We would probably score a lowly ’10’ on a 0 – 100 cool scale. There are certain barriers to coolness; age, wealth, comfort and attitude amongst a multiple of other obscure and meaningless measures. If you rock up on a beachy outcrop in a 1960’s CamperVan full of surfboards and cook on an open fire you will be oozing cool, whereas, your half million pound Motorhome with drive-in rear garage containing a Mini Cooper will have the exact opposite effect, especially, if like us, you are 40+.
We would, however, happily live a life of uncoolness if you handed us the keys to a half million pound Motorhome. Also, the occupants of the 1960’s CamperVan look great as they play guitar watching the sunset draw an end to the day, but, as a million gallons of condensation cascade them through the sliding door in the morning they paint a different picture, huddled under a damp blanket looking like sleep is a distant memory waiting two hours for the open fire to boil a pan of water for that first brew of the day.
There is some hope for us, the ‘mid-cool’ ground of the modern high top, high specification CamperVan or Motorhome. Generally equipped with decent heating, cooking appliances and owned by non surfing, non guitar playing oldies like us. This lifestyle attracts us and we find ourselves looking at these vehicles more than caravans at sites or shows. Not that we don’t like our caravan, we absolutely love it. Each vehicle type has its own benefits and restrictions. This is why we are now contemplating owning both.
On this year’s 50 day European ‘Caravan’ Tour we pitched up on thirteen campsites, enabling us to settle in, get comfortable and start exploring the surrounding areas. Effectively, you pick an area and become the hub of a wheel, each day travelling down a different spoke visiting interesting sites, all in your car, no caravan in tow, no height restrictions, easy parking and decent fuel economy. On the negative side, between each of the thirteen sites was an average four hour drive towing the caravan past countless towns, spectacular scenery and interesting locations with the words “If only we could just stop” or “We will have to stay here another time”.
If we had toured in a CamperVan it would have been a totally different, albeit slightly less comfortable, tour. We would probably have had thirty or more different sites, moving on every day or two days capturing every location to see along the given route, avoiding motorways and toll roads, pitching up at the side of an Alpine view or beautiful lake, often for free. The reduced fuel efficiency would be offset by sightseeing on route rather than driving down each spoke of the caravan base wheel. There is something very liberating about travelling with no plan and a vague destination, but to some people it may feel you are always travelling and never reaching the destination, a caravan pitched for two weeks in the sun may feel like a proper holiday.
With no plans to sell the caravan and no money to buy a Motorhome we are now exploring the option of buying a van (Transit Van style) and completely self building/converting into a CamperVan. We don’t even have the money to do this, so selling the main car and downsizing the house features large in our latest plan. The idea of a self build appeals very much, knowing every inch of the van and building to our own design would be perfect and foster a real bond with the vehicle, not to mention, save about £20-£25k on the price of a new manufactured CamperVan.
Even more could be saved if we braved a second hand van but we dislike the ‘wheel-kicking’ process so much that we try to buy vehicles new then run them forever. The Boss has a formula, every £1k of purchase cost should deliver us a year of ownership, so vehicles generally get a minimum of ten years with us and almost always reach the £1k = 1 year requirement.
So we will keep you informed, not if, but when we sell up/downsize and buy a van. Will we know what we are doing when we start the conversion? Er no, not at all, but by the time we have asked lots of people lots of daft questions and googled some bits and bobs, we will… and trust us, it will be a tidy job.
It may even push us up to a ’12’ on the cool scale…
… but we will still cast the occasional envious eye at the really cool CamperVans driven by those Surfer types.