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Former Police Vehicle Turned Van Vacation Home

Meet Betty, Jens, Coco (their dog), and their beautiful police-vehicle-turned-tiny-home! Betty & Jens have been using their VW T4 conversion as a vacation home on wheels for the past three years. Because this is a smaller van, it’s so impressive how functional they were able to make it!

We had the chance to interview Betty & Jans about their part-time van life and what inspired them to buy the van. Check out the pictures below and be sure to read the Q&A at the end of the post.

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Their Part-Time European Van Life in VW T4 Conversion

Here’s what the van looked like when they bought it

They had to pull out the seats and lay down a floor.

Next, they started constructing the cabinets and bed.

Cabinet doors going on!

They built a wall between the cab and the back.

I love the little kitchen cabinet with elastics.

The table pops up for meal time/day time.

The elastics keep everything tucked inside during travel.

A pegboard on one of the windows adds extra storage.

I love this little shelf!

That bottom drawer is their pull-out kitchen!

Here it is all set up!

Here’s Betty, Jens and Coco (the dog)


What got you into tiny living?

We traveled with a van once in 2019 in Jen’s parents’ T4 bus. At that time, it was still quite sporadically equipped. We folded out the back seats and slept on them, and brought a table and chairs with us and a gas stove, with a few other camping utensils, nothing more. But even then, we really liked traveling in the van and had always said that we would buy our own van someday.

This someday came faster than thought. In 2020, we actually planned to drive around Slovenia in our car and go to AirBnB-hopping. But in March 2020, the world stood still, and we had to make a new vacation plan. We then decided, without further ado, to buy a van and convert it during our vacation. So in May 2020, we bought the T4 and 2 months later started the conversion.

Did you build your home or buy it? How long did the process take?

We bought the T4 unmodified. It is a former police vehicle. The entire conversion process took a good 6 months, BUT since we had vacation time in the summer of 2020, we managed to get the most important things and basic building blocks — such as the bed, kitchen, sideboard, etc. — completed in 3 weeks. (We also had a 3 weeks vacation and could work on it from morning to night). The rear extension and other decorative aspects, like our kitchen shelf with the rubber bands, came then gradually.

How do you make money on the road?

We currently use our bus only for vacations, short trips, and weekend vanlife. We are both salaried employees, but can also work from home (or from the bus) – but not 100% remote.

How has tiny living changed your life (for better or worse)?

Vanlife or tiny life has changed our lives for the better. Just the way we travel. There is nothing better for us than to take the bus and just spend the weekend around where we live. We have made new friends and were also able to live up old friendships. This may sound a bit romantic and cliché, but van life has also made us appreciate nature more.

What’s the hardest part of tiny living?

Since we chose a Volkswagen T4, we have limited space, which means no toilet and no shower. The luxury of having a shower and your own toilet, we miss that now and then.

What’s the most rewarding part?

Being flexible and outdoors

Any advice for people looking to go tiny?

Try it out first before you decide to go for it and buy a van outright. Not everyone likes this lifestyle, and that’s absolutely okay.

Learn more

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Natalie C. McKee

Natalie C. McKee is a contributor for Tiny House Talk and the Tiny House Newsletter. She's a wife, and mama of three little kids. She and her family are homesteaders with sheep, goats, chickens, ducks and quail on their happy little acre.
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