about our van
Over the course of our purchase and conversion of Vanna, we have received quite a few questions about our van. Here are some of our responses to the basics:
"What kind of a van do you have?"
We have a 2015 Ford Transit 250-- standard length (148-inch wheelbase) with a high roof. Our van runs on regular, unleaded gasoline and is rear-wheel drive.
"What's the average MPG you get?"
When the van was a weekend getaway vehicle, we got about 18 MPG. Since hitting the road full-time (read as: filling the van full of all our belongings, which all of our gear and a 16-foot kayak) and getting all-terrain tires, we now get 13-14 MPG.
“How did you name your van?”
In short– our van is white, and we like puns. Vanna White seemed like the perfect fit for our four-wheeled beauty.
“Why did you choose a Ford Transit 250?”
There are a lot of vans out there to choose from, so we did quite a bit of research before narrowing in on just the right kind. The Ford Transit 250 was exactly what we were looking to get for a few reasons: it has a super tall ceiling for ample standing room; rear-wheel drive, which will work great with the storage system we’ll be building in the back; and it’s the biggest vehicle that can still fit into a regular-sized parking space (which was the most important piece of criteria for us). Although the Ford Transit was brand new to the US when we purchased it, travelers in Europe have been converting them into adventuremobiles for years. It was a small risk worth taking!
“How did you both come to the decision to get the van?”
The decision to get the van was a product of an 18-month-long dream we discussed about taking on a new and exciting project together that tapped into our passion of exploring the world. Since we first met, Shane and I had been taking trips in his then-vehicle, a beloved Toyota Cruiser, so often that we had outfitted it with a simple bed and storage system, and fit window shades to it. Although the van conversion was far more complex than the work we did on the Cruiser, getting a van wasn’t that big of a mental leap. However, it has been a total game-changer and allows us to travel longer, cook real food, stay warmer, and have a space to stretch.
“Why did you buy a new van to convert when you could buy something used?”
It’s great question. Take a look around, and you’ll find every reason not to buy a new van. Tons of ads list used fleet vehicles all the time, and online you’ll find just as many private sales, including vans that have already been pre-converted by folks who no longer plan to use them. For people with a case of Wanderlust who plan to use their van for a few years and then re-sell, a used van is the way to go. There is always the risk of running into technical difficulties as you get to know your van (hopefully prior to any big trips off the grid), but if you budget for it, you might find some savings. In our case, we want to take Vanna on trips for years and years to come; she’s totally part of our family. It made more sense to buy something new that was ready to be converted and hadn’t picked up any quirks yet.
“What did you do to convert the van?”
Oh gosh– almost everything under the sun! In all seriousness, we did a lot of work on Vanna to make her what she is today. Insulation, walls, flooring, storage, bed, kitchen galley, organizational systems, roof rack, solar power system and electrical set up, and other finishing touches. It’s been a project we enjoyed taking our time to complete… which is a lucky thing for us. With the pull of our 9 to 5’s (in combination with us taking summers off so we could focus on playing outside) we spent the better part of 2 years transforming the van into our rolling home.
“When you’re on the road, where do you sleep?”
Great question– it depends! If we’re out in the wilderness, it could be at a campsite, in the parking lot of a trail head, or down a dirt road that has wide turnouts. In the more urban areas, you might find Vanna at a rest stop, neighborhood, or in the parking lot of a 24-hour retailer like Walmart.
If you’re asking because you’re interested in learning more about sleeping and living in your own vehicle, I recommend checking out this post on camper life 101!