A dad has spent less than £100 converting his family car into a make-shift “mini camper van” – and wants fellow Brits to follow in his footsteps.
Brendan James, 29, from Shropshire, first got the idea to create a micro camper during the pandemic, when staycations became all the rage.
Now, with the cost of living crisis forcing people to give up luxuries such as trips abroad, he is encouraging others to follow suit – sharing his affordable holiday alternative.
With camper van prices reaching record highs due to demand, Brendan realised he could remove the back seats in the family Renault Scenic car, giving him room to create his DIY car-slash-holiday-home.
And the film-maker did the work with just £100, starting by getting £50 worth of wood, legs and hinges from B&Q to set up a foldable base for his bed – which doubles as a kitchen counter.
The savvy dad-of-one completed his bargain camper with a £30 single mattress from Amazon to place on top of the base, and invested in some new bedding.
Not only has the idea saved Brendan a small fortune – he also saves money on not eating out, buying a hot stove to make homemade pizza, burgers and even roast dinners from the boot of his car.
“I think I’ve shown you can make solo trips extremely cost-effective,” Brendan, who runs YouTube channel Brendan Explores, told Jam Press.
“During lockdown there was just this huge explosion of people getting vans and doing them up.
“I didn’t have the budget for that and the idea popped into my head about using the family car.
“Everything I have added can easily be taken out so I can swap it back to the traditional family car whenever I need to.
“As soon as I feel up for a trip for a day or two I hop in and drive off.
“It’s just something I love to do as I enjoy travelling about.”
However, there’s one aspect of car camping that families in particular might be hesitant about: the space.
At the moment, while camping in the car, Brendan travels without his wife and children, for this very reason.
He said: “The reason why we don’t camp as a family inside the car is simply down to space, but we are planning on attaching a trailer tent to the car for family trips away this year and we regularly take a tent to traditional camp sites.”
Once he’s decided on a location, Brendan will pull up in a nearby car park before fitting his windows with homemade black-out material to block out sunlight – and keep any prying eyes away.
So far, he has explored his local borough but plans to head to Scotland and Cornwall this summer.
The dad said: “So far I’ve been able to explore a few cities and some beauty spots.
“Even if I had a camper van, prices for staying at camp sites has hit the roof after the pandemic.
“What would previously cost £5 now costs £30-a-night, so I’m saving money there too.
“I obviously don’t have any running water so whenever I do cook, I have a black sack and I pop the dirty dishes and pans in there to take back home.
“I’m only eating for one so there’s never really an awful lot.
“I suppose the biggest teething problem I’ve had is knowing where the next toilet is!
“I think I’ve been able to show stealth camping is doable even if you have a low budget.”