Physical Preparation: Van Sweet Van!

Published February 15, 2017 by Susan Woodward

When planning to drive across the country alone, and camping in a van along the way, it is imperative to make sure that you have everything you need.  And trying to make sure that I had it all AND make room for myself to sleep in the van was like a giant puzzle.

I had a very large plastic tub to hold some food items and necessaries that would not be needed every single day (like my back pack, my extra shoes, books, plastic bags of all sizes, and things like that). That tub would also serve as a table when I was resting inside. It was big enough to hold my picnic set/dishes, my CPAP machine, and also act as a nightstand for my glasses and phone.

I had two large coolers: one filled with water bottles and the other held more water and my “refrigerated” foods (yogurt, lunch meats, cheeses, hard boiled eggs, and fruit).   I made sure that the food cooler was kept near the side door behind the wheel so that I had easy access to it, as well as easy opportunities to drain melted water and add new ice every day.

One of those small plastic “dressers” that has three drawers served as my medicine cabinet, a storage unit for small things that I would need access to easily, like hygiene items.

Two large water coolers in the event the engine needed a drink, or I needed to wash up without having a sink nearby.

Two suitcases for clothing, and I made sure I brought a variety so that I was prepared for any possibility, including dresses.

A single sized inflatable mattress with the pump, a set of sheets, my sleeping bag, and a set of towels.  I also remembered to have a 30 foot extension cord so that I could run it out the window at the campground and plugged it into a power strip in order to use my CPAP and to charge my phone.  If I had really been thinking, I realized I could have brought a coffee maker!

On top of ALL of this, I had promised that I would bring my ceramic Christmas village for my daughter who has a house big enough to set it up in.  Since I downsized to an apartment, I no longer had room to set it up.   That added five boxes to the stuff in the van!

When I told folks I was going to be sleeping in my van, I was warned to make sure that I had ventilation during the night, which would mean leaving a window open a bit.  I was not feeling that!  Especially since I did not want any creepy crawlies to get into the van while I was asleep!  After looking that van over, I realized that the rear vents opened outward.  They were also too small for any miscreant to reach in and unlock the van!  The only thing they needed was screening to keep out the bugs.  I went out and bought some cheap screening at KMart and a roll of duct tape.  That worked like a charm!  When I was at the campgrounds, I was able to get fresh air, listen to the night sounds, AND be bug free!

I even thought to buy a cheap plastic waste basket and some liners in the event of a bathroom emergency!  Happily, I never needed to use it, but I was glad I had thought of it!

The final touches included AAA travel books and maps, a GPS gift from my Aunt Nancy (Garmon was AWESOME), a selfie stick, a tripod for my camera, sun shades for all the windows, and my laptop.

Finally, everything was ready:

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With my mechanic’s blessing, saying he would take my vehicle anywhere, I was off!

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