Hey there, campervan enthusiasts! You’re not alone if you’ve been bitten by the staycation bug and dream of hitting the open road with your home on wheels. Since the pandemic shook up our travel plans, swapping foreign holidays for adventures closer to home has become the new normal. In fact, campervan holidays in the UK saw a whopping 58% surge in 2023, and it looks like this trend is here to stay, cruising along with over 414.5 million views under the #Campervans hashtag on TikTok.

Now, let’s talk campervan upgrades. Damian Maginn, the go-to campervan guru and the brains behind Wessex Vans is spilling the beans on six DIY tweaks to transform your campervan. Not only will these upgrades make your van life dreams a tad more plush, but they’ll also save you a pretty penny—up to £1,275 in professional fees, to be exact. So, grab your toolkit, and let’s dive into how you can DIY your way to a snazzier, more efficient campervan without breaking the bank.


Improve Your Storage Solutions

When it comes to living the campervan life, every inch of space is precious. It’s like playing a game of Tetris where every block perfectly fits together, creating a harmonious space that’s both functional and cosy. Damian hits the nail on the head when he says, “Campervans are all about maximising space.” You might think you need a professional to come in and work their magic, transforming your van with sleek cabinets and hidden compartments. However, Damian encourages a more hands-on approach that’s not only rewarding but also way kinder to your wallet.

Taking the DIY route for your storage needs doesn’t mean compromising on quality or functionality. With a trip to your local hardware store, you can pick up strong shelving units and sturdy hooks to create custom storage solutions that perfectly fit your space and lifestyle. Imagine having all your frequently used items neatly organised and easily accessible—no more rummaging through bags or boxes every time you need something.

And let’s talk about privacy and organisation. Damian suggests using curtain rods with fabric dividers, an ingenious solution that serves dual purposes. Not only do they help keep your living area tidy by organising loose items, but they also add a layer of privacy inside your compact living space. Best of all, installing these yourself means you can achieve a high level of customisation and functionality at a fraction of what professional outfitters charge.

Speaking of costs, while professional installations might set you back anywhere from £150 to £250, embracing DIY solutions for your storage woes can lead to significant savings, Not to mention the satisfaction of putting your personal touch on every corner of your campervan. So, roll up your sleeves and start planning your storage upgrade. Your future self, marvelling at the neatness and organisation of your campervan, will thank you.


Light-blocking Campervan Upgrades

Ah, the beauty of a campervan adventure—chasing sunsets, waking up to breathtaking sunrises, and finding yourself in the heart of nature’s wonders. Yet, as enchanting as these moments are, they come with a tiny hitch. The very spectacle that draws us to the open road can also be a source of sleep disruption. Picture this: the sun decides to rise at an ungodly hour, filling your van with light when you’re still catching those much-needed Zs. Damian knows the struggle all too well and offers a genius, wallet-friendly solution to ensure your sleep is as uninterrupted as the vast landscapes you explore.

The secret? Blackout fabric or reflective insulation. This isn’t just about blocking out the light; it’s about creating a serene, dark haven for those mornings when you wish to sleep in or ensuring privacy in crowded campsites. And let’s not forget the added bonus of keeping your van cooler during the scorching midday heat. Damian proposes the DIY approach, which is surprisingly simple and effective. All you need to do is cut the material to fit your windows and secure them in place with strong magnets or clips. This makeshift solution is not only easy to implement but also incredibly cost-effective, allowing you to invest more in your travel experiences rather than professional fittings.

The price tag for professional window coverings might range between £75 to £125, but by embracing this DIY alternative, you’re not just saving money; you’re also adding a personal touch to your campervan. Imagine customising your window coverings to fit perfectly, reflecting your style while serving a highly practical purpose. This upgrade is a testament to the idea that sometimes, the best solutions are those we craft with our own hands, tailored precisely to our needs and adventures. So, as you prepare for your next journey, remember that a good night’s sleep under the stars is just a DIY project away.


Install a Solar Shower

Let’s face it: after a day filled with adventures and exploring the great outdoors, there’s nothing quite like the comfort of a warm shower to wash away the dust and fatigue. Yet, one of the common gripes about campervan life is the absence of this simple luxury. Damian, however, sheds light on a brilliantly simple solution that promises to elevate your campervan experience to new heights of comfort without breaking the bank: the solar shower bag.

This nifty gadget is nothing short of a game-changer for those who crave the refreshment of a hot shower without the complexity and cost of installing permanent plumbing in their van. The concept is as straightforward as it is ingenious. All you need to do is fill the bag with water, place it in a sunny spot, and let nature do its work. By the afternoon, you’re rewarded with a generous supply of warm water, ready to soothe your muscles and spirit after a day’s explorations.

Damian’s insight into this low-tech, high-impact upgrade reveals an important aspect of campervan travel: luxury and comfort don’t necessarily come from high-end installations or the most advanced technologies. Sometimes, it’s the simple, thoughtful additions that make all the difference. And when it comes to cost, the comparison is staggering. While outfitting your van with a professionally installed shower unit could set you back anywhere from £200 to £300 (or more), a solar shower bag is a fraction of that cost, yet it provides an unparalleled level of convenience and comfort.

Embracing such a practical and eco-friendly solution not only saves you money but also aligns with the sustainable ethos that often inspires the campervan lifestyle. So, before you head out on your next adventure, consider adding a solar shower to your gear. It’s a small investment in your comfort and well-being that pays off in a big way, proving that the best moments in life—and on the road—are often the ones that are thoughtfully planned and simply enjoyed.


Improve the Ambience with Efficient LED Lighting

Imagine transforming your campervan from merely a mode of transport into a cosy sanctuary where every light casts a warm, inviting glow. That’s the power of lighting, and Damian knows just how to harness it for the ultimate upgrade in campervan ambience. Say goodbye to the harsh, clinical feel that standard overhead lighting can often bring. The key to a softer, more welcoming interior lies in switching to warm LED strip lights.

These aren’t just any lights; they’re a smart choice for multiple reasons. First off, LED strip lights come with an adhesive backing, making them a breeze to install along the contours of your campervan. Whether you’re looking to highlight certain areas or create a gentle all-over glow, these lights offer the flexibility to customise your space to your liking. And here’s the kicker: they consume a fraction of the energy that traditional bulbs do, which means you can enjoy a beautifully lit environment without worrying about draining your van’s battery or power source.

Damian points out another significant advantage of going the LED route—cost savings. While professional installation costs could run you £50 to £100 per light fixture, opting for a DIY LED lighting project can substantially cut down your expenses. Plus, handling the installation yourself allows for a personalised touch, ensuring that the end result perfectly matches your vision and needs.

Upgrading to LED strip lights is more than just a lighting change; it’s about creating a mood, enhancing the aesthetics of your space, and making your campervan feel like a true home away from home. With their easy installation, energy efficiency, and ability to transform the ambience, LED strip lights stand out as a must-have upgrade for any campervan owner looking to elevate their on-the-road living experience.


Expand Your Living Space with a Manual Awning

The allure of campervan holidays lies in the freedom they offer, the ability to wake up to a new view every morning, and the joy of being close to nature. However, one challenge that often surfaces is the limited living space within the confines of your van. Damian has a straightforward yet transformative solution to this dilemma: the manual awning.

Adding an awning to your campervan isn’t just about creating shade on sunny days or shelter during unexpected showers; it’s about significantly expanding your living space. With the simple roll-out of an awning, you suddenly have a comfortable, versatile outdoor area at your disposal. Whether it’s for dining under the stars, lounging with a book in the fresh air, or creating an extra play space for kids, an awning makes it all possible.

For those seeking an adventure that’s a notch above the rest, Damian recommends taking it up a level—quite literally—with a roof rack and rooftop tent. This setup not only offers a novel sleeping experience elevated above the ground but also provides stunning views that you simply can’t get from inside the van. While it might take a bit more effort to set up compared to a traditional awning, the payoff in terms of the experience and the additional sleeping space is well worth it.

In terms of cost, the prospect of professional installation for a fixed awning can set you back £250 to £500 or more. However, opting for a manual awning or a rooftop tent setup can yield considerable savings, allowing you to invest more in your travel experiences. Moreover, the flexibility of a manual awning or a rooftop tent means you can adapt your setup based on your destination and the type of adventure you’re seeking.

So, if you’re looking to make the most out of your campervan travels, consider extending your living space outdoors. Whether it’s through a simple manual awning or an innovative rooftop tent, these additions are sure to enhance your camping experience, offering both practical benefits and unforgettable moments under the open sky.


These upgrades, grounded in practicality and inspired by the spirit of adventure, not only enhance the functionality and comfort of your campervan but also imbue it with a sense of identity uniquely yours. And let’s not forget the substantial savings—up to £1,275, according to Damian—leaving more in your budget for what truly matters: the journeys that lie ahead.

As you close this article and perhaps open your toolbox, remember that the best campervan is one that reflects your needs, your style, and your adventures. Whether you’re a seasoned van lifer or a newcomer eager to hit the road, these DIY upgrades are your ticket to a more enjoyable, efficient, and personalised campervan experience. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s roll up our sleeves and transform your van into a home that travels with you wherever you may roam. Safe travels, and happy upgrading!