The internet is my portal to sharing our learning from our DIY glamping upgrades. Hop aboard!
Van Glamping (Glamour Camping) on a DIY Budget
We bought a 1994 Ford Econoline conversion van camper when we outgrew our charming but cramped and delicate vintage travel trailer. First, we wanted to take our RV living onto the fast lane (i.e., the highway) with a conversion van that could go the distance from the Midwest to visit family in Florida... and second, we wanted to do that in comfort and style.
Our decades old Ford Econoline Coachman conversion van was chock-full of amenities. The trade-off, however, was that it had all the charm of a nursing home waiting room... circa 1981. But, the price was right and I was pretty sure a little paint, fabric and elbow grease could fix the dated interior.
While a new conversion van (or class B motorhome) can ring in at around $40k-$50k, used ones like ours are a relative steal, so even the budget-challenged can afford a small DIY redecorating budget, which is great for those with the "glamping" bug, like me. Come along for our 3 month renovation.
DIY Glamping & Away We Go
With a flexible work life and a pre-schooler, we bought the van in order to travel the country and visit family who winter in Florida. We started the renovation on it immediately, spending the summer completing our interior upgrade. Our updates included new upholstery on the sofa, redone roof and door liner upholstery, new lined curtains that block the light, and interior paint job that gives the vehicle a spa-like modern feel. Most of this we did ourselves, although we did hire a pro-for the sofa.
After having a more traditional pull-behind camper, we really enjoyed the ease of use with this all-in-one RV. Just pull into a campground, plug in, and you're ready to play. No setup, leveling jacks, or difficult backup driving needed.
Easy to drive, easy to park; this newly refreshed motor home now had everything we needed for camping plus a spa-like style that made relaxing much easier.
Plus, with its 2" receiver and ample towing power, you can even tow additional toys or gear like a dream (we actually towed our 19-foot travel trailer effortlessly!).
Benefits of a Conversion Van: Faster, Further, More Functional
Although conversion vans are relatively rare in the campgrounds we've visited, and they probably hadn't entered my mind much outside of a childhood love for Scooby Doo's Mystery Machine, back in the vanning heyday of the 1970s, the more research we did, the more it made sense of us to increase our options without increasing our size or budget too much.
The conversion van option offers a lot in a relatively small package:
- Highway-worthy: Designed for 65mph roadways (unlike our 1950's trailer).
- Conveniences: Modern fridge, microwave and air conditioning was included
- Driveability: Big engine, easy backup and turnaround compared to trailering.
- Flexibility: Available in manageable sizes allowing for use as a living space and destination vehicle
- Price: Older second-hand models were widely available in the $3,000-$10,000 range with just as many features as the newer pricier models—if you can stand the décor (or fix it yourself).
"Before" Photos of My 1994 Ford Econoline Conversion Van
After: Renovated Van Glam - Paint, Sew & Go!
Features and Specs of This 1994 Ford Econoline Conversion Van
Low miles—ride in style!