We’d like to take some time and help answer the most frequent questions we get as it pertains to buying a camper van from Wayfarer Vans. As you know and we know, there is a ton of information out there on DIY camper vans, custom camper vans and all the cool accessories and things people put into them. Furthermore, as you are doing your research and digesting all that information as you consider buying a camper van, it probably leaves you with more questions in your head than you started with. You now carry all this anxiety, thinking about all these daunting tasks you have to overcome if you want a camper van. Solar, electrical, hygiene, will my most important gear fit? It’s no wonder you found us! After being inundated with tech, specs, YouTube Videos, Blogs, DIY screw-up horror stories, time-lapses, etc. you just want something simple and affordable that gets you off the ground and in a new van; then you can deal with all the other “projects” later.
Well… we’re here to educate you on the simple solutions we recommend for those “later projects.” Or amenities you feel you need right out of the gate. We’re also here to tell you it’s a lot simpler than what others make it out to be – true to the Wayfarer Vans philosophy. We have a wealth of knowledge from our many Wayfarer Van owners who have reported in with us during their travels – and some knowledge from our own travels as well.
FAQs About Buying a Camper Van
In addition to our knowledge, we have gleaned a lot of information from other camper van owners, those who have built their own or have had one custom made. So collectively we have all the pro tips condensed down into a few simple answers. Here are the top 5 questions we get asked from newbies about buying a camper van.
1. Can you build a shower in my Wayfarer Van?
Of all the van owners that we have run into over the years who had a shower built into their van, none of them have said, “yeah, we love it! Would definitely do it again...” In fact, every single one of them has said it’s a waste of space and they regret doing it; and typically, we see the compartment that was once a shower is now used as makeshift gear storage. Not only is it a waste of space and money putting one in, it’s also a mess when you use it. You know how wet everything gets when you shower at home? Well, now it’s all in your van.
Furthermore, carrying enough water for a shower even every 3rd day is a major pain and takes up a ton of room. Then what do you do when you actually use that water? It has to be managed again. It doesn’t just fall down into the drain like it does at home. Yes, you could drill a hole directly through the van floor but then that hole has to be plugged and treated effectively enough for travel. Therefore, the water has to be contained after use, requiring more equipment and more space.
So, what do you do if you want a nice hot shower while traveling around in your camper van? Here are a few pro-tips for you:
Get an outdoor shower. Here are two solutions, one affordable and compact the other more expensive but works great and provides solar-heated water.
- Compact, affordable and multifunctional https://www.nemoequipment.com/product/helio-shower/
- Much more robust but very effective and provides hot water, requires some installation Roadshower/
While those two options might get you by rinsing off after a long day of hiking or mt biking, over the course of a multi-day or multi-week trip you’re probably in search of a real shower, which there are several options. First, the smaller towns scattered between outdoorsy destinations, or maybe that town is an outdoorsy destination, like Moab Utah. Within those places you will typically find Aquatic centers or community pools.
These places almost always offer pay-for-showers, usually no more than $5, or $10 if you need a towel (and make sure to bring some flip flops). If you don’t know where to look, call that town’s chamber of commerce and ask. If they don’t have a community pool, they can almost always recommend an alternative – you’re definitely not the first ones to ask ;). The other pro-tip that nearly every full-time vanlifer recommends is a gym membership. You can usually get a national membership to a Golds Gym, Anytime Fitness or 24hr Fitness for pretty cheap, $10 - $24/ month. Then, as you’re passing through, stop by your place of membership to clean up.
No matter which direction you go these are the three most common solutions for keeping clean while traveling. So don’t waste your precious space on some sort of makeshift solution in your van that will inevitably get everything wet, or that you’ll regret building. Take advice from us and others, you’ll be much happier without one.
2. What do you do about a toilet?
We know that even if you’re asking if we provide a toilet still, in the back of your head your thinking “gosh, I’d really prefer not to even go to the bathroom in my van…” We get it. Since a camper van is your living room, kitchen and garage all packed into one space you really don’t want to throw your bathroom in there too – its messy enough ;). However, you do want something for emergencies or to have in your van for those mid-night potty breaks, without having to get out and search for the nearest facility (assuming you’re staying somewhere that has nearby facilities). And just like the shower scenario, bathrooms are even easier to come by while you travel and a lot of our van-experts don’t even carry one with them. However, if you insist on a toilet here are a few recommendations.
Most self-contained toilets are often called “groovers.” Which comes from the white-water community, where on any multi day raft trip you are required to pack everything out that you brought in. Here are a few options but there are many to select from.
- Professionally designed with large capacity, no odor and easy clean up.
- Simple and also easy clean up.
- Compactible, best for storage and easy setup with a disposable bag.
Also, it’s helpful to carry some deodorizer with you to pre-load the toilet. Cedar chips are commonly used to absorb moisture and neutralize the smell for the ‘bagged’ type groovers (options 2 and 3), whereas liquid deodorizers are good for containment type groovers (option 1). Aqua-Kem by Thetford is a popular liquid deodorizer - https://www.thetford.com/product/aqua-kem-products/ and you can pick up the cedar chips at a nearby pet or feed store.
3. Will my bike fit under the bed?
The third most popular question we get is “will my bike fit under the bed in my camper van?”
Short answer is yes, but let’s get a little more detailed.
Garage space is essential for a camper van, that’s why you see so many builds where the bed seems to split the vertical space in half. That’s because most of you are outdoor junkies and have to carry your bikes, skis, kayaks, boots, etc. etc. with you. However, the question always remains… I can see that it carries a lot of stuff but will it fit my stuff, specifically my bike? Let’s knock out some measurements.
From the floor to the bottom of the bed, between the beams is 34”, from the floor to the bottom of the bed beams is 32”. To ensure that your bike will fit, remove the front wheel and drop the seat post all the way down into the seat tube. Now place the front of the bike on the ground and measure from the ground to the highest point of the bike. Usually its under or at 32”. However, if its more, no need to worry. With our conversion spacers are easily added between the bed rails and the support brackets mounted to the wall. You can go up as much as 2-3” if you feel the need but usually ½ - 1” will suffice.
If you would like more information on all the dimensions of either our Walt (Promaster 159” wheel base, high roof top) or Walter (Promaster 136” wheel base, high roof top) conversion kits before buying a camper van, check out these videos:
4. Do you install solar or electrical in a Wayfarer Van?
One amenity that is overly discussed is solar and electrical. There are too many blogs, videos and information about hooking up solar and running electrical in your van. But don’t worry, we’re not going to ask you to bust out your voltmeter or ask you to do any amp to watt calculations. Camper van electrical is overhyped and we feel people make it too complicated. Plus, you’re looking to us for simplicity. Therefore, we have a simple solution for you. If all you want is to run a fridge, maybe some lighting and have a few outlets to plug your small electronic devices into (all while not having to fuss over solar or wondering if you’re going to maintain enough power) here’s your solution.
Make sure to check out power supply for camper vans blog post and video if you're considering buying a camper van.
5. Can you install a vent fan?
Vent fans are perhaps the first item people start thinking of when they start researching camper vans. And just like solar and electrical you can find a surplus of videos of people cutting holes in their van; usually with a follow up on “how they would do it different.” But we’re here to make it easy for you. So you don’t have to worrying about cutting a hole in your van and wondering if it was in the right place - now you’ve just made a really expensive mistake.
We do install vent fans. Our recommended vent fan that we install is the Maxx Air Deluxe. We install this fan because of a few features. First and most importantly, it can operate in the rain without letting any water in. Don’t try and save yourself a few bucks on a cheaper model because you will inevitably be stuck trying to exhaust hot air and humidity out of your van while it’s raining. Also, it has varying speeds and a remote so you don’t have to crawl up onto your bed to turn the fan on or off. So, go with our recommended model.
Furthermore, we will install the fan the same day as your kit installation, making the total time your van is in the shop just an hour longer. It will be installed professionally, giving you the peace of mind knowing that the cut was made in the right place and everything is sealed up nice and tight. Lastly, we will run the wiring directly to the van battery and install a fusible link, so in case of a power surge it won’t fry the vent fan motor. And don’t worry about if the vent fan will run the van battery down. The fan motor draws such little power that you would have to run it numerous days with the van turned off to read any significant draw. However, if you wish to run the vent fan off an alternative power source, perhaps the one we recommended above, then we can run the wiring to wherever you would like within the van.
Have More Questions?
We hope that you found the answers to our top 5 most asked questions when buying a camper van informative. Also, we hope that what you read here today gave you more peace of mind knowing that getting, owning and traveling in a camper van is much easier than what it’s made out to be. With all that information floating around we don’t blame you for getting overwhelmed, that’s why we’re here, to make buying a camper van easy!