Date added: June 17
Living life on the road is exhilarating. Living life on the road in your own vehicle even more so - you've got the freedom to explore that buses don't give you, the comfort of having a safe place to leave your belonging while you go trekking or swimming or whatever else you feel like doing, and most importantly, a free place to kip! Some countries in particular (New Zealand and Australia spring to mind) are best explored this way, and actively encourage what's known as ‘freedom-camping’. But wherever you are in the world, converting your van, truck or station wagon into a place fit for, not a King, but maybe a prince or low-level palace bureaucrat, is a relatively simply and thoroughly rewarding task.
There are thousands of resources online exploring literally hundreds of different ways to put a bed in your truck, but for this kind of task, simplest is best. I’m assuming you've already got a cap on the truck bed (i.e. The walls of your new bedroom), but if not, look around online for options, as this is fairly obviously important, and will be by far your biggest expense. From here all you want to do is build a base for the bed to sit on with enough space below for storage – if you're organised, motivated and technically-minded enough, it's fairly easy to incorporate drawers into the design for easy access to your gear.
Start with the (hopefully) obvious step of measuring your truck bed and assessing the situation inside – whether you actually screw or otherwise attach the bed setup to the base of the truck or just fit it snugly in there depends on the material of the panels in the bed and your familiarity and access to the appropriate tools. Obviously attaching the setup makes for a more secure and permanent rig, but I've seen efforts of equal or even better quality that are just well planned. Measure twice, cut once, as my Dad always used to tell me, before promptly chopping chairs in half and repeatedly whacking his thumb with the hammer. Consider the height of the roof in your new bedroom – if you're gonna bump your head every time you sit up or endure the feeling of sleeping in a coffin, the other method is to build your storage setup behind the cabin and just cover the base of the truck bed with plywood and carpet to put the mattress on – the advantage of this option is more room above you, but less leg room – unless you’re in a climate warm enough and mosquito-free enough to sleep with the tailgate open. You can find detailed examples and technical drawings of both setups online.
I recommend purchasing a quality set of roof racks for your bigger gear, so the storage space beneath the bed only needs to be around a foot high, but of course as long and wide as possible. Use every damn bit of space you can get your hands on! Once you've measured and planned your setup, it's a simple task to cut the wood (3/4” plywood recommended), whack it together (accurately and securely of course) OUTSIDE the truck. Check it all fits together properly, finish the edges and cut the carpet to fit (carpet is good for life of the mattress and your comfort, and prevents splinters). Once you're happy, disassemble and put it back together, inside the truck this time. Voila! Your truck is now a bedroom – all it needs is a bed.