Rob and I have just returned from our first ever mini touring holiday in the camper van. Last week we camped in Uffington, Oxfordshire near the White Horse for two nights and then went onto Truck Festival for another two nights.
We had a wonderful time away and I will write about it soon. But for now, I want to write a post about transitioning from tent camping to camping in a camper van (or a caravan or trailer tent).
Over the years I have read many blogposts advising readers what to pack when they go camping (in a tent) and what to take to festivals etc, and to be honest, I could easily write up my own version as I have plenty of experience when it comes to packing for festivals with the amount that I have been to over the years! However, what I do want to write about is my own personal experience of learning how to camp in our van.
I do not want this post to be seen as an advise type post (heaven forbid!) as Rob and I are still learning as we go along the fine art of being organised and knowing exactly what to pack when we go away. After all, we took far too much junk food for just 4 nights away and and no fresh milk for our cups of tea in the morning!
Having always been a tent camper, it still amazes me that we can have electricity on campsites and keep perishables for days in our coolbox. For Rob, it is less of a novelty as his parents used to own a caravan and a trailer tent when he was a kid. I, on the other hand, am still amazed by the fact that I can have a cold beer when I camp now! A COLD BEER! Amazing!
We chose not to put a fitted fridge inside the van as it would take up a hell of a lot of space, they are expensive pieces of kit and they do actually cause a lot of condensation which we did not want, as we spent years repairing the previous damage in our van. Although at some point in the future we may install a gas canister or 12 volt mains fridge. Watch this space. (BTW I totally had to ask Rob for all this information as I know nothing about this stuff!)
So here is our current set up and how we keep our beer cold as amateur mobile home campers.We chose to buy an electric cool box for around £35 which we plug in to our Mobile Mains Electric Power Supply Hook Up Unit with RCD which we plugged into the electric point at the campsite. Most campsites offer electric hook up for an extra fee (we paid an extra £6 per night where we were staying). This is a simple set up which works very well for the two of us and is also handy for charging mobiles and the like. This method could also be used with tent camping. And you could take your hair straighteners with you if you want to. But not at a festival, obvs.In case you are wondering, when we got to Truck festival we had charged up our leisure battery to power the cool box. But we only have an 80 amp battery which will run the cool box for around 20 hours or keep our phones charged up for the whole weekend (cheers Rob for telling me what to write again!)
We chose the 1st option of course and when the battery run out we had our back up option, a bucket of cold water to keep our cans in, which I forgot to take a picture of.
Funny story, this year at Truck we ended up camping two vans away from the family we camped next to last year! The dad came over to say hi as we remembered each others vans and he remembered us turning up in a cloud of steam with a water leak last year! While he was talking vw’s with Rob he had a little look inside to see the work we have done since last year. He was most impressed that we had a bucket full of Pimm’s cans! What can I say, I am a classy lady!
Right lets get back on track, and talk about our set up again. We keep the fridge in our awning shown below.In which we also keep our sink/storage unit. Shown below before and after. We are not the tidiest of campers I am afraid. Sorry about the mess in my photos!We rarely use the sink for washing up as I prefer to use the campsites facilities. On the unit is our cooker which we keep inside the hinged top of our storage unit in the van (see below)But we prefer to cook outside on our folding table (see below) as we do not want to stink out the van with fried food smells.We also use a camping gas BBQ for cooking which is much better to use than the disposable BBQ’s and saves messing around with coals and firelighters etc. Please excuse Rob’s foot in the corner of this photo taken by yours truly. What can I say, I am a terrible photographer! And yes, that is an envelope full of sauce sachets half inched from various pubs ready for camping!
It was while cooking our sausages that Rob commented that it would be nice to grill up some onions and peppers to go with them. Of course I had not even thought about bringing fresh vegetables along with us! All I had bought was bacon, sausages, hotdogs, cheese slices and the usual junk I that always take camping like Pot Noodles, cereal bars, Pringles, cheese straws etc. I am so used to packing the usual dry, non perishable, bland food that will survive a few days in a hot tent (and most likely an nuclear apocalypse, with the amount of preservatives in them!) Now that I have a cool box I must try to be more adventurous with our camping food!Another item that is worth its weight in gold is our front window cover from Just Kampers below. This has a duel purpose as a curtain and a heat reflector and does a brilliant job of keeping the van cool inside.
One of the best things about camper van camping at festivals is taking a portable toilet with us. It is the best £30 we have spent! We keep it in the awning (there is no way am I doing my business inside the van next to where we sleep – eww!) Its handy for in the middle of the night wees and for the thing that you really cannot face doing in a festival portaloo.* It is surprisingly easy to keep clean and does not smell, and its Robs job to empty it in the septic tank at whatever festival or campsite we are at. Always take some disposable rubber gloves for emptying and disposable toilet wipes for cleaning if you have a camping potty.
As I say, please do not take this post as the right way to do things, we still have our L plates on and everyone has their own preferences and needs. What I love about the VW camper van scene is that every van is unique and has been personalised to each owners taste. I want to express that there is no right or wrong way of camping and you can take as little or as much as you want with you on each trip.
Although maybe its best not to take the amount of Pot Noodles I did, as nobody likes them and they will never get eaten!
*A number 2.