Skip the van and make a cozy retreat in your own backseat
Thomas J. Story
Written byNena FarrellMay 21, 2018
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Thomas J. Story
1 of7Thomas J. Story
We’ve all seen the glamorous takes on #vanlife on social media. But if you don’t have a camper van, never fear: you can still put together a fun set-up for your overnight or weekend excursions with the vehicle you have. Especially if you’re trying it in a Tesla, like we did. Tesla owners have been spreading the word about the car’s “camper mode” hack—the EV can have climate control quietly running to keep you nice and warm the whole night through, while still leaving battery power to spare for the trip home. Plus, if you’re in a Model X, the window designs on the ceiling mean you’ll wake up to a personal view of the sky and trees, and the front trunk makes for the perfect spot to stash dirty gear. Even if you’re not driving this particular model, we’ve rounded up the best tips and tricks to transform your car into DIY camper.
Once the mattress base is ready, it’s time to layer up. You could bring your trusty sleeping bag, of course, but the fun of (literally) car camping is turning your backseat into an epic layered bed. Grab a striped throwbed like the one pictured from Elsie Green ($375) for extra cushion on top of your base mattress, and then throw some beautiful, cozy blankets on top like the Yuma Star (from $129) or Chief Joseph (from $269) from Pendleton. Bring a favorite pillow for the adventure, with the added assurance that it won’t be getting dirty on the ground.
Don’t forget lights, especially if you’re angling for aesthetic. Add a few spotlights to your DIY camper set-up with little tabletop numbers from Snowpeak. The Mini Hozuki Lanterns ($20) glow like powerful tea candles, and can be handy beside the fire and inside your cozy car. Pack Goal Zero’s Torch 250 Flashlight ($70.95) to use as a flashlight or tabletop torch, with multiple light options and even a hand crank to keep it powered up on your trip. Or, use those battery packs to power classic string lights, like these LED copper ones ($10).
Courtesy of JBL
5 of7Courtesy of JBL
Play a Little Music
Like we said, don’t be tempted to use those car speakers. Bring a JBL bluetooth speaker that attaches to the car’s visor to play tunes inside the car, especially if you’ve got an older model with a struggling sound system. Or, pack the Coleman 360° Sound and Light Lantern ($60), which doubles as a Bluetooth speaker, to bring the tunes without packing extra gear.