Some enjoy international travel – seeing far-off lands and other cultures.
Others are more “home bodies”. They want to see the USA – up close and personal. Take their time, drink in the scenery and local folks, and enjoy this country.
If you fall into this latter category, you can kill the proverbial “two birds with one stone”. Having some sort of home-on-wheels not only gives you the flexibility to pick up and go at the spur of the moment, it also gives you some much needed shelter from the elements if you find yourself in a situation that demands a quick evacuation.
Recreational Vehicles (RV), motorhomes, 5th-wheels, camper shells, van conversions and the like are the way to go. You’ve got most – if not all – of the amenities of your home, and you’re able to move from place to place for as long as the gasoline or diesel are available.
The problem is, they can be pricey. Brand new motor homes can run upwards of $300,000! Even used ones can run tens of thousands of dollars. That’s too much money for some folks to spend on a vehicle that will be parked in the driveway or side yard for most of the year.
A couple of grand, though, well that might work…
There are TONS of plans you can purchase online for converting a van, SUV or truck into a wheeled home. Here’s some information to get those creative juices flowing!
This homemade pop-up camper shell is pretty cool. It was made from purchased plans (linked on his site) and came out great. The maker has also posted some updates on the good and bad of the design.
The photo on the left is what it looks like top-down, and the one on the right is top-up. Notice how it pivots (he’s got an animation on the site to show how it works).
This next guy is from Great Britain. Converted a van into a rolling home.
I like the fact that it maintains its stealthy appearance, but it is sorely hurting for storage. Very nice use of a hide-a-bed, though!
This next one is a superb example of DIY and thriftiness, all balled up into one!
Starting from a bare, salvaged pop-up trailer frame, he converted it into this magnificent teardrop trailer. Really good work here.
This last one is my personal favorite. What appears as a typical SUV/Grocery-getter is in fact a high-functioning home on wheels.
He even made a refrigerator!
Watch the video, then click the link above for the very well-done plans.
Things to consider with your plans:
Storage: How much gear and supplies are you able to stow in the conversion? This is a crucial component of a good design. Being mobile is important, but maintaining your independence by already having adequate supplies is a must.
When considering a design, think about being able to use common Rubbermade or similar totes to hold the various categories of supplies. It keeps you organized, which is very important when living in small spaces.
Be sure to consult with our 12 Impacts to make sure you’re not leaving anything out.
Stealthiness: Don’t look like a vehicle stuffed to the gills with valuable stuff. In an evacuation situation, this is even more important. If the supply-chain breaks down as a result of a disaster, you don’t want to be viewed as the local General Store, ripe for the picking.
Security: In good times or bad, if you’re in home on wheels, you’re likely isolated from most of civilization. That’s kind of the idea! That includes being isolated from the police. YOU are responsible for your safety.
If using two structures – say a truck towing a sleeping trailer – be sure to have motion/intruder alarms on your truck. It would be horrible to wake up one morning, and find your truck stripped of its valuable parts, and all of your gasoline siphoned away.
Security means self-defense as well. Depending upon your state, a handgun is the bare minimum you should consider. Seriously consider getting a multi-state, non-resident Concealed Carry Permit so that you’re within the law where ever you may find yourself. Utah, Arizona and Florida have excellent non-resident programs which allow you to carry concealed in 30+ states.
Stocked: As much as is possible, have your home on wheels stocked for a quick exit. When you return from a trip, refill or replace your combustibles (propane, matches, kindling), water and food. If you have a fully self-contained vehicle, refill the gas tank, and the spare gas cans. Use fuel stabilizers if appropriate.
If you’re uneasy keeping these things in the vehicle between uses, use the aforementioned Rubbermade totes and keep them in your garage or other secured storage area. In this way, it will only take a few minutes to load the totes and be on the road.
Now get out there and get rolling!