How do you prepare a van road-trip?

Going on a road-trip in a van is a good excuse to explore the mountains and indulge in your favourite sport!It is often said that a van is freedom, being free to stay where you want, free to go at your own pace and enjoy the surrounding nature and this is almost entirely true.But not without some basic rules, common sense and good manners.

How do you prepare a van road-trip?

Plan your route.

One of the first things before setting off on the road is of course to plan your route.It can be more or less precise, but you must map out the outline and above all do as you wish.

If you don't have a lot of time, organising each step of the route is a good idea. And it's exactly the opposite for those who have more time, you can leave room for the unexpected. It's often when you're not expecting it that you create your fondest memories.
Good old paper maps are for us the best tool so that you can visualize all of your route at the same time. In addition, most reference scenic routes and points of interest. This can be very handy and you're sure not to miss a thing and you'll take the most beautiful routes. Avoid the motorways which often do not offer exceptional panoramas and take advantage of the small roads more suitable to adventure and encounters.
Once you have marked your points of interest on the map and found the "tourist" routes, your route should map itself out. You can then count the number of kilometers to be covered and plan your fuel budget.

The weather can also change things so it may be a good idea to prepare a Plan B if you are not sure that the weather will be good throughout your road trip. Even if a short tea or coffee break in the shelter of your little house on wheels is always appreciated. .

How do you prepare a van road-trip?

Useful free applications

If you want to stay connected, there are a few that could be useful to you such as “Park4night”, a collaborative app that identifies points of interest to find water, a campsite, a wild spot, etc ... Very practical to provide a minimum of information about the area where you're staying the night.« iOverlander » is also in the same register, its database has more or less information for certain countries.

Our advice: Read the most recent comments carefully to make sure the location you are targeting is still accessible and get an idea of the photos if there are any. You can sometimes have unpleasant surprises.

If you want an all-purpose GPS on your smartphone, we recommend MapsMe. The app works offline, so all you have to do is download the area of the map that interests you before you set off, to benefit from GPS guidance as well as view the topography in the mountains and even the hiking trails! Very practical, and multifunctional!

Our advice: Read the most recent comments carefully to make sure the location you are targeting is still accessible and get an idea of the photos if there are any. You can sometimes have unpleasant surprises.

How do you prepare a van road-trip?

MANAGING YOUR WATER

As for hiking, in a van you have to know how to manage your water. Nothing too complicated, of course it all depends on the capacity of your water tank, but as a general rule in a small campervan you have around 50L It's a little and a lot at the same time, but you never let the water run for no reason! This reserve will be used mainly for cooking, washing your dishes, brushing your teeth and grooming your cat. So plan extra water bottles for drinking on the road and hiking. If you do well, you should be able to last 4 or 5 days without a problem. Some vans are equipped with an external shower. Be careful, your water autonomy will be greatly impacted. We strongly advise you in this case to provide an additional container of water in reserve. It can also be used to fill the water tank of your van at a fountain for example or when it is impossible to connect a hose. In any event, we advise you to fill your tank as soon as the opportunity arises, when it is below half of its capacity ... You can never be too careful!Again the Park4night app can help.

How do you maintain good hygiene on a road trip?

As we have just said, some vans are equipped with a shower but not all and the question of hygiene is necessarily legitimate, especially after having gone on a good hike in the mountains. Several solutions exist, but for us the best option is the pressure solar shower coupled with a shower tent. It can be installed anywhere, next to the van or further away under the shelter of a tree. Regardless, it's a flexible solution.The size of the shower is more than enough for one, or even two, taking care of water consumption. Whatever, with this system there is no excuse, you can shower every day as long as you have water. The sun will even heat it up a bit for you, but you can always heat it up more quickly by using a saucepan if you are chilly.
We prefer solid soaps and shampoos, which are more practical to store and are more environmentally friendly. Making sure you wash yourself at a good distance from water points (river, lake ...) so as not to degrade the ecosystems present.
For those rare times when you can't shower outside, consider taking baby wipes with you. They will come in really handy!
And for those who don't like to wash in the open air, campsites and sports halls may be another solution.

How do you prepare a van road-trip?
How do you prepare your van road-trip?

How do you manage meals?

Going on a road-trip in a van means travelling with your house on wheels. Everything is there, just like at home, but in miniature. It is therefore necessary to make some adaptations. But that does not mean concessions. Contrary to popular belief, you can eat something other than pasta in a van and even eat well, however you want (and whatever your talent), you just need to adapt a bit. The refrigerator (when there is one) is quite small, so you will need to favour fresh products, and the use of jars. Practical for storing your condiments but also for keeping a few small meals prepared in advance.
The advantage of travelling in a van is that you can visit small little villages off the beaten track where you can sometimes find local producers. It is therefore very easy to stock up, even on a daily basis, and to avoid culinary monotony. Food is also part of the journey and part of the identity of the regions you visit, so take the opportunity to discover local specialities! Your taste buds are also part of the journey.
Our advice is to try not to settle too late, on one hand so that you can take advantage of your evening parking spot but also to take the time to prepare your meal, or even the snack for your next day's hike. Everything takes a little longer in a van and cooking is no exception to the rule: pots and pans are smaller; there are only one or two burners for cooking so inevitably you have to juggle a little
Eating cold meals like a salad for lunch can also be a solution for those who want to enjoy the day away from the van. Easy to make, there are loads of recipes for a change from the traditional Caesar salad.

How do you prepare a van road-trip?

Where can you stop to sleep on a road-trip?

As we saw above, there are a few apps that can help you find a location for the night. But there are several alternatives.
For wild camping, there are a few rules to follow. The first one is quite simple:make sure that you're not on someone's land...Also that there are no bans in the area (natural park, municipality, etc.) And the third is common sense, that you do not disturb anyone!
To find your spot you sometimes have to follow your feelings (it usually comes with time), or use GoogleMap to find a nice spot. But there are other solutions.
Campsites of course, very handy from time to time for having a good shower and doing your laundry, while taking advantage of the electricity to recharge your batteries. Take the cost into account when planning your budget. Be careful, however, to plan ahead and book well in advance in the summer months.
Other concepts have emerged, such as the HomeCamper platform, which connects people offering to use a spot of their land for one or more nights, at very attractive prices and with more or less services. Calmer and more peaceful, it is also an opportunity to chat to your host about their region and to benefit from their advice for visiting it.

How do you sleep safely in your van?

You need to use your common sense. The first thing and this is a rule for us, if one of the group doesn't feel good in a chosen spot, you just move, even if it means driving a few more kilometers. 
- Do not leave anything visible on the dashboard or the seats.
- Keep the driver's seat clear and accessible so you are ready to leave at any minute no matter what the circumstances. 
- Don't leave anything hanging around outside. 
- Avoid motorway rest areas (this is where the vast majority of problems occur).
- Close your doors and windows and equip yourself with a CO2 detector to sleep soundly. Some of these rules also apply during the day of course.
If you are cautious about sleeping in the great outdoors, don't hesitate to go to a campsite or Homestay according to your budget.Going on a road-trip should remain a pleasant and rewarding experience that will leave you with fond memories.

How do you prepare a van road-trip?

WHAT BASIC EQUIPMENT DO YOU NEED TO TAKE WITH YOU FOR A SUCCESSFUL ROAD-TRIP?

- A cooking set adapted to the number of people and which can do double duty during treks
- An outdoor stove if the van is equipped with a fixed kitchen (ideal when it is hot and double use for treks)
- An insulated water bottle per person , practical for both the road and for hiking
- A pressure solar shower for daily hygiene, even for the dishes
- A 2second shower cabin for privacy and / or protection from the wind (a must for us!)
- A camping blanket to put on the ground for insulation
- Folding and compact camping chairs + a camping table
- Travel storage bags for clothes
- A first aid kit
- A paper road map
- The keys of the van :)

How do you prepare a van road-trip?

A FEW BASIC RULES

- Leave the places you visit without any trace of your passage (or even cleaner still!), This includes your toilet paper.
- Do not light a campfire where it is not allowed
- Ask yourself if you are not on private property (and if so ask the owner for permission, you will be surprised to see the kindness and warm welcome that you can sometimes receive).
- Respect the tranquillity of other van or tent travellers and don't park next to them or find another overnight parking spot if the one you are targeting is taken.

With these few tips you are now ready to hit the road and devour as many kilometers as you desire.Remember that plans don't always need to be followed, so allow yourself the freedom to explore new horizons.After all, the unexpected is part of the adventure…
Have a good trip and we're looking forward to bumping into you one of these days!

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