I’ve always wanted a Camper Van – something about the idea of just heading out on the open road really appeals to me.
But equally, I’m a practical girl at heart. I know we wouldn’t get out in a Camper Van too often and I still need a practical car for getting to and from work and other general day to day (mostly boring) things.
When the time came to trade in one of our cars last year, we had a decision to make. We’ve got a Mini Cooper already, which is just about the least practical car imaginable when it comes to transporting more than two people or carrying any luggage at all. We needed space, practicality and something that might just satisfy my craving for a Camper Van.
Meet Ronda. Ronda the Honda. She’s a 2005 Honda CR-V. And as my friend so kindly pointed out, she’s a soccer-mom’s car.
Well not any more… she is now a Camper Car!!
We decided that she’s plenty big enough to sleep in – so we would find a way to make her a part time practicality-wagon, part time micro-camper!
After a good few months of planning and getting our heads round how it would work, a few weeks ago we took the plunge and started her transformation.
We’ve been out for two camping adventures in her now, and while there are still adjustments we want to make, we’re pretty happy with how she’s turned out!!
So, armed with three big pieces of MDF and some wooden batons for legs we set to work… I did a lot of research into how other people have done this, but one of the major criteria for me was to NOT have to remove the back seats. I came up with a plan which works around the back seats just being dropped down.
Update – After our first trip we decided that the convenience of not removing the back seats leads to the inconvenience of almost no headroom. So, for trip number two the back seats came out (relatively easy job, just youtube it!) and all the support legs got chopped down – so we can now almost sit up straight, but still have a bit of under-bed storage.
The main structure sits in the boot, it’s a glorified shelf really. It’s going to stay in the car probably 99% of the time, but it will come out if we need it.
It fills the boot and is held up by 7 legs – three down the middle and two on either side. This gives us space to store lots of little bits and pieces like boots, coats and bottles underneath.
The middle section is resting slightly on top of the boot section, with a two inch overlap which is secured by some quick release bolts. It has two legs at the front, supporting it from the back seat foot wells. There’s also a lot of storage space under this part in the foot wells and where the seats used to be – bonus!
Because Rich is so tall, we needed to add a hinged third section to make it long enough for him to sleep comfortably!
This is a much smaller panel, cut in on two sides to allow it to fold over, as it’s attached by two hinges to the middle section. This section means when we’re parked up for the night, we pop the front seats forward and fold this section over to give a bit of extra space.
With the help of some loft insulation, I’ve crafted some window covers which just slot in and pretty much hold themselves in place. This not only keeps windows covered for privacy and lighting, it also adds a little bit of extra insulation.
The mattress just a double air bed – as the space is a little narrower than a double bed, the air bed is perfect as it just inflates into the space it can find.
We’ve got two simple bungee cords across the ceiling (attached to those little handles above the doors) which serve as little hanging rails. We’ve got two battery powered bulbs which hang perfectly, and on a rainy evening we have been known to hang an iPad from them to make a nifty little drop down TV.
The best thing about it (in my opinion, at least) is the ease of moving around. I don’t particularly like the idea of being tied to one place, and this makes it so easy to pack up and move on. The set up and pack down time is probably less than 10 minutes – we just have to flip over the extension, move any luggage that we’ve abandoned on the bed and pop in the “curtains”.
Nothing can quite beat the feeling of waking up in the morning, popping open the window on the back door and lying in bed looking at a spectacular view with the morning breeze on my face. Bliss.
There’s still a bit we need to do – we might add a roof box for easy storage and I’m contemplating trying a diy mattress out of foam and mattress toppers.
Of course, I’ll be keeping you posted on my future Ronda-Adventures… so watch this space and make sure you don’t miss out by subscribing to my newsletter!