Updated: Apr 24
Photo by Kampus Production
With more and more people opting to travel and explore the country via campervan, there is no shortage of vans on the market that can be converted into a comfortable home away from home.
For families looking for an adventure, purchasing one is a great way to explore new places and create lifelong memories.
But if you don't want to buy an expensive, pre-converted campervan, then you'll need to find the right vehicle and outfit it yourself. With just a few modifications, some great vans are available that make excellent campervans!
However, with so many models available, it can be challenging for families to decide which is the one. That is why as your trusted builder regarding family van conversions, let's look at some of the best options to convert into a campervan.
First Things First: What to Look For
With a campervan, you can design it with all the comforts of home, from a bed to a kitchen and even a bathroom! But what type of van should you choose when converting one into a camper?
Here are some things to consider when selecting the best van for your family’s needs.
#1. Size Matters
When choosing the right size van for your family, there are several factors to consider.
How many people will be traveling in the van? Will you need extra storage space for luggage and supplies? Are you planning on installing additional features like a fridge, bathroom, shower, or microwave?
Knowing how much space you’ll need and how much space is available will help narrow down your options. Will you use it as a daily driver for everyday use or will it just be for special trips? Do you want to be able to park it in a normal parking spot vs a RV parking spot? Do you need it to be able to be a cargo van, passenger van, and a camper?
A van is a big investment and likely you want to be able to use it for multiple purposes.
Larger vans can be restricted to where they can park, the configuration and build out can restrict the type of use you can use the van for. Most families need the van to be able to fit a lot of people in the van (soccer mom mode), be able to remove the build out to use the van as a cargo van to transport large items or use like a truck, and as well use it for camping trips with the family. Modularity is the key to be able to get all 3 uses in one van.
You want your van to last for years of use, so look for something that is designed with durability in mind and built correctly. Like purchasing a home it’s the work you don’t see, how it’s done, and the materials used that make a home last. Pay attention to more than the cosmetics of the van. Anyone can paint a pig, but it’s still a pig as they say. Look at reviews from previous owners before making a purchase and ask questions about the build quality, documentation of how things were built, and references if possible. The old saying is generally true, you pay for what you get. Cheap is Cheap, quality does cost more.
The last thing you want is something that won’t stand up against wear and tear over time and most importantly it’s safe!
Best Vans to Convert: Your Best Options
Sprinter and Transit Van
The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter crew or passenger trim van is a great option for those looking to do a campervan conversion. In particular starting with a crew or passenger trim you have crash tested seating and they are turn key right away to use as is. Each one however has advantages and disadvantages depending on model, trim level to accommodate specific layouts. Choosing these trim levels can greatly reduce costs as well with your build as you have seating, walls, and flooring straight from the factory. The 4WD or AWD options give you the ability to tackle whichever terrain your adventure leads you to!
Several engine options are available with either brand that give you plenty of power, along with its advanced 4WD or AWD technology, rest assured that all four wheels can handle even slippery terrain effortlessly.
The Sprinter as well is the easiest van to convert with many upfitters and parts manufactures have plenty of options to convert this van anyway you would desire.
Here is a Sprinter Crew Van that we recently built.
Ford Transit Passenger Van
The Ford Transit Crew Van is another perfect choice for families out there! Its the only van that has rear curtain airbags in the rear, but is limited to seating up to 5.
Not only does it have an exceptionally spacious interior for passengers and all their camping gear, but it also has an advanced 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine that can produce up to 310 horsepower!
This combination of power and comfort means you'll get to your destination easily while carrying everything you need! AWD option as well will get you anyplace you want to go.
Here is a 2020 AWD FORD TRANSIT Crew Van that we recently built.
Sprinter Crew Van
This is our favorite van to build for a family. An excellent option for those looking to convert their vehicle into a campervan is the Sprinter Crew Van.
Outfitted with a robust 3.0-liter V6 or 4CYL turbocharged engine that produces up to 190 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque, it offers outstanding power on any terrain. Not only that, but its 4WD option gives you the capability further enables great traction even in slippery conditions.
And this van is more than spacious enough to create a cozy living area and fill it with all of the necessary amenities for camping in comfort and gives you the greatest build out flexibility and options. It has greater ground clearance as well compared to the Transit and the MPG is significantly higher…over 20 mpg vs 14 depending on the engine/model.
With its robust frame and large cargo capacity, it can effortlessly carry whatever supplies or recreational gear you might need for weekend getaways or extended trips--making it perfect for any adventure!
Its high-quality build means it will last through even the most challenging camping trips!
Here is what we did with the 2020 4WD Sprinter Crew.
The Weekender Van is ideal for those looking for a family campervan conversion project due to the flexibility of use in the way it is built out. This type of build gives you the magic 3 utility - cargo, passenger, and campervan use!
Not only is the interior of this van spacious and perfect for taking along both passengers and recreational gear, but it makes for a great daily driver primary vehicle that can park and go anywhere, even in the inner city. Typically these builds can have such features as a modular kitchenette, sink,/sink, refrigerator, and additional sleeping areas–perfect for larger groups or families. This type of build gives you 80-90% of the features in builds that are 2 times as much to build.
With all these features combined, the Weekender Van makes for an ideal family campervan that provides comfort and convenience on any road trip or camping trip.
Keep These In Mind
With a campervan, you can easily pack up your vehicle and hit the open road without worrying about booking hotels or campsites. And to ensure you'll get the most out of it, here are some essential points you should remember.
Choosing Your Vehicle
As we have mentioned, it's essential to consider both size and fuel efficiency in choosing which van to covert.
If you plan to use the van for multi-purpose use Modularity should be one of your top priorities. However, if you plan on mostly taking short trips with just a few people then you can have more of a fixed configuration.
Once you’ve chosen the right van for conversion, it’s time to start thinking about what kind of layout you want inside the vehicle.
This can range from simple things like adding windows or insulation to more complex projects like installing cabinets or beds. Depending on how much work you’re willing to do yourself, there are plenty of options available that won’t break the bank or take too long to complete.
With some stores carrying pre-made kits, you can easily have all the work done for you. Or better yet, check out our build examples and let us do all the hard work for you!
Finally, safety should always be at the forefront when it comes to any type of vehicle conversion project! Seating, or using factory crash tested seating or DOT approved flooring/seating system is very important.
Aftermarket seating is very expensive to add, easily 12-20k more but can give you very good seating flexibility compared to a “factory” installed seating.
Depending on the van rear air bags might be important for additional safety but they greatly reduce the flexibility and storage capacity of the van and how it can be built.
With that in mind, our team here at Cardiff Campervan goes the extra mile to explain all the build options and differences in configurations, brands, and layouts to meet your needs.
Wrapping It Up
Converting a van into a family camper is an exciting way to explore nature while creating memories with loved ones!
Whether you opt for a Ford Transit or Sprinter van you won't regret investing in one of these amazing vehicles that will help make all your camping dreams come true! Memories are priceless!
These family van conversions give you the flexibility to hit the road and explore different places with your family while still having all of the comforts of home!
Here's to a safe, enjoyable trip for all!
Looking for a way to get your family out of the house and onto an adventure? Cardiff Campervan has you covered with our high-end family van conversion services!
We can take your van and turn it into a home away from home that’s perfect for trips in any season!
Get started converting your van today. Contact us now and turn your vehicle into an unforgettable vacation destination!