As much as we love Trev-the-Prev (our converted Toyota Previa) Glyn and I feel that it is now time for our next campervan. As we won’t have the full funds until later this year, I have decided to launch myself on a full-on ‘Van Quest’, diving deep in to research on what our next van should be and the sort of questions everyone should ask themselves when they go on their own quest for a new campervan. It’s proving to be quite a journey and I’ll be sharing it with you over the next few weeks…
Glyn and I got Trev-the-Prev, our first campervan, 3 years ago and have had some great adventures in him. Trev has been a cool dude but it is time to let him go to some other keen campers and, with our few years’ experience, we are clearer now about what is important to us for our next camper. As a campervan cook, the kitchen is particularly important to me although that is closely rivaled by having a comfortable, big-enough bed.
At the moment, our general plan is to buy a used panel van and have it converted to our own interior design which has meant researching:
- How we will use the van
- Van types, sellers, insurance and prices
- Interior designs and dimensions
- How much of the conversion we can do ourselves and conversion companies and prices (need to know this before you buy the van so you can factor in the cost)
Question 1: What Sort of Camper Are You?
So the first thing you need to think about if you are going to buy your own campervan is – what sort of camper are you?
‘Going camping’ can mean different things to different people from those wild campers who travel with everything on their pushbike and camp in a tent the size of a teabag, to parking up in an enormous, deluxe RV fit for a celebrity.
Neither are right or wrong, just different strokes for different folks.
Of course there are lots of camping styles in between these extremes including mega-tents, micro to large campervans and full-comfort motorhomes. Which one you choose obviously depends on budget but also knowing your style of camping.
Five Main Camping Styles
As we are choosing the campervan route for our camping life, I started to think about the different camping styles in the campervan-community and I have come to the conclusion that there are five main styles:
- Day Camping: where you just want a comfortable place to sit/make a cup of tea and a sandwich while you are out for the day.
- Week Camping: where you want to camp for a weekend or a couple of weeks for, say, a dozen times throughout each spring/summer/autumn and you need a fairly good bed, some inside seating and reasonable cooking facilities. This type of camping is probably mostly done by working couples and families.
- Month Camping: where you go on longer trips that take you away from home for a month to six months and in different climates. Now you want a proper bed, a roomy stand-up interior, some loo and maybe washing facilities and some decent seating. This type of camping is probably mostly done by the retired community.
- Year Camping: Where you want to have a mega adventure and go off in the van for a year or two. Now you need everything you have in the Month Camping section plus a lot more storage. This is mainly done by free-spirit, 20 or 30-somethings or intrepid young families.
- Live-in camping: This is where you choose to live in your van as a permanent thing and so is not really camping but is a whole lifestyle in itself.
Of course I realise that this is a generalisation and everyone is different and that some people are happy to go away for months in a week-style camper but I am just mentioning the ideal here.
So our first step on our ‘Quest for a New Campervan’ journey was to decide what type of campers we are. Although we would like to be ‘Month Campers’, work constraints mean that we can only be ‘Week-Campers at this point in our lives, and we also need our camper to be our second vehicle so we knew our campervan had to be at the smaller end of the spectrum. This is why we have decided on a small-medium panel van.
With this in mind, I started to research different types of panel vans that might work for our spec and budget and I think I have found the ideal one now…