When the lockdown rules for the Covid pandemic started to loosen, Pippa Nixon (Tweet embed) and her boyfriend Ben had been dreaming of a big vacation but didn’t want to leave their dog Mags behind. So, the couple decided to take on a major DIY challenge and turn the camper van into their dream vacation home.
“My friend Ben and I love to travel,” Peppa, who advances Scoop Br, he told Express.co.uk. “During the lockdown, we saw quite a few people converting trucks into campers and chatted about how cool it would be to do it ourselves.
“After not traveling much during the pandemic, we decided we wanted a big vacation in 2022, but we have a dog and we felt it was a big request to leave her with someone for more than three weeks. We realized that if we switched a van we could only take her with us and that amount What we spent on the truck we will save on accommodation costs.”
It was a chance watching, while running, that Benn had found the perfect campervan for the job. “The truck was in poor condition, so he left a note for the owner asking if he could buy it,” Peppa explained.
“It turns out the truck was going to scrap soon, so he said yes, it only cost us £400 – but it needed a lot of work on it.”
Before the couple could work on the aesthetic details, there were some big challenges hidden under the hood — including covering the cost of the new engine.
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That’s why Pippa says it’s essential to find the right truck to start with.
“It will take a lot of time and money to convert, so this part is very important.
“Look for a clean, tidy truck that has been taken care of if you are going by hand. If you are not a mechanic, try to get some advice from one of them, as it can be a minefield.
“Fortunately Ben used to be a mechanic so he dealt with that, copious amounts of rust on the truck body,” Peppa said.
While Benn was working on the technical side of the truck, Pippa began researching and planning with the help of Youtube, where other “vanlife” creators had documented their travels online.
“The hardest part was probably making decisions about where everything should be,” Peppa explained.
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“The whole truck has to be planned so you know where to run the wires, which plumbing, where you need to drill etc – it’s really hard to know all of that before you start.
“You are effectively building a tiny house in a very small space, so the more effectively you plan it, research, and truly use other people’s experiences, the higher your chance of getting it right the first time.”
As part of their plans, the DIY duo factored in a gas heater, hot water system, and even solar panels so that the truck would have electricity no matter where it is.
Along the way, they stumbled upon some small electrical problems that they had to solve. But in addition to a couple of challenges, there were some parts of the renovation that were a breeze.
“Probably the easiest part was laying the floor, it’s LVT and it has a click lock system so it went down super fast and changed the look of the truck,” Pippa said.
It is such details that create a feeling of “home comfort” while on the road. “A comfortable bed was so essential to us, we already have a better mattress in the truck than we have at home, and I don’t think we slept well at all,” Pippa said.
“Having the dog with us made the van feel like home. We have two bench seats with cushions, so in the evenings if it’s cold outside we curl up on those and read a book or watch Netflix with a lit candle and Magus snoozing away.”
Although the couple admitted there were still some extra jobs to be done, they completed the vast majority of their transformation in just five months.
“You’ve got all the basics in there now, but it’s not over yet, so we’ll be back on it early next year,” Peppa added.
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