After making the decision to hunt out the best waves that Europe has to offer, I’ve had to think about how I’m going to do this as economically as possible. There a plenty of cheap, clean and fun accommodation options available around France, Spain and Portugal, but I decided that I want to do this properly so rounded up a mate and bought a van…
Yes I know it’s not pretty, but it was a bargain and a very good base for a home for a few months. The money we spend on petrol will be nothing compared to accommodation and we’ve got our freedom to roam around in true Errant style.
However, there was lots to be done on the beast and here’s a little how to guide for those that may be inspired to do the same:
1. Boarding and Insulation.
To keep out the cold and the heat you need to insulate it and board the walls. We used normal housing insulation (that hideous glass-wool stuff) which was an itchy process but as soon as we cut the ply to size, screwed it in and sprayed on some cheap carpet that we picked up from a carpet wholesalers the job was done.
2. Sort out the sleeping arrangements.
There’s two of us going so two beds should suffice. These were bodged, I mean built, using some wood that was kicking around a skip and we simply built a bed frame to go over the wheel arches the same size as some bed cushions that we nicked from an old caravan. After giving the cushions a good clean we covered them in some fabric and made some pillows out of the remaining fabric. Job done and there’s plenty of room under the beds for boards and boxes. Happy days!
3. You got to eat!
If you’re going to do something, you might as well do it properly so we went to a cabinet maker who made a bespoke kitchen unit for us. It’s a beauty! We scrounged a sink and some taps, bought a gas cooker and after screwing it down, applying silicone to the sink making it water-tight, fixing a water pump and water tank and drilling a few holes for drainage pipes and gas pipes, we were ready to roll. It wasn’t as easy as it sounds though and having a handy tradie around definitely helps…
4. Don’t blow yourself up.
Once everything was in place we had to pull it all together so it worked. I’d love to say that we did this part ourselves but we had to get a sparky in to help out as we nearly blew ourselves up trying to link the leisure battery (crucial so you don’t drain the main battery) up. He basically fixed the water pump, speakers, inverter and leisure battery, meaning that we can now watch films on the laptop and have running water without draining the main battery. Et voila! The final task was to test it out and take it on a surf trip… (see pic 8)
Anyway, this may not be the most comprehensive self-build camper-van guide, but I just wanted to show you how easy it is. Now all that’s left to do is decide on what boards to take on the trip…