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Friday, February 1, 2008

Fitting out a campervan

Having established what I want to do, what I want to carry in a campervan, the next step is to design the vehicle. Based on my 'cut down' features I am really not interested in the factory-made campers that are offered by the various manufacturers. They are going after the bulk market and I'm particular. Ideally I would love to squeeze everything I want to carry into a Volkswagen Caddy Life. Its small, 1400cc engine for fuel economy, great design inside. One of the great features of the Caddy is the sliding doors on both sides. Nice, but not required.
The design parameters I have established are:
1. Side access: I want a van that opens to the curb-side because I want to place a mountain bike or two on the back. Its ok if there is a backdoor, but it will be incidental. I intend to place a permanent brace on the back to secure the mountain bikes with a lock.
2. Sleeping/seating area: I want a sleeping area in a bubble or at normal height. I want the sleeping space to fit 1.5-2 people. I want to achieve this by having a long, side seat with storage inside it for say the batteries and canoe, plus a table that swings around, but otherwise lowers to support the extension of the bed. I envisage a orthopedic foam mattress than doubles over to make the seat.
3. Refrigerator: Most compact campers have a very small 35-45-litre fridge. I want a more useful 60-litre fridge, and I want to dispense with all the washing basin and taps, and I dont need the gas stove, since I intend to use electricity for everything.
4. Storage: I will need storage for the deep cycle batteries (say 3-4 of them), the canoe, a wardrobe for my clothes, a place for the portable toilet, water tank, planks of wood to support the bed. I will need storage space for my food.
5. Headroom: I will need adequate headroom since intend to work in this campervan, and adequate natural lighting for visbility and working. I would envisage having skirting curtains all around the periphery, with select fly screens. I would prefer not to have a bubble to preserve the appearance of a normal vehicle, so it is more discrete. I dont want people thinking I have my worldly possessions in it.
6. Table: The table will need to be large enough for a laptop and a mouse pad, say 0.5m x 0.5m, though larger is ok if it can be accommodated. I will use the same table for cooking and washing, if not outside.
7. Shower: I would intend to fix to the outer surface of the vehicle an extendable, flexible pole after threading a shower curtain around it. I would draw the water off from the top of the vehicle, so I need a flat roof.
Am I forgetting anyting?
Andrew Sheldon

Campervan Lifestyle

I love the idea of living with the bare necessities. I think the appeal for this lifestyle is a throwback from my early years camping. When I was young I bought alot of camping equipment with the intent of going on trips. The range was not so great then and I didnt have any 'bushy type' friends, but it nevertheless instilled the idea in my mind. That same travel philosophy has been reinforced living in Japan and travelling around Asia for months.
As I get older though I have opted for a few luxuries. I no longer like tents, though I probably still have the sleeping bag-style tent I bought years ago. So campervans have alot of appeal, but they too have their limitations, so I need a mountain bike and canoe as well. So what would my life on the road be like?

Typical Daily schedule
Well if you are on the road then you need to travel somewhere new. But why hurry and waste petrol besides when there are so many places close rather than far. There is a restriction if you are sleeping in a campervan. You cant stay in the one place more than a night. People will complain and accuse you of squatting. No problem - Australia is a big country. It starts to feel a bit tight in Japan because someone owns every corner of land and they are very suspicious. But there are hidden, discrete places in every country.
I would of course start my day with breakfast. In Australia there are few better places to have breakfast than at the beach or on some mountain pass. But anywhere will do on the road. In low sun I am inclined to write on my computer. When the sun gets to high I would drive to a public library and work there until lunch. After lunch I dare say I would return to the library.
If I wanted a day off I would go mountain biking or hiking on some trail or canoeing on some river.
In the evenings I would go to the local pub for a beer or stay working the library until dinner. I could eat out or in the camper. Usually in an open area so I can wash my utensils, then I would work there until late. I never sleep where I work, and never in a remote place like a beach. As much as I like the idea of sleeping by the surf, experience has told me that alot of weirdos and trouble makers hang out on beaches at night. Local surfies aside, and I'm not one of them.
Andrew Sheldon

My Campervan Shopping List

Having established what my list of campervan items are, I will now identify the consumables which I would be planning to take on my trips:
1. Juices: TetraPak
2. Bread: Wholegrain to avoid constipation
3. Fruit: Usually nectarines, bananas and apples
4. Bread spreads: Tuna spread, nutella, vegemite
5. Vegetables: Carrots, broccoli, cucumber, beans, garlic, potatoes, tomatoes
6. Can food: Corn, tuna
7. Frozen food: Fish fillets in sauce (if have refrigerator)
8. Fruit & nut bars: As a snack.
9. Yoghurt: Passionfruit & banana (if have refrigerator)
10. Dairy: Cheese, long life soy or cow milk (if have refrigerator)
11. Meat: Beef, chicken and lamb pieces (if have refrigerator)

Normally I would want to shop in the evening after the heat of the day. I would have have toast and yoghurt for breakfast, salad & spread sandwiches for lunch, vegetables and at meat serving for dinner. If I dont have the refrigerator I would tend to eat out at night time, and likely have a beer as well.
Andrew Sheldon

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