Things I’d Change About My Van (Thoughts On My One Year Van-iversary)

It’s been one glorious year since I purchased the van and 12 months on, I’m still in love with it. Basic errands are a lot more fun than they used to be – and loads less exhausting. Actually, just as exhausting, only now I get to take Netflix and tea breaks in the back of the van after grocery shopping.  But, let’s be honest, you’ve seen my journey with this baby and she’s not perfect.


Here are some things I’d change.

How I Use My Van (A Quick Recap for Those Newer to the Blog)

When I have free weekends, I take her camping and hiking. For road trips, this thing is a legend. She is also my daily driver. I take it to and from work. I also use it as part of my freelance history business, where it serves as my hotel and home away from home. I love her.

What I’ve Learned Since Buying the Van

Turns out I want to do this full time. Yep. This was a bit of a shocker to me. Because of my current responsibilities, I’m not able to do that. But a few years down the road, I can see myself selling this and getting a slightly larger model (Promaster 500 perhaps) to convert. I love how easy it is. The house? That’s not easy and it’s becoming a bigger pain every year. The van? Easy.

The List: Things I’d Change About the Van

  • Cruise control! Grrrrrr, I miss cruise control so freaking much. I keep telling myself that not having cruise control keeps me alert longer. But…yeah…I’m gonna have it added.
  • A swivel front passenger’s seat: I don’t know what I want more, cruise control or a captain’s seat. I think the captain’s seat. It will open up a ton of space and I can stop being jealous of the vans I see with them.
  • You’re not going to believe this but, a smaller bed. My bed is WAY too big (yes, even with company). What was I thinking? I keep saying that I’ll shorten it down to a twin plus, but I know I’m too lazy. I’m legit stuck with that bed until I get rid of the van.
  • Something other than a white carpet. I KNEW better than to put it down a carpet that would show every stain. I told myself that I’d vacuum every day. I also had the nerve to run it under the sink…and cabinet…so it’ll be a pain to take up. But I will. One day.
  • I want one of those proper attaches-to-the-rear-of-the-van-tents, but I have spent hours and hours researching to find the right one. The best I can figure is to have one shipped from Europe that’s made to fit the Promaster’s slightly classier cousin, the Fiat Ducato.

And Things I’d Change About the Van…Maybe

  • Sometimes I wish I had walls in the van (because of how they look). Other times, no. I just don’t know!
  • I should get a roof fan, right?
  • And most days I’m super glad that I only have the windows at the back. Early on, I’d scheduled an appointment to have a window installed in the sliding door, but canceled at the last second. Still, every so often, I think about it. On the other hand, there’s a real bliss in being able to change clothes in the middle of nowhere anywhere, without drama.

So that’s where I’m at. The big take away is that it’s okay not to have everything done when you set out on this adventure. It’s okay to take it slow and see how things work out. I could list DOZENS of unnecessary things I purchased just because I thought I needed them but never used.

If I could offer one bit of advice for anyone thinking about vanlife, it’s this: Build your van out bit by bit (if your circumstances allow). Get the necessities in, and then live out of it for a week. During that week, make a list of things you want (or need) to change as they come up. Then, get back to building with those new changes in mind. Do this two or three times. And if you’re not certain that you need to buy XYZ, then DON’T. Dude, totally wait. Wait days. Wait months. Whatever widget you think you need will still be there once it’s clear you actually need it. Seriously.

23 responses to “Things I’d Change About My Van (Thoughts On My One Year Van-iversary)”

  1. Happy Vanniversary!
    Inspired in part by your van, I am in the midst of fitting gout my daily driver Nissan NV200 for the same purposes. Do I wish I could go full time? Absolutely – the same way I used to long for summer vacation. In the meantime, my van is my magic carpet to weekends and the week night away from the tedium of house chores.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, Melissa! You’ve beautifully said what I couldn’t quite phrase correctly – our vans ARE magic carpets. Absolute freedom and a different way of approaching life. I can’t wait to see what you do with your van🚐

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Greetings – Of your list, the first I’d do is the roof vent/fan. It makes camping even in moderately hot weather so much cooler! I have cruise control – I NEVER use it! The one time someone else used it in hilly terrain, it killed the gas mileage from 17 – 19 to about 10. No, not worth it – and I enjoy driving; part of that is using the accelerator. If I had standard shift, I’d be even happier! i’m glad I have side windows – more visibility, and more light if I’m doing something while parked. They also provide more ventilation. I have curtains, and also reflectix to put on the outside while parked in sun in hot weather, or inside in cold. Either/both of those provide privacy. Everyone has a different wish list! I look forward to each of your posts –

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Happy anniversary! We have spent many many years in VW vans. Our current one was adapted to our own specs so you’d think we’d have hit it right, wouldn’t you? We have discovered that the tent attachment (or drive away awning) we bought is totally unnecessary even on long trips. We no longer take it with us- it takes up space in the van when you are travelling, is horrible to dismantle when wet … we have just started taking less stuff with us instead. We hardly take anything now, no matter how long we are away.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Happy anniversary! Thank you for this post. I’ve been dreaming and researching van life for awhile now. My plan is to buy the essentials here and there before we begin the build to spread out the cost. Thank you for helping me to remember that all the bells and whistles can be added later, I at all. Safe travels!

    Liked by 1 person

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