Five Must-Have Products for any Van Reno
Building a van is always a combination of excitement and fear. There are so many components to consider when building any sort of house, and then you throw some wheels into the mix...well that can up the stress levels quite a bit.
There are all kinds of different ways to build out a van within a variety of budgets, but there are some things that we think are just worth the extra cash.
by Jayme and John of Gnomad Home
1. Vent Fan
We believe that a vent fan is an absolute MUST if you are living in a vehicle, especially full time. Having a vent fan is helpful in multiple aspects, such as keeping your van cool and helping with airflow during those hotter temps. It is also a key player when trying to keep the condensation level low if not nonexistent in your van (i.e. it will help you fight against mold!).
We’ve also found that you need a fan running while you cook inside the van, to suck out any fumes - it’s less of a problem for those with outdoor cooking situations, but definitely a large plus if you plan on doing any cooking inside of your rig.
John installing a fan-tastic fan on their high top conversion van.
John's and Jayme's conversion van
Honestly, this is something we stubbornly put off for well over a year. We pride ourselves on our DIY abilities and prefer to create something rather than buy it premade (example: we built our entire electrical system instead of buying a plug-and-go solar kit).
We had this dream of creating a cheap and easy way to have the perfect awning to expand our square footage, but when it came down to it, anything we would have made would have either looked a lil’ janky, or would have ended up costing just as much as buying one premade. We finally bit the bullet and bought one, and we are SO stoked to have more than doubled our living space.
3. Cell Phone Booster
This is a key component for any digital nomads out there! All of the work we do is online, but we don’t like cities or big crowds of people. Most of the time you will find us off the beaten path, deep in the woods in the more “untouched” kinds of areas. However, the problem with those areas is that they don’t have the greatest cell service, and they certainly don’t have wifi.
That’s where our unlimited Verizon data plan and our cell phone booster come in handy! All we need is a sliver of cell service and then we just flip on our cell phone booster. It can send our phones from one bar to full bars in an instant. We can’t really binge-watch Netflix, but we can surf the web and get all of our work done!
John and Jayme Hard at Work
We feel that having electricity on the road is essential if you intend to do any computer-based work as a “digital nomad,” are hoping to see without a headlamp in the evening, or would like to keep food cold without buying ice over and over. We are grateful everyday for the solar on our van. It runs our lights, multiple outlets and charging stations throughout the van, our vent fan, our ARB refrigerator, and our inverter, all without us having to stress about “where to plug in.”
Not having a refrigerator in your van means that what you eat on the road will be limited, and the chances that you will eat out and spend money will increase significantly. A lot of people get through with just a cooler, but keep in mind this means having to buy ice frequently to keep everything cold, which is another expense that adds up over time. Another thing you have to deal with when it comes to buying ice is the constant pain of dumping the melted ice or having to deal with waterlogged food.
Bottom line: investing in a fridge instead of a cooler will help to save you money that you would have spent going out to eat or buying ice every other day, and it will also expand your options when it comes to what kind of foods you can carry in the van with you.
Jayme's and John's portable fridge
Start Planning Your Build!
There are a lot of ways to save money in a van build, but there are some things that are just worth throwing down the extra bucks if you are planning on making this lifestyle a full-time commitment. Each category has its own subcategories, which really gets into how much or how little you would like to spend when it comes to vanity. Just remember - research is your best friend when it comes to any DIY project!
About The Authors: Jayme and John
Jayme and John always talked about doing “one last big trip” before they had kids, and mainly talked about an international trip. That is, until they got Nymeria and Crow - the best two doghters (get it?) they could’ve asked for.
That’s when they decided to travel around the United States and North America. And instead of just doing a temporary “trip,” they decided to make a complete transition to a vagabond lifestyle. At first the idea was to live out of a small SUV and camp, stay with friends, or Airbnb-it, but the more they found out about it the more they became drawn to the idea of living out of a van. After extensive research and a lot searching, they finally bought a van and got to work. That is where this part of their story begins.