It is natural for newcomers to van life who swap out their homes, packed with consumer objects and clutter, to assume that they should find a massive fan that can fit all their belongings and offer them the comforts of home.
But part of the unique joy of van life is escaping some of the trappings of our materialistic culture and downsizing.
Van life allows you to rediscover the essential elements of life and to reclaim your purpose. And what better way to downsize, and appreciate the small things in life, than to deck out a compact van like a Ford Transit Connect?
Yes, we said it – sometimes a smaller van can be the perfect place to start your van life journey. The space constraints force you to be creative and to cultivate a minimalist mindset. Added bonus? Owning less accessories and appliances will allow for a smoother, less stressful transition to van living.
Sometimes a smaller van can be the perfect place to start your van life journey.
Meet the Ford Transit Connect
Let’s get the nitty gritty technicalities out of the way. The Ford Transit Connect is a compact van that comes in a short wheelbase (104.8” long) and a long wheelbase size (120.6’’ long). One of the key benefits of the shorter wheelbase (and the van in general) is that it is highly maneuverable and it makes navigating tight lanes or busy city streets that much easier. A long wheelbase allows for a smoother ride, particularly at high speeds.
The Ford Transit Connect is a fuel-efficient van, particularly when you compare it to its larger, bulkier peers. This makes it a sound choice for money conscious vanlifers.
The upfront costs for a used van in this class are pretty compelling – we can’t all splash out for a mansion-on-wheels, right?
Something worth knowing – Experienced vanlifers have noted that this model is notorious for transmission issues so it would be prudent for you to have your van checked by a mechanic before making a purchase or setting out on a long trip.
Here is a video detailing the transmission issues, and how to avoid them.
This problem really shouldn’t dissuade you, but it is important to recognize before a problem arises.
Pro VanLife Tip! We always recommend that vanlifers stash away a bit of their earnings for maintenance and vehicle upkeep fees for reasons just like this!
Another pointer: ensure you know the history of the van before purchase. If it was used extensively for moving or commercial purposes, continue your search as the wear and tear on the car may just cause a headache further down the line.
Vanlife in a Ford Transit Connect – is it Possible?
Not only is van life in a Ford Transit Connect possible, it might be ideal for your needs and aspirations. Although you will have to work with space limitations, this can light a fire under you and inspire out of the box design and storage solutions.
Living in a Ford Transit Connect will also force you to embrace creative solutions for cooking and showering. Luckily, you won’t be blazing any untrodden trails here – thousands of vanlifers have come before you and are eager to offer inspiration on Instagram and Pinterest.
Sleeping in a Ford Transit Connect
At first glance, it might appear that a Ford Transit Connect conversion can fit a mattress and pretty much nothing else. Untrue!
Tons of vanlifers construct their shelving and storage needs around their mattress creating a convenient and livable space. Others pack their mattress away or turn it into a couch during the day for maximum variety. Here are three setups we love.
Cooking in a Ford Transit Connect
Packing a propane stove, a kettle, and some tupperware will allow you to set up camp and cook wherever you find yourself parked.
But you don’t have to commit to eating outside – you can also create a customizable kitchen and shelving unit for your utensils and cooking ware. Your Ford Transit Connect buildout can be as unique as you are. Here are some interesting van kitchen setups we love.
Showering in a Ford Transit Connect
We aren’t going to lie and tell you that you can have a luxury bath or shower in your Ford Transit Connect. But you’re not as limited as you think. You can create a van shower setup with all of your toiletries and your towel at the back of your van for convenient showering on the road.
Solar shower bags, and hand-pump hoses make it a breeze.
We wrote a great article about outdoor shower ideas that will ensure you are always clean and spry in your compact van.
Below are three examples we love for washing up on the road.
Ford Transit Connect Van Tour
Here at BYDV we LOVE van tours! They give you a much better idea of the workings of a van than instagram posts.
Here are two video tours that give you some killer strategies for your own Ford Transit connect buildout and conversion!
Maxxed Out Micro Camper Van Tour.
This sleek and minimalist silhouette utilizes the small space to maximum effect. The modern kitchen area is perfect for vanlifers who want some of the conveniences of home on the road.
The bed converts to a couch during the day, making it perfect for those who want to work from the road. The pull-out cupboards under the bed make for organized, intuitive storage.
Ford Transit Connect DIY Conversion Van Tour.
We love this cabin-inspired wood paneled van. It is like a miniature apartment with all the amenities you need, including gorgeous storage space, homey touches like a throw blanket, a sink, and a television setup. This is one of the tidiest, most delightfully aesthetic builds we’ve seen.
Pros: Why Ford Transit Connect Vanlife is Desirable
For the reasons we’ve touched on above, including the great gas mileage and creative opportunities provided by Ford Transit Connect vans, we wholeheartedly advocate it as an option for your first (or second, or third) van life buildout.
Because of its smaller size it is easy to navigate and you won’t have to struggle to find parking spaces for larger campers.
When you inevitably have car troubles, Ford parts are easy to order, inexpensive, and nearly every mechanic has pretty good working experience with the brand.
We strongly believe that a smaller van can reduce stress and anxiety. Everything has its place, and creating a coherent organizational system is a pinch when you have everything in arms reach. If you construct shelving units under your bed setup then you can enjoy a sleek and tidy living space, with all your practical needs stashed in close proximity.
Cons: Reasons why The Ford Transit Van Might Not be for You
We’ve already touched on the space constraints, but we’ll mention that it might be a hassle if you have lots of outdoor gear and sporting equipment that you intend to bring on the road with you, like ski gear, rappelling equipment, and surf boards.
Living in a Ford Transit Connect necessitates occasional outdoor cooking, outdoor showering, and, frequently, leisure time. It might be cramped for an individual or couple who need to work from the road.
It is also not ideal for a vanlifer who plans to do lots of offroading or wants 4WD capability. The Ford Transit Connect can be a bumpy ride on well-paved roads, and we certainly wouldn’t recommend taking it on unpaved roads.
Final Thoughts on the Ford Transit Connect Campervan
We hope you learned something new to inspire your own van life journey with today’s article. If anything, we hope that you realize that you don’t need to drop a small fortune on a tricked out super-van to have an enjoyable and memorable van life experience.
Where van living is concerned, sometimes the style matters more than the square footage.
If, after reading this article, you think small is not for you, and you are itching for more space – I would suggest you read more on the Ford Transit Connects bigger sibling – The Ford Transit Van. This is the van we converted and lived in. It is well worth a look!