Following on from my last post about buying a campervan, we now have it and it is full of all the campervan essentials. I drove down to Llanelli last Saturday for a last drive in my Meriva and collected the camper. The drive back in it was fine and I made it was far as Aberaeron before the low fuel light came on – at least I’ve checked out that particular warning light and it works!
Once at home the first thing Anna noticed was that they hadn’t left the VW cushions in it as they had promised! Oh well, I guess that wasn’t a deal breaker. We’ve now had it for a week and have bought a few extras for it so that it is almost fully kitted out and ready to go. I gave it a good wash and polish too and obviously spotted a few little chips and marks that we hadn’t noticed before. That’s to be expected on a 6 year old vehicle I guess. It still looks nice on the driveway though.
We managed to get the little blue LED lights working as well. These come on when the sliding door opens but the switch was a little bit dodgy. The cab is nice and clean, the interior all seems OK and with almost 100,000 miles on the clock it seems to drive OK and was almost ready to go when we bought it.
For the cab I did buy an iPhone mount and a charging cable so that I can listen to podcasts whilst driving and use the phone for navigation too. The head-unit has Bluetooth built in so it’ll connect wirelessly to it, but it also has a USB port. It seems as though the phone will charge through this port as well as connect to the head-unit via USB so I’ll probably end up using that to charge and connect at the same time. There’s also a hands-free microphone, which coupled with Siri voice recognition means everything seems to work hands-free as far as that is concerned.
With that sorted it was time to pack the van so that we could try it out.
Packing the Campervan – Essential Kit
We’ve filled the cupboards with campervan essentials: Pots, pans, plates, cups and cutlery. Tin openers, knives, scissors and other kitchen utensils are all neatly stored as well. We have washing-up liquid, sponge scourers for keeping things clean and hygienic too and of course plenty of kitchen roll for mopping up spills. We even have a VW Campervan tea towel!
Everything is neatly stowed away in the cupboards or drawers and doesn’t seem to rattle around whilst driving.
We also have various long lasting food items stowed away ready to go. Teabags, coffee, Hot Chocolate, Pot Porridges and Pot Noodles, snack bars and such like are all in little boxes. The fridge has bottles of water, orange juice, cartons of UHT milk and bars of chocolate. Chocolate is of course a campervan essential! I’m sure the list here will grow and we’ll obviously supplement with healthy food as we go – we’ll buy most of that as and when needed though on longer camping trips.
We have bought a gas bottle but haven’t quite installed it yet as we might get someone to check the gas safety for us first. We do have our little camping stove in there as well though and it’ll probably stay in there as a back-up just in case we run out of gas in the main tank.
Anna feels the cold quite a bit so we’ve got sleeping bags each, pillows and several duvets and quilts too. A fitted sheet covers the bed nicely as well but gets put away in the cupboards when we’re not sleeping on it. We’ve bought a cool cab-bank for Morgan. It packs up into a little bag when not in use and then fits together easily ready for sleeping on. When in use it rests on the tops of the wide door cards and stretches across the entire width of the van from the drivers door to the passenger door. It’s then raised off the seats a little for a super comfy cool hammock like sleeping experience.
We’ve also bought some thermal window blinds for the windscreen and cab windows so that it’s nice and dark and super-cosy up front for Morgan. Mind you, if he grows too much he might outgrow the cab bunk soon.
We obviously have a washkit in the van too with wet wipes, shaving kit, toothbrushes and other campervan essentials. I’m sure there’s deodorant and shampoo too so that we can stay looking and smelling good whatever our campervan trips throw at us. We have plenty of towels too as you can never have too many towels.
Coats, waterproofs, boots, hats and gloves will all be taken with us as required. Although, we’re likely to be camping in place like Wales and Scotland so I can see the need for these to be in the van ready to go at all times. Sunscreen, midge repellent and a first aid kit will be in there at all times too.
The camper has a table in it but we’ve put our fold away camp table in there too. If the sun comes out and we fancy dining outdoors we’ll be able to do so. Some camp chairs will live in the van as well, although we’re not sure where these will fit yet..
The whole point of a bigger vehicle is the ability to carry more toys. There’s no way I’ll get everything in / on it at the same time but we’ll want to carry all of it separately at some point and as much as we can on longer trips. I’ve already bought and fitted a roof-rack courtesy of the excellent Slide Bars and feet from Thule. Although I had bought a set of these just before Christmas, a new set with different feet and longer bars was needed for the camper. I did notice some odd rust and possible damage on the roof whilst fitting these so will have to get that checked out at some point.
Talking of discoveries, the van has jet black 19″ alloy wheels and these are shod with some oversize 255/55 tyres. This makes the circumference quite a bit bigger than the stock wheels and tyres. I therefore thought it sensible to check the speedo by cross-referencing it with a GPS device. I’ve done this in the past with other cars and usually the speedo on the dashboard reads around 10% higher than your actual speed measured by GPS. I’ve always assumed this was a safety thing. However, it would seem that the vans speed hasn’t been recalibrated to take into consideration the larger circumference of the wheels and tyres. Because of this, when the speedo says the van is doing 60mph, it’s actually doing 65mph… Something I’ll have to be a aware of!
Anyway, back to the roofrack. We’ll probably end up putting the roof box on the van most of the time. It’s white and therefore matches it well and means that I can put windsurfing sails, masts and booms in there to keep the wet things out of the camper. I’ll never get all of my windsurfing rigs in there at the same time but 3 will go which should keep me happy. Windsurf boards will go on the roof alongside or on top of the roof box. Again, I’ll only be able to get a few on there at any one time. That may sound like enough, but I have at least 9 in total!
My Surf Ski should fit better on the van than it did on the Meriva too, and the same can be said for the SUP and the canoe. Mind you, I think we’ll have to take the roofbox off in order to get the canoe on. Basically we won’t be able to get everything on it at the same time, but maybe we’ll manage 3 rigs in the roof box and a windsurf board on top of it, along with the SUP and some surfboards so that we have plenty of toys for a week away.
As far as bikes are concerned we are going to get a towbar fitted and will buy an Atera Strada DL bike carrier as it’s the only one that will allow the barn doors to open whilst bikes are on the rack. It’s not the cheapest bike rack out there and with the added cost of a towbar it’s actually quite expensive but it’ll allow us to carry 3-4 bikes, it gets excellent reviews and will keep all of the mud and dirt outside of the van.
Cycling kit, wetsuits, helmets and other sports related clothing will all go into boxes and trugs that will fit under the bed or in the back of the van.
We also have a box full of games. Travel Scrabble, card games, word-search puzzles and plenty of others that should keep us amused on miserable, rainy evenings. Morgan loves playing these so maybe if we only play them in the camper it’ll encourage him to come away with us more often.
We can’t go everywhere these days without iPhones, iPads, GoPro Cameras, GPS devices and other such things . So, as well as the gadgets themselves we also have a drawer full of chargers and cables. We have also bought an adaptor and cable for charging the leisure battery and to hook up to a 240V supply on campsites. This is stored in the back of the van so that it’s there when needed.
It’s surprising just how much stuff we can stow away in the campervan. I’m sure I’ve forgotten to mention some of our campervan essentials here. We could of course manage without most of it, However, it’s nice to have all of these things and the idea is that we can just go away and stay wherever we fancy at the drop of a hat. In fact, even if we find ourselves somewhere and can’t be bothered to drive home or fancy the night there we can just stay in the van. Everything should be there ready to go.
You know what that means – Time to try it out overnight somewhere!