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What is a Weekender Camper Vans and Why It's A Simple, Affordable Option for Outdoor Adventures?

A weekender camper van is simple, affordable, and perfect for short getaways and weekend adventures. Weekenders typically don't have all the bells and whistles of a full-time camper van, but they offer everything you need to sleep, eat, and have fun on the go.


Let's be honest; not everyone has $70,000 to put into a van. A functional, simple build that gives you 90% of the features of more expensive builds, modular in function, and overall build costs significantly lower.


Weekenders generally don't have hot water, huge inverters, or custom cabinets. These items can easily add another $10-20k or more into a build. This is the main difference between weekenders and complete builds. A typical weekender build is between $15-30k depending on the type of van we start with, trim level, and options, and can be done in 2-3 weeks.

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The Basics of a Weekender Van Conversion

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We recommend buying a van with factory seating. This can save thousands of dollars and provide factory-tested safety. You can add seating, but that cost can easily exceed $ 5,000. Modifications of floor, welding, and other details are very costly. Starting with a Crew van or Passenger trim may help, but we must consider this extra cost.


Electrical Work

If you run a fan, charge your phone, or want interior lights and want to avoid a dead battery, you need to have some isolated auxiliary battery. Depending on your needs, your alternator and/or solar can charge this additional battery. Adding a fridge and a fan is a game changer in comfort. A simple, pure sine wave inverter can recharge small electronics. If you are going to run a microwave, coffee maker, or blender, this can add significant costs.


Insulation and Sound Deadening

Vans are hot, noisy, and cold, but you want to make your van comfortable. Comfort is often a neglected part of a build and the least glamorous, but it can make a huge difference. We only use superior automotive-specific products.


No denim, spray foam, or asphalt-based sound-dampening products, ONLY the best products available to give you a superior result. 3M Thinsulate and Dynamat Extreme. Unlike some builders, this is done with extensive coverage in your van with our regular package to include coverage on all walls, doors, and roof areas.


We also offer a floor insulation package to take it to the next level. These materials are costly, but they also give a superior result, well worth the extra cost. We could use cheap materials and make a ton of money, but it would not meet our performance expectations of doing the best job possible.

Weekend Van Wall Panels

At Cardiff Campervan, we keep walls simple and reasonably priced using an economical and durable mold, mildew, and stain-resistant material. Most of the time, we can work with existing factory walls, so why spend the money to change them unless it's a cosmetic reason?


Bed in Weekender Van

Adding a bed is simple. There is a reason you purchased a van, and likely you are planning to sleep in it. Each design has compromises; we find the platform beds are economical and provide massive storage space below for your gear.


Should You Install a Fan in Your Van?

Installing a fan will cool your van down significantly. Yet a better solution is a vented window; otherwise, you will have no air to exchange.

Van Windows

Adding vented windows to let cool air in and hot air out is much more effective than opening a factory window and using a magnetic bug screen.


LED Lighting Installation

Low-wattage lighting is excellent, uses very little power, and allows you to light up the interior of your van at night.

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Van Storage

Don't have $10,000 for custom cabinets? Plastic storage bins under a platform bed, Semi-Rigid Soft Bags for removable upper storage, or slide-out drawer systems like a Decked Drawer are a great way to have storage, and all are removable.

Fridge in a Weekender Van

A simple, super-efficient 12-volt cooler hooked up to a battery makes a big difference. In the long run, it's cheaper and more environmentally friendly than ice chests.

Solar Powered Weekender

You don't need solar power if you plan on driving your van frequently on trips. A 225AH aux battery can easily power a fridge, fan, and lights for at least a few days.

Weekender Bathroom

A porta potty or cassette toilet works well, is inexpensive, and is the way to build a basic weekender van.


Inventer in a van is more of a "want" than a "must" in a basic build. It can be expensive to add as it may require different battery locations, as you have to consider where you will put it and the extensive wiring that needs to go to the inverter. This is for 110v power, household plug.

Van Heating

Heat is expensive and generally not needed for three-season camping. However, heat is a crucial factor in cold conditions. We add heaters in diesel vans only with fuel pickups.

Van Table

A great solution is our Lagun table with front swivel Seats, allowing seating with a table without reconfiguring your van and moving stuff around.

Electrical Upgrades for Your Weekender Camper Van in Encinitas CA


We offer simple kitchenette solutions that are well under $2000 or use a Coleman stove. Our ultra-compact sinks are under $1600 and perfect for DIY installs.

How about a "kit"?

Kits are great solutions for a DIYer or when you have no interior. However, our focus is not to spend your money, and if you have a stock interior, we will work with what you have, usually cutting overall build costs by 20-50% or more compared to using a kit if you start with the right trim level in a van.

Conclusion to a Weekender Van Conversion

Weekender camper vans are a great way to enjoy the outdoors without breaking the bank. With some planning, you can build a weekend van with everything you need for a comfortable and enjoyable camping experience.

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