We're always really keen to see what you've been up to, whether it's a campervan conversion, restoring a classic VW or an awesome road trip. Our email inbox is always open if you've got a cool story, or video of a photo album to share with us, especially if you're happy for it to be shared here in our blogs and on our social media channels!
We recently got a message from Will and Ellie, who know our own photographer Nick from their time at Uni together. Ellie and Will have been travelling around Europe after completing an awesome van conversion on a Volkswagen Crafter and sent us some amazing photos from their Instagram account.
It's a really cool van, and awesome to see that they did the work themselves, so we asked a few questions about how they got on, and this is what they told us:
Has the van got a name?
Yes, he's called Colin for a few reasons: After Will's grandad, who passed away while we were building, because the person we bought it from was called Colin, and also Colin the Crafter rolls off the tongue!
What made you want to do a van conversion
We've wanted to travel around Europe for a long time, but we weren't planning on doing so for a few years (we had some other travel plans which involved visiting Australia/New Zealand and travelling in a van there, which we will probably still do eventually). But with Covid, we had to re-evaluate a little, so decided to bring the plans for Europe forward and figured travelling in a camper would be a good way to do it!
We were torn between getting one that was already done and doing one ourselves, but eventually decided that, as Will has building experience, we would build it from scratch so we could choose the design/features and we knew how everything worked.
What’s the Best place you have been in the van so far?
So far the best place has to be The Dolomites - a mountain range in Italy! The roads were a bit crazy (narrow, steep and winding), but the views and hikes more than made up for it. And it showed us that Colin is a machine!
There were a few hairy moments but he handled the roads so well and took us to some amazing camping spots with mountain views out the back, the vanlife views we hoped we'd get!
Top 3 'wish list' places to go to:
1. French Alps - we are loving exploring mountains in the van so this is somewhere we can't wait to camp,
2. The Balkans (Serbia, Albania, North Macedonia etc) - these countries look stunning and a bit off the beaten path, so hopefully one day we can take the van over there to explore,
3. Australia/New Zealand - we won't be taking Colin over there, unfortunately, but we hope to convert another van and explore these countries, the road trips there look amazing.
What’s the best feature you have installed
We love our kitchen - when planning the build we really wanted a kitchen with lots of storage, big worktop space and a proper sink, so we're super happy we've been able to fit that in, we like it more than the kitchen in our flat!
What are your top three tips for anyone looking to convert a van?
One: Plan plan plan - more than you expect! We thought we'd planned enough, but even after hours and hours, there were always things we could have thought through more and built better!
Two: Keep an eye on the weight - we have a lot of wood in our van, which looks nice but it was touch and go at the weigh station! Thankfully we're under weight, but it's a stress you don't want to put yourself through if you can help it. Consider the weight with every single thing you put in the van from the very beginning.
Three: Try not to compare yourself to other people building vans too much - it's easy to get caught up with watching videos on how other people are building parts of their van and then feel like you're doing it wrong, but there are many ways to do the same thing, so yes, take advice from others, but then focus on your own build - it will turn out fine in the end.
We wanted to say a big Thank You to friends of Just Kampers, Will and Ellie, for getting in touch about Colin the Crafter, the work they've completed and the adventures they've been on.
Hopefully you have loads more great trips with Colin, and really enjoy your #vanlife freedom!
You can see more from both of them, and Colin, on their Instagram page.
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If you've got a resto project, camper conversion or epic road trip you want to share with us, send it over to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll take a look. It's always great to see what you're up to, and share some inspiration and creativity with the rest of the VW scene.