My husband and I have discussed getting a camper van for some time now and last year that became a reality.
We had been leasing a car for a number of years and as that came up to the end the discussions about getting a camper got more serious and we figured why not?
There are so many options when looking for a camper van and it’s so easy to get lost in it all so we decided to start from basics and focus on what we would be using her for (it would seem I have decided the van is a her).
Our son is now 21 (yes we were young) and so whilst a lot of our friends have young children we have more time on our hands. We knew we wanted something we could travel, sleep, and relax in just the two of us but also with our dog and should our son wish to go with us to also have room for him too.
There are so many makes a models available and then there is the option of buying to complete as a project or buying already converted.
After many many many hours of research and you tube videos and discussions with other van owners (mainly by my husband I admit) we had a wish list and started looking with some seriousness.
We had decided on a Volkswagen T5.1 and knew we wanted one that had either already been converted or to find someone who could do this for us. We have previously owned a Volkswagen Beetle that was a project but life got in the way and it never was financially possible 10 years ago, so we knew this option would be best for us and also mean we had it ready to use quickest.
We wanted the following:
- 6 speed
- air conditioning
- electric windows
- pop top but would have had the right camper without
- not lowered (lowered versions seem to be more popular but we knew we wanted to be driving it off the beaten track sometimes and so we were looking more at the off road look with a higher ground clearance)
- gas hook up
- double bed
We found someone who came highly recommended and they kept coming up in comments on social media and located in Wales – SW Vans and they were super helpful! My husband explained what we wanted and what our budget was. After a couple of months chatting with them they were unable to find the 4Motion van we wanted converting. They were either reserved at the auctions or stupidly over priced. Terry at SW Vans suggested for what we wanted a 2 wheel drive was more than good enough. So after a short trip to wales and a test drive we had picked our van.
Since purchasing we have added the following:
- black out blinds made and fitted
- side steps on both sides
- new wheels and off road tyres
- wind defectors on the front windows and bonnet
- dash camera and reverse cameras installed
- new head unit (stereo)
- additional lights on the front for better illumination when wild camping
- this weekend we bought a fixed Thule awning at the camping show, just waiting for it to be installed.
So far we have used it for day trips and taken the bikes out in it too and have loved every minute of it.
We have the following trips planned so far:
- Ireland to do the Cuilcagh Boardwalk Trail
- Sweden for the Vatternrundan bike ride
- Norway for one of the Styrkeprøven bike events
- Ben Nevis for hiking
- Scafell Pike for hiking
- and who knows where else!
We have also had many trips to shops looking at items we need for the van and it seems we are creating an endless list – do you have a camper? Any hints or tips on things that are essential?