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Vanlife: Why we love our VW T5 camper for our family of five

Vanlife: Why we love our VW T5 camper for our family of five

Thinking about the best campervan for a family of five? In September 2013 we purchased our family camper. We had spent the weekend in Cornwall and decided we wanted to experience Vanlife for our family and finally bought ourselves a VW T5 camper. We are a family of five (Our children are 12, 8 and 6) and we still love nothing more than a road trip in our T5 camper.

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Why a T5 camper?

We purchased our VW T5 camper back in 2013 (when our eldest was just 2), it was a panel van and we had a dream to convert it into a campervan. We did a lot of research at the time to find our perfect campervan. We had looked at numerous other makes and models but in all honesty we knew that we wanted to grow our family and we knew that we needed to buy a campervan that would be great for families, would grow with our family and would hopefully hold its value.

We considered buying a motorhome, but we had a very limited budget, and at the time a very small drive. I really wanted a VW split screen, – that was my absolute dream, but I knew that this would be pricey, hard to maintain (with zero knowledge on mechanics and maintenance). We knew that the only way to have our dream would be to sell our car, purchase a VW van to convert that was not too old, with relatively low miles and we could then use our T5 camper as our every day vehicle. So that was our decision made – a VW T5 camper was the one that just seemed to fit the bill.

You may love our post on 101 awesome camper names!

VW T5 camper with kids and pop top roof

All about our T5 camper van conversion

Our VW camper van, in all honesty, has been a labour of love. Having used all of our budget on the van itself, we have had to save and patiently wait to turn our van into a camper. We have learned a lot along the way about converting a van into a campervan, and would we do things differently? There is definitely things I would opt for if we did another camper conversion. Ask my hubby and he would go for a full width rock n roll bed. Me? I would opt for tons more storage, and I would have a full kitchen with a campervan hob to cook indoors with ease.

Storage is tight in a camper, and as a result we have really had to think about what we can do to create space, and think about clever packing tips along the way. I also love a vanlife packing list. We are still learning, but we have lots of camper storage ideas to share that would also work for other live in vehicles to really maximise your space.

I have a huge love for home made decor ideas for our camper. I do love boho accessories – you can never have too many bunting flags, or crochet covers in a home on wheels.

inside a self build campervan conversion with bunting flags and boho decor

A look inside our VWT5 camper van

I have added a few photos of our VWT5 camper van conversion. We have had it for nearly 10 years now and if you have experienced Vanlife with kids, or Vanlife with a dog, you will know that nothing stays perfect!!

We have a rock ‘n’ roll bed, and bed in the pop top roof for the kids. When they were younger we have a safety net installed across the opening and it worked a treat. We only have the kitchen unit and we intended on adding the wardrobe at a later date but this never happened as it proved difficult to get the wood.

We cook outside the van on our BBQ and double burner gas stove, and we have a Vango awning for additional room for our longer trips, and we have a wind out awning too. The passenger seats swivels round and we have a fridge and diesel heater too.

Are you new to vanlife and wondering what you need to pack for your campervan road trip?

Read Campervan Essentials and ultimate campervan packing list!

A VW T5 camper for a family of five

As I mentioned, we purchased our VW van to convert when our eldest was just two, and in all honesty a T5 camper sleeps one-two children easily. Therefore a T5 camper is perfect for a family of four.

We have had to really think about the sleeping options for our VW T5 camper to sleep five of us. Particularly when we had the varied ages of 6, 3 and 1. But we managed it, and managed it well, and we have truly had the most amazing camper van adventures as a family of 5. We also have to pack well, and only pack the essential items for our road trips

We had to really think about how we sleep 5 in our VW T5 camper. The best thing we did to create more space in our camper was to add a pop top roof. This provided a bed for all three of our children.

We love our mifold foldable car seats (click here for the full Mifold review). They fold up really small, are easy to transport and we store them in the storage cupboard under the bed in the camper

Mifold hifold fit-and-fold booster REVIEW

VW camper conversion insurance

One thing I learned very quickly is you need to ensure that you have adequate insurance for your VW camper conversion including any work that you are intending to do. There is also a difference depending on if your van remains registered as a van or is registered as a campervan so really do your research here…we have always gone with a company who specialises in converted camper vans.

Another thing to consider is your trips. If you are intending on travelling overseas, not all policies include EU cover as standard so do your research, and make sure you are covered for your trips.

camper set up with a pop top roof, awning and bike rack for a family of five

What is our top tip if you are thinking about purchasing a T5 camper

I asked this question very recently to my husband, and he agreed with me.

Do your research.

Visit other families, join campervan forums, ask those who know and visit conversion companies to really get a feel and understand what you want and what you need.

I would recommend hiring a camper for a weekend, just to get a feel of what works for you as a family, layouts, what you need when planning your T5 camper interiors and what you may not use.

We have a Vanlife with kids Facebook group with plenty of camper and camping tips and hacks for you and lots of advice from other camper and motorhome families.

driving on a beach in Pembrokeshire South wales

Why do we love our T5 Camper?

It is our mobile home and has give us so many memories as a family. We love to explore, and we love the fact that we can pack up easily, move on and find a new base. Our camper gives us freedom. We have always enjoyed a road trip and we have the opportunity to travel and really explore an area.

We also love fresh air, time away from screens, spending time outdoors and enjoying the simple things in life.

Our camper is our second home… our home on wheels, and we love it.

So where have we been with our VW camper?

We have been lucky enough to have some wonderful adventures in our converted VW T5 camper van with kids. If you have followed us for some time you will know that we LOVE a campsite near to the coast or the UK campsites with easy access to the water for our stand up paddle boards.

We have found some great campsites with river access, campsites in the Lake District campsites around the Afan Valley, around the Peak District, and campsites within easy access of London.

Along with our weekend adventures in the UK, we love to share some of our favourite vanlife festivals road trips in Europe. We have found some great campsites in France (in particular Brittany, Dordogne, and Vendee) and Spain.

Guernsey in the Channel Islands is another favourite and we stayed at Les Fauxquets Valley (Read full review here)

Road trip Itineraries suitable for families

One of our early road trips along the West Coast of Scotland was one of our favourites and we are planning to explore the Outer Hebrides this year. We also loved our France road trip last year and our Brittany road trip too.

The lake district in a VW camper conversion

Follow our vanlife on Instagram

If you love vanlife and in particular vanlife with kids, do pop over and join us on instagram! We are based in the UK, and share our outdoor life, camper adventures, road trips and plenty of tips, hacks and campsite recommendations.

We love to hear from other vanlife families – Pop over and say hi!

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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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