Articles

Camping Abroad (with a Trailer Tent)

This was a post I started to draft last year when we were preparing for our first trip abroad. I never got around to finishing it but as we are currently getting ready to do it all again it seems like a good idea to note down some of this information to refer to again.

Living in Europe offers up so many destinations when you have transport that you are confident with. When we had the ‘van, after the work Tom had done on it in the early years, I’m not sure we ever trusted it for long journeys within the UK, never mind on mainland Europe. Nowadays we’re using the trailer with our family car, which makes a huge difference to the types of trips we want to plan. Once you start looking, the possibilities are endless.  Ferry travel will get you direct to the Netherlands, France or Ireland, or there is the shuttle to France. There are then any number of onward destinations you can choose. Our goal is to build up to lengthy cross-country trips staying in various locations for a few nights at a time, but for a change, we’ve decided to start out small and see how it goes whilst we get used to the trailer and the boys are still very young.

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Equipment

Going off-grid: Camping without electric

As happy campervanners we felt like we always needed the electric hook-up. We didn’t have a leisure battery and our fridge only ran off 240v mains electricity so without a hook-up we couldn’t power the fridge and were worried that we’d run down the van’s only battery if we left the lights on too long and wouldn’t be able to start the engine in the morning. As happy trailer-tenters we don’t have a fridge (or any battery at all) and we’ve started to realise how much we limit our options if we only camp in locations that have a hook-up available – especially at busy times as the electric pitches are always first to go. Also, some sites charge quite a premium for the hook-up which is disproportionate to the small amount of electricity we consume so we’ve started to look at alternative power sources to broaden our campsite options.

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Equipment

What’s the best way to make great coffee when camping?

I’ll admit that I like coffee. I might even admit that I can, occasionally, be a coffee snob. I like good coffee. I can’t stand terrible coffee (“instant” doesn’t even count as coffee in my book). When I’m camping, a great cup of coffee in the morning with breakfast can be a nice little luxury.

Over the years I’ve been through several different methods of making my coffee on the campsite, looking for an option that’s portable, easy to use and clean and produces a tasty cup. Here are my thoughts on the various options available…

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Articles

Goodbye Bongo, Hello Concorde!

Well, after 7 years of campervan ownership, it is with some regret that we are announcing here that we have sold the ’van. After a lot of consideration, taking into account several factors, we concluded that ultimately, the campervan didn’t work for us any longer and we needed a better solution. Contrary to what we originally thought, that solution is not a new ’van, but instead a trailer tent. So, the campervan may have gone, but the camping will continue, as will this site!

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Equipment

Our list of camping essentials

We spent a fair amount of time in the campervan in 2010, and at the end of the season had got packing down to a fine art. Over the winter, however we took out some of the kit to stop it getting damp and also when the the van went in for major repairs, and so we’ve now got our camping kit spread between the van, the house and the garage. With the camping season about to start and the first camping trips booked, we thought it would be a good idea to try to remember what we needed. Read more…

Articles

The excitement of a new campervan… almost

My campervan has been off the road road and in pieces for the last few weeks,  but there’s been something “not quite right” with it for much longer than that (as you’ll know if you follow the ramblings of @campervanning on twitter). The problems started last summer at the start of our first big camping trip – 10 days in various spots around Cornwall. During the 400+ mile journey to Looe the water pump died. The water pump is essential for keeping the coolant flowing through the radiator to prevent the engine from overheating. Eventually over time the bearing in the pump wears out and as a result the water leaks out. Owners of classic VWs will be rubbing their hands with glee at this (I’m looking at you Sarah & Paul!) because their 30+ year old vans are air cooled so this is one problem that they can’t be afflicted with. We hoped that we’d stopped in time before the overheating did any damage to the engine. Once the repair was complete, everything was looking good: the van behaved perfectly for the rest of our holiday and did the 400+ mile journey home without missing a beat. (more…)

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Articles

Top mobile apps for campers

When you go camping, do you like to leave behind all the electronic accessories of the modern world, or do you like to make use of them to make your trip more interesting? If you are a smartphone user, there are lots of apps that really useful when spending time out in the countryside. Here’s a run down of my recommended apps for the Android range of phones. All of these apps are free (or have free versions as well as premium versions), and although I’ve tested only the Android version, many of them have iPhone equivalents so it’s worth searching the iTunes App Store.
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Articles

Top 5 must-have camping accessories

It’s important to travel light when camping (my van struggles to average 25MPG when empty and cruising at 55MPH, let alone when it’s fully laden with camping equiment!), but a few well chosen accessories can make life easier and more comfortable. Over the last year we’ve refined our list of essential accessories that we won’t leave home without, so here in no particular order, are our top 5 must-have camping accessories…