“For you…A Thousand Times Over”
We will do anything for our kids, even travel to the end of the earth just to see them smile, which makes the crazy journey to get there worth all of the effort. For those who have children, the meaning of this sentiment rings true.
When I look back to when we started planning our Sprinter conversion for our family of 5, applying a theme was actually not on the top of our priority list. We had continuous ideas as to how the van could be functional for us as a family, but, over time, my husband and I began to realize that it was just as important that the van became something that the kids would WANT to travel in. That was where our concept of a themed van was born!
With three boys, it was inevitable that all of us would become diehard Star Wars fans. We love being together as a family and nerding-out for an episode-viewing marathon at our house before the newest movie comes out. It was our love of Star Wars, and perhaps the strength of The Force, that the idea of #Vadervan was created!
After months of research we decided to leave the conversion to the professionals, and we discovered that the guys at Van Works in Ft. Collins Colorado are top-notch. We could not trust the creation of Vader with anyone else. We told Barry, (Van Works), our idea of a Star Wars themed van and gave him creative freedom along with one rule: Have fun with it! Van Works did not disappoint. We battled with whether we should represent the light or dark side, of course, but the guys did not make us choose, and they married the two forces together perfectly. At the end of it all, it was the name #Vadervan that only seemed fitting!
One of our favorite additions are the Light Sabers on our walls that serve several functions: decoration, night-lights, and fun toys for when the boys want to have an impromptu Light Saber battle.
Vader is not only unique in its playful and quirky details, it is also practical for our family. When we ordered our van, safety was a main priority. We searched the pages of social media websites for inspiration as to how to travel with three young boys, and we found a lot of creative aesthetic ideas, but no tips as to how to actually travel down the road safely! After a lot of different configuration ideas, we came to the conclusion that the van would need to come with a factory installed bench. We had to sacrifice a good amount of space in order to have this bench, which was OK with us since we currently are not full-time “van lifers”, but we were not willing to compromise the safety of our boys. The bench fits their booster and car seats perfectly, which gives us the peace of mind that they will always be safe during our travels.
Another unique challenge that we stumbled upon while brainstorming for our conversion was our sleeping situation: How on earth would we sleep five people in our Sprinter, and still have room to include everything else we wanted and needed? By the time the conversion was complete, we had somehow achieved the difficult task of assembling a bed arrangement that worked for the whole family. My husband and I sleep on the top bed, where we have plenty of room below for our bikes, suitcases, and any other road trip essentials. Our boys, Ryder (age 8) and Rhyse (age 5), sleep on the fold out bench directly below our bed. We love this bench because we are able to accommodate extra travelers, if needed, with cool, old-school lap belts for an extra level of safety. It ended up being perfect (and funny) that our tiny, little living area fits the crib of our youngest, Cooper (age 2), without an inch to spare! It’s a tight fit, and I am sure in a few years we will have to make some modifications, but, for now, it works great for our family!
Another accessory that we really love is our Aluminess roof rack. We have the ability to gain such a unique vantage point of the scenery around us, it gave us some much needed extra storage space, and it has become one of our favorite parts of our van. The boys always enjoy going up there and looking out as far as their little eyes can see! This summer, while we were in Yellowstone during the Bison rut, we got to view the beauty and majesty of the Bison in their natural habitat with our boys from the roof. I have no doubt we will make numerous memories up there as a family.
Essentially, every aspect of the build of our van was for our kids, and we love how Vader has allowed us to connect as a family. Vader has also connected us to a welcoming community of like-minded travelers and families, which is bound to create lasting memories for the boys for the rest of their lives. We love driving down the highway and having people give us a thumbs up, or seeing them snapping pictures as they drive by. If you ever see us driving down the road, don’t be a stranger, maybe we can pull over and have a light saber battle.
The Conley Family
Nate, Brandye, Ryder, Rhyse and Cooper
Check out our Instagram @Vader_van
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