a Blog About Adventure Travel for Kite-Surfing and Cycling with a Custom Built Van
Van Updates and Improvements
Van Updates and Improvements

Van Updates and Improvements

Van Updates and Improvements

After every trip and every season, we discuss how we can make our van travels even better! After the 2023 kiting, biking, and camping season, we had a pretty long list of minor van updates and improvements for JoVanna. Some improvements made traveling a little quieter, while others just helped to organize our gear a little better. However, a few were purely for aesthetic purposes. JoVanna has never driven or looked any better!

Van updates and improvements - 2024
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Table of Contents

Stove Holder

We generally cook all of our meals ourselves, whether we are at home, in the van or traveling around the world. Having an easy and “quiet” place to store our Coleman Stove has been a challenge since we first started building out our van.

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We prefer to have a loose, movable stove as part of our kitchen essentials instead of a permanent setup, because we don’t like to cook inside of our van. Since it is a small space, the smells while cooking can definitely be overpowering and linger long after a meal. If we have cook inside due to weather, we try to stick to just boiling water or making coffee.

Since our stove is metal, it tends to rattle and slide around while driving. To minimize the noise, we added a padded shelf above our refrigerator to store our stove. Now it sits quietly on a shelf and we don’t have to worry about it falling over or sliding around.

Within the stove itself, we added a few rubber stoppers to keep the burners from rattling inside. Note: Remember to remove the rubber pieces before cooking! They melt and burn. Lesson learned.

Van updates and improvements - 2024
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Shower Improvements

After installing our permanent van shower in winter 2023, we finally got to use it a few times while traveling throughout the summer.

After the first use, we realized that the pump wasn’t going to cut it for consistent water pressure into our hot water heater. Next to the water pump, we installed a SHURflo pre-presurrized accumulator tank to maintain water pressure. Now the temperature in the shower remains steady instead of fluctuating between 80 and 110 degrees. So much better.

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Now that we have consistent water pressure, we needed to do a few more things for easier use. From the pump to the hot water heater to the shower, we have a few hoses.

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Following a hot shower, we were disconnecting these hoses and placing them in the compartment with the storage tank, water pump, and hot water heater. Unfortunately, the water remains in the hoses was getting everywhere in our storage compartment.

To limit the amount of water outside the shower stall, we removed the fill point for the fresh water tank and passed the hoses through the new open hole. Now, when we are traveling, the water left in the hose go down the drain instead of all over the floor! Huge improvement. An added bonus, filling our fresh water tank is also easier!!!

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New Bike Storage

When building our garage storage space, we decided that “Des” (Jade’s bike) also needed to be stored inside. While driving around, he was flopping back and forth between the bed and the floor and we started to worry about causing damaging his beautiful carbon fiber frame. In addition to wanting to hold him in place, we also wanted to be able to get to the space under the bed without having to take “Des” out every time. Our solution was to store him up right on the driver’s side.

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After storing Des is this manor for a few years, we decided that this system was not working out for a few reasons.

  1. When there was water remaining bike, it would spill all over the bed and the kites while driving.
  2. When trying to sleep, the greasy chains would get oil on the blankets and pillows.
  3. We still were not able to access the garage space under the bed when Des was stored in this position.
  4. We wanted to build a slider drawer for the storage space to have easier access kites and gear.

The new bike storage solution is to place Des inside the van and lock him to the bed and wall. Although, we will have to take him out to access the area under the bed every time, it is really the best solution.

Van updates and improvements - 2024
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Garage Space Slider Drawer

We love all the garage space under our bed inside the van. It easily stores our chairs, tables, 3-5 kites, bars, harnesses, wetsuit, foils, and helmets. However, after a few days on the road, it becomes quite a jumbled mess of gear. Often it is difficult to reach the kites in the back of the space or items get lost in the pile. After struggling to get kites in and out on our last trip in 2023, we decided to add a large slider drawer to our garage space.

The most important part when building a large slider drawer like this is purchasing quality sliders. If you have quality sliders the drawer will be easier to install and will have the strength needed. We really like the AOLISHENG heavy duty sliders. We have a pair for our garage space drawer and our refrigerator drawer. They are worth the investment.

Van updates and improvements - 2024
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Now, we can easily access items from the front and the back.

Van updates and improvements - 2024
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New Shoe Racks

When we first started traveling in our van, our shoes became a problem when we were stuck inside. They were always covering the floor and causing us to trip. Not to mention there was even less space for Honey, our dog, to lay down and sleep at night. In 2023, we added some shoe holders that we purchased on Amazon. They were really simple racks that attached to the side of our sink and could hold four pairs of shoes.

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We liked that they were black and simple to install, however we didn’t love that they were the letter “R” for some reason. Since thiis the very first thing you see when you open our slider door, we decided that our shoe rack needed an update.

In place of the simple, plastic shoe rack, we built two wooden racks. Before installing them, we added a skid guard on the side of the sink for easy cleaning. We also decided to carpet the outside for a softer look and feel. Now we can still store four pairs of shoes, but the storage containers are a lot nicer and definitely much more pleasing to the eye!

Van updates and improvements - 2024
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Rust Repair

We love our Ram Promaster. JoVanna has been a great fit for us over the last 4 years, despite her mechanical issues (new transmission, need brakes, new radiator, cross our fingers for nothing else). At 8 years old and 100,000 miles, she is starting to shower her age a bit.

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The design around the mud flaps unfortunately leads to a bit of a rust problem after a few years. Water and dirt builds up behind the flaps and begins to eat away at the metal.

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To prevent further rusting, repaired the current rust holes with fiber glass patching and then lined the bottom of the frame in with a rust preventative paint. In addition to the repair, we also drilled holes behind the mud flaps to drain out the water and dirt!

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More to Come in 2024

As we continue to make van updates and improvements, we have a few projects remaining in the works this spring. Before the summer is upon us, we would like to add a fold-up medicine cabinet/ mirror over our sink. The plans are already created, but the time has not been available for building.

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The last large update that we are considering is adding permanent solar panels to the roof. Although we haven’t used our van for more than a couple weeks at a time yet, we are hoping to have a few longer trips this summer. Having the ability to recharge our batteries on the road would definitely be a bonus.

What van updates and improvements made your home away from home even better? Please share in the comments below.

Have fun and safe travels! ~KiteBikeVan

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