Spontaneously driving off in a camper one evening and waking up the next day in a stunning mountain location is something many outdoor enthusiasts crave. We all fancy a bit of the VanLife. But with the cost of buying, converting or even renting a campervan being fairly eye-watering, to get a slice of the lifestyle, sometimes you have to be a little creative…
Will Renwick: Anna, we hear you’ve converted your car. What kind of car is it, and how have you converted it?
Anna Blackwell: You’ve heard correctly! It’s a VW Golf named Freddie. I’ve gone for a rough-and-ready conversion: to start with, I cut insulation for the windows from a large roll of Thermawrap general purpose insulation. Come evening, these pieces are easily fitted into the windows, rear window and windscreen (with the sun visors down to keep it in place). They provide warmth and have the added bonus of extra privacy.
Next was constructing a bed frame for the boot; as Freddie is a hatchback and not an estate, the back seats don’t fold flat, meaning it was necessary to build something that would level this out for sleeping on. Keen to keep costs down, I raided my dad’s shed and managed to scavenge the remains of a wooden pallet that proved to be the perfect depth. My woodwork skills currently leave something to be desired, so all I dared do was take a panel saw to the pallet and yank out any extra nails with a hammer. Across the top of these pieces I laid old bed slats and voila: a bed frame that could be left intact even when the back seats were up again.
The finishing touches were simply hauling my lovely memory foam mattress topper off my bed and into the car (something that rolls up fairly well into the boot space, thus leaving the back seats free) and stringing up some fairy lights to create a cosy ambience.
To make life a bit easier I borrowed a roof box and could pack as much as I needed, without having to worry too much about where in the car I would fit it once the bed was fully assembled.
What was the motivation?
A large proportion of my Instagram and Pinterest feeds are van conversions and I dream of one day buying my own van to convert to live in. I viewed this as an opportunity to trial-run living in a vehicle (albeit a much smaller one and for a significantly shorter amount of time).