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Class B Camper Van Basics (with pictures!)


Class B camper van in campground
Here’s what you need to know about Class B camper vans.

A Class A camper van is built onto a bus chassis, so it is huge. There is usually “basement” storage, a bathroom, a full kitchen, and separate sleeping areas. You can get one with slideouts that give you more room when parked. It is fully motorized, but harder to maneuver places and more expensive to maintain. These Class B camper van basics can help you decide if the #vanlife is for you.

Know your Class B camper van basics before you buy

So, what is a Class B camper van? A Class B camper van is like a passenger van that has been converted into a fulltime living space with:

  • kitchenette
  • sleeping area
  • small toilet

Here’s what you need to know about Class B camper van basics. Use these tips to help you decide if you are cut out for this camping style.

Camper Vans versus Motorhomes and Trailers

Class B vans are a happy medium between a Class A Motorhome and a towable trailer or truck camper. These RVs are often called “van conversions” or “camper vans.” Basically, they are a passenger van that is outfitted for camping and travel.

Vans are great when you are looking for a motorhome but not ready for owning such a big RV. Some larger Class B Motorhomes can also pull tow cars or even trailers for additional storage.

The Pros of Class B Camper Vans

Class B camper vans are fully motorized and usually front wheel drive. They are easy to drive, back up, and level out on uneven campsites. You can easily learn how to handle one on any road setting.

One of the biggest selling points of Class B camper vans is they hold their value better than other RVs. They are cheaper to fuel, and cheaper to maintain. Fuel economy is better too.

Some Class B camper vans have roofs that pop up. This raises the ceiling and helps the interior feel more spacious, light, and open.

There is also a sliding door for easy entrance, exit, and loading. You can purchase additional features like iceboxes, awnings, and, of course, decorations.

Camper vans are a great beginner RV because you won’t have to break the bank to purchase one. Plus, you’ll get most of your money back if you sell a camper van because you don’t enjoy #vanlife.

Some Cons of Class B Camper Vans

tall man cooking in camper van
Are you too tall for a camper van?

When you consider Class B camper van basics, remember the advantages come with a cost. The smaller your van gets, the less additions, perks, amenities, and plain old stuff you can put in your RV.

Class B camper vans typically come with a small kitchenette. Kitchenettes include a sink, a small cooktop, and a microwave if you’re a lucky customer. Some cabinet space to store cooking supplies, ingredients, and utensils is usually included. But some kitchenettes don’t even have a small cooktop or a microwave. You may have a very small counterspace with only room for a hot plate.

Your camper van kitchenette might also include a small icebox, cooler, or fridge. Pre-installed iceboxes or coolers for camper vans will likely be by the sink. They usually have a small cover you can use for counter space. Small fridges will likely be next to the sink.

Reasons why tall people may not like camper vans

In addition to the kitchenette, there is a sitting and dining area. This area usually consists of a small table set into the wall with two or so benches circling it. The table might fold down to create a makeshift bed for sleeping. You will likely be hitting your knees on the table in the dining/sitting nook as you cook in the kitchenette; there is very little room.

Besides the small makeshift bed in the sitting and dining area, there will be a sleeping area. In Class B camper vans, the bed is usually in back. Expect a full or (cross your fingers) a queen sized mattress with a few cabinets for storage.

Some Class B camper vans manage to squeeze a tiny little toilet or bathroom area inside. It’s so small you won’t want to spend much time in there browsing magazines.

Depending on the kind of van you purchase, your toilet may be hooked up to a black tank. Or, you might have to purchase an additional toilet. A black tank addition may be needed. Or, you can get a removable cassette toilet that doesn’t require one. The downside is, you have to take the cassette out by hand, and empty it.

And, that is about it for your Class B camper van basics. These RVs are made for basic living on the road or for weekend adventures. Go alone, with your dog, with your significant other or family member if you choose.

How and When to Buy a Class B Camper Van

One of the biggest questions people tend to have when buying an RV is when to buy it. Some treat RV purchases like the housing market or the stock market. They try to gauge how the market is doing. Lots will attempt to “land” a sell or a purchase at just the right time to get a deal.

Well, it’s not like that. Not really. Sure, you can pick a smarter time to buy an RV. But you’ll never be able to gauge it “just right.”

Timing is everything for RV buying.

Around late spring, or around the end of May is the worst time to buy a Class B camper van. That’s when everybody is trying to buy an RV. Instead, buy at the end of RV season. That’s when dealers and owners want to get rid of extra stock and unwanted RV’s.

Also, if fuel prices are skyrocketing, buy it! RVs cost so much to fill up, and many people wont typically buy an RV when the fuel costs rise. That’s your chance to swoop in and get a deal.

The best place to buy a camper van gets you the best deal.

You can buy an RV new or used from a dealership. Or, you can buy a used RV from a private party on rvtrader.com or craigslist.com. If you buy from a dealer, you will be getting an RV in great condition. It should run smoothly, and be free of bug infestations and carpet mold.

If you buy a used RV from a private party, you can get a much better price. Many private party RVs are still in good condition, but getting your own RV inspection is a smart idea.

The bottom line is: you can buy an RV from a dealer or from the guy down the street. You can buy the RV in the spring or fall. Or when gas prices are high. But you are never going to find “just the right time.” Don’t obsess. Any day is a good day to buy an RV. Just find a model you like and go search for deals.

Consider all the costs of Class B Camper Vans

Class B camper van costs generally range from $22,000 to $110,000. Besides the initial costs, you are going to have maintenance costs, fuel expenses, insurance payments.

Full-time RVing in a Class B Camper Van: Tips and Tricks

Will you live full time in a Class B camper van? Then start researching how to make that work.

You will not have very much space when full-time RVing in a Class B camper van. The thing people seem to have the hardest time with is getting rid of their clothes.

Staying conservative with your kitchen supplies is also important. Go back to your college days where you only had salt, pepper, and cinnamon as seasonings. Remember how you used the same frying pan to cook eggs and heat up soup? You also ate a whole lot of dry food, right? That’s what van life cooking is like.

When you live in an RV, cleanliness matters. You are going to sit, sleeping, and eating in the same spot every day. Take off your shoes at the door. Be careful where and how you eat. Sweep every day. The nice thing is that your space will be tiny, so you won’t have to spend a long time cleaning.

Camper van driving tips

The Class B van is probably a bigger vehicle than you are used to driving. Be extra careful that you don’t try to squeeze through a tight spot. Don’t take a turn that your Class B van cannot complete. Be aware of the weight restrictions for RVs like yours. The amount you can carry dictates how much stuff you can take on the road.

Secure everything when you are driving. Place loose kitchen supplies in the sink. Latch all of the cupboards. I once made the mistake of leaving my lucky bamboo plant on the counter one day. Then we drove through a rocky, bumpy, mountain pass. That was not a fun night, and now I miss my bamboo plant.

When you drive, shut and secure all of your vents and windows. You don’t want them to rattle or break when you’re on the road. If you have an awning, be sure that you roll that in as well.

Great Class B Camper Vans to Consider

Below are three of some of the most respected, most loved Class B camper vans on the market:

  • Airstream Interstate– Everybody loves the classic Airstream. The Airstream Interstate is built for the road and is known for being smooth, adaptable, reliable, and easy to handle. There is also a tankless water heater. This is great news when you have to wash all of your dishes by hand. And the shiny exterior is definitely a bonus.
  • Winnebago Revel– The Revel has 4X4 drive, which is something you don’t often get with a Class B Motorhome. There is also a full wet bath, so you have a little more room in the bathroom. It is a very powerful model and will be able to take you wherever you want to go.
  • RoadTrek CS Adventurous– It includes the word “adventurous,” so you know this Class B Motorhome will be a good one. It has an awning, a heater, a small shower, and can fit up to six sleepers. It is built with the same chassis as the Winnebago Revel. This RV is powerful enough to go offroading and sleek enough to cruise uptown.

Living full time in your Class B camper van?

If you want to live the #vanlife full time, you will probably need to earn money. How will you do it? Many full-time RVers work online during the day. Then they go on adventures and driving trips in the afternoons and evenings.

If you work online, you are going to need to have access to WiFi. Many full-time RVers park their rigs and work inside of a coffee shop. Other purchase a WiFi dongle.

WiFi can be tough to get ahold of when you live full time in an RV. But there are other ways to make money RVing. Some people will sell original photographs to stock photo companies or book photoshoots of their own. Others will sell crafts on Etsy.com or get involved in selling oils, makeup, or Scentsy.

The better prepared you are with Class B camper van basics,, the less money you’ll have to spend on the road. The less hectic your van life will be.

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