Instead of taking a tent camping, and having to set it up and dismantle it at the start and end of every camping trip, why not just ditch the tent completely and use your minivan?
After trying this myself, I wanted to share with you my minivan camping ideas and exactly how to camp in a van.
To begin making a minivan into a camper, let’s go over some of the things that you should pack, and how, as well as additional things that you should consider and prepare for such as ventilation and privacy.
Minivan Camping Ideas – Our Top 6
Potable water is a must on every camping trip, but how and where you store it makes quite a difference when camping in a minivan camper.
Water for things other than drinking is necessary as well, such as for brushing teeth, washing dishes, and maybe even showering if the trip is a long one.
Personally, I take a minimum of two gallons for about 2-3 days. I have found that storing it in a beverage cooler with a spout is the best way, and if I think I will need or want more water I bring extra bottles along.
The way you pack, and store food would be the same as if you’re camping with a tent; in a cooler. If you would like to learn the best ways to keep food cold while camping, check out my other article here – how to keep food cool while camping. There’s a ton of good tips to prolonging the ice life of a cooler, how to pack your food and drinks, and even what to do if you don’t have or want a cooler.
If you plan on cooking anything at your minivan camping destination, take along a portable two burner stove and whatever utensils and such you’ll need.
Now, how do you go about sleeping in a minivan? Well, a double mattress should just about fit in the back of any minivan.
Alternatively, you could fit two single mattresses instead. This has proven to be more practical, especially if you use tri-folding foam ones. What’s really great about them is how easy they are to store and take out and reinstall again.
Thick foam mattresses can be very comfortable, especially if you throw a blanket or sheet over them and bring along some pillows and blankets.
Some prefer to just use sleeping bags, due to personal preference and/or because it traps more warmth.
A lot of people tend to forget about this one. Considering you’re going to be sleeping in a car, you should cover the windows in some way for several reasons.
The first and most important of those reasons being warmth and insulation, and then there’s also for privacy and so that nothing disturbs and wakes you up during the night.
Some thermal blackout curtains should do, and you can just use some rope to hang them from the handles of the minivan’s side walls. You might also want to use some tape or clips to secure them in place.
If you are willing to get rather crafty and do some DIY, I do know of a better method that uses Reflectix bubble insulation. My minivan only needed one roll, but it’s always better to have extra.
Some black fabric is also needed, to glue to one side of the Reflectix. In order to get the right shape beforehand, I recommend using some cardboard or kraft paper to create a template. In total, you’ll need about three cans of Gorilla spray adhesive.
With the fabric side facing the window, use tape to secure the pieces and voila.
Ventilation is something very important, especially if you intend on keeping all of the windows closed (and most likely covered) overnight. Without air circulation, you will wake up to a lot of condensation which consequently causes mildew.
However, if you leave a window open a crack then there’s a high chance of mosquitos finding their way in and bothering you all night long.
One great option is to purchase a sunshade especially made for minivan’s, ideally the kind that protect you from UV rays. This is a very inexpensive method that is quick and easy to install.
Another way to ensure fresh air coming in is with the use of a plastic snap-in gutter guard. It does take a couple of minutes to get it in place and roll the window up to hold it properly, but it’s very worthwhile especially if you intend on making a DIY window cover as mentioned previously.
Depending on how long you intend to camp for, you may not even need a power source other than your minivan. When driving, you can charge phones and even an iceless cooler if you happen to have one.
Although there may be the need to charge other things overnight or when stationary, such as light sources or maybe even a small fridge, in which cause a portable power station would come in handy.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best minivan for camping?
Reportedly, the best minivan for camping is the Toyota Sienna for a couple of good reasons. Firstly, the sliding door on the side makes it extremely easy to access. Even though the hatch door is big enough for anyone to fit through, that isn’t necessary. This is especially useful if you have large camping gear.
Moreover, it is effortless to remove the seats when needed. You can easily create so much space, and even the seat brackets are removable which is not a common feature.
The last thing I’ll mention is how its roof is very flat, making it great to add a roof rack on to store and transport even more gear with you.
Can you camp in a minivan?
Yes! It’s just like regular camping, except you ditch the tent and sleep in the car. It saves quite a bit of time by not having to assemble and dismantle a tent every time.
Can you sleep in the back of a minivan?
Yes, you can. It’s very easy to do, since most minivan’s back seats can be removed or at least folded. Simply place a foam mattress, or use sleeping bags if you prefer, and make it comfortable by adding blankets and perhaps pillows too.
What is the easiest van to convert into a camper?
The best and easiest van to convert into a camper is the Ram ProMaster. This is because it is the widest van available, and it has a turning radius similar to that of a standard car making it quite easy to maneuver in urban areas. The only thing is that you are limited when it comes to off-roading because of the van’s low floor height.
Which minivan tows the most?
All modern minivans should be able to tow between 3,500 to 3,600 pounds provided the proper equipment is used.
Chrysler minivans, including but not limited to the Dodge Grand Caravan and the Volkswagen Routan, can tow the most at 3,600 pounds. Other minivans such as the Toyota Sienna can only tow up to 3,500 pounds.
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