Whether regional, national, or global, musicians that go on tour will always require a reliable source of transportation to get to their live performances. One common form of transportation is vans due to their functionality and quality. However, if musicians are on a budget, what van would be best for them?
The best budget van for touring musicians is a conversion van. These vans provide suitable storage for band equipment. Though old, conversion vans continue to be reliable in quality and comfort.
Conversion vans are a classic form of transportation for those in the music business. In this article, we will examine why conversion vans are musicians’ best friends, along with other alternatives to conversion vans that have similar benefits.
Why Should I Pick A Conversion Van?
1. Storage Space
One of the major benefits of a conversion van when traveling is its immense storage space. A standard conversion van width size is about 18 to 24 ft, making it suitable for most musicians’ equipment.
Other sizes can vary based on the make, model, and desired space needed. For example, a Ford 2014 E-250 can be sized at 17.75 ft while a Mercedes Sprinter 170 High Roof can reach around 22.85 ft.
2. Saves Money
These vans are known as “conversion” because the inside of the van is converted via a third party to provide a livable space. This includes providing space to store band equipment and providing a place of residence for the band members while on tour.
If we know anything about touring musicians, they must travel often, and when staying for consecutive days at a time, hotels are usually optimal. Despite this, band members on a budget may consider living within their conversion van during their tour.
3. Living Conditions
Though considered questionable living conditions, especially for longer durations, the space within a conversion van is more than adequate to fulfill the band’s needs for a short time.
We should also note that even if a band chooses to stay at a hotel, that can counteract the budget conversion van’s value, as hotels are not cheap. That’s one of the major cons to a conversion van if only using it for equipment storage.
Tip: Consider The Size of Your Band
Conversion van space should also consider the size of the band itself. It’s possible that such a van isn’t nearly enough space. Maybe a band would want two vans depending on the size of the traveling group and the amount of equipment the band needs.
Living within a conversion van is doable if dealing with a three-person band. When we consider a five-person band, however, this may display more of a challenge in that each band member is fighting for space while trying to optimize every space of the conversion van.
Ultimately, the conversion van space will depend on the musician’s equipment, band size, and current budget.
Additional Features To Consider With A Conversion Van
Now that we have addressed one of the most beneficial aspects of conversion vans for touring musicians, let’s talk about other features that can promote the musicians’ budget and needs.
First, conversion vans were popular in the 1980s and, through enhanced technology, continue to be popular, regardless of their purpose.
The conversion van has notable features such as an installed foldable bed(s), kitchen and dining area, and power outlets for TV, radio, and other devices, to name a few.
Small features like these can boost musicians’ morale, as living in a van is not usually exciting.
Second, the gas mileage of a conversion van wasn’t the greatest. However, many musicians find the mileage usage justified.
A standard conversion van can use around 16 to 22 miles to the gallon. This is certainly not the best-performing vehicle regarding the distance it can travel. Despite this, many musicians believe the features of the conversion van outweigh the gas usage.
5 Budget-Friendly Vans for Touring Musicians
Touring is an exhilarating part of a musician’s life. It’s an opportunity to connect with fans, experience new places, and share your music far and wide. However, to make this a reality, you need a reliable and spacious vehicle that won’t break the bank. So, what are the best budget-friendly vans for touring musicians?
Let’s explore some affordable yet high-performing vans that will make your life on the road a breeze without putting a strain on your wallet.
1. Ford E-Series
A staple in cargo and passenger vans, the Ford E-Series is an excellent budget-friendly choice for touring musicians. It may not be as shiny as some newer models, but its track record for reliability and spaciousness is hard to beat.
- Robust build with a track record for durability.
- Ample interior space for band members and gear.
- Powerful V8 engine options.
2. Nissan NV200
While it’s smaller than some of its competitors, the Nissan NV200’s efficient use of space and excellent fuel economy make it an affordable choice for smaller bands or solo artists. Its compact size also makes it easier to park and navigate in busy city streets.
- Compact size for easy maneuverability.
- Efficient cargo space utilization.
- Excellent fuel economy.
3. RAM ProMaster City
The RAM ProMaster City offers a perfect balance between size, efficiency, and price. It’s smaller and more affordable than the full-size ProMaster but offers plenty of space for equipment and a few band members.
- Affordable entry price.
- Good fuel efficiency.
- Respectable cargo volume for its size.
4. Chevrolet Express
The Chevrolet Express has been around for a while, so you can often find used models at a significant discount. Its reliability and spacious interior make it an excellent choice for budget-conscious musicians.
- Proven reliability record.
- Generous interior space.
- Availability of affordable used models.
5. GMC Savana
The GMC Savana is the sibling to the Chevrolet Express and shares many of its strengths. Its wide availability on the used market makes it another great budget-friendly option for touring musicians.
- The wide availability of used models.
- Reliable performance.
- Spacious interior.
When touring on a budget, it’s all about finding the right balance between affordability, reliability, and the space you need for your band and gear. The options above prove that you don’t need to spend a fortune to find a great touring van. Happy touring!
Different Types of Rides for Travelling Musicians
Conversion vans aren’t the only form of transportation for touring musicians, but they are considered the best option.
Here are some other alternative forms of transportation:
- Minivans: Minivans are standard passenger vans for school trips, sports meetings, and touring. Unlike conversion vans, these minivans are not purposed for livable features. Therefore their only purpose is pickup or dropoff.
- SUVs: These vehicles could work for a touring musician, however, many other vehicles may be needed to haul all the equipment. Just like minivans, SUVs are not for living in.
- Cargo vans: As the name suggests, a cargo van is purposed to haul equipment primarily. There may be an additional seat or two for passengers, but it will usually act as an extension of other vehicles (SUVs, minivans) while traveling. Cargo vans also act as a base for personal modifications, while conversion vans have already been modified beforehand.
- Tow trailer: Tow trailers are dedicated to equipment hauling only. As these are trailers, they will require another vehicle to transport them. Any vehicle with a tow hook or the capability of installing one will get the job done. Always consider the size of the tow’s cargo and the vehicle. Can’t have a small vehicle tow what it can’t handle.
- Delivery services: This method is not a cheap option but can help transport band equipment safely and reduce the stressors of the musicians. Paying for a hauling service means the musicians can focus on other things rather than doing the work themselves. Always find reliable and credible companies to work with.
Hopefully, this has helped give an idea of what the best van for touring musicians is. Whether you are a touring musician yourself or just curious, this article should’ve provided the information needed.