It is only the middle of August and California is already burning. I’ve packed my Promaster City campervan, which is also my regular car, for a quick escape. At night I pack up my computer and hard drives containing all my work and place them by the door. Anything else that I don’t want to keep in the van all the time, like valuables, family papers, and my clothes, I place by the door, too. As my very first boss, Rudy Medina, told me, “Stay flexible.”
I haven’t posted for a while because my van life has been in transition. I traded Ramsey, my fully-stocked 21-foot Class B that got 14 miles per gallon, for a small cargo van that fits in my garage and (supposedly) gets 28 miles per gallon on the open road.
I made the decision to make the swap after taking a trip around the Northwest last August. As you can see from this map, I visited many National Park sites. What a treat that was!
But on my way home I was wishing I didn’t burn so much fossil fuel while enjoying the scenery. I was coveting smaller vans. Driving Ramsey around for two years taught me what I need and what I don’t.
I never used Ramsey’s shower.
I only need one burner on the stove.
I don’t need a generator and air conditioner.
I don’t need a sink and complicated plumbing.
It is just as easy to use a bucket as it is to use the toilet that requires black tanks.
Since I have a wonderful home where I can entertain, I don’t need my RV to be a place to cook elaborate meals. Besides, one of the fun things about traveling is trying out local restaurants.
I don’t need a whale beached on my driveway when I’m not using it. It blocked access to my garage.
I suddenly knew I was done with my Class B, even though the PleasureWay Lexor is an absolutely beautiful mini-RV.
Fortunately, a cute couple in Oregon was ready to start where I’d left off and purchased Ramsey from me. I put 2/3 of the cash back in the bank and used the rest to purchase Ramsey Junior, a ProMaster City cargo van – the passenger wagon version.
I did a lot of planning before making that purchase.
I took all the items that I had had in Ramsey that I thought I would need in a small campervan and placed them in a pile in the middle of my garage.
I put the smallest items in 11″ x 17″ plastic tubs that I could stack.
I obtained measurements for self-inflating mattresses from the Internet.
I got measurements for the cargo spaces in Ram ProMasters, Ford Transits, and Nissan cargo vans.
I marked the spaces out in my garage and made mock-ups of how everything would be placed in that space.
I measured myself sitting to see how high a chair could be and not cause my head to bump the ceiling.
I drew plans using Adobe Illustrator.
I test drove the ProMaster and the Transit and lay down in the backs of both to see how well I fit.
I took a few practice trips in my much-more-cramped BMW X1. That helped me eliminate more stuff I didn’t need. I watched countless videos about van conversions to see what other people found important. (It is amazing how some couples actually live full time in tiny vans. One couple packs a water heater and a stove in the ProMaster City!) I do not live full time in my van, and I place elbow room high on my priority list.
My goal is to be able to live off the grid for a week at one time. I’ve made the decision to stay with a cooler instead of a 12-volt fridge, which would need some sort of power. I can charge my phone, my computer, and my LED lantern while driving. But what if I am in one place for a week? Do I need to buy one of those self-contained batteries, like the Jackery, and a solar panel? I’m still working that out.
Meanwhile, here is a video showing Ramsey Junior so far. I have taken several weekend trips in him and been very comfortable. Let me know your thoughts.