Man converts simple white van into stunning Moroccan-inspired staycation vehicle

Now that UK travel restrictions are lifting again, one man has decided to convert his van into the ultimate staycation vehicle.

Conor Donnelly, from Belfast, wanted an alternative way of travelling around the country.

And the 29-year-old has done just that by kitting out his van.

Instead of paying out on hotels or an Airbnb, Conor and his wife can simply stay in his homely vehicle.

The couple love surfing, mountain biking and all other outdoor activities, and the van will allow them to travel round and do these while also having somewhere to stay.

Dentist Connor had planned a four month travelling trip through Sri Lanka, Thailand, Myanmar, Singapore, Indonesia before arriving in Australia, with Covid hitting just a few months before their departure.

But with the trip cancelled, the surfers who travel regularly around the coastline of Ireland had always thought about having a van for staycations.

Conor told Belfast Live: "A van would give us space to bring all our equipment and give us a warm, dry place to shelter from the unpredictable Irish weather.

"By autumn it was looking very clear that international travel would not be recommencing anytime soon so around October 2020 we started asking whether we could renovate a van ourselves.

"Neither of us had any experience in DIY/power tools so it really was a huge project to take on. It snow balled from there."

He added: "Quite quickly I started looking for second-hand vans online to see what was available.

"We visited an auction to look at a few vans however their starting price was too high for our budget.

"Then a friend and I went to see a large white Ford Transit van. I called my wife and we just went ahead and bought it. It was really a bit surreal."

Connor said the van was 10 years old and "full of rubbish, old shelves, dirt and dust" when they bought it.

However, the couple began working on the van at the weekends.

First, they began ripping out all the wall panels and flooring to bring it back to the empty shell.

Next, they assessed any drill holes or areas of rust that needed treated.

They filled the holes with car filler and the rust spots were sanded and treated with anti-rust paint.

After that, they added windows and a roof vent.

The couple reached out to a few van builders on Instagram for tips whenever a problem came up, with most of the process going smoothly.

They have used as many natural materials as possible to limit their use of plastic in the van.

The pair have also used a variety of types of insulation to make the van as warm as possible.

They bought the van in late November 2020, and got it to a useable standard by late March of this year.

Conor added: "The main difference for us was that we do not plan to live in our van. Our aim [is] to use our van for long weekends and occasionally a one to two week trip.

"As such, we wanted to maximise our seating area. The idea being so that when we are off on a surf trip with friends we can all jump in to share a beer, food and watch the sunset together.

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After many discussions, they decided to place the kitchen area at the back, have an L-shaped seating area at the windows and leave the remaining space free for surfboards, bikes and morning yoga. Their L-shaped sofa pulls out to make a double bed.

The interior colour scheme and décor is inspired by Morocco, as that's where the couple went on their honeymoon.

Connor remarked: "We loved the burnt, sun bleached tones of Marrakesh, natural materials and clean lines."

The pair are still completing the decoration and are in the process of adding the final touches.

The couple approximately £5,000-£5,500 purchasing the van and converting it, but say it's important to remember other costs associated with having a van such as insurance, servicing and MOT.

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