My MiniCamper Conversion: Introduction
It would be a tall order to find a vehicle that can carry five adults in comfort, sleep two and carry all the gear for camping, picnics or tailgating parties. But, in fact, this minivan conversion can be done easily and inexpensively.
This book came about because I converted my new Toyota Sienna minivan into a mini camper. I put the plans on my web site “myminicamper.com”. After installing a counter on the website, I noticed quite a bit of interest even though the web site was not promoted at all. The next step was to expand the plans shown on the web site to include a short history of the minivan and the specifications of the vehicles that would be most suitable for conversion to a camper.
Purchasing a used minivan is an excellent way to obtain the basic vehicle, but care must be taken not to get one that is too old as it would tend to be smaller. The generations of minivans are described in Part 2. I also added the plans and instructions to convert many minivans other than the present generation Sienna to a mini camper.
I realize that most campers already have camping equipment that they want to use such as their camp stove, and camping table and folding chairs. Some of these items that may not be space efficient, so a couple of variations for their storage are offered in the designs.
With a vehicle as versatile as the minivan, different folks will emphasize different uses. For some, it will be mostly for use as a full size second car and utility vehicle to transport cargo. For others it will include trips to the biking trails or the lakes or ocean for boating and fishing. Others will be mainly interested in traveling on a budget. And, surely, the younger generation will want to use the van for camping at music festivals and at camping sites.
All of these activities can be done in greater comfort with an RV. But in most cases, the RV is a far larger vehicle than the activity requires with the attendant higher operating costs as well as the cost of depreciation and insurance.
The book is divided in four parts:
- An overview of the minivan conversion
- The history of minivans and the current specifications of competing models
- The conversion of the Sienna minivan and the design of a number of camping accessories
- The conversion of other minivans that have adequate dimensions for camping
The total cost of the parts for the conversion of the Toyota Sienna is $132 as shown in the bill of materials. Anyone who can read a simple plan, take a measurement and handle simple tools is capable of doing an excellent job on this conversion in a weekend by following the simple directions.
Good luck finding a good minivan, and have fun using it as a minicamper!