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Camping in a Minivan? Yes You Can!

Photo by epicurean via iStock

Car camping is becoming more and more popular because it enables you to get out and explore without having to tow a trailer.

And, as we all know, minivans offer far more interior space than a typical sedan and more than some SUVs, so they also have the advantage of plenty of room for you and all your gear. So the question is, what models are best for camping in a minivan? Let’s find out…

How to Go Camping in a Minivan

First things first…let’s review a few tips for making camping in a minivan a more comfortable and organized experience.

Get a Comfy Bed

nice bed in a camping minivan

Photo by lncreativemedia via iStock

The key for any camping trip is to be comfortable while you sleep, so that means investing in a comfortable bed for your minivan. Whether your comfort level is a good sleeping pad or a full-on blow-up mattress or somewhere in between, take the time to consider how you sleep and what you need to be as comfortable as possible.

Now, obviously, there are some limitations here. I can’t pop my king-sized mattress into a minivan and take off for the weekend. So, work with the space you have to make your bed as comfortable as possible. Bring your favorite pillow and your favorite blanket, change into your favorite pajamas, throw on an eye mask, and you’re all set!

Crack a Window

woman sitting in a minivan with the window down

Photo by AleksandarNakic via iStock

Just like in a tent, if there’s no ventilation while camping in a minivan, you might wake up to a very moist environment. If your minivan has a sunroof, open it an inch or two to help keep the cabin ventilated (just don’t open it so far that critters can come in and join you).

If you don’t have a sunroof, crack a window or two to get the same level of ventilation. If you have rain shields on your windows, even better – then you don’t have to worry about rain getting in overnight if a storm comes through.

Of course, bugs can be a problem, so you might need to fashion some quick screens for your sunroof or windows. All you need to do is cut strips of mesh and use painter’s tape to affix them over the sunroof or window openings to enjoy some fresh air without mosquitoes buzzing around you all night.

Add Some Outdoor Living Space for Camping in a Minivan

woman playing with child outside of minivan

Photo by freemixer via iStock

You don’t want to spend all day and all night in your minivan, so bring items that allow you to have an outdoor living space. Bring your favorite camp chair, a roll-up table, an outdoor rug, or even an awning that attaches to your van.

If you’re in an established campground with picnic tables, consider investing in an enclosed covering so you can have a place to sit, eat, and play games with your buddies, but also be protected from bugs, the sun, or rain.

Having a place to cook is also incredibly important. Not only does it get you out of the van, but it also gives you and your travel companions a chance to enjoy one another’s company while cooking around the campfire.

One of the best campfire cooking implements I’ve come across in recent years is the Schenk. Think of it as the most versatile way to cook over a fire…

The Schenk

The Schenk includes a 302 food-grade stainless steel ground rod, a stainless steel foot stabilizer, a steel cooking ring, and a 306 food-grade stainless steel grill to help you cook up some killer food.

You can easily adjust the height of the cooking ring to get just the right heat on whatever food you’re cooking. Plus, you can cook multiple food items at once – a great option when the crew is tired of being in the van and hungry!

cooking potatoes with the schenk

And since the Schenk comes in a beautifully handcrafted Wannigan camp box, you don’t have to worry about its components getting lost inside your van. Keep everything neat and tidy and easy to find!

The Schenk is easy to set up and take down, easy to use, and enables you to make cooking dinner a fun activity that everyone can enjoy. What’s not to like about that?!

Stay Organized

woman closing minivan hatch

Photo by MStudioImages via iStock

Since your minivan is your mode of transport, your storage facility, and your bedroom, you’ll need to be ultra-organized to make camping in a minivan a possibility.

Having a rooftop box would be an ideal situation, that way you can keep a lot of your supplies up on top of your van and not inside. If you don’t have a rooftop box, consider getting a hitch-mounted platform where you can keep your cooler or a weather-proof box for some of your supplies out of your way.

Inside the cabin, do your best to segregate your camping supplies. Keep all your cooking items together in one spot, your personal hygiene items in another spot, and your clothing in another.

When you aren’t in bed, do your best to break your bed down and put it away, that way you have some free space if you need to hide from a storm inside your minivan. If you can do these simple things, camping in a minivan will be a much more enjoyable process.

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Camping in a Minivan: Recommended Models

Dodge Grand Caravan

The Grand Caravan has been hugely popular for years, and although new models have been discontinued, there are plenty of used models you can choose from. What’s more, being so popular, if you encounter issues that need to be fixed, parts shouldn’t be difficult for your mechanic to source.

This minivan can seat up to seven people, so there’s lots of interior space for you to load gear and stretch out in your sleeping bag. Add in great fuel mileage and a 20-gallon fuel tank, and you can hit the road to go camping in your minivan without having a huge gas bill. There are four-cylinder and more zippy six-cylinder options, handy stow-and-go seating, and tons of interior space, which makes this a great option for minivan camping.

Toyota Sienna

Another prime option for camping in a minivan is the Toyota Sienna. Although pricier (for new and used) than the Grand Caravan, the Sienna is certainly worth the added money if you can swing it.

It’s an eight-passenger van so you get loads of space, and it gets 36 mpg, so like the Caravan, you can save on gas. Toyotas are also ultra-reliable, so investing in a new or used Sienna should get you years and years of reliable service.

Another benefit of the Sienna is that it’s all-wheel-drive, that way you can go camping in a minivan even if the weather isn’t all that great. Plus, the Sienna’s seats are totally removable, so you can create a nice, big space for storage and sleeping.

Honda Odyssey

A final excellent option for camping in a minivan is the Honda Odyssey.

Like the Sienna, it offers eight-passenger seating to give you a lot of interior space. It gets 28 mpg, too, so it’s no slouch in the gas mileage department. You can get an Odyssey with a roof rack already installed, which is a great feature as it allows you to carry your gear up top rather than inside.

It can also tow around 3,500 pounds, so if you want to bring your dirt bike or jet ski with you, you can. The seats are easy to remove from the vehicle to give you more space and many Odyssey models come with a sunroof for easy ventilation.

There are plenty of other minivans that would be ideal for camping, but you get the point. Minivans offer space, flexible interior options, great gas mileage, and the ability to throw your gear in and hit the road quickly. What’s not to like about that?!

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