Jess, Stephen and baby Hunter are full time travelling vloggers on YouTube. In 2020, with the pandemic in full swing, they approached us about decking out their brand new Mercedes Sprinter Van, so that they could head out on a year long adventure around Australia. We were happy to help!
Fast forward to April 2021, and ‘Cooper the Van’ is now complete.
Some of the key features include:
We had one last catch up with Stephen from Flying the Nest before he hit the road.
What made you decide to kit out a sprinter van vs buy a caravan?
“We wanted something all in one unit so we didn’t have to worry about reversing a caravan in. We have done a lot of campervan trips in the past, and we just love having an all in one unit, its easy to rock up to a campground its easy to park and set it up. We wanted to stay within our comfort zone.
We chose a Sprinter van because we have a 10 month old, and as new parents we were worried about what might happen if we were to break down in the middle of the outback. We did a lot of research and we found out in Australia all the ambulances are Sprinter vans, if anything happens at least they are common enough the parts will be readily available. We got the extended version – it’s a bit longer and a bit higher, with a long wheel base and an extra high roof. We wanted the extra space and we wanted to be comfortable.
We also decided to have a fixed bed (rather than a big living space where you make the bed at night), so that it was as easy and comfortable as possible, plus we don’t have to pack away the bed each day!”
How have you found the process?
“All the design choices have been 90% ours. Rather than buying something already fitted out, we knew there were some things we needed, having a baby travel with us. For example, her bed, her seat with safety anchor points and space to fit her cot. So we had some non negotiables first, and then we looked for inspiration from other van builds, from Pinterest, and Instagram. We took inspiration from others, as we have never built a van before. When we bought this it was an empty cargo van, so you have to use your imagination. We presented our ideas to RV Solutions, and they would work with us to ensure our ideas all worked, or they might tweak them a bit. For example, they suggested induction cooktops so we didn’t need gas! We wanted to be off grid with solar etc too.
It was cool to film and be involved in the process was really fun.”
What are you most looking forward to about the van?
“Probably, adjusting to living out of a van. We’ve lived out of a suitcase, stayed at Air BnBs and hostels, but we’ve never lived full time in a van. We also have a battery, so we need to manage our electricity consumption.
It will be fun learning to live in such a small space. But on top of that, we are able to drive any place we want, and we are not really bound to anything and have the freedom to travel around Australia. We have also done relatively well in terms of Covid in comparison to other countries, so we are lucky we can travel comfortably and see more of our home! We sometimes forget that our home country is so beautiful and we normally have millions of people come to visit!”
What special features did you include to make travelling with a baby / toddler easier?
“Definitely the bunk bed. Obviously she cant use it now as she is still in the cot, but we want to ideally keep the van for around 10 years so we can still go on family trips. So we have thought about the future too! I can’t believe how they did it, it’s almost like its floating! She’s got her own little fan, and a little bookshelf opposite her bed. We definitely designed this to grow with the family.”
What are your travel plans?
“We have heaps of flexibility. We are heading straight up to the Kimberley’s, across to Darwin, down to Uluru then back up to Queensland and continuing round clockwise. We have some places we have to be, for example the Blue Mountains in August, but we have flexibility between those stops.
I’m most excited about the House Boats in SA. We did a taster of SA a few months ago, and it felt a bit like WA, a bit like home. So we are excited to see more of South Australia.”
Why did you decide to call the van Cooper?
“A couple reasons. One was, our channel is called ‘Flying the Nest’ so a coop is like a nest. And the other thing was if Hunter wasn’t Hunter, we were considering Cooper for our first kid!”
If you’re interested in your own van conversion, contact us today.
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