Some of us were just meant for life on the road. There’s something both thrilling and satisfying about crafting your own dream holiday – not only the places you visit and stay, but also the means by which you do so.
If you plan on camping, road tripping, holidaying, or short weekend-getaways by road, it’s important to know what you’re getting yourself into.
Unfortunately, a lot of “travel-specific” vehicles or vehicle additions get ridiculously expensive (i.e. campers and RVs.) One of the most ubiquitous vehicles for the road trippers and adventurers, are VW Transporters. Not only because of their availability, cost, and practicality but also the long history VW have within the camper community as everyone immediately thinks about the classic VW split screen camper whenever you talk about VW campers.
Camper Conversion Pricing
1. The Necessities (Approx. £2,000)
There are a few basic differences between VW Vans and a small camper – you’ll need sliding windows, wiring, and insulation for your van (you don’t want to have to turn your car on and off to cool it down or heat it up throughout the night.) See our article on van insulation here.
If you’re aiming for the low end, expect to pay a minimum of around £2,000 (if not a little bit more) to set up these functional basics. This will include carpeting, flooring, insulation and a simple electrical setup (All done D.I.Y).
2. Roof / Pop top (£4,000+)
A camper is supposed to be comfortable, and unfortunately crouching down in the back of a Transporter doesn’t allow for that. If you are looking to raise the roof of your van, expect to pay around £4,000+.
You’ll spend a bare minimum of around £3,500 for a decent brand of pop top. This will simply result in an increase of the space available internally and make it a more comfortable stay. You will often have to pay extra for the additional roof bed (Anything from a few hundred pounds upwards.)
You will also need to carpet/finish the newly exposed metalwork on the van, it’s often a good idea to have the pop top fitted before the van is carpeted for this reason
3. Seating (Approx. £2,500)
Seating consideration is a two-fold decision – safety and comfort. Obviously, the seats are meant to be comfortable in a camper, but people often chose this at the expense of having the safety. We highly recommend against compromising on the security of the seats you purchase!
The biggest thing to look for is crash testing ratings. Yes – they do those specifically for seats alone (often refers to as M1 tested). Luckily, there are tons of options for highly rated, secure, and comfortable seats, but you can expect the seats to cost you approximately £2,500. That price may vary depending on the level of comfort, safety, and brand of the seat itself.
There are some cheaper alternatives, but the often come without the M1 testing, however do shop around as the market is very competitive and there are some fantastic companies producing seating as cheaper rates than the main brands.
4. Furniture & Utilities (Approx. £7,500)
The last step to converting your VW van to a camper is to style it up with nice furniture and add the necessary electric and heater features. Furniture itself can get a bit pricey though. Expect to be forking out approximately £5,500 for an installed configuration. That’s including all the kitchenware – sink, tap, plumbing, table, etc.
As far as a heater is concerned, you’ll need to invest in a diesel heater or gas blown heating system, which will run around £800-£1,200 depending on the product and brand you purchase.
Electrics is probably one of the most complicated parts of setting up a camper conversion. You’ll need a good way to manage the power, the right number and placement of plugs, and everything needs to be wired correctly the first time (you don’t want to deal with re-wiring). Expect a simple electrical wiring setup to cost you around £1,000.
Remember, it’s important to have any electrical work carried out by an approved electrician.
Converting a VW Van to a Camper: Total Cost
With the above numbers, you can expect the conversion from a VW Transporter to a camper to cost anything from £16,000 upwards. Keep in mind, these numbers are entirely estimates based on rough prices of common brands and products.
It’s always worth looking if you can find these thing used, installing them yourself, and using alternative solutions can all cut costs down much lower.