When you start planning your trip or your holidays, your two first and main concerns are “Where am I going to sleep?” and “How am I going to get around?” Depending on the type of travel or holidays you are looking for, many options exist including the package holiday, group tour, voluntary, camping, backpacking, hostels, luxury resort and even campervan. It seems that the campervan/caravan option has become increasingly popular. We all have quietly found ourselves dreaming of it through social media when seeing two friends traveling amazing places in their own home on wheels.
Buying a second hand campervan, converting your car into a home, building a van from scratch, renting one or sharing one with someone who already has one are all valid options that provide a great sense of freedom. These converted vehicles have so much more advantages, here are 5 benefits of traveling in a Caravan compared to traditional accommodations.
Traveling by van means that your accommodation AND your transportation are both already sorted but your travel plan can be customised along the way. You can choose where you want to go when you want, where you want to park and sleep for the night and when. You don’t have to depend on bus schedule, hostel and hotel check-ins and outs, you can avoid pickup times of touristic places and you can stop anywhere you want on the way to take pictures, take a nap or have a snack; there is no need to stick to a set itinerary.
Fasten your seat-belt, put on some great tunes and hit the open road for a road trip! No one else other than yourself (and maybe your well-chosen travel mate) can tell you what to do, no need to quietly put your headphones to listen to music, turn the volume up and sing your head off while driving. In your own space, you can eat and wash the dishes the next day if you are tired, you can work, read a book, play an instrument, watch a movie or look at the stars for hours. There is no time notion and no strict schedules to follow on a road in your van, the idea that you can head for the horizon, explore the natural beauty becomes part of your daily routine.
Once you have bought or built your campervan, you will not have to pay accommodation ever again and you will be able to keep the food costs down easily, there are many cheap meals you can prepare quickly and easily in a small space. Plus, many campsites have barbecues that are free for the public to use. You will still have to plan a budget for petrol, groceries and sometime campsites fees but if you are sensible it is definitely one of the cheapest way to travel.
New Zealand, Australia, Iceland are definitely the best campervan-friendly countries from adequate road signs to informative websites and Facebook groups. The amount of information specifically designed for campervan trips is impressive in these countries.
If you choose to rent a van, you would be able to choose amongst several caravan transport pick-up and drop-off locations throughout the country, all you need to do is enter your travel dates on the campervan renting company online and they’ll find the best deal for you. You’ll receive comprehensive instructions on what to do when you go to pick up your campervan and if anything happens with the van, the company would be contactable every step of the way.
If you chose to convert or build one yourself, same, post a little message on one of the numerous Facebook groups existing “Campervan and van in New Zealand…” not only would you receive information on how building your kitchenette or bed but quite often place like garages, locals and travellers would propose you to make a stop at their place so they can help you with what they know.
If you choose to find a travel mate who has already a van, easy, there are Facebook groups, websites for you to find the perfect travel mate out there. Once on the road, you can easily get to know places you can park for free, where you can get petrol, find showers and toilets and other pieces of information through some specific applications such as : Campermate, WikiCamps Australia, Maps.Me, Fuel map. These applications are definitely done to make your campervan road trip smoother.
New Zealand, Australia and Iceland are convenient to travel to and allow you to be spontaneous with your travel plans but they are not the only countries you can travel in a campervan of course, I have met many travellers who have travelled most parts of the world in their home on wheels, some countries will just require you a bit more organisation and background work in order to roughly set an itinerary.
Without staying in the royal suite, by travelling the world in a van you can enjoy both the comfort of modern luxuries and the freedom of the great outdoors. Even if you go for the converted little van and not the large motorhome, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find out just how comfortable it is. In your van, you have access to everything you need and it is yours anytime you need. No more waiting for your turn in the shower at the hostel after a long day, no more bus journey from the beach to the resort, your campervan becomes your own personal beach hut, somewhere to get changed and have a rest. No tent to pitch each night and take down each morning when you set off on your days’ adventure. Once you’re in and have unpacked all your belongings that is it for the whole holiday. With proper storage for clothes, kitchen equipment, proper beds to sleep on, with even a toilet and shower. However, remember to not over pack, you have limited space so consider what is really going to make your trip enjoyable, then ditch everything else. You don’t want to be sifting through things you wish you’d left at home when you’re trying to get dressed in the morning.
Not only would you be closer geographically to every sites you want to see but living in the van would also bring you closer to what really matters, you can declutter your life, after a little adaptation phase you would be able to shed your needs and enjoy small things… living simply will teach you to enjoy a sunrise with a coffee, feel grateful for a hot shower but more importantly you will be closer to people. Firstly if you live with someone in your campervan, you will definitely have less distractions and deeper conversations, spending your evenings in a small space, eating, sleeping and dressing in close proximity to one another, unable to escape to individual rooms, promotes a sense of closeness. You can reconnect with each other and that’s true also for other travellers you meet at the camp site.
To conclude, the freedom to move to and fro with no set schedule and the chance to save hundreds on everything from hotels to restaurant bills. Not to mention, to forego sleeping on the ground in a tent is available to just about anyone with a vehicle and a full tank of gas.
Traveling and camping… where your only priority is enjoying the calm of nature, the wood, the mountain or the sea. Without taking anything away any creature comforts, your phone, camera and laptop all have batteries that will need to be recharged if you’re going to stay away from civilization for several days. You will save yourself time and energy if you prepare how and where to get power right ?
Firstly, make sure to investigate in advance by consulting the camping location website, sending an email or making a quick call in order to find out costs, availability and facilities (If the camp site provides electricity, ask them what kind of power outlet there is etc…)
Before you choose any option to get power during your trip, ask yourself a few questions:
-Type of travel – Are you backpacking, car camping or boondocking? Backpacking requires a small, lightweight portable power device outlet while boondocking has few size/weight limits.
–Power Output – How much power do you need?
–Kind of devices – What kind of device do you need to charge, laptop – cameras – phones?
-Frequency – How often do you camp? Are you gonna need electricity every time etc).
–Camping Location – You need some hot sunny weather for a solar panel for instance and yet it is not right for every location.
Here are 5 different options to stay recharged during your trips:
1. Camping with electricity
Most commercial and club campsites will offer electric hook-ups on some or all of their pitches. However, campsites tend to have restricted supplies (they are generally rated at 16A or 10A, sometimes as low as 5A on campsites broad), so you need to be careful what you use to avoid tripping the electrical supply, which can make you unpopular on site. The least you will need to do is contact the site manager to ask him to reset the system.
If you do not book your own electric spot, at the few campsites that have electricity provided, there is usually a post at the end of the site’s parking area near the access road, with a standard outdoor electrical outlet.
Some of the bigger campgrounds have central shower and toilet buildings, and possibly these may have electrical outlets for hair appliances etc., BUT you may need to wait your time at few outlets that are available.
2. 12-Volt Car Battery
One option for accessing electricity while camping is to plug in to the cigarette lighter outlet and use the car battery. This will work for charging cell phones and one or two small appliances, it is highly recommended to use a power inverter to plug into the 12-volt outlet so it does not fry your electronics. Inverters can convert 12-volt outlet to 240 volt power outets, most also have USB ports to cater for small devices, remember to start the car once in a while so the battery can recharge otherwise you may not have enough charge in reserve to start your car.
3. 12-Volt Portable Battery or Compact Portable Battery
If you are planning to keep the same camping spot for several days buy a portable 12-volt power source. These come with their own converters and outlets, and they often have panels that indicate how much charge is left. Some 12-volt power packs can also be used to jump-start your car’s battery.
If you are always on the go, a portable power supply might be your best bet, it is an affordable solution for keeping smartphones, tablets, laptops, and other devices up and running during your camping trip. Rather than lug a heavy battery backup or use your car for power, you can fit one of these portable battery packs in a laptop bag. From the basics models to the more powerful compact portable batteries, they all include USB ports.
Small petrol-powered generators are easily available today and for just a couple of hundred dollars you can bring your own power station to your camping pitch.
However, most generators are noisy and there is no better way of annoying your fellow campers on a quiet summer’s evening than to start up your generator so you can watch Game of Thrones. For that reason, many campsites ban generators or limit their use to certain hours of the day.
4. Solar Panels.
A solar panel can charge a 12V battery and keep it charged on those long bright summer days. The panels can be fitted to the roof of a caravan or motorhome or even just on the top of your tent and there are plenty of portable panels designed for camping use.
Solar power is a win-win solution, it is clean, quiet energy and, once you have purchased a solar setup, it is free. Portable solar panels can be set up in the sunniest area of your camp to take the best advantage of the available sunlight.
Of course, you have to rely on sunny days for electricity, and that is why you need battery storage as part of your solar electricity camping kit.
Most solar power camping setups include a portable battery pack. For outdoors, you will want a kit that is rugged, waterproof and lightweight. When the sun decides to play peek-a-boo, your battery pack should have an attachment allowing it to be recharged from your vehicle as well. You will need an inverter so that the power pack can be safely charged without damaging your vehicle’s battery. Charging without one is a safety hazard and can destroy the battery.
Benefits of solar kits include easy setup and little effort to keep going. They also need little or no maintenance.