Vanlife: The van conversion pt 2: Bunk beds!

Fitting everything you need for four people into a van can be a challenge. You have to really think about what the necessities are, and then start to subtract… We have no oven and no freezer, no toilet nor shower inside the van, but of course, all four of us need somewhere to sleep. Danne and I accommodate on the sofas that can be made into a bed, that I wrote about in my first conversion post.

But unless we wanted to take turns sleeping, we needed two more cots. We decided to go with a bunk bed system for the kids and in our constant pursuit of saving space, we wanted the bunks to be removable so that we could put them away when they weren’t in use. Also, our van has lots of windows (there are windows behind the buffalo check fabric on the pictures below) and not much wall area, which made it a little tricky to mount the beds. So this is how we did:

Danne, who is a blacksmith/welder, manufactured brackets of stainless steel and attached them with screws, large washers, and nuts to the beams above the windows on both sidewalls. Between the brackets, we put four stainless steel poles with a diameter of 38 mm. Three of them have small hooks welded onto both ends so they don’t accidentally slip out. The fourth one, closest to the back, doesn’t need any hooks since its brackets have a different design.

IMG_1366

IMG_1373

IMG_1372

IMG_1364

IMG_1363

Danne didn’t want me to post the two pictures above. He says the welds are really ugly and made in a hurry… Well, at least they fulfill their purpose!

IMG_1374

I sew two “bedsteads” of heavy fabric, with channels that the poles run through. I used the type of fabric that awnings are made of, I made double seams and I also used an extra strong sewing thread. On top, we put foam mattresses or sometimes just sleeping pads.

IMG_1359

cropped-img_46892.jpg

Even though both beds are removable, we usually leave the one closest to the backdoors in place and use it as a shelf to store our bed linens on. The other one we just roll up and strap to the ceiling.

IMG_1357

IMG_1354

The kids are pleased with their bunks, and actually, it works for medium-size adults too.

IMG_1381

Vanlife: Lessons learned about traveling with our kids

The Beast from the East is raging in Sweden right now, giving us blizzards, sub-freezing temperatures and snowy roads with poor accessibility. But summer is actually not far away and we have started planning for it.

Last summer we did our first longer van trip. We were on the road for a month, traveled endless kilometers, visited Öland, Kinnekulle, Åre, Stalon, Lofoten, and Åre once again. We experienced so much wonderful nature and enjoyed so many magnificent sceneries: the wide, beautiful alvars of Öland, the dramatically orange colored Kinnekulle quarry with its turquoise lake and of course all the breathtaking mountains and waterfalls in the north of Sweden and our neighboring country Norway.

The kids weren’t as impressed as us though. Sure they appreciate road trips, hikes and camping sessions, but to them, it’s not about the beauty of nature. They just care about adventurous activities, having fun and doing things together as a family.

IMG_1161

IMG_1194

Also, when we think back on it, it kinda felt like we were always on our way, constantly heading somewhere else. The fact that we were free and able to go where ever we wanted actually got us a little stressed. In retrospect, I think we tried to squeeze a little too much (nature) into our four weeks long holiday. And although the trip was a blast, there are things we are going to do differently next time.

IMG_1196

This summer we are headed south. Our plan is to explore Denmark.
But we’re not gonna have a long list of beautiful places to visit, instead, we are going to focus more on the kids’ desires. We will stay longer in one place, and hang out as long as the kids want. We’re going to hit beaches, bike parks, cafés and even Legoland. Chasing after scenic views will have to wait. It might mean a little less Oh Wow moments (for the adults at least) and maybe not as many Instagram friendly photo locations. I’m not saying Denmark isn’t beautiful because I know it truly is, but when you have a soft spot for mountains and deserted landscapes, it might not be exactly it. But I’m feeling positive that we’re going to have a great time though! And I’m crossing my fingers for more sun and less mosquitos this year…

IMG_1195