As a musician and photographer who is on the road often I learned that I like being on the road often. For the longest time renting a vehicle made sense financially for long haul road trips. Typically for a full band we would rent large size SUVs like Suburbans or Tahoes. When I go out solo I would rent smaller SUVs.
Smaller SUVs for a single person on the road make sense. First they are economical typically getting 30 MPG on average. You put the seats in the back down, throw a foam pad over em, some blankets and pillows, your guitar , camera and gear and you are good to go. I would go the additional extra mile and paper over the back windows so I could sleep on a street corner in the city and no one would know I was in there. Also all your expensive gear is not a store front window advertisement for any passerby intent on stealing your stuff.
This worked great for a year or so. However it quickly became very limiting and cramped. You can’t take much gear with you and you can’t really spread out and hangout in the car between sound check and show time without feeling like you’re just sitting in your car. I started itching for a bit more space and my own small little green room in which to escape to no matter where I was.
So the question became: what to get? RV ? Nah way to big. I don’t want to feel like I am lugging around a small elephant with me everywhere I go. I want the speed, agility and maneuverability that is as close to a small SUV as possible. I quickly dismissed RV’s as an option.
Vans became the obvious choice. But what kind? I researched all the built out camper vans out there such as the Eurovans and Sprinter campers. They are really nice no doubt. They are also upwards of 40,000-100,000 dollars. Even used ones with 4 million miles on them are absurdly expensive. I started asking myself: just what the fuck are these things that you pay all this money for? The answer: Vans with a bunch of camping shit installed in them.
That’s it. There is no magic to these things.They are simply just vans with counters, beds and coolers or a fridge installed in them. There is no rocket science involved. Why spend 50,000 dollars for a van with a bunch of camping stuff in it? Because you are lazy. That’s it. Only reason.
My mission now changed and my goal was simple: Find a solid van for 10,000-15,000 and just build it out with the camping gear yourself. Even if I were to spend 5,000 on camping gear and modifications I am still only into it for 15,000-20,000. That is a significant difference than the 40,000- 100,000 one may spend buying a pre-built. And you get to customize it yourself.
So it was settled. I was doing it this way. Off I went in researching and finding the best possible foundation for a camper van that I could without spending any more than 15,000 on the van itself.
Up next...The Hunt