Choosing the right van part 1 – Nothing Too Big

Before your adventure begins you’re going to need the right vehicle for the job. You have to consider how much space you’re going to need, what type of facilities you’ll rely on, whether you want everything inside your van or if you can adapt to a modular style of living.

We needed room for three of us, two people and Sweep, who is not a big dog but has a very big presence. We spent months looking at different campervans on ebay and other websites and found that the more we looked the more confusing it became.

We started by looking at ready made mobile homes or RVs but decided that they were too conspicuous, in all likelihood too difficult to manoeuvre in small towns and not easy things to park. If you’re planning the kind of camping holiday that involves lots of camp sites and you don’t need to park in towns or up mountains then one of these might serve you well, but for us it was too big.

When I say conspicuous, what I mean is that if you parked one of these in town and tried to bed down for the night you’d stand a chance of being moved on by the police or even wheel clamped (as is the case in some regions of Spain – Galicia and Cantabria for instance) so we felt that a converted van would be a better option. It still looks like a van and arouses less suspicion in the police mind.

Another plus point is that a van would be more economical and easier to get around town in. A lot of RV owners either pack bikes or tow small cars with them, such is their inconvenience, but we managed to steer our van through some tight little streets and along some roads that bigger vehicles couldn’t cope with. Also being only 18 feet long we’re more or less able to park in normal car parks with our 2.5m height being the only stumbling block in some cases.

Another downside to larger RVs is the extra weight you’d be packing. With such large water tanks, toilets and furniture inside these things can weigh in at over 7 tons which puts a massive strain on the engine, eats through the tyres more quickly and bumps up the cost on ferries, toll roads and insurance.

These things are only external and financial considerations, the interior and facilities are another matter which will be addressed in following articles.

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