How to Make a Caravan Into a Camper Van

Updated February 21, 2017

Turning a Dodge Caravan into a camper is an ideal way to use an economy-sized vehicle as living space. Van-dwelling has grown in popularity among those who need to save financial resources. Van-dwelling in a Caravan allows you to save more money because the full economy of the mid-size van is better.

Turning a Caravan into a camper van requires planning. Van-dwelling is the ultimate form of small-space living, so you should keep your needs as the occupant in mind. Whether using the van as a full-time or weekend camper, you will need a place to sleep, storage space and alternative ways to cook and clean.

Remove the bench seats, middle-row captain's chairs and the passenger seat from the Caravan. Seats are bolted to the floor with a series of bolts and hardware. Remove bolts and hardware with a standard ratchet and sockets. Patch the holes left in the floor with automotive silicone.

Layer full-size mattress pads folded in half to form a makeshift mattress. Fold a queen-size sheet in half and sew around the edges to create a pocket. Insert the new mattress inside the pocket to keep the layers together.

Make blackout curtains for the windows in the caravan. Cut heavy fabric or old blankets two inches bigger than the window it will cover. Iron on no-sew Velcro around the perimeter of the curtain and around the window. Align the pieces and stick the curtain to the wall. Tint the windows using rolled window tint for added security.

Hang an adjustable closet rod along the wall behind the driver seat. Screw closet rod hardware along the top of the wall near the ceiling. Hang closet organisers along the length of the closet rod. Sweater organisers with multiple pockets are an ideal alternative to shelves.

Purchase 12-volt automobile appliances. Coffee pots and many other kitchen appliances can be purchased as a 12-volt miniature version of the full-sized original. Use a power inverter to charge electronics while you are driving. Additionally, an emergency hand-powered lantern, first-aid kit and small fire extinguisher are essential components for a van-dweller.

Make a cabinet to fit where the passenger seat used to be. Install storage to hold food and kitchen appliances. Mount a butane camping stove to the top of the cabinet. Use a stainless steel mixing bowl as a makeshift sink for washing dishes. Use cooking pots with lids to reduce the amount of cooking fuel needed to prepare a hot meal.


Pack light and store seasonal or rarely used items with a friend or in a storage shed. Refill water jugs at public faucets. Stay organised and discard trash frequently. Reduce your amount of activity once you have parked for the night to reduce the risk of drawing attention to yourself. Sign up for a roadside assistance package so that you do not have to leave your new camper van unattended during an emergency. Sign up for a fuel-savings plan at truck stops; these plans give free showers and meals as incentive for fuel purchases.


Do not enter and exit your van in the area you will use for sleeping. Do not engage in confrontation with people in the parking areas; simply start the van and drive away.

Things You'll Need

  • Ratchet and Sockets
  • Silicone
  • Closet Rod Hardware
  • Adjustable Closet Rod
  • Closet Organizers
  • Mattress Pads
  • Fabric
  • No-Sew Velcro
  • First-Aid Kit
  • 12-Volt Appliances
  • Power Inverter
  • Lumber
  • Nails
  • Stainless Steel Mixing Bowl
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About the Author

Dakota Wright is a freelance journalist who enjoys sharing her knowledge with online readers. She has written for a variety of niche sites across the Internet including “Info Barrel and Down Home Basics.” Her recent work can be seen in “Backwoods Home Magazine.”