Life and Dreams

We spent the night in the parking lot of the FlyingJ and woke up ever more focused on campervanning.  About 10 miles down the road we heard some thunks and then our van lost power.  We coasted to the exit and after an eventful hour, we learned that the minivan was DEAD.  Long story short, we searched the Durham-Chapel Hill-Raleigh area for a unicorn full size van and we did not find one.  Desperate for a vehicle, we purchased a sensible Corolla under warranty.

Our dreams of campervanning our not dead, but our plans are on hold for a bit.


Minivan “camper”for 3- the morning after

The minivan worked pretty well for a “camper”last night. We laid on yoga mats, blankets and thermarests, which provided limited comfort. We weren’t  sure how we would feel about sleeping in the van, so we didn’t want to invest in a mattress until we knew if we would like it.  We were warm enough while sleeping and breaking down camp was VERY simple! We told our kiddo to buckle up, the parents climbed in the front seats and we drove off.

We will need to make some changes to be comfortable for more than one night in a row.

  1. Organization/storage: We would like to add some kind of system to the van to store our belongings in an organized manner that does not take up too much floor space. I am considering modifying an over the door shoe organizer and hanging it from the “oh shit” handles. We also need a dirty clothes bag that seals in the smell.
  2. Sleeping pad- We needed something more substantial than our variety of sleeping pads that we used last night. We have gone through a number of air mattresses in our marriage and were not interested in using one in our van. Today we purchased two extra large orthopedic dog beds that fit almost perfectly in the back of the van. I am going to sew a couple of big pillow cases out of old sheets to fit them in to make them easier to keep clean and hold them together.  We tried it out this afternoon and it was much more comfortable than last nights “bed” but continues to be light, affordable and versatile.  Our youngest is sleeping on one tonight inside the house because it is so cozy. We are still trying to figure if there is any way to comfortably sleep 4 people in our van that does not have stow and go seating so we don’t want to take up extra room by building anything at this point.
  3. Because it was cold out the windows in the van were all closed. It became very humid in the van overnight. I saw someone mention filling tube socks with kitty litter to absorb moisture in the air. Has anyone tried this or have another solution? If so, please post your suggestions in the comments.
  4. An outside rug- it would be great to have a rug we can lay down by the door to wipe our shoes off before climbing in the van.  This would not be practical in parking lots, but very necessary in a campground.
  5. Screens- I plan to cut and sew some magnet strips into screen fabric so we can open up the van a bit when needed.

We will be using the van for about a week later this month- we will post a pic once we get it set up.
We have spent $80 so far on this project for the dog beds.


Camper Van Packing List

I am working on the packing list for our southern minivan-campervan trip.  We will be staying a couple of nights with family and 4-6 nights in our van, should all go well. We will have access to laundry 1/2 through our trip.  We want to pack what it needed, but not too much.  Don’t want the chaos in the van to make the space uncomfortable!

  • Curtain to divide the front bucket seat from the back sleeping compartment.  I shortened an old shower curtain a few inches to fit the floor to ceiling height in the van. We won’t want the curtain up during the day, so it needs to be easy to take up and down. The hook holes along the top will make it easy to tie up and remove as needed.
  • Cooler, small – This first trip will include time with relatives and we will be in a number of cities, at least for the first part of the trip.  We will plan to eat out some, so we will pack minimal food products.
    • Yoplait Go Big -12 (our youngest son’s diet includes A LOT of yogurt)
    • cut vegetables
    • fresh fruit
    • lunch meat/cheese
  • Kitchen supplies
    • napkins
    • wet wipes
    • 3 flat bowls
    • 3 spoon/fork/knife combos
    • matches/lighter
    • 3 travel mugs
    • hot chocolate packets
    • ground coffee
    • pour over coffee maker
    • small dish soap
    • disposable dish rags- old cut up bath towels to wash and try with
    • electric tea kettle
  • Bedding
    • 1 cot (for my 6’4″ husband)
    • 1 foam pad (for my 7 year old and myself to share)
    • 3 pillows
    • 3 quilts/blankets/sleeping bags
  • Creature comforts/personal items
    • battery operated rechargeable fan
    • phones with chargers
    • tablets with chargers (loaded with books/audio books)
    • 3 camp chairs
    • 4 changes of clothes
    • personal toiletries/medicine
    • swimsuits- just in case
    • pajamas
  • Misc
    • extension cord
    • 3 ponchos
    • 3 microfiber bath towels
    • ball
    • tarp
    • rope
    • small first aid kit
    • flashlight
    • blanket for park or beach

If you have any suggestions, please leave a comment. Thank you.




IMG_0929It has been about 5 months since our family last traveled and I have been busy mentally planning our next adventure(s).

Over last couple of months I have been exploring the idea of creating a camper van for our family of 4. We live in the city and we don’t have room on our property to store a pop up and I don’t want to add the extra hassle of storing a camper off location, so a stand alone camper is out. I love the idea of being free to roam the US in a van. I’d like to travel west with our kids in the next couple of years, and the camper van would allow us to travel place to place with minimal set up and tear down—the worst part of camping. I’d like our camper van to also be one of our primary vehicles.

My husband, who is a bit leery of the camper van plan, suggested we try it out first in our minivan before making a new purchase. Sensible.

Our eldest will be traveling to China with his grandparents for two weeks this spring— the remaining 3 of us will be taking a road trip south and we are planning to test out the minivan camper on that trip.

I have been making plans for a temporary van dwelling setup- I made a curtain to separate the front two seats from the back sleeping compartment. We plan to take out one of the 2nd row bucket seats so that my husband (6’4″) can sleep lengthwise in the van on a cot; our youngest and I will sleep horizontally across the back, with our feet under his cot.  This should leave us with 3 seats for traveling and a place for all 3 of us sleep.

We will open the back venting windows and crack the sunroof for ventilation and I plan to purchase a battery operated fan to circulate the air.

For this trip we will keep a limited amount of food in a small cooler and plan to eat some meals out (part of the fun of travel), so we do not need to pack as many supplies in the van.

I’ll post pictures as the project progresses.