It has been over a month since we traded the comfort of our apartment for the small space of our beloved Astro van. The transition was definitely not easy but I’m pleased to say that we have survived!
However, it would be lying to say it was easy. We are still adapting and I am sure other van dwellers will say the same thing; you keep adapting, moving, changing things around all the time.
Reducing our possessions
One of the first things we realised is that we had way too much stuff. I had underestimated the storage against the bulk of all our winter gear. We had to find a way to put more of our winter gear in storage (my father’s house).
It was far cheaper to send our winter clothes and boots to New Brunswick by Greyhound than to rent storage space and then have to drive back to get it later (especially since we do not know where we will be in winter).
It takes some time for everything to find the right place but every time you realise you can’t find something, it means your stuff is still wandering around looking for a home. Since the van was over crowded already I had to create more space.
I started with a small pouch attached to the back of the door. With some mesh fabric and some yarn I made a mesh that I screwed directly to the back door. I made this addition to the car after Gemma was complaining of losing the cell phone and Kindle.
A few days after we got on the road Gemma’s clothes kept finding their way to my side of the bed and I realised another storage area was needed for the back of the van.
The only place left around there was the celling. I made a triangular pouch with the mesh fabric and screwed it to the celling. I used a piece of small rope across witch I sewed to the mesh before I installed it just for the extra strength.
Kitchen storage in an Astro Van conversion
As well as clothes, there were other things we wanted better and quicker access to, such as pans and pots for cooking. I used some stacking baskets from the Dollar store which I zip-tied together instead of using the cheap plastic corner it came with and then zip-tied the basket to the desk. I just love Zip-ties, they’re so quick, easy and hassle free.
One more thing I just love (and did not think would work but it does) are the no nails hooks. They work brilliantly and they are really fast to install.
They can be a bit pricey but they are just so easy it’s worth the extra dollars. I installed a few all around the van because we work on flashlights at night and it’s a really convenient way to have them handy.
Back door storage
One big issue that has been bothering me for a while was how to carry an extra gas tank. I had found nice expensive hitch add on. But a couple of weeks ago I got this idea from an awesome couple who lived over two years in an Astro van conversion.
I thought it was just so simple but so brilliant I had to add it to my van too. Two U-bolts installed on the back doors and a strap will give me the extra space to have water, gas and maybe some gear outside the van for the longer trips.