You plan to take your minivan on vacation this year, but the budget is tight. Can you convert the back rows into a place to sleep in a Dodge Caravan? If you are a road warrior, who lives for the open highway, what is the best way to make your minivan into a rolling hotel bed? With the price of gasoline going up, and the rising costs of hotel rates, the concept of converting your caravan into a camper can save you a bundle of money. But before you go out and purchase a mattress, you need to be sure it will fit. What is the best way to use the van you have? Short of reclining uncomfortably in the front seats, is there enough room behind the seats to lay out an air mattress, or even better, a 6-inch full-sized foam mattress? Just how big a mattress will a Dodge Caravan accommodate?
Table of Contents
- Can you sleep in a Dodge Grand Caravan?
- Can You Sleep in a Dodge Caravan?
- What Mattress will Fit in the Back of a Caravan?
- What Other Adjustments Do I Need to Make to Sleep in my Caravan?
- Is Sleeping in Your Caravan Safe?
Can you sleep in a Dodge Grand Caravan?
The Dodge Grand Caravan has room behind the seats to accommodate a twin or full-sized mattress. Many Caravan owners either remove the back two rows or utilize stow-n-go for both second and third rows seats will lay flat. While the fit is a bit tight, there is enough room to accommodate a mattress.
It can be a hassle trying to find a camping site every night. It is easier to pull into a rest area, turn off the keys, lock your doors and crawl onto a mattress in the back. It eliminates the hassle of making a hotel reservation before all the cheaper rooms have been bought. The last thing you want to do is to stop somewhere, pitch a tent, and pull everything up the next day.
So, what is the best solution to converting your Dodge Caravan into your nightly lodge? Let’s explore some ways you could take your ride and make it a free hotel.
Can You Sleep in a Dodge Caravan?
The simple answer is yes. The 2019 Dodge Grand Caravan, with both second and third rows stowed, has 5.3 feet of width (63 inches) and 7.5 feet (78 inches) in length. The typical full-sized mattress has dimensions of 54 inches x 75 inches. (the dimensions of a twin mattress are 38 inches by 75 inches).
So, there is room to convert your minivan into a hotel with inches to spare. The back cargo dimensions of the Grand Caravan have been relatively unchanged over the past five years. For another look at this issue, see this article.
What Mattress will Fit in the Back of a Caravan?
There are several options for the person who wants to convert the back of their Caravan into a hotel.
A Flat Mattress Will Do the Trick
If you decide to use a flat mattress (either twin or full-sized), you must determine how much gear you bring along. A twin mattress has less width, leaving more room for things like a camp stove, chairs, or suitcases.
A full-size mattress will leave you a few inches above the head of the sleeping area, but it isn’t much room. So, do an inventory of what you want to bring, and decide accordingly.
An Airbag Can Solve A lot of Problems
If you don’t mind waiting before you drift off to sleep, an air mattress can be blown up when needed. The trouble with an air mattress is that they often do not give the same support, so if you have back issues or have trouble sleeping on a cushion of air, this is not the option to consider.
The Cargo Floor will work, but it Won’t be Soft.
For the hardcore adventurer, a cargo floor is an option. We wouldn’t recommend it unless you just have to. Our backs were not designed to sleep on the ground or on a hard cargo floor.
A Foam Mattress Might be Just the Ticket
Many companies sell their mattresses as roll-outs. While you should never try to reroll up a mattress with springs in them, a mattress made entirely of foam can be shrunken. Our recommendation is to roll the memory foam mattress in a roll, like you would a sleeping back, and stuff the foam into a mattress bag.
Then you have room for additional equipment. You might have to put an ice chest on one of the front seats, but this seems like a small price to pay for the ability to park and sleep almost anywhere.
What Other Adjustments Do I Need to Make to Sleep in my Caravan?
Before you head onto the open road, you will need to make other adjustments to your Caravan. For a more personal experience about the daily experiences of living out of a vehicle, see this article.
Hang Solid Curtains for Privacy
The last thing you want to do is wake up in the middle of the night just to see some stranger peering through your van’s windows. There are many websites that can teach you how to make side curtains to cover the back windows and a simple shade to hang just behind the front seats to ensure your privacy.
An example of this kind of curtain can be found on Amazon.
If you make, your own, dark curtain material is a must here. The dark cloth will hold the heat in the vehicle during cold nights and keep the heat out of the sleeping quarters during the summer. Be sure to secure the bottom of the curtain to the base of the window so that the curtain doesn’t just hang straight down and get into the living area.
The local RV store, like Camping World, can order you shades that are designed to fit on the side windows should you wish not to make and hang your own. Napa makes a quick-fit sunshade that could work as well. For more information concerning this product, click on the link at Napa.
Make a DYI Shower Stall
Most Dodge Grand Caravans have a rear door that opens like a hatch on an SUV. Shower curtains can be hung from the open rear door toward the ground with a couple of simple modifications and a little bit of engineering ingenuity. (Stores like BassPro sell portable shower stalls in many different configurations that can be modified for the van or used next to the car depending on where you set up for the night).
You should be conscious of your surroundings before installing this kind of device. Van Lifers prefer to use the showers at campgrounds or local truck stops where security cameras are in place, and this is probably a safer alternative.
Consider Building a Frame with Pull-Out or Foot Locker Storage
One of the best conversion ideas we noticed was to build a frame with either drawer that slides from the open rear, slides from the side, or opens like footlockers under the mattress. (This works very well if you have a twin mattress). The additional storage is invaluable if you plan to be on the road for any length of time.
Is Sleeping in Your Caravan Safe?
For the most part, the practice of sleeping in the back of your caravan is pretty safe. There are a couple of things to be aware of when you do.
Be sure to pick an area that will not draw attention to the van. Rest areas that have security provided are the best places. Truck stops, and even many WalMarts or churches will allow you to park overnight. (It is always best to ask first, just to be sure).