Answers to our most asked questions about the build, our lifestyle and what items and materials we've used inside Yosemite.
Q: How much did we spend on the van? Honestly, we have no idea! We weren’t limited by a specific budget so we just built as we went along and spent what needed to be spent. If we were to give a very rough ball park figure we’d say £15,000 for both van and conversion. On our next build we plan to keep track of every penny spent and be really open with the spending process so others can learn from our experience.
Q: What are your main tips for doing your own conversion? I’m going to give two tips here. 1: Have an idea in mind for the layout but don’t get hung up on the specifics. All vans are unique, they’re curved, they’re uneven, and when it comes to building the measurements often don’t match the plans. Our advice is WING IT! Now I know this won’t appeal to everyone, but our approach was to start with just one thing and then let it evolve gradually. 2: If you think you’ve given yourself enough time, double it, triple it and maybe even quadruple it. Everything takes so much longer that you think.
Q: What’s your favourite thing about your camper? The ceiling. I know it sounds odd but the ceiling was a turning point for us during the build. We were planning on carpeting it but then saw another account use cladding so we gave that a go instead. When the ceiling turned out so beautiful we realised that we had the opportunity to create something really quite special. Our original plan of a simple, basic camper van evolved into Yosemite as she is today.
Q: What would you do differently if you were to build it a second time? We would put more insulation in the floor. In the cold winter months, the floor is where we lose the most of our heat.
Q: What model is Yosemite? Vauxhall Vivaro L2H2.
Q: How long did the build take? 7 months from start to finish. We probably could have done it quicker if we hadn't spent so many weekends taking the van out climbing and it would have been a lot slower if we hadn't committed to working so many evenings and giving up so many weekends.
Q: Did you have any carpentry experience? Nope. I (Izzy) am blessed with a practical husband who is happy to spend a lot of time on You Tube working things out and we are both willing to take risks and give things which may feel out of our depth a good go. There are endless sources of information out there and a whole van life community ready to share ideas and answer questions. If we can do it, anyone can.
Q: Would you do another conversion? YES! Ever since building Yosemite we’ve been itching to do another. We plan to sell Yosemite at the end of this year (fingers crossed) and buy a bigger van for our next project.
Q: What do you look for in a van when choosing it for a self build? This is a question we can easily answer since we are currently researching vans for our next project. For us, we are looking for a wide van so we can have a fixed bed, low mileage, PLENTY of head room and an interior shape which doesn’t have too many weird curves. A van with straighter sides and ceilings will make the build process much simpler and hopefully quicker.
Q: How do you fund your lifestyle? Well, that’s simple. Despite what instagram may imply, we both work full time running our own businesses. We use weekends and holidays for van adventures. For us right now it’s the right balance.
Q: What made you want to own a camper van? Our greatest love has always been to travel. Everyone who knows us, knows we are always planning the next big adventure. Over the recent years, the focus of our travels began to be less about new countries and cultures and more about losing ourselves in The Great Outdoors. We swapped hostels for camper van rentals and took to the roads to feed our travel bug. We fell in love with the lifestyle and were instantly hooked! In 2016 we started climbing and found ourselves camping most weekends, pitching our tent after a long day on the rock, only to wake up the next morning and take it back down again. It felt like the right time to buy a van of our own and start a new chapter of adventures.
Q: How do you find wild camp spots? Generally, through exploration and luck. A lot of our favourite spots have been discovered when out walking or climbing. When we are on the road and see a potential wild camp spot we always take note of it for if we are in the area again. We also use the app ‘Park4Night’ which is a great resource.
Q: Any tips for being responsible wild campers? RESPECT THE LOCALS (human and wild) and leave no trace. There are so many of us on the roads now and people are getting frustrated with the van life community. The more we take the piss with our wild camping, the more restrictions there will be. Our motto is #leaveitbetterthanyoufoundit. This helps our van community and our incredibly precious planet.
Q: Where is your favourite place to road trip? So far, it has to be Scotland. Oh boy do we love it there. The mountains, the wilderness and ease of wild camping make it an absolute joy to travel around by campervan. We hear it gets busy in the summer which is why we always choose to go in the colder months, but then that’s our favourite time to go on adventures anyway.
Fridge: Waeco CRX80
Hob: Unbranded standard kitchen gas hob which is LPG compatible
Skylight: Fiamma Roof Light Vent (400x400)
Heater: Propex HS 2000
Leisure Battery: 130 AH
Solar Panel: 45 Watt
Cushions: 12.5cm high density medium firm foam
Outdoor stove: Horizon Stove by Anevay Stoves
Kitchen Tiles: From Topps Tiles
Insulation: Foil bubble wrap for the base, wool and recycled bottle insulation to plug gaps, Celotex for the big areas and then waterproof membrane over the top.