Research provides a starting point
Before designing, building and traveling, we first needed a starting point.
Each adventure we go on requires a significant amount of research and sharing of ideas. This research is the starting point and foundation for all of our adventures.
Which van should we purchase?
This question was the topic of several months of discussion. Did we want a new van? What van manufacturer would work best for us? Where should we look for vans? How much does each option cost?
With each of these questions we didn't know what we didn't know. And thus began the research...
First, we wanted to know what options were available and how much each option cost. After a few online searches we landed on RVTrader as a good site to use for our initial research questions.
The filter options helped us quickly understand different classes, makes, and models and also generated new questions (learning what we didn't know), such as do we really want a van, a motorhome, or a trailer.
We determined that we didn't want a large motorhome, and we didn't want to pull a trailer all over North America.
Next, we decided that something in the Class B size was likely in our price range, and would have the size that we wanted. With this decision made, we began to search for Class B motorhomes, as well as to look at several commercial models of customized vans.
It didn't take long to realize that buying a Class B motorhome that was lightly used was going to be above our price range, and that one of the commercial van models such as the Winnebago Revel, while nice, were way more than we were interested in spending. Most of these two RV choices cost between $50,000 and $150,000 depending on age, mileage, size, features, etc.
With this research complete, we decided a used van was our best option.
What size van do we need?
We really liked the features of many Class B motorhomes with slideouts for more space, full bathroom, electrical, generators, etc. However, most of these were 22 to 24 feet long, were heavy and therefore didn't get quite as good fuel mileage, etc.
|We wanted a vehicle that would fit in a normal sized parking stall which put a limit on length to around 20 feet.||
Realizing we had a 20 foot limit dramatically reduced the number of options available to us, especially since we knew we wanted a van we could stand up in and have room to spare. This meant we needed some sort of high roof option.
Should we customize our own van, or purchase one already finished?
We found several vans which were a bit on the older side, but that fit our size constraints. The biggest drawback was the number of miles on these vans. 150,000 to as high as 375,000 miles was really quite common for vans in the $50,000-$75,000 price range.
Annalyn wanted a nice interior that wasn't makeshift. Evan wanted a vehicle that was in excellent condition, got decent fuel mileage, and had 150,000 miles or less on the odometer.
The decision was now clear. We were going to need to buy a Mercedes Sprinter Highroof van, with a diesel engine, that had less than 100,000 miles on it and do the design and DIY customization ourselves.