Are you planning to make a minivan conversion and the Toyota Sienna camper conversion makes the most sense for you? If that is the case, then we agree with you. That’s why we dedicate a whole article on these conversions since they have become quite popular recently.
- What Is A Sienna?
- What Is A Camper?
- Why Make One?
- Is It Easy To Convert One?
- Examples Of Conversions
- Cost Of Conversion
And they become popular for a reason because they allow you to do a lot of stuff with a simple minivan. You can travel the whole country and make a lot of new friends along the way. And when you are done for today you just can go to the back to stretch yourself. And in the morning to move on to the next location to visit.
Not to mention that doing this will also going to benefit your mental health. We live our whole lives at home like a bird in a cage. So, traveling will make our minds get free out of this jail and enjoy. By doing this you will start to feel that sense of liberation and free spirit that most of the nomads who live like this van experience (once you get used to how to live in your car). And we are going to share how you can do that in this article.
Because we are going to cover a lot when it comes to this type of lifestyle. First, we will learn what is the Toyota Sienna and we will learn what is a conversion. Then we will cover why you should do it and is it DIY-friendly. Then we will cover how easy is to pull it off a Toyota Sienna camper conversion and we will take a look at some examples of conversion done by people. So, let’s begin.
What Is The Toyota Sienna?
The Sienna is a minivan manufactured by Toyota since 1998. It is one of the best sellers in this segment and a popular choice for people who have larger families and need that extra space that these minivans offer.
What differentiates minivans from regular vans is the ride height and also the space inside. For example, in a van, you have an increased ride height that much resembles an SUV height, while the minivan is only slightly taller than a regular sedan.
Also, it is quite narrower than a regular van with no space between the seat rows. But still, the minivans can fit 7 passengers with no problem. Overall, very practical vehicle that will make your life easier.
The Sienna is in its fourth generation at the moment. This means that there are a ton of options on the second-hand market if you want to do a cheap conversion for a couple of hundred bucks. Later we are going to explain how you can pull off a Toyota Sienna camper conversion.
Nevertheless, the first two generations of the Sienna are the way to go as we said if you want to do this cheaply. These are the models between 2003 and 2010. Both of them are powered by V6 engines which is rather handy since you are going to load the Sienna with furniture and other necessities that you will need.
Overall, an excellent vehicle for conversion and a good place to be. It is also quite safe in comparison to other vehicles. When tested by the NTHSA both generations scored good safety scores, even though by today’s standards they do not meet some criteria. That’s why the later the model, the better. But is it a camper conversion? That’s what we are going to learn next.
What Is A Camper Conversion?
A camper conversion is re-purposing the vehicle for camping use. Either you use it occasionally or for permanent residence. At the moment, a lot of people are living in campers. So, this isn’t anything strange.
There are a ton of people that are buying vans and they simply re-purpose them for living. And this isn’t something that difficult that you cannot do it.
Especially if we are talking about a Toyota Sienna camper conversion. Minivans are the simplest to convert since there isn’t a lot of material and money that needs to be invested into this build.
For starters, all you need is a bed and sunshade on the windows. And from there, you can move on to some more complex things like fabricating a kitchen and installing other necessities that are needed for you to function properly during the day and not worry about anything.
Nevertheless, camper conversion can become a real money pit sometimes. Because you will need things that are needed to be fabricated specifically for your van. You cannot grab these things off the shelf for a few bucks.
But you have to pay a lot of cash to people that will fabricate them for you. Or you go and grab some tools at the local shop and some plywood and start fabricating things by yourself at home.
Play some YouTube videos of people that have already done these conversions and reference something from them. And trust me, there are a ton of ideas out there. You only have to be creative and dedicated to your project. And in the following chapter, we will why you should make a camper.
Why You Should Make A Camper?
Making a camper is an excellent idea if you live in a rented house. Because you never know what could happen and could be left without a space to sleep. So, having a camper will help you out until you get things sorted and see what are your next moves. Living permanently in a van is not a dream of a lot of people. But having that option on the table is an excellent idea.
Another reason is that you will have the ability to travel across the country. If you have that spark in yourself and you are looking for adventures. This camper van is probably that what you are looking after.
The camper van will offer great versatility if you want to do either short or long trips. But pay attention and always plan your trip in advance because you need to stop somewhere to sleep or fill up your supplies.
Sleeping anywhere in a camper is not the best idea because you can get mugged by someone. That’s why you need to scout some RV camps where you can stay overnight. You will have to pay a small fee to enter, but this isn’t really significant since you will be out in the morning.
Doing this will help you live an adventurous life and have the best time in your life. And all that on four wheels. You can also go hiking in a camper van and stay there overnight, also you can store a bicycle inside and take it on your local off-road course. You can do basically anything you desire.
Especially if you want to pull this off in a Toyota Sienna. But is this work DIY-friendly? Let’s find out.
How Easy Is To Convert The Sienna Into A Camper?
The first thing that you will need is to get a Toyota Sienna camper conversion van. You can get some of the early models for a good deal. Since they are more than 20 years old. It will not cost you a fortune to do so. But be aware that you need to get a reliable one since you will travel a lot. You need a Toyota Sienna with a good engine and transmission that will not break down and leave you stranded.
The second thing is the idea in your mind how you want it to look like. As we mentioned above, watch a ton of videos online from people who did these conversions before you. There, you will get the ideas that you need to pull this off.
Then after you visualize what you need to do to pull this off, you have to remove the interior. But only the seats, since you don’t want to remove the insulation and freeze during the nights when you are going to sleep in the minivan. Then you can start fabricating stuff for the furniture and other necessities that you will need.
So, Is It DIY Friendly?
Of course that it is DIY friendly. Still, this is a Toyota Sienna camper conversion and not a Dodge Sprinter conversion. The smaller the vehicle, the easier you can pull this off.
The only thing you need are a hammer, nails, plywood, 2x2s to make the storage space underneath your bed and a saw to cut out what is necessary to make your storage space. Overall, this is not something difficult to pull off. At the rear, you can install some drawers and other utilities that you will need to prepare food pretty easily.
Remember that at the rear, you will need to have a 12V outlet for you to prepare food. The drawers could be installed in the storage space and when you open the rear hatch, you can just pull the drawers and get everything that you need for cooking food.
I know that it can be a real pain to pull everything off and be perfect from the start. But it doesn’t have to be perfect. Small steps, remember.
You can start with installing simple curtains that will give you privacy and a single mattress. Then you can continue building the minivan until you make it perfect. Or you can pay other people to do everything for you.
Paying Others To Convert My Van
There are companies that for a good amount of money will fabricate everything you need when it comes to creating a Toyota Sienna conversion. But with these companies, you can expect to pay a fair amount of money to get this work done properly. That’s why you need to learn more about their portfolio and how do they work in reality.
Ask them for pictures and see what work they have done in the past and how good it was. Also, if they have some vehicles available for you to see the quality of their work will also be a good idea. And based on your impressions about their work, you can decide to choose them to convert your van or move on to the next company that is doing this work.
Remember that you will probably not going to find the best deal out there right away and you can even spend months before finding the right company to fabricate your Toyota Sienna camper conversion. That’s why you shouldn’t be desperate and lose hope because there is a lot of options out there. Because companies know that there are people that want these conversions and are trying to deliver to them the best results for their budget.
Also, make sure that the company fits your budget. Since not all of them will offer you a deal for your budget. The smaller the budget the trickier would be to pull this off.
For a work like this, you will probably need $3,000 to $8,000 to pull this off professionally. Anything below this will probably not going to deliver the result that you desire and you will get disappointing results. Now let’s see some examples.
Examples Of Toyota Sienna Conversions
In the following chapters, we are going to cover some videos where we will see some samples of the Toyota Sienna camper conversion. All of these conversions and made DIY with no or very little money. So, they would be a great starter for you in the pursuit of your next camper conversion.
We will briefly cover a few videos with our feedback based on what we can see in each of them and point out the difficulty that is involved in that specific build. So, let’s dive into it.
1. RenkLife Build – Toyota Sienna Camper Conversion
In the first video uploaded by the channel RenkLife. We can see a guy that created a camper conversion on his first-generation Toyota Sienna. And all this for only $350 in total, which is nuts.
As he claims, everything that he built in the video was made for his customer and all the appliances inside are completely modular. Which means that they are easily removable. So, if the minivan gets crashed or the engine fails. They can easily remove the appliances and transfer them into another van. Which is extra nice to have. No paying twice for another fabrication.
As we can see from the video, inside there is a bed and under the bed, there is a storage unit. Similar to what we covered above. Storage space is key to have under the bed. That’s why this build gets my approval.
And what is good in this build is that the couch he made converts into a full-size bed in only two simple steps. How cool is that?
Under the bed, he also has a small portable table that you can use to eat. On the inside, there is quite a room, even enough room that this guy has fitted a toilet. And also a curtain for privacy. This can be awkward if you have guests in your van. But that’s how things go around here.
On the rear, there is a small kitchen with a stove and a sink that is having running water. Awesome! Overall, this build has impressed me. And all this is done at a decent budget of $350. This tells you a lot about what you can do even on a small budget if you are into DIY stuff.
2. Custom Build – Toyota Sienna Camper Conversion
Here is a video of something really cool. This build has impressed me quite a bit. This gentleman has created a full kit that is fully removable. He keeps it into a big box and whenever he decides to go on a road trip he simply assembles everything.
In his kit there is a bed, sink, drawers, basically, all the things that you will need if you decide to go on camping for the weekend.
But what is cool about this build is that everything is well thought out and meticulously engineered. People in the comments were so hyped about it that they even asked him to sell his plans for the kit. This is rather insane and tells you a lot how much people were impressed with this Toyota Sienna camper conversion.
I bet that he has spent a good amount of time sorting out everything and making this thing into reality. That’s why I was so impressed with this video and wanted to share it with you all.
3. Budget Build – Toyota Sienna Camper Conversion
Here is another video of a budget Toyota Sienna camper conversion. This build is also one of the coolest that I have ever seen because it includes a lot of stuff they are extremely well thought out, like the bike rack that was installed in the rear and also something new that I have noticed and that was the solar panel that was installed on top of this van.
This guy has free electricity wherever he goes. Which is bonkers. You will be able to charge your accessories like the laptop and the cell phone. Not to mention that you can use it to cook food when you are on a trip.
In his minivan, he even has a toilet and a shower. Everything is well connected and this build looks like it’s well-thought-out. Every inch inside has a purpose. So, no space is lost on unnecessary things.
Inside there is a full kitchen with a propane tank that you can use to cook your meals on the go. As well as a table with a fridge. On the other side, there is a couch that can be turned into a bed in only a few seconds. Overall, excellent build. It’s up to you to watch the video and steal some ideas of how your Toyota Sienna camper conversion will look like.
Cost Of Converting A Toyota Sienna?
As we mentioned above, costs can vary a lot. The cheapest that you can get this build for is only a few hundred dollars and a will to fabricate stuff. To build your own camper van, you need to think like an engineer and think about how you could pull off in that limited space.
Having this engineering attitude will also going to help you solve other problems as well around the house. Nothing is lost if you dedicate yourself to learning how to work with wood and create appliances for your Toyota Sienna. Even if you try you will not lose anything except the money for lumber and a couple of tools that can be found relatively inexpensively.
Or, you can go to the more expensive route and ask someone else to do it for you. There are a ton of people that are doing these Toyota Sienna camper conversions possible. Like the guy in the last video. He did an excellent job in that limited space. And everything works perfectly well.
Although, you can expect that you are going to pay a good penny for these builds. Because these guys do not work for cheap.
The cheapest that you can get would probably be $2,000 and as you go for better options and better quality you could easily end up paying a few grand on your build. But it’s not that bad after all, you will have a perfectly working camper van that will do its job fairly well and you will not frustrate yourself how you cannot fabricate some more complex things.
Conclusion – Toyota Sienna Camper Conversion
In this article, we have covered a lot when it comes to the Toyota Sienna camper conversion. First, we introduced the basics of what the Sienna is and what are the perfect Siennas if you want to do this on a budget.
Then we covered why you should pull this off and create a camper. We also discussed the DIY aspect of pulling this project off as well as getting a contractor that will do this job for you for a certain budget. And as we noted, the bigger the budget, the better result you will get from this.
Lastly, we have covered a few examples of conversions that were done by people. Lastly, we have covered the costs involved in the build. All these appliances and hours of work cost a lot of money. So, if you have a limited budget, the DIY way would be your best bet for tackling this project.