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Camper van conversion: How to sleep 5 in a VW camper van

Camper van conversion: How to sleep 5 in a VW camper van

The two questions that we get asked the most about our camper van conversion and our camper van adventures……

” How do you all fit in a VW campervan conversion” and “where do you all sleep in a campervan?”

We now have a dog that comes with us on our campervan travels so we are a family of five, and a dog in a VWT5. So I thought a post that answers how to sleep 5 in a VW campervan may be helpful to many – as we have tried so many different sleeping combinations over the years and have adapted our vanlife as our family has grown!

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VW camper van conversion

When we purchased our VW T5 camper it was originally a panel van, and we have slowly saved and converted it to a camper over the years – it has definitely been a project!! As our family have grown, we have had to adapt our campervan to accomodate a family of 5.

Over the years we have learned a lot, including ensuring we have appropriate insurance for a VW campervan conversion, and that less is definitely more when packing for a camper van road trip.

So how did we convert our van to a camper? Well that is definitely a separate post, but we started off with the basics for our camper van conversion … windows, units, fridge, a rock and roll bed and electrics. The cupboards came next and when we became a family of five we added the pop top roof – for us the best thing ever as the pop up roof gave us the additional sleeping area!

You may find this Van life essentials post helpful

Campervan conversion - how to enjoy a family camper van holiday

So how do you sleep 5 in a camper?

Our campervan is relatively small as we have a short wheel base VW and living space is tight. we have a 3/4 rock and roll bed for the adults and the kids all sleep in the pop top roof.

Pop Top roof

We had a pop top roof that creates extra headspace inside the camper van and we were recommended  Denby camper vans to fit our pop top roof. We also added the bed boards and elevating roof bed. We then purchased a foam mattress from ebay and my mum and dad cut this to size and covered it. This mattress stays put when the roof is down.

After a few years we felt we need to replace the mattress and opted to purchase a pop top mattress that can stay put when the roof is down. We use sleeping bags for the kids for easy storage in the space under the rock and roll bed when not in use. We use a coverless duvet on our rock n roll bed that comes in a handy carry bag. We also tried out some travel pillows for the kids and these are stored under the bed when not in use.

What I would say is the travel pillows are really small, but there are plenty of alternative pillows suitable for travel available. Our children are 11, 8 and 5 and all sleep in the pop top roof.

For now it works but we learn to adapt our vanlife as out children grow. We also added a safety net to prevent the youngest from rolling out of the roof in his sleep!

A campervan holiday in our camper van conversion or self build VW camper

Sleeping a toddler in a camper van

This can be tricky when space is tight. We found a great travel cot/tent that fitted just at the bottom of our bed. This worked great. We added a couple of yoga mats underneath for extra warmth. We also found the toddler inflatable beds fitted perfectly just at the bottom of our bed, too. This meant that we could get to our toddler quickly if they woke in the night without disturbing the other children.

campervan conversion with pop top roof to sleep three children

Sleeping a baby in a camper van

Depending on the age of the baby, we found the Sleepy head wonderful for our camper van travels when our children were very young. We headed to our first family festival when our middle daughter was just five weeks old! We then moved to the travel cot at the bottom of our bed.

Using a hammock bed in a camper van

Another great option that we tried before we added the pop top roof. We purchased our hammock bed from ebay to try, as it is a great idea to add an extra child bed to your campervan or motorhome. Since then I have seen some really great designs including this hammock bed by cabbunk.

Cabunk also have the only Twin Bunk cab bed system in the world. Age ranges vary but they are designed for children upto 174cm and around eighteen months to 14 years (more if the child is not tall, less if the child is very tall).

We asked our daughter if it was comfortable and she found the hammock bed to be really comfortable and slept well in it.

Our hammock bed rested on the window door frames (passenger and driver sides). We found it a little tricky to get in position, but once we mastered it it worked really well. We only stopped using this once we had added our pop top roof for the kids to sleep in.

Hammock bed in a VW camper van conversion

Adding a drive away awning

An additional idea for longer trips is utilising the sleeping compartment in our Vango Cruz driveway awning. Our Vango drive away awning is absolutely brilliant and more than doubles our living space during our campervan road trips. We have used Vango products for a couple of years now and we have a few favourite products that really help with living in a camper van.

Our Vango Cruz drive away awning has a specific optional inner bedroom to accommodate extra guests or to be used as a separate storage space. The bedroom can be attached to the inside of the awning and detached when not in use.

adding a drive away awning to a camper van conversion to add an additional bed

So there you have all of our different options for sleeping five in a camper van! You may also find my post on tips for surviving a campervan holiday with kids useful too.

We have enjoyed many a camper van holiday with a toddler and baby, and I honestly love our family camper van adventures and all of the memories that we have made …I really hope we enjoy many more to come. As you know we have a new addition to the Otis and Us tribe – we have a golden retriever!! We still need to finish our camper van conversion too and add a couple more cupboards (I have been saying this for four years) ….  maybe 2024 will be the year it gets finished!?

Let me know if you have any questions about sleeping arrangements in a camper van – sometimes it is a little trial and error, and adapting as the children grow.

Happy camper van adventures!

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Camper van conversion: How to sleep 5 in a VW camper van

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Should you click to purchase, this is at no extra cost to you, but I receive a small commission. 

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