My husband made a bed platform for the back of our van that has really come in handy for camping and sometimes on road trips. He made it high enough for those plastic storage tubs (like Rubbermaid makes, but others also) to fit perfectly underneath.
On top of the platform we put a futon mattress so it’s very cushioned. We climb up via the seats in front of it to our “loft,” roll out the sleeping bags & we’re set for a good night’s sleep. We usually add sheets & and small pillows for comfort. Also we always keep two windows rolled down about 1/2 to 1 inch to let fresh air in. We don’t want to use up all the oxygen in the van.
He covered the platform with extra carpeting, nailing it down after it was wrapped around the platform. That way there is padding for getting the platform in & out of the truck without scratching the windows. Our grandkids call it the playroom and love to crawl around on it.
On the underside of the platform are the wooden studs holding it up. Mr. Pennies partially hammered in nails about 10 inches apart along the horizontal studs to serve as hangers for grocery bags. So we can hang quite a bit from all those nails. He says they look like hams hanging there! Underneath the platform are plastic tubs that can easily slide in & out. If we are camping the ones holding food can be taken out easily & locked up in a bear box. I like the clear ones to more quickly see what’s in each container.
This set-up only sleeps 2, but you could have 2 people sleep under the platform if you like. We don’t sleep in the truck if it’s a hot night. When we’re camping we often sleep in the truck because it’s so comfortable. We have tinted windows so we feel it’s fairly private.
I confess there were a few times we slept in a Walmart parking lot in our van. It’s allowed at many Walmarts if you park at the edge of the lot near other overnighters, usually a few truckers, and some motor homes. We choose a 24/7 Walmart because then we can use the bathrooms during the night if need be. We make sure we buy some things there before we leave also. When in doubt ask at the information desk if staying overnight is allowed at that particular Walmart. The ones that do not allow it are usually in tourist areas.
Mr. Pennies takes the seats out of the van using a hand truck or dolly & puts the platform in the same way. He’s able to do it by himself this way & for a retired guy he does just fine.
Click here for a tutorial at Instructables. It’s not exactly the way ours is built, but you can use it as inspiration. Fall and Spring are the best times of year to sleep in your van due to weather. Your type of sleeping bag makes a huge difference too. Get one rated for the temperatures that you expect. Happy camping, my friends!