Mini Van Camper

Well, we did it! We managed to build a bed in the back of my hand-me-down mini van, and there’s enough room for my 6’1” hubby 🙂

I’ve seen different blog posts for this kind of structure on Pinterest and circumstances changed so that I inherited my mom’s old mini van. We first decided to try to build a bed in the back of our van because we want to do a super mega road trip one day. We have our route planned out and everything, but we know that the most expensive part of traveling is the lodging/accommodations. That’s when I started scouring the internet for inspiration. I came across a few helpful blogs and YouTube channels, and when we decided to go for it, my hubby sketched out our plan.

It took us about 2 days total to make our camper van structure. I think if the weather wasn’t so hot or we had AC in the garage we could have had it completed in one full day.

Here’s the supplies we used:

  • 1 1/2 inch PVC pipe (5 pipes at 10 feet each)
  • 1×4’s (2 boards at 8 feet each)
  • 3/4” plywood (cut into the dimensions of our van)
  • 6 long zip ties
  • 1 King size bed sheet

Here’s the tools we used:

  • Hand saw
  • Measuring tape
  • Screws and a drill
  • Staples and a staple gun
  • Rubber mallet
  • Protective eye wear!

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Here’s how we did it:

We meticulously measured out the pieces of PVC (and then re-measured) to fit inside the van. Our Honda Odyssey was about 4’x8′ so that was our starting measurement.

The most time consuming part of this was tweaking the length of the PVC pipes (we don’t have any fancy saws or PVC pipe cutting tools). I think with better tools and/or measuring it wouldn’t be so time intensive.

After we had the PVC cut correctly and all the corner pieces and legs secured, we glued both ends and the middle part of the frame. The only reason we didn’t glue all the pieces is because we may want to disassemble the bed one day. Cutting the PVC pipe took up 1.5 of our 2 days of work!

The next few steps were simple. We went to Home Depot and asked for the nice people there to please cut us a piece of plywood the size of the frame. For us, that was 4′ by 7’9”. We opted to go with plywood reinforced with 1×4’s because it is lighter, but you could get a stronger piece of wood (or another sheet of a different material) and it would be fine. Then we secured the 1×4’s to the plywood, screwing one every 1-1.5 feet length-wise across the frame. Then we wrapped the plywood in a cheap sheet to protect from splinters. We just stapled the sheet down.

We then drilled small holes in the plywood (2 holes on each side, 1 hole on each end) and secured the PVC pipe frame to the plywood.

The last step was sliding it into the van. This took 3 people, but it slipped right in perfectly! I love when that happens.

Good luck and happy camping!