A SAVVY woman revealed how she converted an old truck to travel across Europe – all on a budget.
Although Alaena Wallace and her partner had no prior knowledge, they converted their 1998 Mercedes Vito, now affectionately called Joey, into an impressive vehicle in less than two months.
Speaking to Fabulous, Alaena says, “The truck didn’t have back seats because it was a commercial vehicle initially and the person who sold it to us added a very basic bed and ‘kitchen’ space.”
She went on to explain that the first step was to remove the previous furniture, and once the truck was empty, she began taking measurements to begin the design plan.
“We used SketchUp to design the interior,” says Alaena. “We had some very specific needs where the idea was to go on a surfing trip and live on it for six months.”
“So there had to be enough storage space for our clothes and four surfboards.”
Then the avid explorer proceeded to remove all components so she could insulate the truck to protect it from extreme temperature changes.
“Then we decided to clad the walls and ceiling, followed by our PVC floor, which was installed at the same time as our electrical system, which consists of an additional battery that allows us to work remotely,” continues Alaena away.
“We can charge two phones and a laptop at the same time and nice lighting too.”
Then it’s time for the fun part – decorating it to look like a fact home on wheels
And according to Alaena, who shares her travels on Instagram with @vantashjoey, there’s one thing that makes Joey so special — and that’s the storage space.
“We have 4 big draws, and you can carry 4 surfboards without it affecting your living situation,” she says.
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“The space used to store surfboards is also home to our extendable table, which is one of the most useful features we have.”
The pair have since logged over 45,000 miles on their motorhome in two years—which is impressive considering there’s closure in the mix!
“The farthest we go is to start at Sagres, the southernmost point in Portugal, then past the Atlantic coast of Portugal, Spain and France, and cross the canal, all the way to the Pecs and then back down to Barcelona, Spain,” she says.
And Alaena, who works for Yescapa – a company that matches vacationers with local camper owners and mobile homeowners across the UK and Europe – gave her own expert advice on how to convert a truck even on a budget.
“The search took almost as long as the actual conversion,” Alaena explains.
I cannot stress this enough. It is very important to do the research in advance, which saves valuable time, effort and money.”
Think carefully about what is important to you. Is it space, is it memory, is it a place to work or perhaps a place to cook? “
Alaena also advises against cutting corners if you want to save pennies.
“I could have spent a fortune buying custom items and instead learned how to use a sewing machine, paint my own pictures for decorating, and make shelves out of reclaimed wood,” she says.
“The mattress cover and curtains were sewn by me from old fabrics and fabrics.”
“Recycled wood is not only good for your wallet, it’s also good for the environment, so reuse whatever you find around and you’ll be amazed at how much you can save.”
And Alaena points out that by not cutting corners, they don’t choose the cheapest materials out there either.
“In the long run, it’s definitely going to get expensive,” she says. “For example, our truck has really good insulation, which is something we couldn’t be happier about, all because we chose the most expensive material but the best in the long run.”