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Car Camping Made Easy With This Folding Rear Seat Mod

Staying in hotels regularly – even at discount chains – can end up costing an arm and a leg.

To stop the dollars from leaving his wallet so quickly during long road trips, Greg made a simple, and cheap, mod to his 2001 Toyota Echo.

Toyota Echo Car Camper For Long Road Trips

Are you wondering how to convert your small car into a temporary sleeping compartment?

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If you suffer from mobility issues or have a hard time moving around in tight spaces, this mod probably isn’t going to work well for you.

For those of you who can stomach sleeping in a cozy subcompact car, Greg’s tip should save you some cash.

When we make cross country drives it can get expensive to stay in a motel every night. So for less than the price of one night’s hotel stay I converted our little 2001 Toyota Echo into a stealth camper. I already had some of the materials on hand so really all it cost was the price of a sheet of plywood and a 6’x8′ piece of indoor/outdoor carpet.

He plans to use the camper in legitimate campgrounds, and not at Walmart or in other parking lots.

There are loads of lesser developed campsites that only charge 8 to 10 bucks a night. I figure we can stay there without the possible hassles of being awakened from sleep in the middle of the night and being told to leave…

While sleeping in a compact car won’t have the luxurious feel of a Grand Hyatt hotel, you’ll be able to wake up the next morning with your wallet intact! Take the tour of his car camper conversion below.

Greg’s blank canvas, a 2001 Toyota Echo.

Toyota Echo car camper

He removed the rear seats in the car, and installed a folding platform made of plywood. Sleeping pads are tied to the front of the makeshift seats during storage.

Car camper

Though the lack of padding would make backseat travel uncomfortable, he’s looking into adding pads in case he needs to drive other passengers.

He added a cutout to the trunk area to store a 5 gallon water bottle.

Trunk area in mini RV

One of my goals in designing this was not to permanently alter any part of the car so that everything can be put back to stock should we decide to sell it.

Sleeping compartment

With the front seats moved all the way forward, the plywood section folds down.

Folding bed

And forms a flat sleeping area that extends from the cab of the car through to the trunk.

Sleeping platform extended

The flat surface provides a good foundation for a comfortable night’s rest.

Sleeping area inside

Another view of the sleeping area.

Makeshift table in car camper

When laying down, Greg has 74″ from the back of the trunk to the rear surface of the front seats. At 44″ wide, he says the space is a tight fit for two people.

Ready to relax with a homemade computer hutch that mounts to the plywood base.

DIY table in car camper

Voila! With the addition of my laptop and a couple speakers the car is transformed into a media room to watch DVDs or listen to CDs.  I’m reclining on the back side of the forward tilted front seats. With a couple pillows it’s actually quite comfortable.

To block the sun, Greg bought some silver sun shades at a dollar store to hang over the windows. He cut them to shape, and used velcro strips to hold them in place. While this might work in the short term, he wants to have a custom window cover made through a local upholstery shop.

The spare tire sits just under this storage area.

Storage area under bed

2×4″s keep items from sloshing around during transit. In the foreground is a Coleman propane-powered camping stove. The spare tire sits just under the Coleman stove.

Still plenty of room for other camping essentials!

Plenty of room in trunk

Although you can see regular folding camping chairs in the photo of the trunk above, Greg purchased the Travel Chair Joey Chair to save space. The Joey Chair holds up to 300 lbs. and folds into a tight bundle for easy storage.

Because Greg plans to use this car camper at campsites instead of in parking lots or city streets, he shouldn’t have to worry too much about getting stopped by the police – or harassed by store owners.

Thanks Greg for sharing your well-engineered car camper mod.

Original post at TinyHouseTalk

RELATED: Mini RV Made From A Toyota Prius Car

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