I wanted to pass my driving test for one reason; to travel in a van I could call my home. And now, several years later, I am very close to making this dream a reality – I bought a van! Ladies and gentlemen, say hello to Luna – a 2012 Ford Transit Connect LWB with 67,000 miles on the clock. She’s called Luna because she’s white (just like almost every other Ford Transit Connect on the planet!).
Why I chose a Ford Transit Connect
I knew from the onset that I didn’t want a large van. As a frequent backpacker my needs are modest and I’m used to travelling with just a couple of bags and a tent. So having a van at all was already a huge upgrade for me. I also wanted a van that was small enough to be able to use as a normal vehicle day-to-day through all the narrow streets and car parks here in the UK. Finally I wanted it to be economical with fuel, and a smaller van meant a cheaper and more manageable conversion.
It also seemed to work out better value for money to buy a van and convert it myself than buy one that’s already converted or an actual RV – for the same price they tended to have a much higher mileage and were often older too. Also I wanted a van that I could start from scratch with. I have a very particular idea of how I want my van to look and what functionality to have so I liked the idea of having a blank canvas.
So I looked at vans like the Renault Kangoo, Citroen Berlingo and Ford Transit Connect short wheel base. But after some thought I decided I wanted it to be big enough to have a full size bed permanently in the back and a little bit of extra height because I want to insulate it quite a lot (for those cold British days!). The Transit Connect long wheel base was the perfect balance of all these things; 6ft 5″ length in the back but overall not much longer than an estate car, and about 7 inches more height than the smaller van models. Plus Ford Transits in general are supposed to be reliable and cheap/easy to repair if things do go wrong. Decision made!
Not only is Luna the first van I’ll convert, she’s also the first vehicle I’ve ever owned so she is already super special to me. She’ll be the first bit of space I can truly call and make my own. I am ridiculously excited!
The van plan
I’m going to keep the conversion as simple as possible. It’ll have the essentials – a slide-out bed, kitchen area, a small leisure battery and storage – but few luxuries. This means a portable solar shower, a foot pump for running water, a portable stove and a cool box only. The only fitted electrical appliances will be some lights and a roof fan. I’m thinking I can always upgrade as I go along if need be. I will make a much more detailed van plan in another post.
I’ve given myself a budget of £2000 for the conversion, which includes buying a lot of tools and equipment. I’m secretly hoping that it comes to something more like £1500 but that might be wishful thinking! I want to complete the conversion by June and am planning to do 85% of the conversion myself (minus cutting holes through the van and installing the electrics. I really don’t trust myself with that stuff).
I have NEVER done anything remotely like a van conversion before. The most DIY I’ve ever done is build some flatpack IKEA furniture. I’ve used a drill once and own absolutely no tools. But I have done a ridiculous amount of research and spent many a sleepless night planning it all out during the year I’ve been saving up for this. Hopefully it will translate into a lovely conversion! I will be going into a lot of detail about what I do here on my site in the hope that it will be useful and/or inspirational for all those people who, like me, are working on a van conversion from ground zero. Because if I can do it then anyone can.
The travel plan
For my first adventure I’m going to take her into mainland Europe and up to Norway. I want to take her up to into the Arctic Circle to the northernmost point of mainland Norway – Nordkapp. I want to go for the summer solstice in June as it’s been a dream of mine to experience the Arctic summer.
I’ll also be doing a whole bunch of hikes and any other adventures that come my way, which I’ll also be covering here on my site and YouTube.
Let the van conversion begin!
So armed with a shed load of research, night time plots, and with the help of some friends I’m hoping she’ll turn out to be awesome.
And I’d love to take you guys for the ride too!