How to Design a Caravan

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How to Design a Caravan

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I first prepared this website because I wanted help from some of my construction friends (located around the world) in designing my caravan and future home. Now I’m rewriting it to help others, if they would like to design their own caravan as I did.

Basically, I knew I did not want something that looked like a caravan (how I stumbled on my beauty is a story in itself). Not only did I not want to appear like a cheesy tourist, but I wanted to be able to park wherever I wanted, without being hassled by locals or the authorities who might be bothered by someone living for free in front of their doorstep.
One person even warned me against putting windows on the side, where in Paris, for example, it would draw great suspicion (the French authorities are very strict about sleeping for free). I found this strategy has worked great. Incognito is the key. I still need to paint it green, so that I can hide better in nature.

I also knew that I like wood – the aroma of it, and the warm feelings it reminded me of my childhood at the cottage < . .

But securing wood to a metal truck has turned out to be a challenge. Below you will find the vision I had in my mind and the questions I posed to my friends, showing them the dimensions of the caravan truck a drawing of my vision. On the next page you will find their smart responses and how I eventually went about it.

Before I constructed the caravan’s inside, added the 300kg heavy safe and other things, the truck was quite light and would often spin off a wet and muddy road. Here I had to leave it overnight and come back the next day after a day of sunshine.

The basic design was inspired by the van I lived in during my pilot travel trip to Mexico. With the bed running along the back (hence the caravan needed to be as wide as I am tall).

Below is the vision I had of the inside, looking back from the front.

I wanted enough closet space for all my stuff, since I planned to move into it for several years. And I wanted bed sleeping space for fellow travelers.

The safe was planned for under my bed running along the back, under the back windows, and there is more closet space under the side bed.

With the sliding door on the side open during the summer, and the back doors as well, it would create a spacious environment.

Here is the top view of my vision. A backpack or custom movable seat could be placed between the front two seats to create an extra bed. The second bench seat could also act as a bed. In all, there are enough seatbelts to hold seven passengers legally.
The top foam mattress on the side bed could go on the floor to create a bed for taller people, or when I have a “full house”.

I wasn’t interested in a sink, table, toilet, shower or anything like that on the inside. I expected that I could be creative in finding such “facilities” outside, or in some other way (refer to Caravan Survival Tips).
Below you will see the challenge I had before me, and below that the original letter I wrote to my friends when asking for their help in designing my new caravan home.

Measurements of the caravan’s inside – floor plan:

(the vertical fuzzy lines are the ribs on the ceiling – measurements in cm)
and the measurements of the ribs on the side:

Designing the Caravan – A Dream to Reality

What my friend told me to do is to first attach, by some means, some wood to the caravan truck’s inner metal ribs (pictures and floor plans above), attaching the rest of the structure to this attached wood. There could even be hooks for easy removal of the shelves etc. (for example for when crossing borders and the authorities are a bit curious what is behind it all).

For insulation, the plan is to glue bitumen (which is supposed to be very sound resistant) to the inner walls, putting over top of that rockwool (also sound resistant, very heat insulating, and supposedly very fire resistant as well), putting thin wood paneling over top of that. I am not sure how the wood paneling is supposed to be held in. I thought perhaps screw small boards into the rib attached wood, to hold the paneling in. The reason I want to screw and not glue is if at country borders the authorities think I might have sheets of acid back there or something. I want to make it very easy to disassemble everything.
The two layers of insulation together with the wood paneling should work out to about 3.5 cm thick. From the floor plans above you can see that the thickest ribs jut out about 5.5 cm thick. I’d like to keep this all to a minimum, to conserve space inside the caravan.

Under the back bed will be hidden a safe. This will hold all my electronics and will be bolted and/or welded to the frame of the vehicle under the floor. A piece of metal will go around it with a sturdy lock, so it will be next to impossible to break into that.
The vehicle will have a simple switch hidden somewhere preventing fuel from entering the engine, so the engine won’t even start unless the person knows where the switch is.
The caravan will be equipped with a computer alarm system, which works on three stages (perhaps some movement outside is the first stage, broken glass is the second stage, movement inside is the third stages). Each activated stage will send an sms to my mobile. Through the mobile, I will be able to hear what is going on from inside the vehicle, and I will be able to speak into the mobile to imitate that someone is inside.
Perhaps I will get a transmission lock as well.
And I am thinking of a computer chip hidden somewhere which will be able to pinpoint the location of the caravan via satellite, if it is towed away or something. So mommy, you really do not need to worry.

The caravan’s outside will be painted like a jungle, with different shades of green, so that it can be easily hidden in the forest. But not too much like a jungle, so that I do not find a rocket up my ass fired from a helicopter while driving through some Arab or other country.
There will be no side windows, as this is apparently a dead giveaway to police that someone may be living in there, and hence problems parking in some cities.
On the side will be painted something like “Bimbus Entertainment Services – Volleyball, Squash…”. This will be used for two purposes: to attract players to play with me while I am traveling, and to make it look like a commercial vehicle, to make it easier to park in cities. The text will be yellow, to help it still look invisible in the forest, while visible to the police in the cities. I will design this text on my computer and print out (if possible) the sheets used to spray paint the text on, so that it looks legit and professional.
On the top of the caravan will be a metal extension under which I could store my bike and other things, and backpacks of people who will be travelling with me.

Well, these are the ideas I have collected over the months from my various friends. If you have any other suggestions, I would appreciate it. Otherwise, right now I am trying to get an idea of the actual construction part, before I start on this.

I’ll have three tents with me and various air mattresses, so plenty of room for ya if you ever want to join me on a road trip somewhere!


Euro toursAnd now to start with caravan construction!

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We are a family operation managing private custom boat tours in the beautiful Palawan area, and are happy to help travelers with their plans through the Philippines, having traveled a lot of it ourselves and planning to visit it all. These pages in this section cover my various solo travels through Europe before meeting my wife.

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