I thought I would give an overview on how we live in about 72 square feet of space. This trip will only be 18 days, but next year we plan to go for 3-4 months at a time.
The van has all the conveniences of home. We have a bed, hot and cold running water, a refrigerator and furnace. There are also a lot of cabinets and drawers for storage.
When we raise the pop top, there is a full size bed that is in the top of the van.
This has been a very comfortable bed and we have slept well. When it’s a warm evening, we can open all the screened windows and get a good breeze through the van.
When we are not in bed, we can raise the bed to give us plenty of head room in the van.
So far on our trip we have eaten every meal in the van. However, we did stop for ice cream in Oregon. We have a large electric refrigerator that will hold 6-7 days of food. The freezer part is small, but we have some meat and ice trays in it. There is also a pantry where we hold the rest of our food. So far, we go 4-5 days between shopping for food.
We have 4 ways to cook our food. For this trip, Eva bought a mini, 3 quart Instant Pot. That has been the favorite way to cook. It’s the fastest and easiest way to make dinner. It’s also uses the least amount of battery power. As you have seen in previous posts, Eva has made some great dinners with it.
We also have an induction cooktop, microwave and a butane gas burner. We haven’t used the butane burner yet, but we use the induction cooker and microwave almost every day.
The van has 10 gallons of fresh water that we use for cleaning dishes, brushing our teeth and cleaning ourselves up. The 10 gallons will last of 3-5 days, depending on how much we conserve. There has been plenty of options to fill the water tanks, so we don’t conserve very much.
For showers, there are a lot of options for campers. We have an outdoor solar shower, but it has been too cold to use it on this trip. So we use the national and state parks to shower. It usually costs a couple of dollars to get a shower. Sometimes they are timed and we have to hurry, but some of them are unlimited hot water.
The camper part of the van gets power from the two 12 volt batteries that I installed in the rear of the van. It provides power for the lights, refrigerator, hot water and furnace. It also powers the microwave, Instant Pot and induction cooktop. The cooking appliances and the hot water heater are what use most of the power.
The batteries are charged three ways. Whenever the sun is shining, the four solar panels on the top of the van direct their power to the van. When we drive, the alternator in the van charges the batteries. Also if we can plug into an external power plug, there is a built-in battery charger to charge the battery.
On this trip we have had plenty of power. Without conserving we could go at least 2 days without charging the batteries. I have noticed in Oregon, we get a lot less solar power, but since we drive everyday, the batteries are fully charged when we get to camp for the evening.
Towards the end of the day, we start thinking about where to camp. So far, we have only paid for 3 nights in a campground. Two nights were in Lake Tahoe, where we planned to stay a few days, so we wanted a campsite close. And one night in Oregon, where we stumbled upon a very nice BLM campground. We were the only ones there and it only cost $7/night.
The rest of the nights we use the iOverlander app to find a spot. This app allows people to mark spots where they have camped for the night. Some of them are paid campgrounds, but most are free sites in the forest or desert. The app gives directions to the spot and provides a description and pictures.
We have used the app to find our camping spots most of the nights. Usually it is pretty accurate, but sometimes the description is not that accurate. We have passed over a few locations and went further down the road to find a better spot.
Once we find a campsite, if needed we level the van and then raise the van roof. This gives us plenty of room to cook and get ready for bed. Usually, after dinner we read or talk.
When it gets dark we cover all the windows with the window shades that Eva made. She did a really good job with these, and they look professionally done. The shades are insulated, with a black side and a foil side. They fit tight in all the windows so no light can get in or out. At night we put the black sides out and the foil side in. This provides some insulation for the night time.
One night in the mountains we left them out and it got pretty cold. The heater was very slow to warm the van. With the shades installed, the heater will easily warm the entire van.
Usually we try to use the public bathrooms at stores, rest stops, gas stations or the parks that we go to. However, when we absolutely have to go, or during the nights we have a porti-potty that fits into a cabinet below the closet. It will hold 5 gallons of stuff, so we could go two weeks without emptying it.
I usually drive and Eva navigates. She will drive when we are at camp and need to level the van or back into a spot.
When we are driving we listen to either an audio book or a podcast. Right now we are listening to the autobiography of Alexander Hamilton. Our favorite podcast is one called “History that doesn’t Suck”. It is about the history of America. Our neighbor is a history professor and he produces this podcast.