The three week Sprinter van built

Our priority for this built wasn’t that picture perfect home that presents well in pictures but a) won’t withstand two little kids and a dog for longer than a week and b) will take time off our six month trip that we’d rather spend watching reindeer in northern Norway than building a pretty van. And, naturally, we’d rather spend our money on gas and chocolate and beer than fancy finishes and gadgets. Since we knew that we’ll sell it six months later we didn’t have the pressure of building a “forever home”, which worked great.

When we first bought that Sprinter it had a third row, that we sold. We mainly worked nights or in between kids, so we don’t really have pictures of the process.
First we got rid of the third row, cut a hole in the roof for a Dometic skylight and mounted 100W of solar.
We decided against using a fan because we wanted the extra light (especially since our windows are tinted) and the option to just climb up and look outside. We bought a super cheap $2 12V fan that we can attach to the window, which worked great the few times we needed it.
Normally, we would’ve mounted more than 100W of solar, but this worked fine for staying under the midnight sun for most of the time.

We built the cabinets, bed and the compartments next. We used the cheaper plywood that has a dark brown glaze. It does not look good, you can’t paint over it and foil doesn’t stick to it. But the places we used it are barely visible and for the parts that you have to see daily we used birch plywood and polyurethaned the shit out of it (not only the obvious places but everywhere because: kids and dog). We built the trash compartment to fit a trash bag, the toilet, toilet paper and clothes for one of us. Great combination, right? The cupboard on the left side houses 2 cans of fresh water, all dishes and pots, clothes for the other one as well as the sink and dish water. And oh so many other random shit that’s stuffed in there.

The compartments hold the butane for cooking, toilet paper and shampoo stuff, tools (because stuff always breaks) and some more kids stuff like puzzles and items we shouldn’t have brought in the first place.

Storing food wasn’t necessarily an issue, but we had to get creative for Norway. Since grocery prices up north are expensive we stocked up well down in Central Europe. As in “Kids, you gotta cuddle with those spaghetti and tuna cans” stocked up. We started with one big IKEA box for dry food, the fridge with 38L capacity and a fruit net. We had to improve that storage a bit, but for regular shopping situations it worked fine.

For the kids we had the bed area that doubled as a book/treasure storage plus their seats with a big box of books/drawing paper/craft stuff and other random stuff that kids tend to attach to. We always had an assortment of 3-4 sticks meticulously put away next to Sam’s seat and counted every night to make sure none of his precious treasure fell victim to the chief-stick-destroyer (either Cody or Mom).

Portable stoves were put away under the kids seats, together with the fire extinguisher, dog food and school books.

And lastly, the “garage” that was barely big enough for hammocks, jackets and dirty laundry, latter oftentimes stretching the limits of the garage capacity. Hey, laundromats are few and rare in between in Norway.