So you want to hit the road but you think:
“Where on earth will all the kids sleep!?”
While there are numerous family-friendly travel trailer, fifth wheel, motorhome, and class C options on the market sometimes it’s hard to find exactly what you’re looking for. Finding the right rig for your family can take a lot of time and effort. If you’re struggling, try these tips for finding the perfect family RV.
So, when you finally do find the rig that meets your wants or needs, sometimes that rig still needs a little modification on your part.
Modifying an RV to Suit Your Needs
Our family, the Lanes, have had three very different rig types over the years since we began RVing. With each rig we’ve owned we’ve had to make some modifications in order to get that space to really work optimally for our family of seven. Most of the time that has come with making modifications to the kid’s bunk room–more specifically, the kids’ bunks themselves. A bunk bed conversion, or bunkhouse conversion, can really transform a space. For us, it gave our kids individual sleeping spaces. For you, it could be a whole new room in your RV. Brainstorm RV bunk bed conversion ideas with the family and you’ll be surprised at all the wild creations everyone comes up with.
Our bunkhouse conversion involved creating a more customized sleeping space for our kids. Curious how we did it? Let me show you what we did in the three RVs we’ve owned to date.
After You’ve Found Your Family RV
Once you’ve chosen a bunkhouse, or even a mid-bunk model, creating the sleeping space that’s ideal for your family just takes a little creativity, time, and effort.
In each rig we’ve purchased, one non-negotiable for us has been for the kids to have their own permanent sleeping space. We have never wanted kids sleeping on the living room couch on a pull-out bed at night. Instead, we wanted them to have their own rooms, just like they would in a house environment. For us, the separation of space has always been a top priority.
Get Creative With Your Space
Our current rig is a Keystone Cougar 368mbi mid-bunk fifth wheel. When searching for our latest rig, we wanted a separate sleeping area for our girls and boys and knew our teen girls would appreciate a room with a door they could close for some privacy. There are several mid-bunk options on the market, but unfortunately, most mid-bunks on the market don’t come with built-in bunks. Instead most come with a sleeper sofa. Since each rig we own becomes our home away from home, our full-time home–a sleeper sofa just won’t cut it for 2 teen girls to sleep on night-after-night.
Because of that, we decided to go ahead and remove the sleeper sofa in the mid-bunk room and add some built-in bunk beds in its place. In addition to the beds, we wanted to add some extra clothing storage too, because our teen girls need a lot of that.
How We Modified Our Bunkhouse
First, we took the space and measured the height of the slide in that room. Knowing the height helped us decide how tall each bunk would be. We also factored in how big we wanted the drawers under the bottom bunk to be. Depending on that we took the remaining space, divided it, and that’s the amount we ended up having to work with for the two bunk bed openings.
After building a frame along the wall of the slide as the support for the top bunk we added plywood for the bed base. Instead of ordering custom-sized mattresses we purchased queen-sized memory foam mattresses and cut them to size for each of the bunk spaces.
Pro Tip: A bread knife or electric turkey carving knife make quick work of this job!
By adding the bunks in the mid bunk room, and the drawers for additional storage under the bunks, we created a space our girls could truly be comfortable in on the road!
Removing A Pull-Out Couch
When we purchased our first travel trailer we needed the bunk room to sleep five kids. However, we soon realized that was asking a lot from a pull-behind travel trailer! We eventually decided on purchasing a Keystone Passport with a double slide in the bunk room. It seemed to meet our needs in almost every area. It provided the most room to work with of any bunkhouse model we could find on the market. Each slide had a top bunk, so that worked! But, the bottom bunk areas had foam fold-out couches and those really weren’t going to meet our needs adequately.
Because of this, we needed to figure out how two kids could share the bottom bunk areas. After brainstorming our options we ended up finding junior-sized beds at Ikea that would fit our 3 younger kids. These beds were bigger than toddler beds but shorter than twin-sized beds. One of them would fit length-wise perfectly when horizontally slid into the slide.
We went ahead and removed the foam couches and placed one junior bed in one of the slides. On the opposing slide, we placed two junior beds side by side with the headboards in the slide and the beds extending out into the room. This set up allowed each child to have their very own beds as we traveled.
Because of the length of the beds, and how we placed two of them side by side into the slide on one side of the room, on moving days we would have to pick up each bed and horizontally stack them on top of each other whenever we had to bring in the slides. It was a little extra work but totally worth it to make our home on wheels comfortable for our family.
Transforming a Toy-Hauler Into a Bedroom
This garage space provided one queen bed and a table and benches. Both the bed and the table bench combo were on a hydraulic lift that allowed them both to be raised during the day when not in use. Again, we had to make this space work for numerous children. Since one queen bed wasn’t enough we decided to remove the table and benches and use the frame to create another queen-sized bed. By using the existing frame we only had to add plywood as a base for the mattress. In doing this we increased the sleeping space in that room for an additional 2 people.
A Little Modification Can Go a Long Way
Even if you’re struggling to find the perfect rig for your family don’t let the thought of a little modification scare you off! In fact, if you’re not up for the handiwork yourself, have Camping World Renovation Services bring your design to life.
In the case of the bunk areas, there are so many ways to get creative and make that space work for you with just a little creativity, time, and effort. Turn your bunk area into an extra closet, an art studio, an RV office, or a bar counter.
If you’re interested in modifying the bunk area of your RV but aren’t sure where to start, check out the Camping World Design Center! There, a Design Specialist can help you plan and create a custom interior design project unique to your RV. And, as always, stop by your local Camping World if you have an RV you’re looking to sell or trade in.
How would you modify a bunkhouse? Tell us in the comments below.