Converting a van into a motorhome – our family’s DYI project

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You might’ve already guessed that we love travelling with our kids. We have always enjoyed discovering new places, encountering new people, admiring new views and learning about other cultures.

We used to dream of going on a trip with a caravan, all the way to Japan. Yes, through all the Asia! Obviously, this was just a dream, but it was a nice thing to think about especially when we were tired and a holiday seemed too far away.

After moving to London and buying a car two years later, we started travelling throughout the south and east of the UK. We fell in love with the geography of this part of the country. And we also noticed and then learned that camping with kids is quite a very common thing to do around here. There are lots and lots of camping sites, all types and in all sorts of places. So we started to dream of travelling throughout UK in a motorhome.

And what’s the next thing you do when you want to travel with a motor home? You start to look for one. Therefore, that’s exactly what we did.

After looking and reading about this subject for a few weeks, my husband found some sites on the internet where people would tell all about how they converted a van into a motorhome. And that was that! We were done searching for a motorhome: we were going to build one!

This idea suited us best because this way we could choose what van we wanted (manufacturer, production year, color, mileage and so on), how we wanted it to look inside, what furniture and utilities and seats to have, and all this without paying exaggerated amounts of money or getting a very old motor home. We wanted to have it our way. In addition, a family project is always fun and full of adventure and a good way to have a great time together.

So now we have a van! It’s a white LDV (English manufacturer – these vans were used by companies such as Royal Mail and National Grid). Ours was formerly used as a school bus and looks like this:

Obviously, the kids can’t do too much as we want them to be safe around the area. Still, it’s fun for them to watch the process as they are fascinated by what the adults do and to talk about what we are doing and why. They are pretty excited about building and having a motorhome! And my son currently loves to measure the van and everything in it with a real measuring tool, Because yes, the work has already begun.

The first step was to remove the seats in order to take out the carpet. It’s a bit rusty under it (way less than expected though). We are in the process of getting rid of it all with a special brush and a rust converter (pretty cool stuff, does magic with the rust, we bought it onlineaff link).

Then we’ll see what’s the next step (actually, I will see as my husband already has the plan written down).

Therefore, in case you are wondering what our plans for the summer are… Well, let’s just say that we are a bit too busy to go on a holiday just yet! But oh boy, when this motorhome is ready…!

PS. We will still go here and there on short trips from time to time and I will tell you all about them, and also about how our project is going, so stay close!

Photos: personal archive – this is how the van actually looks at the moment.


  • Luke

    I actually investigated this concept several years ago. It is the ONLY way to create exactly what you want in terms of a motor home! It’s… the smart way to do it =) (And once upon a time long ago I was also looking at the shipping container homes, numerous you tube features from those who were building such modular units, fascinating, low cost, high quality possibilities! Another veryyy interesting topic!)

    But yes, light weight fleet vehicles with excellent fuel efficiency etc,. are the correct solution to start building upon. Apart from being super expensive, the ready built motor homes all seem – to me anyway – to have too much bulk or unnecessary stuff in them. At least that is what I noticed HERE where I am located. I am so excited to you are doing something like this!

    My mother, far out in the deep blue ocean of nostalgia, daily recounts old tales of long drives with her father back in the 60’s … through Southern England on his routes, always associated with peculiar delivery jobs he seemed to obtain. The marvelous villages and mysterious remote country pubs, along winding obscure hedge lined lanes, known only to locals. Just how did he know where these places were, she wonders, to this day… and what of those ancient stone circle sites, passed casually, seen in distant fields… all taken for granted. Only later in life does one realize how fantastical they must be and how fortunate one was, back then, but did not know it at the time…

    • raluca

      England in the 60s, that would be nice to hear more about, especially as seen driving through the country for long drives 😉 As for the motorhome, thank you, I will let you know how things go and how they turn up to be (clearly not too bulky, as many of the ready-to-go are, as you said) and maybe this will inspire you to start a project like this too 😉

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