It might take some time to design and build a food van that will stand up to long trips in Australia.

For those that are aspiring in the van building skill have a look through this short article and learn some tips and techniques to get started.

Most of the designs around the World rely on one of two types of materials to achieve their look.

  • Wood
  • Steel

Both materials make for a really sturdy, strong looking vehicle. Wood is easy to make some cold weather applications from it.

Though steel is more affordable and gets the job done when it comes to construction.

Wood is found around the world in many different forms. Generally it is used for the exterior of the van and can be found in many different styles.

Some notable ones are:


  • Bowling Green with shingles – one of the most popular van home options because of its unique appearance
  • Traditional Painted Box Green, Sanding it White and Bracing it with a Roof Tarp – a retro-classic choice
  • Lumber Green with galvanized Cladding


  • Rough or drafty – If your plans will take you to very arid areas you might want to opt for rough lumber (be prepared to buy some logs as well)
  • Fantastic exterior, extremely useful.
  • Moisture exteriors – from the desert like areas like the deserts of Nevada to wet climates like those in Australia. Will make the van less durable in climates like cold where steel will help a lot, but won’t be worth the extra cost. Very costly with every wood design so only consider if it’s something you want.
  • Vinyl – a great choice for a small budget, you can usually find some really bright color vinyls.

The basic capabilities of the van you are planning to build

Ice Cream Truck in Lower Manhattan

Ideally you will want a van that will get you around the city with ease and will make your life as an owner of it a lot easier. You will want something that will make it possible to carry heavy loads without causing any undue damage to the van’s exterior.

You will want something that will be able to sustain being stranded on the side of the road for days at a time. You will also want a vehicle that will enable you to take turns with any van you may encounter.

Overlap options

It’s important to think through how you will be able to maneuver this vehicle around the city if you drive it by yourself.

Many vehicles on the road in big cities now allow you to use two driving techniques in the same lane. A lane shared lane allows two vehicles to merge and have one lane driving.

You will find this lane also permits two-way traffic in many places. This allows you to drive both on the road and in the parking lot with ease.

The alternative driving technique is called passing, also called lane splitting. You will find it allowed only in some states of the USA.

If your going to be driving in Australia it’s best to familiarize yourself with these procedures in advance.

What size food van should you build?

hamburger, soda, and ice cream set next to pick-up

Generally the biggest you will want to build is around 4 m long x 3.5 m wide. You will want the van to be long enough to carry your entire kitchen – fridge, sink, cooktop, cooking utensils, cookware and other accessories.

This is usually a 3.5 m by 4 m van. You will want the interior to be around 15 cm high to allow for proper headroom.

Just because you are putting a fridge in the van doesn’t mean you don’t want your refrigerator to be tall. The fridge will need to be able to reach the height of the van’s roof to ensure it’s kept cool.

Typically the size of a kitchen is 15 cm high and a van width of 15 to 20 cm wide. If your van is a little bigger than 15 by 15 or 20 by 20 cm this is a big investment, don’t invest a lot if you plan to just do regular grocery runs around town.

Ultimately you will want your food van to have something called high flexibility. If you don’t have a lot of space to play with and you are going to be driving for long hours in it – it is vital that it can adapt to your changing conditions.

For the majority of your time in it you are going to need flexibility in your storage capacity to move with the van as it moves.

You will also need flexibility for the way the van is used as time will be the main limiting factor in your decisions. You want to make sure that there are as few obstacles as possible to getting your van to the where you want it to be.

Most people are not going to have much space for storing much of anything when they are in their van but you can create a very efficient system by using collapsible plastic crates as well as custom designed trays to store your ingredients and cookware.

Your custom designed trays and crates will be made to be highly durable and will be ideal for providing some of your cooking space. In general, it is a good idea to keep your appliances and kitchenware inside the van, so be sure to be making your crate’s removable for easy access.

For storage you will want to look for some type of rack in which to store your food – preferably at least 2 high.

Is it legal for you to drive your van in Australia?

Your answer to this depends on where you are from and where you will be driving the van. There are many laws for driving in most cities and towns in Australia and they all play a part in your decision.

If you are planning to drive your van in Australia, there are some things you need to be aware of in order to drive as legally as possible.

These are:

Carbon Emissions – Vehicle Emissions laws and their local restrictions vary from state to state. Keep an eye out for on-road restrictions.

Make sure you understand exactly what you are allowed to do and what you cannot do.

Possession – When purchasing your van, you should check the relevant registration to ensure it is legal for your state of residency.

You can’t just buy a van off the internet and drive it in Australia.



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