper camping conversion for minivans.
The original GoneCamper does not alter the minivan in any way. In fact, with Dodge and Chrysler minivans, the seats aren’t removed but fold into the floor for storage. The GoneCamper bed and kitchen stores behind the second row of seats, providing room for four passengers between camping trips. If needed, the entire package can be removed and reinstalled in less than 15-minutes.
The bed folded for travel, plus supplies for three weeks on vacation
Still, there are characteristics which make the generic minivan perfect for the “#vanlife”. Let’s look at the Top Five Reasons Why a Minivan Is Perfect for Van Life:
1. Minivans are everywhere. This means they are plenty of new and used minivans in all price ranges to choose from in virtually every city in the U.S. and Canada. This also means that minivans are some of the most inexpensive used vehicles. If you prefer a new vehicle, you will often have the option of 0% financing. Minivans also benefit from low cost routine service and tires. When we replaced the original tires on the GoneCamper Grand Caravan, the new tires had a 70,000 mile warranty!
2. Minivans are everywhere. The minivan is so common that it is generic and nearly invisible. You can't find a street, parking lot, park, business, church, or office building without a minivan in sight. If you want the option of “stealth camping” in residential or commercial areas, few vehicles are less likely to draw attention. This is important to many vandwellers who want to pay for overnight parking as little as possible. This is especially important if your destination is a city versus campgrounds or BLM lands.
With a minivan, your driving, parking, and camping choices are maximized. You can drive down narrow lanes with overhanging branches that would stop taller and wider vans and RV’s. You can park in crowded lots and drive down twisty roads where RV’s and trailers are prohibited.
GoneCamper Grand Caravan in the backwoods of Wisconsin
3. Minivans are some of the safest vehicles on the road. Millions of minivans have been sold. They have high crash ratings and that means lower insurance costs. The unibody construction is strong in case of a major accident. The engine and transmission drivetrain has been proven after years of production. Minivans are often used as taxis and rack up tremendous mileage. We have heard of minivans used as taxis and for medical transport with more than 300,000 miles on the original engine and transmission.
Minivans are also easy to drive. With a raised seating position and windows all around, you have excellent visibility. Front-wheel drive provides a short turning radius. There is no comparison between driving a minivan and a larger van or RV. We have routinely seen 30 miles per gallon on cross-country trips in our GoneCamper Grand Caravan. We also like not needing to search for diesel pumps and never worry about finding gas even in rural areas.
4. Minivans have a high load capacity. They are small but mighty! Every minivan is designed for six or seven passengers, so the suspension is stronger than the average sedan. Minivans are often used by tradesmen to deliver packages and haul supplies and tools. Minivans are also converted to transport handicapped individuals, complete with heavy, motorized wheelchair ramps and lifts. You will often see minivans used by painters and electricians, complete with heavily loaded roof racks. Most minivans already have light-duty roof racks, but stronger, aftermarket can be added that will support solar panels, water tubes, bikes, or bulky camping gear.
The GoneCamper Grand Caravan at Mile Zero of the Alaska Highway
5. Most importantly, minivans are very roomy. As noted previously, the basic floor plan of a minivan includes an open four-foot by eight-foot cargo area. This doesn’t sound like much, but a minivan is longer, wider, and taller than many alternatives. Some people are living – intentionally – in smaller vehicles, including compact sedans, SUV’s, and the Honda Element and Kia Soul. By comparison, a minivan is spacious and accessible. All minivans have a relatively unobstructed floor, two huge side doors and an enormous rear hatch.
Side note: many of the most satisfied and committed vandwellers have extensive camping experience. Compared to the comforts you can pack on your back (or haul on a bike or motorcycle), the creature comforts and accessories you can include in a minivan are substantial.
The HUGE "blank slate", waiting for your camping conversion
If you need a dependable and comfortable vehicle for work or travel, a minivan is hard to beat. The minivan can be converted to a camper and back to a passenger van easily. The GoneCamper conversions do not require any permanent alterations to the minivan. You can also transfer the GoneCamper package from van to van if you sell or trade.
Your minivan will fit in any driveway or garage or parking ramp. It is cheap to operate and maintain. Unlike RV's and trailers, there are no added storage costs. The versatility and low cost cannot be matched by any other camper. For all these reasons, a minivan may be the best choice for the "mini Vanlife"! Contact GoneCamper to discuss the many design options for your minivan. The minivan most completely defines our motto:
Traveling Efficiently, Camping Comfortably, Living Frugally