What Vehicle Is Right for Me?

Don't know what kind of van to buy? Are you sure its even a van that you want? Check out this guide for each type of vehicle and find out which one is best for you!
In this guide we are breaking down the types of vehicles common for nomadic dwellers. You will find the description, general uses, and pros and cons of each. The categories will also be rated on its space, maneuverability, and fuel efficiency. They can be either Poor, Okay, Fair, Good, and Awesome!

Class A Motor-home:

Space: Awesome Maneuverability: Poor Fuel Efficiency: Poor These are a popular option for full-time or long-term RV'rs. Class A's offer many of the comforts of home including residential full-sized furniture, slide-outs for added space, often times a residential refrigerator, and even potentially a washer and dryer (depending on the RV). Class A motor-homes resemble a bus, with a vertical front windshield with large windows. For vehicle dwelling this is the whole package with everything you would need to live comfortably. The large amount of space would be ideal for families especially those with kids that need lots of room. That size, however, is also the biggest downfall. You will be hard-pressed to find any place to stay that isn't an RV park. Given the long frame and immense size it can be difficult to maneuver and there may be places that it just can't go. Another consideration is gas mileage. Moving all of that weight will not be cheap. Purchasing one of these large home on wheels is also going to be one of the most expensive options.

Class C Motor-home

Space: Awesome Maneuverability: Fair Fuel Efficiency: Okay These motor-homes are usually built on a truck chassis and attached to the cab portion. Class C RV's have a distinctive cab-over profile that makes them easy to recognize. Many class C's offer similar amenities to their class A counterparts, just on a smaller chassis. Class C Motor-homes are perfect for RV'rs of all types from families to couples and singles. These vehicles have essentially all of the same attributes as the class A but fewer amenities and less space. Given the similarities you can expect the same pros and cons but to a lesser degree.

Skoolie (Converted bus)

Space: Awesome Maneuverability: Fair Fuel Efficiency: Okay A skoolie is a former school bus or shuttle bus that has been converted into a RV. This includes full size buses based on a dedicated school bus chassis, or a "short bus", based on a cutaway van, heavy duty pickup truck cutaway, or medium duty truck cutaway with a bus body attached. A cutaway is where a vehicle frame is fitted with only a cab, motor, transmission, and tires. A secondary manufacturer is responsible to fit additional body components. Converted buses are usually highly customized and done by their owners. These can be done simple and cheap, or elaborate and expensive. Full size buses are generally fall into the Class A rating, and the short buses fall into the Class C rating. There are varying regulations in different states in the United States that affect the conversion of a school bus. Some states require that the bus's signaling equipment (stop sign, flashing lights, etc.) be removed and the school bus yellow paint scheme be changed. Other states simply require that the "School Bus" signage at the top front and rear be removed. A similar vehicle to consider is a retired ambulance. These are similar to a short bus in size and also may require alterations to symbols, lights, and paint scheme. This type of vehicle is popular among DIY'rs with construction and building skills. The large amount of space allows for a huge potential in customization and for that reason each is unique in its own way. The vehicle itself is similar to an RV in that gas mileage and size will be the biggest cons. Though the outcome of a well-done conversion can arguably outweigh them.

Class B Motor-home

Space: Good Maneuverability: Good Fuel Efficiency: Good Built using a conventional van, to which either a raised roof has been added or the back replaced by a low-profile body. In the United States and Canada class B motor-homes are built on several different chassis depending on the motor-home manufacturer and engine design. Common chassis include the Mercedes Benz Sprinter diesel, the Dodge Ram Promaster gas, the Chevrolet Express gas, and the Ford Transit gas and diesel. This is the category that most vans fall under after they have been converted by the owner from a standard van. However, for insurance purposes in order to qualify as Class B RV a vehicle must have four of the following six built in items. A water system, typically a sink or shower, a refrigerator, a cooking system, a fuel or 110v electrical system, an AC unit or heater, and or a toilet.

Sprinter Van

Space: Awesome Maneuverability: Good Fuel Efficiency: Good These are vans that are built factory with a high roof and lots of interior space. For these reasons they are often used for delivery and tradesman work vans. Those attributes also make them a perfect platform to build a home in. These are the types of converted vans you often see depicted in photography and social media and are often the top choice for custom conversion companies. This gives you the option of building it yourself or paying for a custom setup. The option to have a conversion built for you is not unique to sprinter vans but it is the popular choice. The positives of this van are exceptional space and height. In terms of space to maneuverability and gas mileage ratio this van is superior. The negatives , however, are all related to cost. You want the best then you have to pay for it. Sprinter vans like the Mecredes Benz and Ram Promaster are more expensive than other vans. Part of that is that these models are somewhat new to the market being produced only in the last decade. Another consideration is repairs for these vans can also be expensive, especially for the Mercedes.

Conversion Van

Space: Good Maneuverability: Awesome Fuel Efficiency: Good Conversion vans came into style during the 1970s and 1980s. The early conversions were simply vans with seats put in them. These are the vans that displayed grand murals painted along the sides. After the mid-80s, however, they started changing and adapting to consumer demand. Soon luxurious interiors featuring thickly padded seats, fold-down bed, wood trim, and luxury lighting began to appear as families started using them for road trips and camping. Conversion vans are known for there captain seats, arguably the most comfortable seat of any vehicle ever produced, that had the option to flip around to face the back. Also, when it comes to space, conversion vans are probably the most roomy in any of the older van models. Second only to sprinters and high tops. Unfortunately, vans like these are no longer produced by manufacturers which means the conversion vans that are on the market today are all now at least thirty years old. Keep in mind that these older vans will likely need repairs and maintenance to be reliable for travel and have probably accumulated quite a few miles. Vans used for conversions in the past that are no longer in production are the Chevrolet Van/GMC Vandura (1970-1996), the Chevrolet Astro/GMC Safari (1985-2005), the Dodge Ram Van (1981-2003), Chrysler minivans, Ford E-Series (1961-2014 in North America) and the Volkswagen Eurovan (1992-2003).

Truck Camper

Space: Okay to Fair Maneuverability: Awesome Fuel Efficiency: Good A truck camper is a living space unit much like a small camper that is mounted into the bed of a pickup truck. It's important to match the weight and center balance point of the truck camper with the capabilities of the pickup truck itself to maintain safe handling while driving. Truck campers are a good option for those that don't require much space or do a lot of camping outside. Having a truck means the ability to travel off road and reach areas that other vehicles simply can't do to rugged terrain. The addition of a box camper typically doesn't inhibit the trucks ability to also use its towing capabilities which provides the option of hauling dirt bikes, ATV's, a boat, or trailer. A truck camper is sort of a compromise between living space, remote accessibility, and options. Typical North American consumer grade pickup trucks used for hauling full size campers are of the Chevrolet/GMC 2500 through 3500 range, the Ram 2500 through 3500 range, and the Ford F-250 through 350 range, usually with long box bed lengths and sometimes with dual-mounted rear tires for the heaviest camper models.

Passenger and Mini Van

Space: Good Maneuverability: Good Fuel Efficiency: Awesome The original purpose for this type of van is stated in the name. Outfitted with rows of seats, these vans are intended for transporting a large number of passengers. By default, that makes them perfect for family road trips or taxi service. For converting, however, that also means that there are additional comfort and safety features that can get in the way. Some of these include molded plastic wall covering with cup holders and compartments, insulation, ceiling covering, electrical for rear dome lights, seats, seat belts, carpeting, and more. Before converting into a home on wheels this will all have to be removed. Keep in mind that items like the seat belts also require a special tool to remove. The bonus to these vans is that there are plenty on the market with decent mileage. Being typically a family or consumer vehicle means that they tend to be sold for the purpose of upgrading to a newer model. That leaves plenty of used vans in good condition available for those seeking them. Mini Vans are a sub-category of passenger van. They are intended for the same purpose but of a smaller design. That makes the interior space the smallest in class when compared to other types of vans. However, there are advantages to a small size. Increased fuel efficiency and maneuverability to name a couple. Some models include the Chevy Astro, Toyota Sienna, Dodge Town and Country, and Dodge Ram Caravan. Another benefit to these is they have the stigma of being a "soccer mom" van. That makes them very stealthy and un-alarming to passerby's and home owners.

Cargo Van

Space: Good Maneuverability: Good Fuel Efficiency: Good These vans are nearly identical to passenger vans as they are often the same model of van but have a body and interior built for work. Though of the same make there are also models outfitted with larger engines and towing capacity like the Ford, Dodge, and Chevy lines. These built for work vehicles makes them more rugged and durable providing them the potential to be outfitted to something akin to a pickup truck. Where passenger vans are designed with seating and comfort features cargo vans have often been adapted with shelving for tools and equipment as well as a separating wall between the front driving area and the rear cabin. The lack of carpeting and wall coverings mean that the cabin is an empty shell which is perfect for DIY conversions. Starting with a blank slate means you can start converting right away and not have to deal with gutting the van. Cargo vans also typically lack rear windows which gives you the option of installing them or choosing not to. Having no windows can increase safety from break-ins, reduce heat from the sun, and leave an entire wall available for mounting walls and cabinetry. Another added bonus to cargo vans is that they can be quite stealthy. White work vans are very common and highly utilized by a variety of companies, so people are used to seeing them everywhere. Also, if the vehicle was previously owned and operated by a business for work it's likely that it was regularly maintained which speaks well in terms of condition. Being a highly utilized vehicle means that replacement parts are common and cheaper as well. On the flip side these companies often hold onto these vehicles until they are very high in mileage or no longer perform well enough for there needs. So, discretion is paramount.

SUV, Sedan, Car

Space: Poor Maneuverability: Good Fuel Efficiency: Awesome If you thought a van might be too small to live in you may be surprised to know that there are even smaller options. Vehicles such as an SUV or pickup with a topper are possible options. Some folks have even found unique ways to convert something as small as a Prius into a living space. In some cases, this is a stepping stone. Sort of a way to test the waters and see if living in a vehicle feels right. For other's it's all they have or can afford at the moment and they are working with what they have. It just goes to show what is possible if you're willing. As you can imagine space is limited so finding unique ways to store your belongings and create a sleeping space can be difficult, but it is entirely possible. A benefit of using these kinds of vehicles is stealth. These are vehicles seen everyday so there are not very suspect. Also, a small or lighter vehicles can mean better gas mileage. Though the same may not be true for pickups.

Bicycle

Space: Poor? Awesome? Road is your living space? Maneuverability: Awesome Fuel Efficiency: N/A? Depends on how much you eat? A home on wheels is still a home on wheels. Even if there are only two! This setup may just be you, a bike, and a backpack. Other options include adding a basket or saddle bags for storage. Its also possible to tow a very small version of a teardrop camper. Inside is essentially just a small bed to sleep in but it's enough to get you out of the elements. Alternatively, carrying a small tent is just as viable. So why chose a bike? There is a sort of profound sense of accomplishment in having traveled somewhere on a bike alone. Cross country biking is not a new trend. It's somewhat akin to an athletic achievement to travel across the country on a bicycle. That may stem from the fact that it is much more difficult to do. Weather is a big reason. Blazing heat, wet and rainy, cold and dreary, no matter what the weather is you will be facing it head on. Also, all that pedaling takes a lot of energy. You gain a new understanding of things like hills and wind that wouldn't faze a motored vehicle. Believe it or not there are some benefits to this method of travel. First, it's cheap. You're not paying for fuel so as long as you can afford food and water you can travel. Low cost means you can travel longer and work less. Going at a slower pace also means that you see and notice more. It's much more "journey" and a lot less "destination". When it comes to biking stealth really doesn't matter and more often then not people will be impressed and interested in what your doing.

Backpack

Space: N/A? Awesome? World is your living space? Maneuverability: Awesome Fuel Efficiency: N/A? Depends on how much you eat? You thought we were going to stop at bicycle didn't you. Nope! Ditch the wheels and stretch your heels cause we're walking! Traveling doesn't always imply wheeled transport. If your goal is to stay off the beaten path and follow the trail, then a good pack and sturdy gear is all you really need. There are some very amazing and exciting trails all over the world that are miles long and take weeks to complete. The best way to experience them is by hiking. In many cases the most beautiful places on earth are only accessible on foot. When you've reached the end of the trail you can hop on a bus, train, or plane to find the next one. What vehicle would you choose? Would you rate any of these categories differently? Would you add any other information? Let us know in the comments below! And if you enjoyed this guide check out more of our helpful guides here!