Whether you’re renting a vehicle or you’ve already got one that you’ve been wanting to put to good use, there are few things quite like an adventure through the wilderness in a campervan. Be it a road trip through your local beauty spots or the perfect place to set up for a long weekend (or longer), campervans can offer the kind of comfort in freedom that’s hard to find otherwise. But it takes a little prep work to get the most out of them. Here are a few ways you can make sure you’re having the best possible time.
Practice driving the vehicle
This is especially important for those who have never driven a campervan before or have never driven it out in the wild. Don’t be surprised that a big, hefty van is a lot more of a challenge to handle than your average car. It’s larger, meaning you have to be more aware of how much room you’re taking on the road as well as bigger blind spots. It’s heavier, meaning that you need to use the brakes a little more proactively. It’s got a larger turning radius as well, meaning you need to start taking turns earlier. Practice driving a larger vehicle before you think about taking it out on a road trip or wilderness retreat or you could end up getting yourself into an accident.
Don’t overestimate its storage
It might be bigger than your average vehicle, but that doesn’t mean that all of that additional space is storage. Most of the interior is your living quarters. As such, you’ll be wise to only pack the essentials. Bring enough extra clothes with you, including some wet and cold weather wear, especially if you’re planning to hike. A toiletries bag, including toothbrush, deodorant, soap, shampoo, and wipes is crucial. Some additional accessories like a phone charger, flashlight, sunscreen, and the like can be good additions. Don’t pack the campervan too full of novelty and recreational items as you might find that you don’t have anywhere to put them and they end up cluttering the space where you’re supposed to relax and sleep.
Check the roads and pick a good time to drive
If you’re heading out of a town or city, then you need to make sure that you’re scheduling your drive well enough to hit them outside of rush hour. Your ability to effectively explore is going to be heavily impeded by traffic jams. Sundays tend to be the best days for long-distance driving, too, since there are typically fewer trucks on the motorways. When checking ahead, make sure you get an idea of road conditions and weather reports. You don’t want to be driving at night when the rain is pelting down, nor do you want to hit any roads that are undergoing extensive repairs. It might mean taking a detour, but you should always check the safer route.
Don’t get cooped in
One of the benefits of a campervan or RV is that you have some room to enjoy comfort no matter where you go, and shelter from the weather when it gets bad. However, if you’re stuck inside all day, even when it’s rainy or cold, you can end up feeling frustrated and a little claustrophobic. A good roof top tent can allow you to set up a different space better built for relaxing. A lot of them also include canopies so you can sit outside in comfort even if the weather is a little worse than you would like.
Choose your camping spots with care
One of the big draws of driving a campervan is the notion that you can set up and camp anywhere that your heart desires. There’s no denying that it offers a lot more flexibility but you shouldn’t choose just anywhere and everywhere. If you choose an area that’s downhill, it might be prone to flooding, meaning it can be hard to get your vehicle moving if it rains and makes the ground all muddy. A decent flat space to park, access to water, and relative safety should be your priority. Of course, you can always find designated campervan spots, even if it does seem a little less adventurous.
Have a plan, but be flexible
If you’re planning to hit up several stops, make sure that you’re navigating effectively so that you can stop when you need to for gas, food, and to see some of the highlights of the surrounding area. However, don’t feel like you have stick to an itinerary too rigidly if, for instance, you’re getting bored or you spot something that sounds like it might be a lot of fun. Don’t be afraid to take detours, but make sure that you’re ready for them. Know how you can find your way back onto your planned route if you go off track and make sure you’re not too far from a gas station or place to grab some food.
You don’t want to spend your entire trip with your eyes glued to a digital display. It’s a good idea to practice some screen time discipline when you’re out in the wild. However, when it comes to navigation, finding attractions, checking road conditions, and a dozen other helpful things, it pays to make sure you have access to a connection at all times, or at least as much as possible. Things like wi-fi boosters can help you maintain a much more consistent connection. Besides, when one person is driving, the others can keep the van entertained by connecting to music, movies, and other ways of passing the time. You might not be able to always be connected, depending on where you go, but it can make it a lot easier to find some reception, at least.
Campervan trips can be invigorating and engaging, allowing you the freedom to explore, set up, and sleep in a wide range of places you might not otherwise experience. Just make sure you’re putting the necessary prep in place.