In case you missed it, I recently purchased a used 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan to convert into a camper. It’s been a passion project that I researched for about two years.
Wynston and I just took our first big trip in The Wynner. We journeyed to Idaho, where we camped with friends on Cascade Lake in Donnelly. After experiencing a week in our van, I will say that it’s already incredibly cozy and the setup is awesome! I really don’t have any complaints, but there are some small changes I’d like to work on now.
This blog post will outline the changes and improvements I am going to make to our minivan camper conversion now that I had a chance to live in it.
Minivan Camper Conversion Improvements
I will lead off by saying that I think the general setup I have for everything is perfect. My favorite things about the van layout are:
- The bed is super comfortable. I am using an Ozark camping cot with a 2″ foam mattress pad and a 4″ memory foam trifold mattress. A cozy bed was priority because I have a bad back and hip.
- I love the galvanized steel shelves that I’m using for the kitchen because I can hook anything on to them and hang towels, etc.
- A Yeti cooler works perfectly next to my bed. It doubles as a table and I still have floor space for my feet. It stayed below 40 degrees throughout the trip (with dry ice and one new ice pack).
- My bedside table from Ikea was by far the best furniture investment. It was only $20 and literally fits in the space between the cot and sliding door flawlessly. It holds all of my electronics and nighttime items.
- The Jackery 240 is excellent for powering my electronics.
I am going to keep the van setup how it currently sits. The immediate improvements I want to make are simple, but some do require a monetary investment, such as the solar panel system.
I would like to make the following changes and improvements to our minivan camper conversion (I literally took pages of notes while Wynston and I were camping in Idaho):
I have decided that I do need a solar panel to partner with my Jackery power station. I plan to get the 100 watt Jackery solar panel, but it’s a $300 investment.
I realized that I need the solar panel to power my Jackery when I do not have electrical hookups. The solar panel plugs into the Jackery and charges it. Then the Jackery charges all of my electronics.
It works likes this; Sun -> Solar Panel -> Jackery power station -> My electronics
You guys. I nearly annihilated my lower back when I was doing dishes at the campground for the first time. I thought it’d be a good idea to sit on my camping toilet, and bend over to wash dishes using my portable shower.
When I got up, I tweaked my back and nearly fell over from the pain. Luckily the next day I felt fine, but I don’t want that to happen again.
My portable shower is great for washing dishes, but I need to set it up so I stand rather than sit. This change is merely about moving things around to accommodate better posture.
For dishes, like I said, I have the portable shower as well as soap, a sponge and collapsible sink.
I had a curtain rod with actual curtains inside the van. I decided I don’t need it, as hanging a blanket up front using binder clips was easier and just as effective. By eliminating the curtain rod, I don’t have to worry about storing it.
There are a few items I need to purchase or change out:
The collapsible bin for food storage needs to be switched out for a hard shell storage container.
Next time I need to bring my supportive back pillow for when I’m working on my computer in the van.
I need another 5-10 gallon water jug.
I will purchase extension cords for when I have access to outside electrical hookups.
I was using a tarp in Idaho as a sort of foot mat to hold my shoes (and associated dirt) before I stepped into the van. I would prefer an actual rug or sturdy outdoor blanket for the ground outside the main sliding van door.
Overall I absolutely LOVE our Dodge Caravan minivan camper conversion. I enjoy the basic setup, as it’s cozy, spacious and really perfect for our road lifestyle.
Since this is a passion project, I am sure that I will constantly be making small changes to the van to fit my needs. I know I will switch out some items as weather changes and depending on our destination.
I plan to get back on the road in September when the weather cools down throughout the country. Stay tuned!