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How To Convert An RV Into A Food Truck

This post was updated on March 15th, 2024

4 people at a vintage trailer converted to food truck - convert an RV to a food truck
Learn how to convert an RV to a food truck and give life to that old RV!

Convert An Old RV Into A Mobile Food Truck

Start making money with that old RV you were going to sell.

Food trucks are common in cities and at festivals and events of any kind. People line up for anything from tacos to crepes on a lunch break or at a music festival.

Food trucks offer quick, cheap food to hungry people on-the-go. Due to the limited size of a food truck, the menu generally consists of one to four items that they specialize in. This is why food truck offerings are often some of the best.

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Is a food truck a good idea?

This is certainly not a business report on food trucks; however, they are very popular and do have some advantages for someone looking to get into the food business.

Opening a restaurant can involve some big upfront costs. Buying or renting a commercial space is not cheap, nor are renovations if needed. A restaurant requires paying for staff, high utilities, and significant maintenance.

A food truck can be a smaller investment for someone looking to start and operate a food service themselves. The cost of a used truck or RV can be very reasonable, and most people choose to run the truck themselves. Not having staff to pay or the overhead costs of a sticks-and-bricks location is appealing to those looking for a startup.

You often hear the saying “location is key”, and this is certainly true for restaurants. A food truck gives owners the opportunity to scout out locations and easily change locations if the business isn’t there. Another great option for food truck owners is to set up at festivals and events where they are guaranteed an influx of money for those days.

Costs for permits and fees to start and operate will vary depending on your location. Anyone looking to convert an RV to a food truck should first inquire about local rules and regulations.

What type of RV works best as a food truck?

Smaller, older travel trailers are the most common type of RV converted to a food truck. These trailers can be found for pretty cheap and are a good size for a food truck. Since food trucks are often in downtown locations and being moved around, having a large RV can become a hassle.

The inside of the RV will likely be drastically modified, so the condition and layout won’t be of much concern. There are some things to look for and consider if you plan to convert an RV to a food truck. These things can make the conversion easier and cheaper.

One beneficial feature is a large side window that can be used for your serving window. If you don’t have to cut or modify a large opening, this will save time and money. Will you have a single window, or would you prefer one for ordering and paying and a second window for serving food?

The layout of your food truck and where you will be preparing the food will determine where water and gas will be needed. If the RV you choose already has plumbing and gas lines in a suitable location, this can also be a time and money saver.

A small vintage trailer also has the perfect look for a food truck. The cool factor is definitely there; it’s hard for a brightly colored vintage trailer to not attract attention on the street.

How to convert an RV into a food truck

The idea of a food truck is to produce food quickly with minimal kitchen space or equipment. In most cases, you will have a refrigerator for food storage and a stove or flattop for cooking.

Since the interior space is limited, there aren’t many layouts that you will be choosing from. Most commonly, the food prep takes place along the back wall and the front wall is your order and serving area. Having your cash register and payment systems beside the order window makes for quick interactions.

Getting started

The first step will probably be removing the beds and seating areas. If there are kitchen appliances that are usable, they can be kept in place. In many cases, the small RV stovetop and fridge will also be coming out. Removing everything and starting with open space will be easiest for many people.

Cabinets are one thing that can be beneficial to leave in place. You will need storage space, so utilizing cabinets already mounted to the walls makes sense. There isn’t a ton of floor space, so having wall-mounted storage can free up valuable working space.

The floor should be durable and easy to clean. Any carpet will be removed and a laminate or vinyl floor will be your best bet. Installation of laminate flooring is quick and easy and should be done with everything removed from the RV.

Your dream kitchen

The type of food truck you plan on having will determine what is required for food prep. If you’re serving ice cream, you will have different equipment than if you’re selling pizza.

Something to consider (especially with smaller, older RVs) is the weight rating of the axle. The axle and tires have to be rated for the finished weight of your unit. Some kitchen equipment such as freezers and grills can be very heavy.

Don’t underestimate your success when installing your food prep setup. Although small, some food trucks put out a crazy amount of food. When things take off, you want to be able to keep up with the demand in your kitchen. Your idea to convert an RV to a food truck could become the most popular spot in town.

Order up!

The window or windows where you take orders, payment, and serve food is a key part of the operation. You want to have a large enough window to easily serve orders through. If you only have one window for taking and serving orders, make sure it is a large one.

The height of the window is also important. RV windows weren’t made for serving people, so in many cases, they will be higher than ideal for your needs. What is above and below the window is important as well. Having a ledge of some sort below the window allows customers to place their food, cell phone, keys, or anything else they are juggling while ordering.

Above the window, having protection from the sun and rain will be much appreciated. An awning or window opening that folds up to double as cover adds to the look of the food truck and provides weather protection for both customers and those inside the food truck.

Man and woman inside small vintage RV food truck decorated with wood paneling, bistro lights, and plants - convert an RV to a food truck

A food truck can be a great use for an old RV and a way to make some money! Both proper planning and the legal setup of a food truck must be taken into consideration. With the paperwork and setup out of the way, you can start choosing a menu. Will it be pulled pork or poke bowls?

One of the best parts about RVing is engaging with the community of traveling enthusiasts. iRV2 forums allow folks to chat with other RVers online, and get other perspectives on everything RVing, including products, destinations, RV mods, and more.

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