Best van for a small family

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  • ...and I mean small. At the moment it is just me and my 4 month old son.


    The sticky threads are really helpful! But just wondered if anyone had any advice/experience of a particular type of vehicle where a child would be comfortable. I don't plan on making any moves just yet, but what would be a good age to move a child into a camper?


    A bit about me - I'm a single mum of one currently living in a one bedroom house. We co-sleep and are very happy, but it has always been my dream to pack up, buy a beautiful 60s/70s VW camper and travel around with my boy. I also hope to have more children as the years go by.


    I have a very loose plan of buying the van and parking it outside my mum's where there is private parking, and making use of her place until we're ready to make the full transition and head off. But my plan might not be realistic. Is it practical to live in an old style VW these days? Do they get too cold? What about laundry?! I could use mum's washings machine whilst there, but what do people do whilst on the road?


    So many questions lol. Don't feel you need to answer them all. Any input would be much appreciated.


    x

  • I have/had a similar desire, Miku, and I decided to buy an old campervan to try out before making any major commitments or changes. Personally I'd suggest doing that as I think each situation is so different and it depends a lot as well whether you are thinking of living in permanently or going on a long road trip with a view to going home again eventually. A lot will depend on whether you want to stay at campsites or be completely independent, whether or not you want a toilet or shower on board, how much money you've got to live on as you move around, whether or not you'll be working, whether you're happy to make the bed up each night or if you want it fixed and so on.


    I think the other thing to take into account with a small child is that once they've gone to bed it might restrict what you can do in terms of noise/light etc (so you don't wake them). Equally how you'll cope with a little one if they're up all night being sick or just not sleeping well, or if you're poorly and struggling to look after them.


    They're just things that have come to my mind with my son (who is a lot older than yours!) in terms of practicality and it means I have changed my mind a lot about what I want longer term. Our current van is lovely for days out and holidays but I wouldn't want to live in it with him, whereas when I bought it I assumed we'd be able to if we wanted to. Actually using it day to day has shown up potential problems and that has put me on a different path now.


    So that would be my suggestion; buy one to try it out and see how you get on and you can adjust your plan as you need to.

  • trust me ,although laundry is a big thing with a toddler nomadic living with one will present many more problems , i am sure there are ladies (I use the term loosely :D ) on here that have done exactly what you are hoping to do and will give you van loads of advice and experience .

  • As has been ssid you should look at a Transit sized van as a minmum...youll find it very restricted in a smaller van with a young child.Old VW campers are not thst well equiped and not that good fir all yesr round use .
    Not having a washing machine can be a pain but there are solutions...you can buy small portable camping washing machines -theyre popular with students-youll find them on ebay.... the other option is to find caravan sites with laundry facilities on site.You csn do that by using Camping and Caravanning Club or Caravan Club sites (membership required) or finding sites with lsundry facilities on this site. http://www.ukcampsite.co.uk/
    Or alternatively make arrangements with friends or family to do your laundry at theirs when required.
    If you look at the BETTER THAN A BEDSIT thread theres plenty of pics of vehicles and interiors that will give you some ides of what you can expect.

  • GivingItThought
    That is such a good idea thank Surprisingly hadn't even considered just getting a holiday van to see if i even can live in it full time. If I get an old van and park it up by mum's, i could stay with her and then take little trips to see friends etc.


    Markrob
    Ooo I'll check it out.

    NomadicRT
    I'm a member of UK Campsite but haven't used it in ages, Thanks for all the great tips!! I feel like this is more doable now.


    wandering-gypsy
    I've only ever seen one in my town and it's down some random road only locals would know. But asking around, taxi drivers especially is a great idea thanks!

  • Firstly I have to say I am child free so have zero experience. However I believe kids of all ages have a lot of associated stuff that goes with them, so I would agree with the transit idea. If you can find one in your budget, look for a jumbo or at least a LWB hi top, or a convoy Hi loader. Be careful of convoy ex minibuses, as the 17 seaters can be over 3.5 tons, the vans of the same size are 3.5 tons. 3.5 tons is the biggest you can drive on a car license, if you passed after 1997.

  • Miku if you not rushing to get van/camper van, around dec,jan,feb you tend to get them a lot cheaper and usually we have had a dose of rain by then so you can tell if they damp inside or not. Pus if not sure what you need to check take someone with you who does but not the type of numpty who think they knows. Prob find someone knowledgable from this forum who is in your area and knows their onions who can help.

  • I don't have campervan experience, but have owned many panel vans over the years. I am currently driving my third Renault Master / Vauxhall Movano. I have found them reliable, only traded up for appearance sake when running business, and the low floor height is a plus. Transit Jumbos are rear wheel drive, the floor is much higher.


    Movano / Masters are just like driving cars - really easy.

  • We've got a three families on site at the moment they respectively live in:


    Single mum and three year old daughter: Iveco daily hightop lwb, they are in the process of getting a HGV licence as they find the van to small.


    Single mum and two boys 10 and 5: 24ft Mercedes 814 Luton removals lorry, one of the bigger 7.5t you can get.


    Parents and two daughters 3 and 5: 30ft Roma caravan which they are currently in the process of replacing with a Mercedes 1820 30ft Luton removals truck.


    All of these vehicles are bigger than the one you're thinking of. Some by quite a margin. Especially if you're not living on a site where you can let the little one roam free kids need lots of indoor space. Winter is particularly important there. Inbetween the kitchen, a bed for the two of you and a burner there is practically no space for the little one to play, something she'll be doing a lot of in a year or two. I'd recommend getting a Luton 3.5 minimum if you want to full time it.

  • crazytim
    Hahaha will do!


    milly
    Not in a rush no, as my son is still tiny. So thanks for the advice! Great tip to look in the winter months, and to see if anyone from here will go with me! Awesome. x

    Duckman (Please tell me you used to watch that late night cartoon on Paramount)
    Aww jut missed it. But thanks so much for link. I don't really have a budget. Not that I'm rich or anything haha. I just didn't have a guide on prices and how much to start saving, but now I do, thanks.


    Subgenre
    Really appreciate you taking the time to give me all that info! Seems like big is definitely the way to go. Think I'll have to start with a decent sized van for trips until iIget confident enough to go for something large like the ones the families on your site have.


    Thanks guys! :) I've made a list of all the specific van makes and models to look for.

  • http://m.ebay.co.uk/itm/122206087708?_mwBanner=1


    Here's another 20:21:35! Not many about now

    It could be a bargain if it could be had for the staring price. It does not say what hte odometer reading is. Why are there not many around anymore? Have they been scrapped or exported? One thing too be said for VW is you can still buy parts going back many decades.


    Miku if you want to get an idea of a true market price, on E-bay click on Watch This Item for ones you like the look of, and after a while you should get an idea.When I lived in the UK second hand prices for vehicles were considerable less in up north that down south.

  • It could be a bargain if it could be had for the staring price. It does not say what hte odometer reading is. Why are there not many around anymore? Have they been scrapped or exported? One thing too be said for VW is you can still buy parts going back many decades.


    Miku if you want to get an idea of a true market price, on E-bay click on Watch This Item for ones you like the look of, and after a while you should get an idea.When I lived in the UK second hand prices for vehicles were considerable less in up north that down south.


    That's nice


  • I'm very glad now I bought a practise van before making the leap as it's really changed my perception of what I want and shown up the enormous gaps in skills and knowledge I have! I definitely want to be more capable of doing repairs and servicing jobs before going on the road and at least know enough not to get ripped off even if I can't do the work myself. It's also given me a good idea of what sort of layout will suit me best and what I do and don't need. I have wasted/overspent money because I didn't check the van thoroughly enough when I bought it so that's been a very useful lesson. I have found that people who use/work on/live in vans are generally very helpful and very patient with people like me who are bumbling along, lol, so I've learnt a lot in the relatively short time I've had a van and that's been very helpful :)