Van Interior Set Up - for two parents and three kids

xjawgi

New member
A lot of the van builds on here seem to be for two people or the occasional one to two kids. I have three kids and looking to get into a van. I am curious to see how you guys have the interior set up that will allow two parents and three kids to commute with seat belts as well as sleep inside.
 

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motojunky

New member
We have a 2014 EB Ford E350. We are two adults and two teen daughters. We just did a 3 week trip spending almost every night in the van. We took the 1st (behind the front seats), 3rd, and 4th row benches out and left the 2nd row for seating. I built a simple platform behind the bench for a full size (width) bed. It's just a hair short, so we unlatched the bench and rocked it forward (so the rear latch sits on top of the bracket) for sleeping. The girls slept on therma rest type pads on the floor space in front of the bench. It works really well, and it wouldn't be difficult to sleep a third kid either on the bench, bed, or on the floor with the other two. Really depends on their size.
 

Herbie

Rendezvous Conspirator
Seriously, though.

Even a "tiny" Vanagon or Astro can seat five in a westy style layout. A sportsmobile RB50 type layout is even better, due to the extra width on the bench seat.

The problem is not safely transporting 2+3 campers. The problem is how much other stuff do you need to leave room for in the van. How many are going to sleep in the van?

If you're sleeping 5 in the van, you'll definitely want either a pop-top, or a high-roof van with a bunk or multi-level bed setup. (Look at some of the sprinter builds out there with a big loft bed with a "garage" underneath. You'll obviously need to forfeit some of the garage...

If you want to sleep 5 people, haul 50 cubic feet of gear and bicycles inside, with a full shower, and a kitchen... well, you're going to need an RV.
 

yoggie

Member
This is a problem I am thinking about as well! My wife and I only have our first so far (9 months old) but we are looking to have 3-4 kids total.

Here are some of the thoughts I have had:

-Normal class A/C motorhome: lots of room but typically passengers sit sideways or lap belts only, so safety is a concern; large size means hard to drive, park, go down trails, and are banned at some parks.

-Class B motorhome: I have never seen one with seating for more than 4 from the standard factories

-Camper Van: if you include built in cooking gear and storage, it becomes cramped to sleep more than 4 inside once the kids start getting taller, but could be a good for the next few years. Maybe a good "5 year" solution rather than a forever camper as my wife would put it.

-Van: like others have mentioned, if you took a full size van, put a pop top, and had nothing but a single row of 3 seats, you would have plenty of sleeping space for the kids with mom and dad upstairs. You might even be able to pull off bunk beds if you did it right (some van outfitters sell bunk beds for sprinters but could probably work on others). Bunk beds can attach to the sides and fold up for more room for bikes and such.

-Tow rig with trailer: harder to do trails unless you go with base camp style camping. Some trailers are very rugged but most of those are built either just to carry gear, limited to 4 sleepers, or very expensive

The other option, go with something crazy and classic, but they tend to be slow, old (requiring more maintenance), and parts can be harder to find. Cool example below that sleeps 4+ if kids are small and parents can fit in the pop-top. Cool thing is some of those old vans have 4WD with low range. The HiAce seems to be the only one capable of US highway speeds, but since they were never sold in the states you must get something older than 25 years old (import laws), and they almost always come out of Japan so right hand drive. Right hand isnt hard, but some people think it is. I had a right hand drive before with a manual and honestly shifting with the left hand makes more scene as a right hander and is easier to drive than a left hand drive with a stick.
Toyota HiAce Cruising Cabin

Normal Toyota HiAce Super Custom

The more I think about it for my family, the more I lean to either a tent solution or a towed base camp solution. If you did either, you could go several different ways from a 4x4 van to an older suburban with the 3rd row put down for lots of gear hauling ability. Put a roof rack full of tents and sleeping bags and you could carry a lot of gear for not much money while still being able to do a lot of basic forest roads. The link below is a long detailed thread about a fellow expedition portal member that with very limited budge but some time has created a very capable 1500 series Suburban on 37 inch tires. He wheels it hard in Death Valley and has lots of great info to share

2000 Suburban K1500 budget low lift with 37"s
 

Herbie

Rendezvous Conspirator
I love the HiAce vans as much as I love any other van (which is a lot), but be sure to check the bed widths before committing to one as a 4+ person camper. They're smaller than they look, somewhere between an American Twin and Full size - so tight-ish for more than 2.
 

yoggie

Member
I love the HiAce vans as much as I love any other van (which is a lot), but be sure to check the bed widths before committing to one as a 4+ person camper. They're smaller than they look, somewhere between an American Twin and Full size - so tight-ish for more than 2.
Did not know they were that tight! They do seem fairly narrow considering they are not a wide van and for the lower bunk at least they share the space with a kitchen. Really probably more of a one person van with a pop-top for standing while cooking with the occasional use of carrying extra people to work during the week.
 

brianjwilson

Some sort of lost...
Sprinter 170” wb. 3 person factory bench behind driver and passenger. Front swivel seats. Stacked beds in the back. Look up Mali mish for a family of 5 fulltiming in theirs.

I have a 170” wb sprinter and two kids, both in car seats. Four captains chairs, then galley area, dinette that converts to kids bed, raised bed for wife and I. 36x36x68” storage below the raised bed inside the rear doors.

Totally doable without a huge RV style setup, just don’t overpack.

The “Rb50” or westfalia style layouts don’t work well if you have kids in car seats, since you’ll have to remove and store then and reconfigure every night. They also generally lack any significant storage in bed mode.

Here are a couple pics of mine, in various different stages. It’s still not complete but it shows how much room you have to work with. In the “galley” area there will be 36” countertops on both sides. Both upper and lower beds can be configured to 72-80” front to back. The upper bed is 75” across in the cutout area for sleeping side to side. 2000w inverter, 250 amp hour battery, 30 gallons fresh water, fridge, water heater, diesel furnace, microwave, induction cook top.

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RiderBloke

Observer
A lot of the van builds on here seem to be for two people or the occasional one to two kids. I have three kids and looking to get into a van. I am curious to see how you guys have the interior set up that will allow two parents and three kids to commute with seat belts as well as sleep inside.
I think with that size family a crew cab pickup (the eco diesel RAM is a fuel economical unit) with a travel trailer. You can put the bikes and kayaks and stuff in the truck and have plenty of room for beds and eating in the RV. And when you go to the store or fast food restaurant or just sightseeing the truck is a good safe vehicle to use.
That may also allow you to buy a shorter TT than if it has to take all play toys. Each family has to work out what will work for them.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
 

xjawgi

New member
Sprinter 170” wb. 3 person factory bench behind driver and passenger. Front swivel seats. Stacked beds in the back. Look up Mali mish for a family of 5 fulltiming in theirs.

I have a 170” wb sprinter and two kids, both in car seats. Four captains chairs, then galley area, dinette that converts to kids bed, raised bed for wife and I. 36x36x68” storage below the raised bed inside the rear doors.

Totally doable without a huge RV style setup, just don’t overpack.

The “Rb50” or westfalia style layouts don’t work well if you have kids in car seats, since you’ll have to remove and store then and reconfigure every night. They also generally lack any significant storage in bed mode.

Here are a couple pics of mine, in various different stages. It’s still not complete but it shows how much room you have to work with. In the “galley” area there will be 36” countertops on both sides. Both upper and lower beds can be configured to 72-80” front to back. The upper bed is 75” across in the cutout area for sleeping side to side. 2000w inverter, 250 amp hour battery, 30 gallons fresh water, fridge, water heater, diesel furnace, microwave, induction cook top.

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This was exactly what i was looking for - I dig this set up! Thanks.
 
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