Choosing the right van part 2 – Nothing Too Small

As covered in the last article, having a campervan too big creates all sorts of problems and the same is true of having a campervan which is too small for your needs. We loved the idea of taking a retro VW around Spain and Eastern Europe but quickly found they were too impractical for us.

One major consideration is headroom. If you’re having to stoop you’re going to get very uncomfortable very quickly. Some have pop-top roofs which you can elevate when parked but like the big RVs these make you quite conspicuous. You wouldn’t be able to pretend you’re a goods van with a colourful canvas pop-top roof visually blaring out for all the world to see.

The roof is prime real estate on your camper as well, whether it be for a roof rack and extra storage space or for a lovely solar panel which will power your lights and water heater or charge your laptop and mobile phone, etc, so a pop-top also creates a few minor logistical problems there too.

Although the smaller campervans like the VWs, Mazda Bongos, etc allow for even greater convenience when travelling – they’re small, lightweight, some are 4×4, more economical and much more manoeuvrable what they obviously lack is space. Trying to squeeze three bodies into a small van is a tough ask and if you’re trying to cook, change or wash in there it’s a hellish scenario. For one person these vans are perfect but for a small family they’re a nightmare and certainly not big enough to ‘live’ in.

Further inconveniences are sleeping arrangements. Most of the classic ‘day van’ type campers have rock ‘n’ roll beds which have to be made every evening and stowed every morning which isn’t a major deal but it is still a job. They’re also not that comfortable and not very wide. It also means that you both have to get up at the same time as there is zero room in the van when the bed is out. Bang goes that lie in you promised yourself.

Storage is also a lot more limited in a smaller van and despite some clever adaptations in some people’s vans, they’re still left wanting. There are things you can add to your van to increase living space such as drive-away awnings but these take up considerable room inside and if you’re caught on a miserable rainy day there’s going to be no space to enjoy a game of cards or sit comfortably and read a book.

In conclusion, the VW campervans and their copycats are great for one person or a couple on a short break, but as a long term off-grid solution they’re too small and limited.

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