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  • Writer's pictureRoad Dog Vans

Identifying Must-Haves, Must-Not-Haves, and Must-Maybe-Haves

This year has been a challenge, but hopefully as we round the bend to 2021, we're able to experience joy through reconnecting with friends and family, traveling, and staying healthy.


So, let's get right into the blog.


The first, and maybe the most important, step in building a van is identifying what your must-haves, must-not-haves, and would really like, but aren’t necessaries. This list will form the basis of the design and, from that design, should direct you to what type of van you’ll want to buy to meet your needs. For those traveling with dogs, the most important questions (and around which any van design begins) are how many dogs, the breed or size of dog(s), and the number and size of crates. Other considerations include:

  • How do you intend to use the van (weekends, extended vacations, full-time travel, to and from dog shows or events, a place to hang out in during shows/events/trials)?

  • Where will you be parking the van when it’s being used (dog shows/events, national parks, off-grid, RV/campsites with hook-ups)?

  • In what type of climate will you be using the van and what heating/cooling needs do you and your dogs have (supplemental heat, air conditioning, fan)?

  • What type of equipment do you need to store for both you and your dogs (stacking crates, grooming table, bike, stand-up paddleboard, camping/hiking)?

  • Do you have any physical characteristics that need to be considered in design (heavy lifting, steps, height)?

  • What sleeping arrangements do you need?

  • What seating and working space would you like?

  • What eating arrangements/table locations would you like?

  • If you’d like a kitchen, what would you need (fridge, sink, microwave, stovetop)?

  • Do you have any preferences related to water systems (portable, exterior fill, interior fill, gray water tank size)?

  • What bathroom and shower preferences do you have?

  • Do you have any preferences for electric systems?

  • What type of exterior amenities would you like (ladder, awning, roof rack, lights, window and door screens, hitch, rear door storage, steps, bbq/grill, exterior shower)?

This list is by no means exhaustive, but it’s a good place for anyone who’s interested in a conversion to start. Inevitably, the question none of us likes to ask or answer is “what’s your budget?” But to decide how your list may be expanded or contracted, a budget discussion is absolutely critical – at a minimum, before you start speaking with a conversion company, you should have a good sense of what your realistic budget is and what a realistic budget is for a partial or full custom conversion (both including and excluding the cost of the van).

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