I had dreamed about owning a scruffy van that would take me and my dog all over the world. In the summer I decided that it was finally time to pursue my nomadic dreams. I was fully going to commit to this lifestyle so I secured myself the perfect consultancy job that allowed me to work and travel at the same time. So now that work was into place, all that was left was building myself a home. Yes, you read that right the first time; this atechnical girl was planning on building herself an actual vanlife home. So I started calculating, drawing and binging hours and hours of van conversions on Youtube. I learned about all types of isolation, wiring and solar power. I narrowed my search down to Sprinters, Boxers and Ducato’s. The more I educated myself, the bigger a project it seemed to get. I needed more money, more time and more expertise. Big surprise huh. I was still committed though so I blackmailed all my capable friends and family into helping me and continued to look for suited vans. And then of all a sudden I saw this ad, on facebook of all places. I wasn’t even looking for it but there it was; the perfect van. Even before I went to see it, it felt like home.
So we went to check it out, because looking never hurt right, and before I knew with we drove a very good bargain and BAM just like that I realized my ultimate dream. What was supposed to take months suddenly was done and paid for. I remember feeling completely overwhelmed at the time; not being able to comprehend the fact that the dream I had for almost 20 years, seemed to have come true overnight.
It had everything I was planning on building myself and more. It is a 2013 150PK Fiat Ducato L2H2, all of which is important for tax purposes. The Netherlands offers reduced taxes for camping vans but in order to qualify for this significant tax reduction your van has to meet a couple of criteria. This van met all of those criteria so that saved me a lot of work. I wanted a van with a minimum of 120PK, because if you plan on visiting steep mountainareas you’ll need some horsepower to make it to the top. I chose for a diesel engine because diesel is cheaper if you plan on driving over 20.000km/year and I wanted the fuel consumption to stay below 10lt/100km. This Ducato turned out to be surprisingly economical for its size with an average consumption of 7.0 lt/100km. However, many European cities are now placing bans on diesel vehicles older than 2005 so it was also important that the van was built after 2005. Because even though I don’t plan on visiting a lot of cities, I figured it would significantly restrict my travelplans if I would never be able to drive through any city in the future.
So now let’s skip to the most interesting part and let me break down the layout of my home for you!
One of the most important things to me was that I wanted to be self – sufficient in terms of energy. Which meant that the van had to have a large solar panel with a charge controller and a battery to harnass the power. This van was already fully equipped that way when I bought it. It has a large solar panel, a MPPT T40 charge controller and a powerful Pure Sinewave Phoenix 12 | 800 inverter. This setup allows me to work from anywhere in the world with unlimited power.
Vans come in all shapes and sizes and everybody has their own preferences when it comes to interior. Some prioritize a large seating area and others really only need a bed with a kitchen. To me a large kitchen wasn’t all that important. I wasn’t planning on spending much time cooking. All I wanted to do was to be able to make simple meals so I figured gas stovetop with two burners would suffice for me. The van was equipped with a nive built-in propane powered stovetop. This has turned out to be all the cooking capacity I need. The kitchen also has running water with a 40L watertank but I hardly ever use it to be honest. I dread the process of filling and cleaning out the tanks so I mostly stick to bottled I refill in the rivers.
My main priority was a decent bed to be honest. Before I got this van I had been traveling for years and I was always trying to save money while doing so. I always opted for the cheapest travel set-up as that allowed me to travel for a longer amount of time. I have slept on floors, leaky air matrasses and uncomfortable carseats. It broke me every single time so when I was looking for a van my main priority was the sleeping arrangement! I could not have been happier with my set-up right now. It has two single beds, one for me and one for Nova, that can be combined to a kingsize if needed. The beds can also double as a large seating area if you want, which is nice when you have people over for diner for example!
Even though it was almost fully equipped when I bought it, I added some essentials later on myself. I heavily invested in security systems, upgraded the locks and added a Webasto diesel heater. Especially the latter turned out to be a really nice addition to the van. It get’s quite cold at night in the mountains, even in summer. So I have found myself using this baby quite a bit already! The interface is really user friendly (even a noob like myself understands it) and the consumption of diesel is very minimal.
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