After the ‘I do!’ come the logistics, the planning, the acquiring and de-acquiring. I’m going to attempt to describe some of that in the hope that it might be useful or vaguely interesting to someone out there. I do this with some reservations however as I’m fairly convinced we are not the best people to be giving guidance on practical matters. We have a random, often stress inducing, scatter-gun approach to organising travelling and living in a van for a year. But we have managed to at least buy a suitable vehicle and have a vague idea of where we might go. So, with disclaimers in place, read on…
A Home on Wheels
I thought that finding a home on wheels would be fairly simple. A brief search through available camper vans and motor homes on Ebay for example, yields a plethora of mobile vehicles from the new, shiny and exorbitantly expensive to the ancient, cheap and probably broken. It is impossible to know where to start, so I just started. I poured over the descriptions of hundreds of vehicles, looking through thousands of murky interior photos, trying to blindly figure out what our family might need.
Firstly we dismissed the idea of a campervan based on size. We’d been loaned a VW by Rob’s parents for a holiday when our family had been younger and it had been hard work. I banged my head almost hourly, beds had to be taken down and put up every day and there could be absolutely no feline swinging of any kind. Which left us the options of a motorhome or a converted van. My romantic self would have loved nothing more than an old converted Bedford, complete with burner and ethnic hangings but my more practical, motherly self knew that we needed an on-board loo.
So, motorhome it was – but what size? What type? How old? How much should we pay? The first budget we gave ourselves was £6000. It seemed possible to get something that would fit us all and drive at least a few miles for that kind of price but we realised quite quickly that vehicles within that budget were all a little older than we were comfortable with. We were also having trouble deciding on a suitable living configuration…we kept on looking.
After lots and lots of looking online, in showrooms and at dealers we decided that we wanted an older model Hymer A class. They generally have a bit of character (think VW but bigger and with more charm!), a bedroom that pulls down from the ceiling to thrill the offspring, and they seem to keep their value. Fortunately for us, one came up for sale that didn’t exceed our new budget (which had risen to £12,000!) and was within reasonable driving distance.
I’d like to be able to say that we thoroughly did our research, that we had the engine checked over by someone who knew what they were doing, that we took a damp meter and asked all the right questions. None of this happened. We went along, we fell in love, we trusted and liked the man selling it, we bought it. Another leap of faith.
At this point I should tell you about the amazing Facebook group that is Motorhome and Campervans UK, without them we would have been lost. Every daft question that we have had, someone on there has answered without sneering at our obvious ineptitude. Knowing that I can continue to ask the group anything at all as we travel, gives me enormous comfort.
Here he is then, our ‘van’. Goes by the name of Colin