Niamh and I are both climbing instructors based in Ireland. Seeing how other climbers around the world were living in their vans, we realized that this was the way to go for us too. Living rent free, traveling more comfortably and frequently, and having all our belongings everywhere we go, are just some of the reasons that pushed us to make this move.
Three years ago we moved into an old, already-converted campervan. We lived in it for two years until Covid lockdown started.
During the summer, we decided to buy a newer van and do it up exactly the way we wanted. After living in our first van, we knew pretty well what our priorities were and what features we wanted to include.
As we live in Ireland, being able to stand up in the van was a must for us (it rains 24/7 here). Although we love spending time outside, we designed the van to be as comfortable as possible. We like to be able to work from the van, so we like to be as self-sufficient as we can.
In the two years that we lived in our last van, we only stayed in a campsite twice. Because of this, we decided to power all of our electrical system through solar power plus a split relay, this charges the leisure batteries when we drive the van. We don't use too much power, but we are not shy to use our computers, turn on the lights all day, or leave our compressor fridge running constantly. Our electrical system has worked perfectly so far.
For security reasons, and to expand our kitchen space, we decided to block off the cabin and make an L-shaped kitchen. This gives us plenty of cooking space and offers space to store enough food to last us many days. To expand our cooking options, we decided to install a stove with an oven and grill, which together with our fridge, is a mega upgrade from our last van.
We decided to not install a water tap. Our last van used to have one, but to save water and power, we would never use it. Coming from a climbing-dirtbag background, we are used to using alternative ways to brush teeth, wash dishes etc... and we are happy to continue doing so. Plumbed to the sink, we have a greywater tank with a drain to the bottom of the van. We can open or close this drain to empty our waste water in appropiate locations.
We really like hosting people, and we like to be able to relax or sit to do work. After a couple of attempts, we came up with the right shape of bench to have a comfortable working seat and a relaxing bench to lounge. We are delighted with the way it turned out, way beyond our expectations of comfort. Without following social-distancing we can fit a few guests comfortably.
We've put a big effort on maximizing storage space without making the van feel too tight. We've left a lot of space under the bed for all of our climbing gear and some extras. We also have access to storage under the seats and behind the backrests for more frequently used things.
I am from Mexico and we both love the decorations, colors and styles that you find there. We've based the style of the van on these colorful features. Early on the build we bought our colorful tiles from Mexico and we had some cushions from there too. We left all of the walls, cabinets and bench white and grey to be able to put plenty of color on top.
Even though we keep being put back in lockdown, we have managed to enjoy the van a few times and we are delighted with the way it turned out. We cannot wait to be back in it fulltime and bring it on our trips.
You can see more of the build and our future adventures on Instagram at @senderovanlife
Cheers and best of luck during these rough times!
Niamh and Andres