Caravan and tenting: How couple remodeled £44 campervan into their dream vacation residence | Journey Information | Journey

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As the Covid pandemic lockdown rules began to ease, Pippa Nixon (@littlemcrhouse) and her boyfriend Benn dreamed of a big vacation but didn’t want to leave their dog Mags behind. So the couple decided to take on a major DIY challenge and turn a campervan into their dream vacation home.

“Both me and my friend Benn love to travel,” Pippa, who runs Scoop PR, told Express.co.uk. “During lockdown we saw a lot of people converting vans into motorhomes and we chatted about how cool it would be to do it yourself.

“Having not traveled as much during the pandemic we decided to take a big vacation in 2022 but we have a dog and we thought leaving her with someone for over three weeks was a big request. We realized if we were to convert a van, we could just take them with us and what we spend on the van we would save on accommodation expenses.”

It was a chance sighting when Benn stumbled upon the ideal campervan for the job while out walking. “The van was in a state of disrepair so he left a note for the owner asking if he could buy it,” Pippa explained.

“It turned out the van was soon to be scrapped, so he said yes, it only cost us £400 – but it required a lot of work on it.”

Before the couple could get to work on the aesthetic details, there were some major challenges under the hood – including covering the cost of a new engine.

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Because of this, Pippa says it’s important to find the right van first.

“It’s going to take a lot of time and money to convert it, so this bit is very important.

“If you drive second hand, look for a clean and well maintained van. If you’re not a mechanic, try to get advice from one as it can be a minefield.

“Luckily Benn used to be a mechanic so he took care of that and the copious amount of rust on the van’s bodywork,” Pippa said.

While Benn worked on the technical side of the van, Pippa began researching and planning using Youtube, where other “Vanlife” creators had documented their travels online.

“The hardest part was probably making the decisions about where everything should be,” Pippa explained.

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“The van needs to be fully planned out so you know where to wire, where to drill, etc – it’s really difficult to know all of that before you start.

“You’re effectively building a tiny tiny house in a really tiny space. The more effectively you plan, research materials, and really leverage the experiences of others, the better chance you have of getting it right the first time.”

As part of their plans, the DIY duo included gas heating, a hot water system and even solar panels so the van has power no matter where they are parked.

Along the way, they encountered a few small electrical problems that they needed to fix. But aside from a few challenges, there were some parts of the renovation that were a breeze.

Pippa said: “The easiest part was probably laying the floor, it’s LVT and has a click lock system so it went down super quick and changed the look of the van.”

It’s details like these that create a “homey” feeling on the go. “A comfortable bed was an absolute must for us, we actually have a better mattress in the van than at home, I don’t think we’ve ever slept so well,” said Pippa.

“Having a dog with us also made the van feel like home. We have a couple of bench seats with cushions so in the evenings when it was chilly outside we would snuggle up on them and either read a book or watch Netflix with a candle lit and Mags snoozes.”

Though the couple admit they still have some extra work to do, they completed the majority of their transformation in just five months.

“It has everything it needs in it now, but it’s not finished yet, so we’ll get back to that early next year,” Pippa added.