Converting a Kia Sedona Minivan for Travel and Living
What makes his conversion so unique is that he has done zero physical changes to the minivan; after this trip, he can switch it back to a typical soccer moms minivan in just a few minutes! All he did was take out the back seats and buy specific camping gear that worked perfectly with the Kia. That’s important because there are a lot of people who don’t have the time, skills or tools to do any real construction on a van so they need a nice conversion that makes them comfortable but requires no building–this van is perfect for that!
It’s also perfect for people on a tight budget or who aren’t really sure if they want to live or travel in a van. The Sedona is a popular minivan but also one of the cheapest so they are easy to find and very affordable. You can easily take the seats out and go on a few trips to start getting an idea if vandwelling is really for you If you decide it is, then you’re ready to move in and start traveling, if it turns out you really don’t like it, then you may have lost a little bit of money on the camping gear, but not all that much.
A few years back he had a health scare with his heart and that made him really stop and reevaluate his life. He concluded that there were a lot of places he wanted to see and things he wanted to do but he hadn’t done them yet; facing his mortality forced him to take steps to make it happen. Flying is expensive, and you miss out on some of the best parts of the trip, so he decided to use the minivan he already owned because it was big enough to be quite comfortable, but small enough to get good gas mileage. Jim averages about 20 MPG but gets up to 23 on the highway. For as much comfort as it gives him, that’s pretty darn good.
Essentially Jim converted the van like he was going on a long tent camping trip but instead of setting up a tent outside he used the van as a rolling steel tent. That gave him a lot more security and safety with the steel walls and solved nearly all the problems of car-camping and sleeping on the ground in a tent. It also saved him the hassle of packing and unpacking the van at every campsite. He gets all the advantages of camping, but none of its disadvantages.
The first thing he did was take out the back seats which was easy because they are designed to be easily removable. Next he added the camping gear he needed to be comfortable. Basically, the same items he would have bought had he been going tent camping, but he didn’t need a tent!
This is the camping gear he’s carrying. The links go to Amazon and if you use them I’ll make a small amount on your purchase and it will cost you nothing.
General Camping Gear:
A quality cot. His is from Cabellas, but here is another that I’ve owned and recommend from Amazon: TETON Sports Outfitter XXL Camp Cot
Little Buddy Heater: His sons are in Colorado, and he travels there in the winter so he needs a good heater. Mr. Heater Buddy 4,000-9,000-BTU Indoor-Safe Radiant Heater
Big Kahuna Portable Shower: He wants to eat healthy so he cooks meals, the Big Kahuna makes dish washing easy, and of course it makes showering a great experience. It holds 4 1/2 gallons of water and has a 12 volt pump build in. I was very impressed by how well it works. Big Kahuna Portable Shower
Helinox Backpacking Chair: he uses this great chair inside and out of the van. It’s very comfortable and light but it packs down small. Best of all he doesn’t hit his head when he’s using it inside the van. Helinox Backpacking Chair
Folding Camp Toilet: He started with a porta potti but it took up too much room. Now he’s going to try a folding toilet from Reliance. Reliance Folding Portable Toilet
After his health scare he was determined to eat better, but how could he cook in a minivan? He needed a good kitchen to make it enjoyable to make quality, healthy meals and found the perfect solution. During good weather he can cook from outside the back hatch and in bad weather he has a butane stove he cooks inside on.
Coleman 2-Burner Propane Stove: Coleman InstaStart 2-Burner Stove
Butane Stove: to use inside during bad weather or as a third burner Butane Camping Stove
Dometic CF 18 Fridge/Freezer: 12 volt Compressor fridge/freezer, this is a very small fridge or freezer but enough for one person. It’s 12 volt and can easily be powered by a single battery being charged by the alternator. Dometic CF-018Portable Freezer/Refrigerator
1 Gallon Propane Bottle: Worthington 1-Gallon Steel Propane Cylinder
One thing you’ve got to have is some electrical power for your phones, tablets, laptops and lights. He found a simple and cheap solution by getting a marine battery and charging it from the cars starting battery. He uses an isolator to protect the starting battery from going dead and bought an inexpensive marine battery as a house battery. He used a Minnkota Battery/Box-Power/Center MinnKota Battery Holder-Power Center to hold the battery and it also gives him a two built-in cigarette lighters sockets and a voltmeter to monitor the battery.
I hope you enjoyed this tour of Jim’s Kia as much as I did and hopefully you found some ideas to help you with your build and who knows, maybe even some inspiration!
I’m making Videos on my good friends James and Kyndal’s YouTube Channel. See them here:
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TETON Sports Outfitter XXL Camp Cot
Big Kahuna Portable Shower
Mr. Heater Buddy 4,000-9,000-BTU Indoor-Safe Radiant Heater
Dometic CF-018Portable Freezer/Refrigerator
MinnKota Battery Holder-Power Center
Reliance Folding Portable Toilet