In the spirit of DIY with the likes of the haute route post , here is a description of the DIY Campervan we created last summer.
Helen and I went on a trip to France this summer past, starting in Nottingham and finishing in Inverness after a nice tour of France and parts of the UK.
Wild camping is banned in France along with a few of the other central european countries. Meaning that if you want to be ‘out in the nature’ you need to stay in a campsite or hotel.
However, there is a big campervan culture in France which means that campervans are accepted all over the place and there is a network of aires which provide essential services such as water and waste disposal.
The downside of campervans is that they are very expensive to buy and hire .
If you want to spend time in the alps or the pyrenees a good way to do it is with a DIY Camper™
There are some amazing Van conversions out there which take a lot of time and money to create. This is not one of them. This conversion can be done for minimal funds and in a couple of days.
Buy a van, max 2m high as this means you can park in regular car parks. Features to look out for are low mileage, ply-lined, carpeted. without bulk head, turbo diesel, side and back doors. Buy something which has a decent resell value as you will likely want to sell the van on after your trip.
As of 2011 £2000 would be a good budget. We started with a Mercedes Vito electricians van purchased from Autotrader vans.
You can pick up an IKEA sofabed for about £100, this acts as both a sofa and a bed! Jobs a good un!
If you have more time / expertise an mdf sleeping platform design is far superior as it allows you to store luggage underneath the sleeping area when you sleep.
- Inverter for a DC power supply (Laptop and Mobile) – sourced from Maplin.
- Large water container. You need a lot of water storage as often days can pass without water. – sourced from Decathlon.
- Solar shower. A large black back with a nozzle attached was excellent for cheeky washes. – sourced from Decathlon.
- Seat organisers, these clip onto the back of seat.
- FM transmitter, good way to listen to Ipod / Phone in the car without modifying the stereo.
- Screw hooks on the ply lining for organising stuff.
- Cooking was done outside with an MSR Whisperlite International stove running on petrol.
- Take a basic tool kit for repairs. Our main issue was the back section of the exhaust needed tied onto the chassis for most of the trip. If you get a good van you will hopefully escape mechanical issues.
- Curtains for the back doors with velcro attachments. Well made by Mrs Palmer.
- Use the aires in villages for services (but buy something in the village!). You can also sleep in them as well.
- When driving long distance we split the driving and did 2hr efforts, which can be maintained.
- The pyrenees is a lovely area.