Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Kitting Out the Camper

Behold my most treasured possession ever, the Knaus motorhome that relegated my decade old  Osprey rucksack into second place. It was brought back from Germany on an intrepid and slightly scary trip by Mr Lovelygrey who trekked across the UK and Europe with £12,000 of our hard earned savings in a big brown envelope.  However all went well, he wasn't mugged and came back with our beautiful second home.  Both sets of  parents were dubious  about our plans.'You won't get enough use out of  it' they cried in near unison.  But we average just under 50 nights a year away and two and a half years so we think that we're making good use of our purchase..

As we're approaching peak summer usage some motorhome/camper van posts will be coming your way and my thoughts on kitting out seem a natural start to the season.  So here are my ideas. 
  • If you can afford it. buy as much stuff that's exclusively for use in the van  as possible.  That way you can make a quick get away without having to load up endless stuff first and then take it all out again at the end of the trip.  Kitchen and cleaning equipment, toiletries, raingear, road atlases, folidng chairs  and chargers for electrical equipment spring to mind.  Oh!... and the corkscrew.
  • Buy colour coordinated linen that is different from that used in your non mobile home.  Then it's easier for it to make its way back after being washed.  This reduces the chance of finding yourself in a lovely wilderness spot  without towels or bits of bedding.  If you take my last tip to the extreme you could even have unusual coloured underwear for  holiday use only!
  • For the hypochondriacs amongst you  who are planning European trips, make sure you carry a stock of your favourite over the counter medication.  You may think the nanny state here has gone too far but believe me you'll find a similar example of what state control of choice means in a French pharmacy. 
  • Even if you're not usually too bothered about being green please consider eco friendly cleaning products for the van. You never know where you are going to have to dispose of grey water.
  • Think minimalist when buying kitchen equipment.  In the confined space you're probably unlikely to be knocking up complex gastronomic feasts. Think carefully about whether you need a pasta machine or a water bath.  Also a toasting rack for use over a gas ring might seem like a good idea but, in our experience, they don't 'do what they say on the tin'  .
  • Having said that don't skimp and buy cheap utensils that don't do the job properly. There's nothing worse than trying to cut an onion with a crappy knife. 
  • It's nicer to have china crockery and real glasses rather than their melamine and plastic counterparts.
  • Get away with as few (reasonably decent) pans as possible.  We have two.  A casserole style pot and a frying pan, both with lids that increase their versatility.
And finally,we'll considered wise advice from William Morris.

'Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful'

This does not seem quite true to camper van living,   The useful part still applies but let the beauty be confined to those textiles that I mentioned earlier (also choose your motorhome carefully and go easy on wild coloured upholstery and dodgy velour).  The view out of the window is the most important aesthetic consideration.  Here's an example of one of the sights that you can wake up too!   Unnecessary stuff, however lovely it is adds extra weight and therefore increases fuel consumption. It also takes up room in a place where space is at a premium!

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