(Mini) Van Life

Before buying a new car we thought long and hard about what to get. We’d been without a car for nearly two years while living on our boat in Mexico so it was a big decision. We like to go on long road trips but hotels every night are out of the question. We wanted a car we could sleep in comfortably, but it also had to have good gas mileage and space for toys like our SUP and inflatable kayak.

Our old 4Runnner had just enough space to sleep in but we couldn’t even sit up in bed and it had no floor space or room for our things. For the big move south we had a Ford E350 van that had lots of space but it was a gas guzzler. A VW camper van would have been nice but we wanted something reliable and cheap to maintain or repair.

About a year ago we had to fly up to California from Mexico and rented a mini van for a month to run errands and do some exploring. With the seats folded down we squeezed in an air-mattress, and it made a great little camper van. Plenty of headroom, space for our stuff and decent gas mileage. So we decided a mini van would  be the best compromise. We chose the Toyota Sienna and it had be newer than 2004 because prior to this the rear seats didn’t fold down flat. The Sienna boasts 20-27 miles per gallon but we get 22 mpg. Always. Not as good as a sedan but good enough.

I know a lot of people think a car is a status symbol and should be big and flashy, but I feel a car is merely a utilitarian tool that should be functional. Who cares what it looks like as long as it serves its purpose. I would rather have an older useful car than go into debt and appear hip. Of course, with an SUP on top even a minivan can look pretty hip.

Building the platform for the bed
Storage under the bed platform holds my kayak (this is the space the backseats usually fold into)
Foam under full size memory foam mattress
Lots of floor space when bins are moved to the front seats while parked.


Comfortable ride.

2 Responses

  1. Hi – thanks for sharing a link to your blog on the Sailing Websites FB group. I love the fact that you guys had a sailboat and now travel around in a minivan! We’re currently living in a Scamp 13 while traveling around the States looking for our next sailboat. You guys have lots of great ideas about how to maximize space in a tiny home/vehicle – I’ll have to steal some 🙂

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