Vacation in a van. Need input and advise.

Discussion in 'Random Ramblings' started by oldrooster, Nov 25, 2012.

  1. oldrooster

    oldrooster One Crazy Nut

    I am thinking about going on vacation this spring/summer in my minivan and need some advise, I have never been camping in a tent or camper/RV type but I wish to sleep in my van (removing at least back and possibly even the middle seat also). I will be traveling alone, I will have a large cooler (if I remember correctly holds 2 24 packs of soda and ice so large not super-sized that could hold a body) I will toss an old beat up sleeping bag in the back with a pillow and a couple of sheets and blankets (sleeping bag will be used in essence as a mattress). I will tape up paper on the 2 side rear windows (the ones that slide out to open for air flow) and will have card board for middle windows to tape up at night (will need to be down during the day so I can see when driving) and I will buy 2 window coverings that people use on the side windows for kids in the back seat that look like blinds for the front 2 side windows so I can remove them with the suction cups attached and the old fashion card board (or whatever they are made of now) front window cover and a card board that is taped up and removed when driving in the rear window.

    I will sleep in my van and will have soft drinks, water and lunch meat in the cooler probably an old large egg box from a store to store additional groceries IE oranges apples some canned fruit potato chips crackers peanut butter bread so it isn't rolling around and I can have my meals at hand and cheaper than a fast food place. I may pack a camp type stove but I worry about the small propane cylinders and carrying them in my van if I do I will carry a cast iron frying pan or dutch oven to cook in (simple clean up wipe and go).

    I have never been in a truck stop other than in the convenience store part and I am wondering how the shower areas are set up. Are there changing rooms attached? also are they like a dryers in a Laundromat so many minutes of water for a quarter? do they have laundry facilities at least a couple of machines? I know many wal marts and some other stores allow overnight parking for campers RVs and simi trucks and I will hit those type places up or rest stops to sleep at also I will ask at truck stops.

    I am thinking of buying inverters to use battery power to run electric items and also buying a battery jump start thing that are available I am thinking of charging the jump pack at home before I leave and use that as a power source if needed the model I am looking at has an adapter for a cigarette lighter so I will possibly buy 2 inverters one will be wired to the battery and would charge the jump pack as I am driving and one for the lighter part of the jump pack for a fan or some such (I have a small 4-5 inch fan) I will have a couple of flashlights and battery powered radios and some extra batteries.

    All suggestions will be appreciated. I am just now trying to figure things out so plans are not set in stone....
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Well, I have experience with that kind of cooking, anyway. My camping days were absolutely low budget and almost all food was brought from home. I would get a single burner camp stove or a backpacking stove and use small propane tanks, which should travel quite safely. I have used them many times camping. You could also have a lantern that ran off them.

    I would recommend a small nonstick fry pan and a simple aluminum pot with a lid, rather than cast iron. These will heat much faster. I've cooked many suppers in an aluminum pot with something like a noodle or rice mix, a can of chicken or tuna, and a can of veggies all in one pot. You can even carry fresh carrots, parsnips, winter squash or sweet potatoes or the like, boil them til tender in the pot, then add the noodle mix and meat, if you even want a meat. A cast iron dutch oven is great over a woodburning fire, but it doesn't sound like you will set up that sort of camp, and it would take forever to get it up to heat over propane. Some noodle mixes call for milk, which you can add in powder form. Just add the powder to the noodle mix and add water instead of milk. They also often call for margarine, which is strictly for flavor, and optional. If you plan most meals before you leave, it will go very smoothly.

    One of our favorite camp meals was a pound of hamburger meat, a can of beans (kidney, black, whatever you like) and a large can of corn. Brown the meat then add the rest. You'd be surprised how good it tastes outdoors. Put the leftovers in a few plastic containers in the ice chest and you have some heat and eat meals ready to go.
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2012
  3. bgelber

    bgelber Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Most of your truckstops have nice shower facility's, they join the bathroom in the TA's that I have been in. My dad is a truckdriver and only stops at Love's, TA's, Pilot's and some Flying J's.

    Best of luck and have fun.
     
  4. cracked egg

    cracked egg Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Used to travel all over Idaho that way. I took a cot and a sleeping bag instead of sleeping in the van, cooked in a small dutch oven over charcoal and bathed in the natural hot springs. Some of the bigger campgrounds around here have showers,you can look them up and see the facilities and then stop by and have a free shower. I carried a small cooler for drinks,bought my meals at local stores and cooked where I pulled over for the night.
    Enjoyed those trips,even with the kids.
    We didn't stay in one place though,we use a wall tent for that.
    Take a fishing pole, learn the local edible berries and mushrooms and save a big chunk of the grocery money. Another tip is buy those cheap solar lights,they work great for a mini lantern.
     
  5. EweSheep

    EweSheep Flock Mistress

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    We do alot of that kind of camping too! We usually take either our wall tent or Coleman tents, since it is so light weight.

    You can install an army cot if it fits your back cargo space. Egg carton mattress and sleeping bag isn't bad at all on top of the cot.

    Cooler, you can get one that sits more upright, deeper and save some space. Get a tote box for clothes. Another tote box for cups, plates, cookware, dry rack, two deep wash basins. Another tote for chips, bread or anything that rolls around, needs avoided to be squished, etc. and its a bonus keeping ants and bugs out of it. A water jug or two. Like Flockwatcher said about aluminum cookwares, they are good but I decided to bump up a bit for my stove, is to use my extra pot and pan by Saladmaster, stainless steel and so durable! Enamelware isn't bad either! don't like to wash dishes? Use paper everything.

    Coleman propane stove! Do not get the white gas stove...had one and I hated it! Cranky as h*** and the heat on it is inconsisent. I bought a cast iron stove which it is a work horse, wonderful for camping. I have my propane stove hooked up to a large tank which it would double for a heater in cooler nights. Cheaper too!

    No campground? A rolled up tabletop, fold down table would work! Nylon chair too! And if you are game to use the campfire, bring the iron grates.

    Want cheaper campgrounds? Go primitive without electric hookups and almost all of them do have showers but a few that don't. do some online searching for showers. TAs are good for showers or Pilot too!

    Bathrooms? If you are male, not a problem using a bottle or jug in the middle of the night. If you have a wife, she would appreciate small comforts of a bag lined bucket filled with some cat litter and toliet paper! It is a real life saver for both of us, hating to go out and walk a distance to a porta pot. Two months ago, I finally tossed out the porta toliet we had for almost ten years and both of us loathe taking it apart, clean it out and dump it. So bag, bucket and cat litter is quick and easy to go and do. Be sure to get a lid for it to keep the smell in the bucket, particuarly in the middle of the night.
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2012
  6. Baymule

    Baymule Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I suggest a trial run for a weekend maybe, before you dive in the deep end, paddle around in the shallows. [​IMG] Set up a tent in the backyard and do some primitive cooking so you can work out the glitches before you are in a campsite and hungry. Also, you might want to include a port-a-potty of some sort for those moments when nature calls and there is no where to answer the call. [​IMG]
     
  7. EweSheep

    EweSheep Flock Mistress

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    It is not bad if you can invest in a screened canopy in case the days get so hot to sleep in the van. It will get very hot even it is in the middle of summer in the van and not much air circulating in there.
     
  8. oldrooster

    oldrooster One Crazy Nut

    I will be driving and just want to loose the bill for hotels/motels and some of the areas I will driving to will be a couple of days drive from each other and I don't want to fool with a tent and do not want to stray too far from the interstate like to a state or federal park to try to find a camp grounds. I already have a propane table type stove (technically not a camp stove but very similar). perhaps some canned soups/canned pasta and a sack of potatoes I know boiled eggs and potatoes hold up for a while so I could boil up a couple of dozen eggs and several potatoes and just add the potatoes to the canned soup to beef them up a little so to speak. and eggs for a salad and for breakfast. I figure I might either buy canned evaporated milk or dehydrated, not sure which, and a few gallons of water in jugs.
     
  9. oldrooster

    oldrooster One Crazy Nut

    do they have lockers for storage for clothes while in the showers? If so are the locks provided or does one need a pad lock? also are the showers free of charge or as I asked earlier is it coin operated or some such where you might pay an attendant and get a code like an automatic car wash? I am totally ignorant on such I just know showers are available there. also do they have laundry facilities?
     
  10. bgelber

    bgelber Chillin' With My Peeps

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    the showers, at least in the TA's I've been in, are adjoining individual bathrooms and the door locks. It's like a 3/4 bath in your home. Does that help?
     

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