If you’re curious about the vanlife craze, you’re not alone. It’s hard to avoid the quintessential campervan bed beach view photos, no matter what platform you’re on. But we all know the social media pictures only tell half the story, if that. So, what is it really like inside a campervan? What sorts of camper van interior options are there, and how do you fit real functionality into such a small space?
Let’s dive in and take a closer look!
What Is a Campervan?
To understand what a campervan is, it’s helpful to also understand what it is not. Motorized RVs divide into three classes: Class A, Class B, and Class C. There are also Class B+ options in between Class Bs and Class Cs, as well as Super C options with a semi-truck, heavy-duty front engine chassis.
Class A is the largest of the group of drivable RVs. These are the typical motorhomes people think of with the large front windshield, whole body paint job, and luxurious interior. They range from 30-45 feet long and can have all the bells and whistles like a dishwasher, heated floors, and quartz countertops.
Class B is the smallest group of drivable RVs. Also called camper vans, these units are usually about 17-23 feet long and won’t have all the amenities you’ll find in a large Class A motorhome. But because they’re not much larger than a cargo van, Class B campervans get the best fuel mileage of all motorized RVs.
Class C RVs tend to be between Class As and Class Bs in length. They’re usually 25-30 feet long but can also be up to 40 feet. These RVs are on a cabin chassis and are easily identifiable because of the cabover sleeping area. They don’t have the vast windshield of the Class A motorhomes.
What Is Inside a Camper Van?
When you’re looking at a campervan, it can seem small compared to the other RV options out there. So what’s inside a campervan? Is it enough to really be comfortable traveling, sleeping, and living? It really depends on the size, make, model, and how it was made. Features vary drastically depending on if it was a manufactured RV, a professional camper conversion, a van conversion kit, or a pure DIY van build.
Some Class B camper vans have all the amenities for weekend camping or cross-country road trips. They can have full kitchens, bathrooms, designated sleeping areas, and lounge spaces. However, if you find a camper van with these things, they’ll probably be much smaller to fit in a 20-foot van.
Other camper vans won’t have a bathroom inside to have a larger kitchen or lounge area. Some camper vans won’t have a designated sleeping space but rather two entertaining spaces you can convert at night. Others may just have a mattress and a countertop.
Camper vans come with many layouts, so whatever you’re looking for, you can probably find with some searching.
What Are Standard Features Of a Campervan Interior?
Most campervan interior spaces have the basics. You’ll have a sleeping area, living area, kitchen space, cab area, and storage space. You can deck out the exterior of campervans with rails and racks to transport gear from kayaks and bikes to paddleboards.
Every camper van interior will have a sleeping area. You might have to convert a dinette or sofa into a bed, but there is a place to sleep. Usually, campervans only sleep two people. Occasionally, you’ll find a camper van that sleeps more. But because it’s such a small space, you’ll likely find room for just two.
For example, the Winnebago Revel 44E has sleeping for only two people with a power lift bed in the rear. However, the Winnebago Solis 59P sleeps up to four people because of the pop-up area above the roof and the Murphy bed in the back.
Pro Tip: For those traveling in a team of two, check out our article on The Winnebago Revel: Fad or Fabulous?
The living areas of most camper vans are often limited. There may be a single sofa or an additional set of chairs. Because the Winnebago Revel 44E has a power lift bed in the rear, there is no living space in that part of the van. So there’s only a bench seat with a removable pedestal table in the front behind the cab.
On the other hand, because the Winnebago Solis 59P has the Murphy bed, there are seating options, a movable table in the rear, two seats, and a removable pedestal table behind the cab. For friends who are camping together, this layout might work better because of the added lounge space.
Another type of layout can be seen in the the Coachmen Beyond line. These three models have ample living space in the rear of the unit and nothing in the front except the cab chairs that swivel to a pedestal table.
The Beyond 22C has a 68-inch wide power sofa that doubles as the bed. The Beyond 22D has two 23 by 76-inch opposing sofas that lay flat for a sleeping area. Finally, the Beyond 22RB has two twin beds instead of two opposing sofas, so the living space is very limited in this model.
Most camper van interiors won’t have residential appliances or chef kitchens. If you like to cook, a Class B might not be the best option. However, these kitchens still have almost anything you need for an enjoyable camping trip.
Some campervans may have ovens, while others won’t. This is entirely up to the manufacturer. Sometimes to give extra drawers, the manufacturer chooses to eliminate the stove and provide more storage space. Most camper vans will have a single burner or two-burner stove, though. For example, if we look at the Coachmen Beyond 22RB again, the kitchen has a 2-burner cooktop but not an oven.
Other common appliances include a sink and a small refrigerator. Sometimes you’ll have a microwave and a refrigerator/freezer combo. The Winnebago Solis 59P has a 2-burner cooktop, a 3.0 cubic-foot 12V single-door compressor-driven refrigerator/freezer combo, and a stainless steel sink.
To learn more about campervan kitchen interiors, check out our article about using ovens in Class Bs. We also have an article about seven of the best small toaster ovens. Many Class B owners cook with a toaster oven, Instant Pot, or air fryer instead of a microwave or oven.
You won’t find many differences among the cab area of most campervans. There’s the dashboard with all the controls and two captain’s chairs. Some manufacturers put more technology and innovation into the cab areas than others. So if you want the latest high-tech features, pay special attention to the cab conveniences like the touchscreen, assistive technology, push-button start, and rear cameras.
The two captain’s chairs, however, will swivel and turn to face the living space. This provides extra seating when entertaining friends for models with a sofa or bench seating. Sometimes this is the only seating, like in the Coachmen Beyond 22RB. There’s also usually a pedestal table in between the chairs that you can remove. It’s a great place to play a game of poker or enjoy a beverage.
Finally, campervan interiors have unique storage solutions because of their small size. You’ll find storage underneath beds in the rear, overhead storage along the sides of the rig, slide-out cabinets in the kitchen, and extendable countertops for added meal prep space or workspace.
For example, in the Winnebago Revel 44E, there’s a removable countertop extension inside and an additional fold-out table outside. The induction cooktop is in a drawer, so it doesn’t take up the limited counter space in the kitchen.
Because the Coachmen Beyond units have a wet bath, their interior storage space is limited to primarily overhead storage. Many campervans don’t have a bathroom because of the storage space and living space the wet baths take up. It’s all about compromise with these smaller Class B camper vans.
Do Camper Van Interior Spaces Have Bathrooms?
Since we mentioned the wet baths inside the Coachmen Beyond units, let’s take a look at campervan bathrooms in general. If a wet bath is a must-have, you’ll have to give up something else to get one. That may be entertaining space for guests, kitchen countertop space for meal prep, or interior storage space.
You can find several Class B options with a wet bath to access a toilet, shower, and sink. The Airstream Atlas even has a full dry bath. It’s one of the most luxurious camper vans on the market, with a slide-out that creates even more interior space. But it also starts at $289,911, well above what many owners might want to pay.
Then the question of do you really need a toilet or shower comes up. If you’re taking a weekend camping trip to a National Forest, will you even be in your campervan except to sleep? You’ll probably be out hiking, biking, paddling, and exploring. Many campervans come with an exterior shower, so you can rinse off when you get back before climbing into bed for the night. You can also easily pack along a portable camping toilet for instances where you don’t have a public facility nearby.
You also want to consider the water tank size. If you’re going to be taking showers, you’re going to need a rather large gray tank and a freshwater tank if you’re dry camping. We tackle a few additional questions about campervan water tanks in this article if you want to know more.
Can You Live in a Camper Van Year Round?
We’ve mentioned weekend camping trips but haven’t talked about living full-time in a campervan. Is it possible? Yes, you can adjust to living inside these tiny camper vans. It’s easier for solo travelers and couples to live van life than families, but it’s not impossible.
There’s little personal space, and you must learn to live without certain conveniences. But these challenges can also strengthen you as a person and potentially grow your relationship with your partner.
What Are the Challenges of Camping in a Class B Van?
Campervan interiors present specific challenges that you might be able to avoid in a larger RV. First, if it rains and you can’t go adventuring, you’re stuck in a tiny space. Personal space is pretty much non-existent. If someone wakes up early to get some work done and another person is trying to catch a few more zzzs, it can be difficult for someone to work in the dark or the other to ignore the constant typing.
If you do have a campervan with a bathroom, the space is minimal. Showering isn’t enjoyable because you’ll probably hit your elbows against the wall several times. Some bathrooms you can’t even turn around in.
The kitchen space can also present challenges because it’s hard to cook a large meal with just a 2-burner stove. Maybe you’ll add a toaster oven or Instant Pot, but if you enjoy cooking large meals or meals with lots of preparation, you might struggle to camp in a Class B.
Also, not all camper vans have air conditioners inside. If you plan on camping a lot in the summer heat, you may want to read up about how to stay cool with insulation, roof vents, and window coverings.
Conversely, staying warm in a camper van can also be challenging. If you do a lot of winter camping, consider our guide to diesel heaters to help you stay warm in extreme temperatures. If your camper van doesn’t have a furnace, you must do something to keep yourself from freezing.
Common Campervan Interior Upgrades and Renovations
First, campervan interior renovations usually start with accessories. Make your Class B your own. It should feel like home. However, there are also things like a portable outdoor shower, a portable power station, and a bug screen that help make your camping experience more enjoyable.
Pro Tip: Deck out your camper van with these ten best campervan accessories.
Renovating your campervan interior can be a huge undertaking. But when you transform your space into something special, you’ll feel at home in your oasis. Many people paint to brighten up the interior or to add a fun splash of color. Other people switch out the furniture for something more modern, functional, or comfortable. Updating light fixtures and faucets can also be minor change that have a significant impact. You don’t have to remodel to make your campervan interior feel like home completely.
The Camper Van Inside: Small Space, Big Adventures
Camper van interiors are small. There’s no denying that. However, these compact, motorized RVs can get you to places you’ve never explored. You can drive off the beaten path with a 4X4 overlanding camper van and camp deep in the forest. Or you can get into any national park campground without worrying about your size. You can travel closer to trailheads and kayak launches.
So camper vans may be small, but they offer opportunities for big adventures. Where will your camper van take you?
Would you consider living in a camper van? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!
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