Hello! Log in or Register   |  Help  |  Donate  |  Buy Shirts New!  See all banner ads | Advertise on TheSamba.com  
TheSamba.com
 
Practicality of living out of a VW camper
Page: 1, 2, 3  Next
Forum Index -> Vanagon Share: Facebook Twitter
Reply to topic
Print View
Quick sort: Show newest posts on top | Show oldest posts on top View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
riehlmelissa
Samba Member


Joined: April 20, 2013
Posts: 2

riehlmelissa is offline 

PostPosted: Sat Apr 20, 2013 2:27 pm    Post subject: Practicality of living out of a VW camper Reply with quote

OK, my husband and I have decided to buy a Vanagon or Eurovan to tour the country after our youngest goes to college. We are in the very beginning of planning this adventure and have been doing much research. Many of our technical questions have been answered but I'm having trouble with practical questions. Any input is appreciated! My main questions are about cooking in the van, using the water from the tank, storing food in the frig etc. I would like to get an idea of what day-to-day living will be like so any stories, good or bad, advice and what-not are much appreciated... Thanks!
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Gallery Classifieds Feedback
Glenn Premium Member
Mr. 010


Joined: December 25, 2001
Posts: 70922
Location: Sneaking up behind you
Glenn is offline 

PostPosted: Sat Apr 20, 2013 2:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can't help you with details, but in 1963 my grandparents purchased a 1963 Westy pop top and traveled for 18 months until finally settling in San Diego. They traversed the country 3 times and put 40,000 miles.

My grandmother is a cheapskate from the great depression and wouldn't spend a nickel on a hotel room or restaurant when she had a camper.
_________________
Glenn
74 Beetle Specs | 74 Beetle Restoration | 2180cc Engine
"You may not get what you pay for, but you always pay for what you get"

Cast Iron and Aluminum distributors rebuilt since 2000.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website Gallery Classifieds Feedback
kbeefy
Samba Member


Joined: March 10, 2006
Posts: 600
Location: Central Oregon
kbeefy is offline 

PostPosted: Sat Apr 20, 2013 2:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

http://autos.groups.yahoo.com/group/VWVANFULLTIMERS/?yguid=541259355
_________________
86 syncro CHC, NorthWesty subbie 2.5, decoupler, locker, custom interior, 225/75r16 Duratrack's on CLK's, Toyo cabin heater, ARB fridge, 300w Zamp Solar, Gowesty bumpers/skid/rails, Fiama awning

'86 Syncro Westy. Stock for now.

2000 F350 7.3 CC LB 11' Northland Cabover

2006 Subbie OBXT

2002 Tacoma DoubleCab 4x4

1969 Mustang Basket Case 351c/FMX/9

http://kbeefy.blogspot.com/
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Gallery Classifieds Feedback
Phishman068
Samba Member


Joined: February 19, 2007
Posts: 1648
Location: Pittsburgh PA (ish)
Phishman068 is offline 

PostPosted: Sat Apr 20, 2013 2:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I spent upwards of a month living out of my syncro and found it pretty reasonable. With that said, i'm currently making some modifications that will make it more usable for me. Over the years i've spent countless weekends and week long trips in the bus in various stages of upgrades, and have made a few modifications that are significant to me, as well as a few realizations of my own.

The biggest thing I appreciate is the DC (upgraded) fridge with large battery and solar setup. I love not worrying much about my food. I do cook in my bus, often. I do not have the fresh water system hooked up and infact have the water tank removed. I carry water in 1gallon jugs and use it efficiently. I buy new jugs when I need to, and thus always have fresh water that hasn't gotten hot and plastic tasting by sitting in the van's tank in the hot sun.
Dark window tint can DRAMATICALLY reduce interior temperatures and raise privacy. I will soon be adding a Louvered window, as I find on rainy days it's miserable to be inside without some ventilation, especially on hot rainy days.
Being able to run my stereo without the key in the ignition, also rocks.
Lastly, I really love having a roof top storage box where I can put things that I don't "currently" need like dirty clothes, gear for other climates I might be traveling into, and a bunch of "well what if I need...." stuff.
_________________
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=559766&highlight=winter+rust
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=482402&highlight=sunroof+syncro
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=569774
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?p=6864936#6864936

"Along with the ability to go fast, one looses the desire to hurry."
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message AIM Address Classifieds Feedback
levi
Samba Member


Joined: February 11, 2005
Posts: 5522
Location: Las Vegas
levi is offline 

PostPosted: Sat Apr 20, 2013 3:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Spent years living out of my westy while traveling the U.S. poker tournaments.

I can't urge you enough, if you get a vanagon, to get a high top like my AdventureWagen, especially with 2 people, you'll really need and appreciate the storage space and the standing room.

Might want to read some of the roadhaus travel journals and other similar ....
http://www.roadhaus.com/
_________________
One of these days I'm gonna settle down,
but till I do I won't be hangin round.
Going down that long lonesome highway,
gonna see life my way

https://youtu.be/cSrL0BXsO40
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Gallery Classifieds Feedback
grambo
Samba Member


Joined: September 25, 2009
Posts: 80
Location: Old Hangtown, USA
grambo is offline 

PostPosted: Sat Apr 20, 2013 4:09 pm    Post subject: westy livin' Reply with quote

Quote:
Many of our technical questions have been answered but I'm having trouble with practical questions


Ahhh, the wonderful life of westy living. My wife and I finished ~14 months in our westy just over a year ago. It was fantastic, and I can't encourage you strongly enough to go do it! Of course, you're probably already motivated and don't need much encouragement.

Some of the answers to your questions depend on where and when you think you might be traveling in the US. They also depend on what type of camping will you be doing (hookups, dry camping in remote places, friends' driveways, etc, all of the above?).

If you'll be anywhere hot (90+ deg daytime highs), the stock fridge can get pretty stressed and you have to be strategic about how you park, the angle/trajectory of the sun, etc, but it can work! It's preferable to park in the shade and the driver's side of the van always needs to be facing north.

We stayed in our westy almost all of the time, cooking and living in it. We used the stock fridge and went all over the western US and up to Alaska and back. We usually camped on public land (forest service, blm), but occasionally "stealth" camped in urban areas. We also used the water tank exclusively. Besides the usual mechanical-soundness westy stuff (fuel lines, take some trial runs before setting off to get out the kinks, etc), these are some of the upgrades we found very useful:

- A sureflo faucet upgrade to regulate water consumption
- An awning (we got and installed a shady boy awning)
- A capable house battery (min. 44 Ah), a hardwired inverter, and a small 50 watt solar panel to top off when camping remotely
- Sewing warm windows fabric to all the curtains to keep out/in heat or cold, and buying the insulated window set for the front windows
- A 4 liter pressure cooker for fast cooking beans, rice, etc., in a fuel efficient way
- Have some small tupperware (preferably as part of your normal eating bowls/plates) for storing left-overs.
- Organize the space effectively with a closet organizer and two multi pocket organizers over the backs of the chairs
- A roof rack, roof top box, and other racks (Gary Lee on back hatch) to carry all manner of fun adventure gear and help with organization

Bathroom and shower needs are always a bit interesting and can be a downside of westy living. We got a zodi shower for using in the boondocks (we're not too shy). We also kept a collapsible "pee bottle" for emergency use at night or whenever, and my wife used a pee funnel. If boondock camping on public lands, make sure you have a collapsible shovel and toilet paper. Other folks haul around toilets, but we didn't.

McDonalds and Starbucks were great for "free" internet connectivity, as well as using their toilet facilities. We would usually buy something so we didn't feel we were mooching too much.

It's hard to detail all of the things that can be done, and of course there's a million ways to do this, but it can certainly be done. A blog of our adventures is here: http://adventuresofgoldi.blogspot.com/

I can certainly post more details if you have any other specific questions, or shoot me a PM, and I'd be happy to provide any additional info to help you on your way. You're gonna have a lot of fun!!! Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Gallery Classifieds Feedback
Ahwahnee
Samba Member


Joined: June 05, 2010
Posts: 9149
Location: Mt Lemmon, AZ
Ahwahnee is offline 

PostPosted: Sat Apr 20, 2013 5:00 pm    Post subject: Re: Practicality of living out of a VW camper Reply with quote

Twice in our retirement my wife & I have put all are things into storage and lived in the Westy -- once for 6 month and once for a year.

riehlmelissa wrote:
...I'm having trouble with practical questions. Any input is appreciated! My main questions are about cooking in the van, using the water from the tank, storing food in the frig etc...


Cooking is great, just avoid smelly foods (fish, curry, etc).

The water tank is a handy source of potable water but use some care where you fill it. Some areas of the country have better water than others. Maybe its all okay, but it doesn't all taste the same.

The fridge worked great. Yeah, really hot weather would make it tougher, but you can avoid that. You just follow the weather to avoid rain and keep pleasant temps. It's always nice somewhere -- be there.

But I really think those issues will be the least of your concerns.

You need to be very conversant with the mechanics of the vehicle.

You'll want to have confidence when you're driving down a west Texas highway and realize you haven't seen another vehicle (or human or house) in over an hour.

You'll want to be able to fix things well enough to carry on after one of the inevitable minor breakdowns.

You'll want to have the resiliency to deal with the possible not-so-minor breakdown.

We camped in the Westy for 7 years before we did our first long (24,000 mile) trip -- so we had the bugs more or less out.

If you're looking to just buy & go -- then I have serious doubts that a Vanagon (or any 20-30 year-old vehicle) is going to be a sound choice.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Gallery Classifieds Feedback
JPrato
Samba Member


Joined: December 15, 2006
Posts: 775
Location: Livonia, NY
JPrato is offline 

PostPosted: Sat Apr 20, 2013 5:58 pm    Post subject: Re: Practicality of living out of a VW camper Reply with quote

Ahwahnee wrote:

If you're looking to just buy & go -- then I have serious doubts that a Vanagon (or any 20-30 year-old vehicle) is going to be a sound choice.


You don't state if you or your husband are mechanically handy, but if not you are going to need a reliable van in excellent running condition. Where as 20 somethings might think breaking down in the middle of nowhere an adventure I would not. You should seriously think about the van you will buy, and unless you are handy you should be looking at campers in the upper price ranges from known outfits that refurbish them. That might seem expensive but so is breaking down, getting towed and having mechanics with no knowledge of vanagons trying to repair your vehicle.
_________________
Joe

06 Subaru Legacy turbo (how am I gonna fit this sucker into the Westy....)
87 Syncro Tin Top project
84 Westy, 2.5L Subaru power
46 Cessna 140
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Gallery Classifieds Feedback
pioneer1
Samba Member


Joined: February 11, 2008
Posts: 2023
Location: Ontario Canada
pioneer1 is offline 

PostPosted: Sat Apr 20, 2013 6:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I traded up to a Rialta for the comforts of on board toilet,A/C and great beds but still good gas mileage
_________________
"Always waiting for tomorrow ruined everything"

'85 Porsche 911 Targa

'76 Westfalia project
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Gallery Classifieds Feedback
Phishman068
Samba Member


Joined: February 19, 2007
Posts: 1648
Location: Pittsburgh PA (ish)
Phishman068 is offline 

PostPosted: Sat Apr 20, 2013 7:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I hope i'm being accused of being "20 something" : ).

I think some of the suggestions offered are very "baseline". For instance, I have 225ah of battery and 90 watts of solar, and I don't see it as nearly enough sometimes, yet others suffice happily with a luke warm fridge and 44ah of battery. Some of those same people suck through 15 gallons of water in a day, and I make 2 gallons last a week. To each their unique, "own".

If you aren't traveling for adventure, you are traveling for a destination.
I've traveled to places, and i've traveled...... i suggest the latter.
_________________
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=559766&highlight=winter+rust
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=482402&highlight=sunroof+syncro
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=569774
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?p=6864936#6864936

"Along with the ability to go fast, one looses the desire to hurry."
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message AIM Address Classifieds Feedback
r39o
Samba Polizei


Joined: May 18, 2005
Posts: 9703
Location: San Diego
r39o is offline 

PostPosted: Sat Apr 20, 2013 7:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

All the above are great responses.

If you are alone a Westy is fine. Two gets cozy because there just does not seem to be enough room for two people to move without opening the sliding door. I just do not know how they think 4 people can sleep and actually use the van. Space is a premium.

Ditch the Dometic fridge for a Vitro / Truck fridge.

Get a GOOD power source. Mine is a pair of GC2s for 220Ah. Get a solar system. Get an Automatic Charge Relay (ACR.) I enjoy my small TV with only 19 watts of draw.

BIG thumbs up on the high top too, because lifting the top is a pita and the high top allows for storage.

Augment your cooking with a JetBoil. Some people like mini microwave ovens, but take room.

You REALLY want LED lighting.

Also, Eurovans tend to ride nicer than Vanagons and some people will debate what ride feels like to them.

EXPECT any Vanagon to need a LOT for work to make it very reliable. I did a wheels down overhaul including a Subaru engine and now I am not afraid to go places.

Honestly, something like a Sprinter based Winnie is really more practical for a mobile home verses the Vanagon Westy as a tent with wheels. Fuel mileage are close enough.
_________________
"Use the SEARCH, Luke" But first visit the Vanagon FAQ!

1990 Multivan EJ 22, Rancho trans 0.82 4th, Small Car front AC, CLKs w/ 215/65-16, homemade big brakes 303mm, Konis, Recaros, etc....

Click to see my ads for Cup holders, Subaru clutch fix and CLK wheels (no wheels currently)
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Gallery Classifieds Feedback
jackbombay
Samba Member


Joined: October 19, 2007
Posts: 2721
Location: Eastern Idaho
jackbombay is offline 

PostPosted: Sat Apr 20, 2013 7:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One way to look at living in the van long term is this, 200 years ago you would be king of the world if you showed up anywhere with a Vanagon westy as you would have a fridge, stove, and running water.

Over the last 2 centuries our perceptions of what we "need" has certainly changed, but a lot of traveling in a van is realizing its limitations and planning accordingly.

In short, when you travel/live in a van you are the king of the world Cool
_________________

Gas struts to pop your top easily!

Pop Top strut kits now available for late Bay window Westies Smile


Samba ad here.


DIY artificial rain gutters (ARGs)
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Classifieds Feedback
jackbombay
Samba Member


Joined: October 19, 2007
Posts: 2721
Location: Eastern Idaho
jackbombay is offline 

PostPosted: Sat Apr 20, 2013 7:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

r39o wrote:
lifting the top is a pita


O Rly?

Wink
_________________

Gas struts to pop your top easily!

Pop Top strut kits now available for late Bay window Westies Smile


Samba ad here.


DIY artificial rain gutters (ARGs)
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Classifieds Feedback
r39o
Samba Polizei


Joined: May 18, 2005
Posts: 9703
Location: San Diego
r39o is offline 

PostPosted: Sat Apr 20, 2013 8:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jackbombay wrote:
r39o wrote:
lifting the top is a pita


O Rly?

Wink

The actual process of raising and lowering and zipping and tucking and and and.....just is a level of effort I simply do not care for.

The high top is always already up ready to go, stopped or not, you do not have to do a thing.
_________________
"Use the SEARCH, Luke" But first visit the Vanagon FAQ!

1990 Multivan EJ 22, Rancho trans 0.82 4th, Small Car front AC, CLKs w/ 215/65-16, homemade big brakes 303mm, Konis, Recaros, etc....

Click to see my ads for Cup holders, Subaru clutch fix and CLK wheels (no wheels currently)
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Gallery Classifieds Feedback
rubbachicken
Samba Member


Joined: October 05, 2004
Posts: 3058
Location: socal
rubbachicken is offline 

PostPosted: Sat Apr 20, 2013 8:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

we recently traded up into an apartment after living in lucy full time for 15 months, if you can get along in that small a space then you are set Smile
as already suggested ditch the dometic and get a modern replacement, solar power will also help you out a lot, led lighting is another +
making the most of every storage spot there is.
we learned lots about living on the road, what we can live with, and live without.

pm us if you want, we'll help in any way we can, you might also pm the drive nacho drive people, they are also full timing it around the world
_________________
lucy our westy

lucy's BIG adventure

meet 'burni'


markswagen {mobile mechanic} san diego area all early VW's cared for.

619 201 0310 or 617 935 4182
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Facebook Gallery Classifieds Feedback
dogcoves
Samba Member


Joined: September 09, 2005
Posts: 266
Location: Santa Cruz, CA
dogcoves is offline 

PostPosted: Sat Apr 20, 2013 9:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In 1982, I lived out of my 1963 Westfalia for two years. But I was a 18 year old surfer living in Santa Cruz, where the weather isn't to bad. I still remember being pretty cold in the winters. Back then splitties were only 500 bucks and laying around all over the place.

Here's some links from others on living in your Westy.

http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=504033&highlight=living

http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=471525&highlight=living

http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=407190&highlight=living

http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=417569&highlight=living

http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=210542&highlight=living

http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=193624&highlight=living
_________________
Current VW: 1987 Westfalia

My Past Volkswagens:
1958 karmann ghia
1963 Beetle
1963 Westfalia
1966 Westfalia
1970 Beetle
1970 Westfalia


Last edited by dogcoves on Sat Apr 20, 2013 9:33 pm; edited 2 times in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website Gallery Classifieds Feedback
tds3pete
Samba Member


Joined: April 04, 2004
Posts: 914
Location: Seattle, WA
tds3pete is offline 

PostPosted: Sat Apr 20, 2013 9:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just go for it..... the details will work out.

My wife and I lived for a year in a 73 Bay Westy in Europe and it was the best year of our lives. Forty years later we still go out for 2-4 weeks at a time in our Eurovan camper and love the lifestyle.

If you are going to stress toilets, solar panels, fridges, and all that stuff, get a Sprinter and be done with it. If you just want to be on the road together and enjoy the folks you befriend along the way, any mechanically sound VW camper will do. Life off the grid can be very special.

We did spend a month in New Zealand in a rented high top van and I would second or third that idea. There is a lot of inside room and permanent storage in that type of rig.

Best of luck.
_________________
'58 Westy camper-come and gone
'73 Westy-bought new in Holland,now gone
'86 Syncro weekender-come and gone
'79 Westy...Oscar
'95 Eurovan Camper/5 spd...Marsha Mellow
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Gallery Classifieds Feedback
noganav
Samba Member


Joined: January 06, 2006
Posts: 1236
Location: San Diego CA
noganav is offline 

PostPosted: Sat Apr 20, 2013 10:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I did 6 years in mine and was never happier. Dometic fridge worked fine for me, but I was in Seattle most of the time and could supplement in the summer with ice frozen to -80 from my work. My Propex was a good addition especially when I had friends over.

My number one tip, go get yourself an ice-cream bucket sized Damp-Rid and put it in the sink (put a real ice-cream bucket below it for gray water). This takes care of all humidity problems, including foggy windows that give away that somebody's home and any other moisture related funk. You'll even stay warmer at night. This changed my life in Seattle.

My number two tip, be realistic about your bathroom needs and figure out how you're going to meet them. Do you always have to pee in the middle of the night? Better think about how to deal with that before you're looking for somewhere to go. I went military style the first few years, just tough it out until morning. Then I discovered the joys of the fluorescent yellow wide mouth Nalgene bottle. Squirt a shot of soap in there when you empty it to keep it from getting funky.

Grossed out? Then van living ain't for you. If you're still with me then I think you should go for it. Van living is easy and deeply fulfilling. Until it breaks someplace you can't sleep. Wink
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website Gallery Classifieds Feedback
djkeev Premium Member
Samba Moderator


Joined: September 30, 2007
Posts: 27064
Location: North West New Jersey
djkeev is offline 

PostPosted: Sun Apr 21, 2013 4:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My parents had a Camper when they retired back in the 1970's. they progressed through three of them through the years (always seeking the newer and better I guess.... 68, 73 & 77) while traveling many 10's of 1000's of miles traveling North America, on the road for months at a time.

It was tight, they were well organized but they had a blast together while traveling, sight seeing and seeing friends/family as they went.

It can be done, just make sure that you really Really REALLY like your traveling companion!

I'd like to do likewise someday. Time will tell..........

Dave
_________________
Stop Dead Photo Links how to post photos

Ghia
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=392473

Vanagon
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?p=6315537#6315537

Beetle
https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=482968&highlight=74+super+vert
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Gallery Classifieds Feedback
Pascal
Samba Member


Joined: January 13, 2006
Posts: 801
Location: Fredericton, NB, Canada
Pascal is offline 

PostPosted: Sun Apr 21, 2013 6:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

We lived in our westy for 8 weeks driving across Canada with our two kids. It took about one week to get things sorted out, but after that we were pretty organized and had our system worked out. We used our domestic fridge on propane that whole time and stopped to get groceries pretty much everyday. Since then we have also traveled in the southern US and the domestic has a hard time keeping things cold in the southern heat.

The kids are no longer camping with us and it is huge with just the two of us! Laughing

For some reason we always bring too much clothes now without the kids using their closets.
_________________
'84 Westy - 2.2wbx
'91 EA Cabby


Last edited by Pascal on Mon Apr 22, 2013 3:13 am; edited 1 time in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Gallery Classifieds Feedback
Display posts from previous:   
Reply to topic    Forum Index -> Vanagon All times are Mountain Standard Time/Pacific Daylight Savings Time
Page: 1, 2, 3  Next
Page 1 of 3

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum

About | Help! | Advertise | Donate | Premium Membership | Privacy/Terms of Use | Contact Us | Site Map
Copyright © 1996-2020, Everett Barnes. All Rights Reserved.
Not affiliated with or sponsored by Volkswagen of America | Forum powered by phpBB