Words & Photos: Jake Grove 

This past weekend, I had the chance to setup at the Fiesta Island Van Life Meet-Up, hosted by The Ladies' Van, and check out the camper setups of both local and traveling van dwellers. The event ran from mid morning this past Saturday and through the night with a potluck and bonfire, although I was only able to stop by for the later half of the event.  

With countless sprinter van conversions, a few Westfalia VW's, and some expedition camper rigs in between, the meet-up had an amazing turnout. It was truly great being able to step inside each rig and talk with the owner's about their build, travels, and all the good details in between! I setup my Westfalia Conversion Jeep Cherokee, and got to share my build plans as well in this community driven event. As the sun grew weaker into night, I snapped a few photos of some of my favorite van life conversions at the meet-up, capturing some of the details that stood out to me below. It was a great first van-life event for myself, and I can't wait to attend more San Diego meet-up's as my "Jeepagon" build progresses into full-time traveling and living. 

Check out some of the Van Life conversions I captured below, and let me know any questions or input on my own or anybody else's setups in the comments below. If I didn't catch your name either, I will be happy to add it alongside your build! Happy Vanning!

I've always envied the space of a classic sprinter van conversion, and you can see why here... mountain bikes, a full sized bed, and plenty of room for tools and necessities for life on the road. 

Van-Side Awnings always make camp that much more welcoming. Especially on a built adventure van... 

Pop-Top City! Definitely Interesting to compare the varieties of builds from westfalia to sports mobile styled. 

Trump Don't Surf . . .        That is all.

And on to the not-actually-a-van Van Life... My "XJ" Jeep Cherokee with its recent pop-top addition, and Jon Burtt's Overland Built Tacoma. 

Full expedition rig goals right here! With a custom one-off camper and tray, reservoir king shocks, and all the necessities for the road, Jon Burtt's overland rig is built for the long haul.

It was great meeting and talking with the crew behind @onthegowithmambo and comparing our different conversion setups and goals. Seeing their sprinter with an additional pop-top bed opened up a lot of space for full time travel, especially fitting two people and dogs comfortably, but my setup provides a bit stealthier option and greater off-road capabilities. The great thing with Van Life, is there's no wrong way to do it - just whatever suits your wants and needs best.

Mambo is one hell of a van, and I have to say that standing upright and climbing upstairs to a full-size bed is more than comfortable!  

There ain't no party like a sprinter van party...

I've been seeing a lot of these raised bed styled conversions inside sprinter vans lately, and proves a practical design with room below for bikes, travel gear, and beyond, while having room to comfortable sit up above while housing a fullsized bed. Simple, flexible, and spacious. 

Thanks again to the crew behind @theladiesvan for organizing everything and bringing this Van Life community together!

They have a Meetup group as well you can join to stay up to date on events, gatherings, and overall news.

The sun creeps down, but the vans stay out...

The full-size bus-styled doors behind @thedirtydarlings van opens up into a cozy cabin styled interior. With plenty of cabinets to store gear for full-time living and traveling, Matt and Megan's setup provides an at home feeling wherever it's parked. They have been full time van dwellers for the past five months, and have traveled all along the west coast in that time. Comfy and cozy at home vibes, with standing room and all the necessities.

Once the sun dropped behind the glistening waters of Mission Bay, the hosts brought together a bonfire for all to gather up and stay toasty around. Campfire guitar melodies, a potluck food setup, and a circle of opened up vans made for a great atmosphere and open conversation.

A last few photos, as van lifers began to hit the road and find their way back to that night's spot. 

It was an extremely welcoming event and an amazing opportunity to share stories, concepts, and questions throughout the van life and camper community, and see others' passion displayed through their house on four wheels!

Thank you's go out to @theladiesvan for hosting the Fiesta Island Van Life Meet-Up, as well as The Van Life App, OrganifiVegan Life By Lauren, Bitchin' Sauce, and San Diego Camper Vans! 

Join the Van-Life community on Meetup for more San Diego connections and events

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