Life in a campervan

MARCH 22 : Traveling in campervan is a bit different than traveling by car. Daily life acquires a different pace – full of tasks unique to being in a campervan.

First you wake up and get ready to go. Just like at home, and not like a hotel, you make your bed. While at home, this takes less than a minute, in the campervan it is a whole ritual that takes much longer. It is hard to make a large bed that only has access on one side. Once the bed is back to being a sofa, the bedroom turns into a sitting area with a table. We use the table for meals (too rainy and cold to eat outside lately) and for puzzles and scrabble and for working on the computer.

Brushing teeth is with water from a bottle – the water in the water tank usually needs to be boiled before use. For showers, although we do have a tiny cramped shower in the campervan, we prefer to use the public showers where hot water is plentiful.

Once we are dressed, we need to prepare the campervan for moving. This means ensure that everything is in its place, that all cabinets are locked close, that no loose items are around. If we eat breakfast, we cannot have any dishes out drying – everything needs to be towel dried and put away before moving. We strung a laundry line across the driver and passenger seats in the front of the van. At night we hang towels and wet clothes to dry. All items on the laundry line need to be taken down and put away. Computers are placed into our designated computer storage bag. Phones move to a basket in the front of the car, where they are plugged into one of multiple USB outlets for recharging.

In general, everything has a designated place – but often in order to reach one thing, you need to move two others. Everything takes a bit more time when it is squeezed into a small area. Even walking from one end of the van to the other, it is too narrow for both of us to fit together. So if I am in the back and want to move to the front, and Mark is in the kitchen (the middle), he needs to move to the front (the widest part of the van where the entrance door is) to let me pass. At least it keeps us in constant communication.

When we drive, we like the curtains open – all ten of them. When we stop, we close the curtains, otherwise all our possessions are available for everyone to see. When you open the curtains, you need to hold them secure with Velcro fasteners. To ensure they stay closed, we use clothes pins to fasten them.

Once everything is in its place, all the cabinets are secured, the curtains are open, the lights are shut, all the switches for the water pump, etc. are down, then the last step is to go outside to disconnect from the electricity and fill with water. Electric cable and hose need to be rolled up and stored in the back. If a dump station is available, then that is our first stop, to get rid of sewage and wastewater. Dumping is whole procedure that will take an additional 10 minutes. I will spare you the details. Only then are we ready to go.

Driving the campervan is like driving a big car. Nothing special up front in the driver’s compartment. For us, the only difference (besides driving on the left) is that our car at home has a backup camera, and this campervan does not. We could really use one and are looking into installing one ourselves, since the van already has a nice screen display. In the meantime, I am the backup camera – either looking out the back window or standing outside and directing Mark when we need to drive in reverse.

The camper came with a large built in screen GPS system that works well once it has the destination. However, it lacks in finding the right place when you do a search. When we asked for a nearby grocery store, it gave us an address in Poland. Instead, we use Google Maps on the phone to find the exact street address of where we are going, and once we put in that address, the GPS works fine.

You drive a bit slower in the campervan, so cars tend to pile up behind you. When that happens, you are on the lookout for a place to pull over, to let them pass. This usually happens several times a day.

As you drive, you hear the sound of items moving in the cabinets. When you stop, you first check what was that bang that you heard while driving – yesterday, it was the showerhead that fell onto the floor. You open the cabinets very carefully, so things don’t fall on your head.

But mostly while driving, in the campervan you are sitting up high, with huge windows all around, you enjoy the view and say “look how beautiful!”.

Campervan as advertised
Campervan in reality

4 comments on “Life in a campervanAdd yours →

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  1. Sounds like you guys are living on a space ship without a news feed from your home planet.

  2. Hi Irit and Mark, Thanks for the detailed description of some of the nuts and bolts of your new reality. Almost makes me feel like I’m there. Am looking forward to what happens after the morning routine. But I am curious: How much time is it from when you get up until you are on the road?

    1. It is still taking us over two hours to get ready in the morning. We can cut that down if we skip breakfast.