Pages Navigation Menu

My Love Affair With Campervans

My Love Affair With Campervans

Two years ago, we spent a month travelling around Sweden, Norway and Finland in a delightfully functional campervan that we rented in Germany.

It wasn’t our first campervan experience, but it was the first campervan trip where we didn’t spend a single night at a designated campground. We simply parked by frozen lakes, beaches, or even shopping centres when the snow got too heavy in Kiruna (which offered the glorious opportunity to raid the supermarkets for caviar tubes and sashimi-grade salmon multiple times a day). It was all perfectly legal, and there were plenty of grey and black water facilities on the road. I have been in love ever since.

Lofoten Islands

In a way, that trip combined our two previous types of experience: campervans at designated campgrounds around Australia, and the back of a Nissan X-Trail parked in the middle of nowhere during our multi-month road trip through Patagonia. The latter was a little more, uh, basic, but we had it down to an art: from the pass-the-parcel shuffling of a dozen duffle bags from the boot to the two front seats, to the unfolding of our sleeping bags and yoga mats, to setting up the ad-hoc “curtains” (i.e. sweaters) at every window for privacy. Each night, we would spend hours reading our old-school backlight-less Kindles by torchlight.

That made the actual campervan something of a novelty. I was quite precise with my specifications when I started the research: it needed walk-through cabin access; a shower and a toilet; a permanent double bed; fly screens on decent-sized windows; and some kind of out-of-the-way storage area for our suitcases and snowshoes. (We used the suitcases to get from South America to Europe, but after unpacking, we certainly didn’t want them taking up cabin space.) Bruno added a length requirement of <6m so we could get cheaper fares for ferry crossings, and so, we landed on the Sunlight T-60 – a mid-budget model that just squeezed in at 5.99m.

Campervan trip in Scandinavia

Suffice to say, it was perfect for our needs. That trip turned out to be one of the best in my life, and much of that was because we just drove into the white wonderland of Scandinavia and chilled out (no pun intended). There was no schedule, no phone or internet, nothing except endless expanses of snow and increasingly remote landscapes. There was no need to plan around proper toilets at service stations, or to hurry through sub-zero temperature au naturale pit stops. We could just laze around and hang out in bed with our Kindles when the weather was foul. We could stop at random scenic spots for lunch, and I could cook while watching the sunlight glimmer off snowy tree tops or frozen lakes.

Campervan living also meant that every item of cutlery, food or clothing had its place, to be locked down securely whenever we hit the road. It was all very clean and orderly – certainly more so than our normal state of affairs at home. Being a creature of comfort, I even started nesting before the first week was out. We bought a blanket so we could sleep like normal people (i.e. not in a sleeping bag), and a thermos so we could have a hot chocolate, tea or soup whenever we stopped. I was extremely, extremely content.

Northern Lights from a frozen lake in Abisko National Park

Of course, we had our adventures on the road too – there was the matter of being trapped in snowy conditions for several days due to tire issues, and having to ration our heating on some pretty cold evenings because Europe does not have much inter-country consistency in its gas bottles. But we also saw the northern lights, visited Santa, and drove around the stunning Lofoten Islands where we met a random med student on a mountaintop and gave him some alcohol.

Hiking in the Lofoten Islands

Since then, I have been itching to get back in a campervan. We didn’t quite manage that last year, but this coming year, we do have two short trips planned: one in Tasmania, Australia, and the other one on the north island of New Zealand. They are long weekend getaways rather than full trips, but I did manage to find some well-priced campervan options for both of them. The cheap price points were actually a bonus, as I would probably have paid a bit of a premium simply for the added flexibility plus the eliminated need for daily unpacking and repacking.

We have 4-berth campers in both cases, which gives us the option of a permanent day bed and night bed, or a permanent night bed plus a spacious eating area. We also have the all-important showers, walk-through cabin access and fly screens. Last but not least, both campers have swivel seats – and although swivel seats weren’t a prerequisite for Scandinavia, they were a very pleasant discovery on our T-60s, and since then, no campervan has been complete without them. I feel like I’m somehow more excited about the campervans than about the actual trips.

Anyhow, we will see whether they meet expectations. I suspect you might hear from me either way.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *