Travelling light is a good thing, but it’s relative. As before, I really don’t aspire to recreate an entire suburban home on the road. I mean, I (kind of?) get it if you live your life in an RV, but I really don’t need or want ALL kinds of mod cons if they’re weighing me down. As Tyler Durden says, ‘sooner or later the stuff you own ends up owning you’. (I’m weird, though; I don’t own a tv and haven’t for the past 15 years.) I’m a big fan of decluttering, never hoarding crap AT ALL, and also Marie Kondo (even though she’s obviously barking mad).
However, for a comfortable and practical life in a campervan, I’m realising that I DO need to own some stuff, even if some of it doesn’t exactly ‘spark joy’. So I built storage compartments in the van conversion. And over the past few days on the road I’ve gradually been finding homes for all the ten gadzillion tiny practical items that found their way into the boxes I packed for the trip.
Inside the living space I’ve got all the stuff I use everyday: kitchen stuff, clothes, pantry, the portaloo, notepads and books (writing and reading are easily as essential as either food or the loo, of course).
And accessed from the rear of the van are the things that I do need to bring but that I use less often: my toolkit, my equivalent of the cupboard under the kitchen sink (cleaning supplies, mozzie coils, binbags, laundry soap and stuff), camping gear, a couple of in-progress craft projects, the solar blanket, and hoses for filling and emptying the water tanks.
Written down like this it looks like, duh, well, obviously. And to a certain extent that’s true. It’s an intuitive system. But what I’m realising is that, to be comfortable living out of a campervan: 1. EVERYTHING needs to be very organised and always go back into the right place so it’s easy to find it again and 2. Things need to be intuitively near each other.
So, for example, conceptually the coffee would live in the pantry, the coffee plunger, spoon, and mug would be in the box with all the kitchen stuff, and the milk would be in the fridge. And that’s exactly where they are. And yet it’s a hassle because now I need to dig around in three separate compartments just to make coffee. And as I struggle to even make coffee before I’ve made coffee in the morning, this isn’t necessarily the best solution.
So I’m gradually noticing what I need at what points in the day, and how I use things, and what gets left lying around. And what’s evolving is a better system, and one that’s very much a work in progress. So here’s a snapshot, only, of where it’s at right now, knowing it’ll change…
I LOVE how perfectly this all fits. Left to right: washing up liquid, sunscreen, toothpaste & toothbrush in repurposed cutoff shampoo bottle, sesame oil, salt, hot sauce, mozzie repellent.
Right hand side, kitchen cupboard: pantry, bookshelf (front) and portaloo (behind).
And yes, that IS the ‘people’s guide to Mexico’ but not because I’m going anytime soon. Just, it’s actually a guide to travelling around in Mexico and living out of your vehicle. So a lot of it is not Mexico specific but more about campervan life. But with a glorious, 1970s hippy slant to it. I bought it in 1999 when I first went to Mexico, and this was the 25th anniversary edition then. This is the same copy. Who’d have thought it would find its way from an Edinburgh bookstore where I first picked it up, via six months in Mexico, to a campervan in Australia all these years later, but it did. So spins the world. I don’t often hold onto things this long, but I freakin’ love this book.
Instructions, variously, for getting into hammocks, tying knots, building palapas, finding wild campsites, and stopping on highways. Universal guide to living, 1970s style.
But back to the van…
Left side. Basket for pots and pans and a bin. And room for the gas cabinet that is being fitted on Friday 🙂
These are the built-in shelves that form part of the bed base. The top is kitchen stuff as it fits into this low, narrow gap. And underneath there’s my one, cabin-sized bag of clothes. To be honest, though, as I’m just wearing shorts and tshirt all the time I probably don’t even need this much.
And there’s the slightly modified back view. The jerrycan stayed home this time as I’m not going way far out but I AM bringing (in the giant grey box) a ridiculous paper-craft project that I’m making for my friend Natasha’s Christmas present. It’s bulky, fiddly, and all the bits blow away when it’s windy (grrrr) but I’m hoping she will LOVE IT!
So that’s me travelling heavier than ever before but still pretty light. By simply not having much storage space am I going to be able to keep the accumulation of stuff under control? Let’s see…