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I can’t emphasize how much I dislike tents. Arriving late to the campground, spending a half-hour setting up the tent and situating my gear, all the while trying not to point my headlight into the tents of nearby sleeping campers. The next day, worrying about who might be stealing my stuff and then coming home and having to dry off all of the morning dew, and yet somehow the tent still smells like mildew anyways.

“Can you stop shining that light into my eyes?”          

I like to say I’m lazy, but efficient would probably be more accurate. It didn’t take long to move from camping in a tent to just reclining the driver seat in my 2012 Mazda3 and pulling my sleeping bag over me. I’d watch from my chair and bed as my friends unloaded their bags, unpacked their tents, dazed from the 6-hour drive. Even after their tents were erect, you could here them rustling about inside, trying to situate themselves, with the glow of their headlight dancing on the inside of the fly of their tent.

In the morning, I’d reach for the cup-holder with the leftover, stale gas-station coffee from the day before, toss my sleeping bag into the back seat, and I was off.

“Is that a bed in your car?”

It’s oxymoronic to say I’m efficient, and then over-complicate the next twenty steps. I wanted to be cool, like those Pinterest #vanlife vans – but all I had was this little hatchback. Six bolts to remove the back seat, fifty dollars at HomeDepot, and a couple hours of cutting and drilling later, and I would surely never have to set up a tent again.

It’s been 7 years, over 150 nights, 10 states , and I have yet to set up a tent since.

“…And then there were two of us.”

When I met my fiance, in 2016, and we decided to take more trips together, there wasn’t enough time off of work to be able to drive from the east coast, to the west. So we had to improvise a new-way to #vanlife our vacations. We knew we had to fly, and so we knew our bed had to fit into a bag, and be under the 50 pound limit. After some research and some trial and error, we used 1.5″ PVC pipes to construct a frame, and some 1×2″ wood furring strips as slats. We strung the slats together with some cord, a secured it to the frame with some rubber bands (surprisingly strong). With our double-wide sleeping pad and sleeping bag it was even more comfortable than our kitted-out Mazda. Southwest allows two free checked bags per person, so it didn’t even cost us additional money to check our new bed. We would rent a Dodge Grand Caravan (the only minivan with full fold-flat seats) and assemble our bed in 15 minutes.