OK, so you’re probably thinking “How much decorating does a minivan camper conversion really need?” Well, OK, probably not a lot, but most folks still take pride in what they’ve got. Even though you may not invite a lot of people to look at the inside, you still want the outside to look nice.
Besides the furniture you will use outside, sometimes a nice patio mat is what really sets it off, and makes it feel like an outdoor living space, as well as having some utilitarian value in keeping some of the dirt from getting tracked into your minivan. Many camping and RV resorts have concrete pads poured next the parking spots, but you’ll find just as many or more that have nothing but limestone (if you’re lucky), grass (again, if you’re lucky), or sometimes you will have just plain dirt. If it’s raining, that dirt can turn to mud, in which case you probably won’t want to get your nice patio mat all dirty!
What we show below is only a small sampling of what is available. As always, if you don’t see what you like here, feel free to search the Amazon store for anything you desire.
Having your patio mat get dirty gets back to why you should carry a computer and check out your potential parking places ahead of time, as well as the weather, and coordinate between the two if you can! It just makes life so much easier!
For when the weather doesn’t cooperate, and you still want to be outside under your awning without ruining your nice patio mat, we have found that a (roughly) 9 x 12 piece of heavy black plastic sheeting works very well. You want to get it as thick (in mils) as you can, preferably 6 mils or above (mils are thousandths of an inch). If it gets dirty, you can hose it off easily, and it folds very compactly for storage. If it wears out, it’s cheap to throw away and get some more.
Below is just one example. This 10 x 25 ft. sheet will be enough for two smaller patio mats or one large one, but there are many more sizes available so feel free to search for anything you want.
Aha, the awning! Yes, you can buy fancy RV awnings in colors to match your “decor” if that’s what you want to do, but you may find that you need special brackets to raise them high enough above your roof line so you don’t drag the top of your head on them constantly. That’s always a problem with vehicles that are “height challenged”. There’s one that solves that problem without brackets, but it’s gray, and it’s perfect for minivans. Unfortunately we don’t have an affiliate link for it, but that’s OK. It’s good enough that we’re going to tell you where you can get it, and that is from the BusDepot.com. That blue link will take you straight to the page for it.
Sorry, the gray color is one of those things that you have to get used to! Or else get a gray patio rug to go with it. Let’s face it, most campers are not going to worry about whether their picnic table seats match their patio mat that matches their awning! That’s what people do that sit at home and stare at the walls and think about every little thing that isn’t perfect in their lives! Campers, RV’s and travelers are adventurers! They have more important things to worry about… like having fun!
Of course there are all kinds of pop-up canopies available out there, in everything from a 6 x 6 ft size to 12 x 12 and much larger. Some have side walls with and without screens available also, so that you can use them for a privacy or changing room… or heck, for that matter, you can use them as a living or sleeping room! The problem with many of them is how small they collapse down to for storage, and that’s where the Bus Depot’s canopy has the advantage, at a package of only 26 x 6 when you put it away. Install, instead of a lot of “scissor” mechanisms to add weight and bulk, theirs goes together with lightweight poles, like many back-packer’s tents. And they have all kinds of straps and brackets available to anchor it to just about any kind of roof or rack that you can think of. They even have brackets to secure the outer support poles under your wheels or vehicle body, so you don’t have to worry about the wind picking it up.
And I would be a dunce if I didn’t mention patio lights. That is probably the single most important outside decoration on the outside of your camper! It “says” something about you… what your interests are, and what you are like. It’s a statement of personality! And there are probably as many patio lights available as there are personalities!
In keeping with the theme of our minivan, and its power capabilities, we are going to show you only solar powered patio lights here, which are great for being out boon-docking. But if you normally have shore power, there are plenty of options there, too. Just search the store for whatever you want. Do a search for “patio awning lights” and I’m sure you will be able to find something that suits you.
But make sure everything matches that rear tent! (OK, I’m just kidding!)