Living/tripping in your van- tips/advice

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Living/tripping in your van- tips/advice

Postby danny1 » Wed Apr 10, 2013 6:55 am

I know there are lots of people on here who have done many trips across the uk and into Europe and further afield. I thought this might be a good thread- help advice DIY tips etc . We might be doing some big family trips soon so trying to get a good bank of advice going.

Subjects that need exploring are - cooking, cleaning, sleeping, comfort, safety, security, keys safety, food and what to do if you bring a bird back to your van? ( that's a joke in case my wife is reading this)

Sme tips from me off the top of my head

I can get 50+ mpg in my 1997 by staying at lorry speed and keeping tucked in behind.
THIS SEEMS OBV BUT NEEDS SAYING; No matter how cold it is DO NOT but your gas ring on or take old BBQ into van. Carbon monoxide kills
Knackered body work (rust etc) reduces security hassles
Most motorway service stations in uk have showers- handy after 5 days of salt water
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Re: Living/tripping in your van- tips/advice

Postby danny1 » Wed Apr 10, 2013 6:57 am

In Scotland or Ireland- when you park up make sure you are sheltered from
Prevailing wind for a good nights kip.
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Re: Living/tripping in your van- tips/advice

Postby Chris F » Wed Apr 10, 2013 7:47 am

To midgeproof your van, but still get some ventilation in, you can buy sheets of midgie netting and close them into the front doors and tighten up on the inside, then wind a window down. You can seal the gap along the bottom with some magnets cut from fridge doors from the local local tip.

Best tip I heard was keep the inside as clean and tidy as possible, and the outside as dirty as possible.
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Re: Living/tripping in your van- tips/advice

Postby Matt Rose » Wed Apr 10, 2013 10:32 am

Just got myself an 05 sprinter, I want to fit a log burner? Be interested in hearing from anyone whos fitted one?
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Re: Living/tripping in your van- tips/advice

Postby Chris F » Wed Apr 10, 2013 10:49 am

I would check with insurance before even considering it. V high fire risk. Lots of other heating options.
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Re: Living/tripping in your van- tips/advice

Postby Matt Rose » Wed Apr 10, 2013 11:13 am

Will do. Was planning on lining the whole of one side and back with vermiculite board, the rest wood :?

What other heating option would you recommend? Dont want to spend more than £250 in total.
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Re: Living/tripping in your van- tips/advice

Postby Philshoz » Wed Apr 10, 2013 11:17 am

Got a few tips:

Carry a spare Campingaz bottle, the smallest one, about a litre. Nothong worse than running out in the middle of nowhere.

Plastic carrier bags for rubbish, chucked everyday.

Carry plenty of elastic cords, some rope, washing line, pegs, a tarpaulin pegged down in front of the sliding door.

Loads of books which you can swap with others.

Fishing kit.

A stock of dry food: pasta, rice etc, again nothing worse than having to drive away from good surf just to shop!!

We carry a tent, fill it with boards, folding chairs, all the junk clogging up the van.

A bucket lined with a plastic bag to have dump in. Tie it up and dispose of sensibly.

Happy Camping......
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Re: Living/tripping in your van- tips/advice

Postby Chris F » Wed Apr 10, 2013 11:43 am

Matt Rose wrote:Will do. Was planning on lining the whole of one side and back with vermiculite board, the rest wood :?

What other heating option would you recommend? Dont want to spend more than £250 in total.


Not sure you could safely fit a decent woodburner for that much. the propex ones look good, but about double your £250. I use a decent mountaineering down bag!
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Re: Living/tripping in your van- tips/advice

Postby Kamikaze » Wed Apr 10, 2013 12:12 pm

If you are camping in the winter use propane rather than butane. butane begins to stop working at 5C. So if you want a cooked brekkie after a cold night propane is the way to go.

If you are going to europe, get gas bottles that can be purchased in uk and europe, or get ones big enough to last.

If you have a heater get one with a flue so its safe. I've got a propex lpg (propane) fan heater, heats the van in minutes but is noisy and the fan drains the battery (great for drying wetsuit though) you can get ones that run on diesel which is the way to go if you can get a feed off your fuel tank. Wall mounted convectrs are cheaper and quieter, but need wall space. The propex fits under the bed/seat/bonnet and the flue goes out the floor. again propane is best, if you need a heater

http://www.propexheatsource.co.uk/

Get the van wired for 240v if you are staying on campsites. the Mrs can use her Hairdryer and GHD's, keeps your phones charged and you can run a heater off it and its surprising how much gas it saves if you take a kettle and a small George Forman grill. Make sure you get the propper blue commando plug to connect and fit an rcd.

Get a porta potti toilet (bucket and chuckets are disgusting). Indispensable when camping in car parks. At my age I need at least 2 pees in a night (and often 3 dumps) The fact its there gives you a peace of mind. I once had to use it for a really bad one once, whilst my gf was in bed (in a vw bay window, so not a lot of room), who says romance is dead, can't believe shes still with me after that.

If you are travelling in france, look out for "aires" very cheap short stay camping with toilets, water and sometimes electric. some of them are in walking distance of the centre of town. http://www.airetoday.co.uk/ there must be an app for that, or poi for tomtom.

If you are going to france and want to park near the beach, don't get anything to high, they put height barriers on the carparks these days. last time I went I couldn't even get my 2m high bay in quite a few of them.
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Re: Living/tripping in your van- tips/advice

Postby Matt Rose » Wed Apr 10, 2013 1:29 pm

Chris F wrote:
Matt Rose wrote:Will do. Was planning on lining the whole of one side and back with vermiculite board, the rest wood :?

What other heating option would you recommend? Dont want to spend more than £250 in total.


Not sure you could safely fit a decent woodburner for that much. the propex ones look good, but about double your £250. I use a decent mountaineering down bag!


Can pick up a decent burner (gypsys call them queenies) for around the £100+ mark, the extra flue will cost another £50, the boards I was referring to come in at around £100. This is doing the work myself not using a dealership or anything like that :wink:

Cheer Kam, Im familiar with the propex, but not to keen on spending that amount, although I may give in at some point, or stop being a soft lad and get a proper sleeping bag :-)
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Re: Living/tripping in your van- tips/advice

Postby spewing » Wed Apr 10, 2013 5:05 pm

Good thread!

I want to do NZ / South East Asia first but if I come back it will be to live on a van / camper full time.

There's plenty of places in the UK Ive not been to and want to have a look at not to mention Europe and Morocco and it strikes me the best way would be in a camper.
My sister in law lives in a camper full time and we spent January with her in Portugal. Just about every dirt track that leads to a beach had some nothern Europeans living I vans at the end of it :D

I'd like to hear anyone's experiences of Marocco. What sort of van / camper / truck

Matt Rose wrote:
Chris F wrote:
Matt Rose wrote:Will do. Was planning on lining the whole of one side and back with vermiculite board, the rest wood :?

What other heating option would you recommend? Dont want to spend more than £250 in total.


Not sure you could safely fit a decent woodburner for that much. the propex ones look good, but about double your £250. I use a decent mountaineering down bag!


Can pick up a decent burner (gypsys call them queenies) for around the £100+ mark, the extra flue will cost another £50, the boards I was referring to come in at around £100. This is doing the work myself not using a dealership or anything like that :wink:

Cheer Kam, Im familiar with the propex, but not to keen on spending that amount, although I may give in at some point, or stop being a soft lad and get a proper sleeping bag :-)


Speaking as a heating engineer, whatever you do fit a carbon monoxide detector. £20 and it cold really save your life
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Re: Living/tripping in your van- tips/advice

Postby Leedsol » Wed Apr 10, 2013 5:11 pm

Hand gel is good

If off the beaten track (or you don't want to use pretty horrendous toilets such as at Easkey) then buy a newspaper, (preferably the sun so you can disrespect that turn the page to some z list celeb or toothless public school never worked but will pontificate to you lot), spread on preferably lino floor, dump, wipe, scrunch, place in dog wate bin when you next see one.
You're too deep Camel..its Indo not Margaret River
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Re: Living/tripping in your van- tips/advice

Postby danny1 » Wed Apr 10, 2013 5:29 pm

Pack ear plugs for snorey mates.

Shoes off at the door and have slippers In the van
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Re: Living/tripping in your van- tips/advice

Postby danny1 » Wed Apr 10, 2013 5:30 pm

Audiobooks and pod casts are god send on long solo drives
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Re: Living/tripping in your van- tips/advice

Postby danny1 » Wed Apr 10, 2013 5:32 pm

Make sure tyre pressure is fit for unloaded van. I was surprised to see VW reccomend 53psi on T4
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Re: Living/tripping in your van- tips/advice

Postby MJE » Wed Apr 10, 2013 7:36 pm

All good advice so far.

Couple of random (obvious) ones:
Get some wedges / wheel ramps to make van level when you park up - nightmare sleeping at angle, even when pissed.
Like Phil said get a big tent / awning that ties next to sliding door of van to live in and just sleep in van.
Ask our lass about cleaning tips
Keep a 20 ltr water drum full where ever you're going
Check your spare wheel / jack / battery etc before you go
Take eye mask / ear plugs
Definitely mozzie proof van.
Do bit of research on where your going for options on (cheap) decent sites / free camping to save fucking about in the dark after long drive
Good books / board games a must - enjoy the silence
Take jump leads
Take fag lighter powered tyre inflator
Cooking: if you like to rattle the pans work out and take some staples for at least one good meal like garlic, ginger, stock cubes, spices etc for a curry or whatever
Be friendly (or at least try)

For the minimalist / idle / skint: (our van has a RnR bed and curtains, nothing else for forseeable.)
Get a camping gas cooker (you can buy bottles everwhere in Europe) http://www.amazon.co.uk/PORTABLE-COOKER ... gas+cooker
Get an AC/DC electric fridge that runs off 12v dc or 240v ac, just need extension lead and blue EU converter plug for sites with hook ups. Worth shelling out for to save you driving to shops for fresh stuff in warm climates all the time. And prevents warm beer obviously.
Get decent fold up chairs and table.
Stick on battery powered Led lights are decent cheap lighting option
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Re: Living/tripping in your van- tips/advice

Postby Black » Wed Apr 10, 2013 8:04 pm

Acid is probably best for tripping in your van, think of the fuel savings!!!

Ok I'm going to shoot myself for that one, sorry never done the van voyage.
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Re: Living/tripping in your van- tips/advice

Postby danny1 » Wed Apr 10, 2013 8:09 pm

!!LOL!! ( i am going to glasters this year in thevan with 3 fellow middle aged wankers. ^^^ this will be me.

@Leedsol cracking call regarding the sun. i usually do it in a bag. Or I was caught a bit short without one a few weeks ago and did it into a takeaway coffee cup.

Who has mastered the without stopping piss? in the cup and out the window.
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Re: Living/tripping in your van- tips/advice

Postby briggfoot » Wed Apr 10, 2013 9:18 pm

So I was in Portugal over Christmas, and encountered loads of Europeans on the 'hippie trail' down to Morocco in their converted ambulances, horses boxes and what not, which got me thinking.......does anyone know how easy it is to buy one of these wagons after someone's done a 'tour' in it, as opposed to buying here in the UK, then ferrying it over to Europe.

Are there some key locations on the main-land where people just starting out along these well-trodden routes head to, in the hope of securing one of these vehicles from folks at the end of their voyage selling up, before returning home?

Loving all these different tips on methods of defecation. :lol:
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Re: Living/tripping in your van- tips/advice

Postby Leedsol » Wed Apr 10, 2013 9:29 pm

Take it you saw the french guy with no legs living in his horse box at the semi secret spot Briggfoot? That was an awesome vehicle. Friendly guy as well, lost his legs in a motorbike accident. Pretty inspiring how he got to the water's edge, probably used more energy just doing that than most do in a normal session. Good surfer too in his way on his longboard.

Had to laugh I overheard some of the hippies down there. One guy (about 20) was living with his proper new age mum in a van. he was talking to this guy about how son would not read any newspaper or magazine unless every advert was cut out, I was gonna give him an exchange and mart or marie clare or something and run for cover. He looked a bit intense
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Re: Living/tripping in your van- tips/advice

Postby Chris F » Wed Apr 10, 2013 9:35 pm

Matt Rose wrote: or stop being a soft lad and get a proper sleeping bag :-)


https://www.alpkit.com/pipedream

For a high quality decent down bag you can't get better priced than here. Need to keep looking to see when they have stock as they go quickly. Keep you warmer than a stove and less spent on fuel
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Re: Living/tripping in your van- tips/advice

Postby Vince Noir » Wed Apr 10, 2013 9:48 pm

danny1 wrote:
Who has mastered the without stopping piss? in the cup and out the window.



filled an empty 2 pint milk bottle and the piss just kept coming without me realising it was near the top



soaking wet lap




never again
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Re: Living/tripping in your van- tips/advice

Postby briggfoot » Wed Apr 10, 2013 9:53 pm

Leedsol wrote:Take it you saw the french guy with no legs living in his horse box at the semi secret spot Briggfoot? That was an awesome vehicle. Friendly guy as well, lost his legs in a motorbike accident. Pretty inspiring how he got to the water's edge, probably used more energy just doing that than most do in a normal session. Good surfer too in his way on his longboard.

Had to laugh I overheard some of the hippies down there. One guy (about 20) was living with his proper new age mum in a van. he was talking to this guy about how son would not read any newspaper or magazine unless every advert was cut out, I was gonna give him an exchange and mart or marie clare or something and run for cover. He looked a bit intense


hehe, yeah probably best not to chance it at that place. It's a bit remote and a looooong way to run if he didn't see the funny side and started getting weird. :-D

Now you mention it yes I did meet the chap with no legs - quite a humbling experience realizing what we take for granted when we go surfing, (i.e. having legs, for one) yet we still manage to whine and bitch about stuff! All seems rather trivial after seeing his efforts.....
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Re: Living/tripping in your van- tips/advice

Postby Matt Rose » Thu Apr 11, 2013 8:22 am

Chris F wrote:
Matt Rose wrote: or stop being a soft lad and get a proper sleeping bag :-)


https://www.alpkit.com/pipedream

For a high quality decent down bag you can't get better priced than here. Need to keep looking to see when they have stock as they go quickly. Keep you warmer than a stove and less spent on fuel


Im a big alpkit fan been using their gourdon for a while, good if youve got a walk to a remote beach, will fit suit/keeps clothes dry when stashed. Their head torch and tent pegs are very good aswell.


Lyons coffee bags for camping and vans.
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Re: Living/tripping in your van- tips/advice

Postby danny1 » Thu Apr 11, 2013 10:30 am

Vince Noir wrote:
danny1 wrote:
Who has mastered the without stopping piss? in the cup and out the window.



filled an empty 2 pint milk bottle and the piss just kept coming without me realising it was near the top



soaking wet lap




never again


2 pints!! jeezus...im a 1/2 pint kinda lad

got a funny story on this subject - was in a client meeting in edinburgh whivch went on too long...had to get to morpeth in northumbnerland for the next meeting in not much time...so had my foot to the floor the whole way (apart from cameras) doing a ton in my VW T4...

didnt have time to stop for p*ss so did the cup trick

went to throw it out the window and it all came back in on me...

smelled a bit in that meeting
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Re: Living/tripping in your van- tips/advice

Postby Matt Rose » Thu Apr 11, 2013 11:01 am

USB battery charger for AA & AAAs, will charge fully on a long journey via 12v.
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Re: Living/tripping in your van- tips/advice

Postby danny1 » Thu Apr 11, 2013 1:49 pm

Matt Rose wrote:USB battery charger for AA & AAAs, will charge fully on a long journey via 12v.


nice one!!

what do you do about laptop?

Does anyone else work on the road? I know bunker used to...
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Re: Living/tripping in your van- tips/advice

Postby Matt Rose » Thu Apr 11, 2013 2:10 pm

Ive never tried it but my netbook will fully charge in about 1-1 1/2 hrs, reckon this kind of thing would probably work (whilst driving) as the laptop chargers have transformers on aswell... prob OK???

http://tinyurl.com/c7grhfh
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Re: Living/tripping in your van- tips/advice

Postby blue_pig » Thu Apr 11, 2013 8:44 pm

Ten quid solar panel off eBay = dead handy.

Jump leads spare battery tea bags water Kelly kettle and sorted.
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Re: Living/tripping in your van- tips/advice

Postby defever » Thu Apr 11, 2013 10:03 pm

danny1 wrote:
Matt Rose wrote:USB battery charger for AA & AAAs, will charge fully on a long journey via 12v.


nice one!!

what do you do about laptop?

Does anyone else work on the road? I know bunker used to...


SNAP. Been looking at this myself over last couple of days. I think a smaller/ordinary laptop (13" -15" inch screen) requires at least 75-80W just to charge and maybe up to around 100W to use it. There are quite a lot of 12V to 220-240V inverters (DC / AC I don't really know what they are and volts mean... I slept through my physics class at school dammit) with three pin socket + USB via either cigarette lighter or direct feed from the car battery.

Been looking at Halfrauds (useless), Maplin, and eBay but not quite sure what to look for...
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