When you look at the pictures and think to yourself “wow that’s tiny! How does Jonathan fit?!” Keep in mind that we actually purchased the largest vehicle available to us. We aren’t allowed to drive anything over 4,500kg with an international drivers license. Also, anything over 4,500 kg is classified as a “commercial” vehicle, requires a much stricter inspection, and can’t be called a “car” which makes ferry fare much more expensive. The Van is 4,490 kg, so we are squeaking by on that front. Also, no judging us for “ghetto” for gerry rigged fixes – we have to make do with the tools and materials we have on hand!
The van originally had a double bed with 4 inch foam pads that could be converted and folded in half to make a couch. Before we left Auckland, we changed the bed configuration to be a permanent platform and purchased a legitimate queen sized mattress. It may not be the “dual purpose” touted as a priority by most campervan but the benefit of a goodnight sleep wins hands down against any disadvantage. There’s no headroom to sit up on the bed, but not a lot of time is spent actually IN the van. If it’s a crappy day then we make our way to a cafe or library or sit in the front seats.
We both have memory foam pillows and one extra snuggle pillows each (Or two extra pillows for Amelia, depending on who’s doing the math). When it gets really cold the best way to stay warm is to cuddle, much to Jonathan’s delight. The platform plus extra thick mattress makes the bed just a tiny bit too high for Amelia to get into so she has to use a step stool to get into bed every night!
Affectionately named “the basement”, the space under the bed holds a massive amount of stuff and storage. On the right hand side, we set up four 3-drawer totes to hold all of our food, clothes, and nicknacks. This is the extremely convenient alternative to just having giant tubs jumbled with stuff. Five of the drawers have food and drinks. One drawer for 5 days of clean clothes for Amelia, and same for Jonathan. One drawer holds all of our electronics, batteries, adapters, chargers, etc. One drawer for worn-but-still-semi-clean clothes. The other drawers have miscellaneous items like extra soap, cool pebbles, beach sand, tools, medicines, etc. We use the bungee cord system to keep everything closed and tidy while driving.
On the left hand side we keep our “chilly bin” with its 3 days supply of blue ice box things, a little side table and chair, extra Nalgenes, and our dirty clothes bag. After a few incidents of the cooler sliding around and tipping over Amelia pulled the anti-skid mats out of the cabinets and shoved them under the cooler. This solved that issue!
The basement was intentionally set up with the crawl space big enough for Jonathan and we don’t feel the need to cram it with more stuff.
The living room & attic:
The large open floor space was Amelia’s favorite feature when buying this van. Other vans had a tiny space or none at all which was a very unappealing prospect when considering wet or muddy clothes. There is enough space to us to both sit cross-legged on the floor or stand together while changing clothes before bed. This is the best feature when it’s pouring outside because we just jump in and worry about the mess later.
We also installed a cheap shoe organizer on the panel wall to organize the daily used items like shower kits, toothbrushes, glasses, flashlights, etc. Amelia loves these handy little pouches! Above the sliding door are some command hooks where we hang out wet clothes or jackets at night
Originally the van had a wooden sliding door that separated the cab from living room with an identical panel wall between the passenger seat and stove. However this door was more hassle than we liked so during our time in Hamilton, we knocked out the side panel, shoved the kitchenette and bed forward two inches and replaced the door with a custom-made curtain. (Two inches doesn’t sound like a lot but in a space this small it makes a big difference.)
Since we were already making a new curtain-door, Amelia went ahead and made matching curtains for the rest of the van too and sewed magnets into the hem.
Back to the van features! The “attic” is a little overhead compartment where we store all of our clothes. That was our very first lesson moving into the van – we have too many clothes. But Amelia manages to squish them all on there somehow! Bonus, you can see the orange power cord peeking out so we can charge stuff in the van when hooked up to campervan power.
The kitchen’s sink has a little hand pump that pulls from a 20 L tank of fresh water and discharges into a 10 L tank. It’s a little annoying to have to hand pump every time, but mostly we use nalgenes for cooking, or washing so it’s not a big deal. And it’s better than connecting an electric pump to our van battery!
We really enjoy the propane double burner stove. We’ve gone a whole 2 months on a partially used tank and still aren’t out. Whenever we’re at holiday parks we use the parks kitchen for cooking, but having a stove means we can have hot meals and coffee when we’re freedom camping. The stove cover is lowered when not in use and doubles as extra counter space.
The cabinets truly need to be rebuilt from scratch but since we don’t have the tools or supplies, we make do. We keep dishes and food in the cupboards and hang our day packs on the outside. We’re ready to hike at a moment’s notice!