The Nanavan

We’d been talking for a couple years about buying a van to convert into a camper and last spring (2016) we had an opportunity to buy my Nana’s van. A sweet, sky blue, 2000 Ford Windstar minivan to be exact. The timing worked great, it had relatively low mileage, and my grandparents were the original owners so we knew its history. We had already been planning to go on a two-month road trip after our South America trip, and having the van would be an awesome asset for such an occasion.

As soon as we got the van home and took some measurements, Alastair designed a storage unit and sleeping platform (and even made a super cute miniature cardboard version) to maximize the space. The design was more complicated than originally thought because the van itself has about six inches of slope from the rear bumper to the front seats. Thankfully, the construction process went smoothly and we managed to get the whole contraption built and installed in the span of a weekend with (a lot of) help from my dad and the use of his workshop.


The platform fully extended, with all rear seats removed.


The back of the platform lifts up for easy access to storage underneath. We have also added metal supports to keep it propped up.


Propping up the back of the platform doubles as a backrest for comfy lounging.


The middle section of the platform can be removed to access other parts of the storage below. It also allows for the front of the platform to slide over the back and collapse into a smaller version of itself.


When the front of the platform is slid back there is enough room to have two rear bucket seats inserted so we can have buckled-up passengers come along with us.


Plastic totes make for easy organization of food, cooking supplies, outdoorsy gear, and whatever else we happen to bring along on any given trip.


Alastair made me a nightstand (of only the finest Velcro and tupperware) so I have a handy place to store my phone, Kindle, headlamp and earplugs.


Alastair bought a large roll of silver insulation and cut a piece for each window to help provide privacy and block out light.


Our only way to vent the van is keeping the windows open, so we bought Skeeter Beaters to help keep critters out. They are large window-shaped nets with magnets around the edges, and we’ve added string so we can tie them to the door handles in case of strong winds.

Before our road trip to the southwest we took the Nanavan on a couple local weekend camping/hiking trips and then for a longer trip to Yosemite. This allowed us time to get familiar with how to best organize and function with our new set-up, and discover a couple minor things we wanted to add or change. So far it has worked quite well and we’re having a good time taking it on adventures and tweaking things along the way.



  1. Carole · April 19, 2017

    The DIY is all good practice for your trip to the UK. I think you have made good use of the available space.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. big sis · April 19, 2017

    I love your nightstand. Very fancy!

    Liked by 1 person

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