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Sunday, January 20, 2008
These are some of the issues that I think a campervanner needs to confront:
1. Stability: Do you mind being unsettled, potentially moving every night to new free sites, or otherwise paying the high cost ($20-30/night for a paid site with electricity. In the countryside, off the main roads, you are more likely to find places you can stay for an extended period of time.
2. Subsistance living: Do you mind spending time accessing local services, whether you need to stop for an hour to recharge your batteries from your diesel generators, empty your own septic tank, fill up the water tanks, maintain your batteries. The good news is that cleaning a van is so much easier than a house. The difficult part might be finding a place to have a shower, go to the toilet, or fill your water tank, particularly if there is no public water supply, or that supply has restricted access because of drought.
3. Space: A lot of people will dislike the tight camper spaces after a time - assuming your budget or lifestyle constraints force you to buy a smaller camper. But there are other ways to cope. You dont need to spend all your time in the camper. Towns have public swimming pools where you can swim, libraries where you can read a newspaper or book, public parks where you can work, read or walk. There are also private facilities like coffee shops and clubs and pubs where you can hang out.
4. Lack of social life: Unless you take your social life with you, you might find life on the road a little boring or lovely. How are you going to spend your evenings? I found country people really hard to interact with, so its best to take your own companion. Even when I meet country people, on some occasions I would have a great time with them, but I couldn't see it happening again. It was nice because it was an unfamiliar experience. There really is a deep divide between country and city - loving the country is not the point of difference - its your whole value system. I was surprised that even staying in coastal NSW was like that. Anyway you are moving on. Unless some of you are inclined to have people invite you to park on their lot of land. Its a new one for me. Having said that some farmers do allow you to stay for longer periods of time cheaply or for free.
5. Storage space: Its easy enough to move out of home, place all your worldly goods in a commercial storage facility and live in a campervan. But you need storage space on the road. I want 4-5 deep cycle batteries to retain alot of electricity backup, and a 60litre fridge for several days food supply.
6. Security: Roaming in a campervan means you are exposing yourself to new worlds. You are unlikely to know the risks to your personal security when you reach new places. The best thing you can do is ask a person when you initialy arrive in town. The best person to ask is a shopkeeper (say at the grocery store). They will have a first-hand knowledge based on their experience of having their store robbed or vandalised. You can trust the advice because you have bought goods from their store too. You will quickly learn where the threats lie. I avoid the bad parts of towns, as well as around clubs and pubs, as people tend to recognise that campervan users are tourists and that you might be sleeping in side. I know a person who had a brick thrown at their vehicle. So it pays to be discrete. There is of course the possibility of theft from your van so you want to avoid remote, dark parking locations if you are leaving the van, but these types of locations are fine if you are sleeping in it. Avoid parking where teenagers might drink such as beaches or public parks.
7. Inconvenience: Perhaps the biggest loss of convenience I found travelling in Australia by campervan was the lack of internet. Australia does not have an open network. No matter where I went - I found connections - but most of them were locked to the public. Not surprising for a security-conscious country. But sometimes it was restrictive. Many businesses locked their networks, others such as libraries had restricted access or no wireless, very high charges for computer access or time limits (say 30-60mins). In the cities I found all private networks locked. Fortunately we are seeing an improvement in services. The pre-paid cards already popular in Japan are spreading to other countries. In Australia, no doubt Telstra will charge monopoly fees for this access.
One of the big questions is whether you have reasonable expectations about what is possible. eg. You might think you can simply stick a few solar panels on the roof and that will accommodate your needs. Sorry, but alot of research is required.
Andrew Sheldon www.sheldonthinks.com
You can view foreclosed properties listed for as little as $US10,000 in Japan thanks to depopulation and a culture that is geared towards working for the state. I bought foreclosed properties in Japan and now I reveal all in our expanded 200-page report. The information you need to know, strategies to apply, where to get help, and the tools to use. We even help you avoid the tsunami and nuclear risks since I was a geologist/mining finance analyst in a past life. Check out the "feedback" in our blog for stories of success by customers of our previous reports.