The Ravebulance: Thinking Outside the Box for Festival Camping

In August 2021, I started seeing a lot of content on Youtube and TikTok about people converting vans, storage units, and even ambulances into tiny homes. Now, my husband and I had recently bought a house so I was not interested in full-timing in a vehicle but all I could think was, “Now, wouldn’t that be perfect for a camping festival?”. This was the thought that ignited the idea for the Ravebulance.

Rolling with the Research

After dedicating a month of my life to binge-watching vehicle conversion videos on Youtube, a few things were clear to me:

  1. Anyone with common sense, a driveway, power tools, and access to Google can transform a vehicle into a camper.
  2. Traditional vans like Sprinters and Mercedes, commonly used for conversions, exceeded my budget.
  3. There is a very large community of people that convert retired ambulances into off-grid vehicles.

During this research, I discovered many advantages to ambulance conversions. They are more cost-effective than vans and typically come with a six-foot headroom in the box. Additionally, ambulances feature various external storage compartments, providing ample and easily accessible space for your festival gear. Now, the hunt began to find the perfect ambulance to convert into the Ravebulance.

Marketplace Madness

Most people acquire retired ambulances from auctions or Facebook Marketplace. I personally have a bit too much anxiety for auctions, so I decided that Facebook Marketplace was our best bet to find a retired ambulance. The first ambulance that we found on the marketplace and drove to see was not in great condition and we walked away from it. However, one day after this experience, we stumbled upon a second ambulance located five hours away, boasting only 50,000 miles and included everything on our checklist.

As soon as we found the incredible deal on the marketplace, my husband and I contacted the dealership and drove there to inspect it immediately. Since the deal was so good on the ambulance, we were afraid they would sell it to someone else. 

When we were inspecting the vehicle, we found out that the dealership had acquired the ambulance from an auction, explaining the exceptionally attractive price. The ambulance was in great condition since it was kept in a garage by the local fire department, and we knew this was the vehicle we wanted to bring home for this project.

After finalizing the paperwork, we embarked on a five-hour journey back home with the newly acquired vehicle. As a reminder, this was only one month after I decided that I wanted an ambulance!

The ‘Vanovation’

After bringing the ambulance home, we would just sit in the box and talk about our plans, visualizing and planning how to utilize the space effectively. In the space, our key requirements were a queen-sized bed, fridge, sink, toilet, and air conditioning. Anything else would be a bonus. Winter put the project on ice, but our minds stayed hot. We hatched grand plans, waiting for spring to thaw them into reality.

Once it became warmer outside, we had the sudden realization that Dreamscape Festival was four months away and the only project we had completed was building the platform for the queen-sized bed. In the months leading up to Dreamscape Festival we installed:

  1. Solar panels totaling 1500 watts and wired the electrical system so that we could run our electricity fully off solar power at festivals.
  2. A kitchen area with a 40-gallon water tank that hooks up to an exterior propane shower.
  3. A queen-sized bed that is literally my favorite part of the conversion because I love to sleep.
  4. A microwave and a freezer that we converted into a fridge since it was more energy efficient. Y’know you have to keep those Beatboxes cold. 😉
  5. A full hanging closet for rave clothes because I am obsessed with festival fashion.
  6. A new ceiling with energy efficient lights since the previous lights were not efficient.
  7. A mini-split air conditioning unit that literally saved my life at Big Dub Festival because it was over 100 degrees outside.
  8. A composting toilet that we built ourselves because it was $900 cheaper than buying a pre-built composting toilet.
  9. And even more…

One of the most difficult Ravebulance projects was spray painting the exterior green because we did not want to be mistaken for an emergency vehicle at festivals. For this project, we sanded down the ambulance in our driveway, taped off all of the sections that did not need painted, and then spray gunned it with multiple layers of green paint. Remarkably, even after two years, the paint still looks pristine, though the endeavor consumed several days of our time.

After all this hard work, we were able to take the Ravebulance on its inaugural journey to Dreamscape Festival in 2022 and we had an incredible time. It was one of my favorite festival experiences.

Please find a few pictures of the Ravebulance’s finished interior below:

The Ravebulance Today

In 2023, we attended Big Dub Festival, Elements Music & Arts Festival, Lost Lands and Nightmare Festival in the Ravebulance and we cannot wait to camp at more festivals this year.

One amusing aspect of taking the ambulance to festivals is that we consistently attract the attention of the medical team, as they are curious about the interior of a converted ambulance!

After using it for two festival seasons we are very happy with the final build and my only gripe is how expensive RV camping spots are at festivals, but I am very thankful that we have solar since we do not need camping spots with hookups. Unfortunately, the ambulance is around one foot too long to fit in most traditional car camping spots.

If you ever see the Ravebulance at a festival, please say hello! I love making new friends and giving out kandi. You can follow us on Instagram @Ravebulance to keep up with our latest festival adventures but I hope to write more blogs about our ongoing festival experiences.

– Ravebulance

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