Home Is Where You Park It

My van rental was in collaboration with Caledonian Campers ahead of the Scottish Caravan, Motorhome and Holiday Home Show – my experience was gifted. The show opens 7th-10th of February at the SEC Glasgow – come check it out! 

You could go as far to say I am obsessed with camper vans. So much so, my boyfriend and I have a group chat (with only us in it) called ‘advantures.’ We created it when we first met with the dream of one day owning a van in mind. Preferably a VW, but let’s not be picky!

When Caledonian Campers gave me a shout last week offering me a weekend in one of their VW vans I was ecstatic; but with Callum being away at sea – my mum took the hot seat in his place. Sorry Callum!

What’s so special about a van? I think the appeal can be summed up in one word: freedom. No other form of transport allows for such spontaneity, and in Scotland – the freedom to roam is endless. A van allows you to spice up your adventure as much as you like; bike racks, surf boards on the roof, skis? But it can also be stripped back to the point where your adventure is simply the drive, the scenery and the experience.

We chose the latter this weekend. I was choked with the cold, so took a wee rest from big adventures. It was really nice driving around without anywhere in particular to be; I even read a book from cover to cover!

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If you are thinking about hiring a van (I’d totally recommend it) here are some advanture tips:

Pack light. A small space quickly becomes cramped with people in it, limit your luggage so you’re not constantly shifting bags around.

Plan a suitable route (it can be a rough plan) – having a route in mind helps manage fuel costs. And on that note – mark fuel stations on your map. Running empty is never cool… yep, been there before!

Have an idea of where you can park for the night, campsites are a good option if you like to have a shower (clearly not on my priority list); Scotland has a good bunch to pick from. Finding a remote spot is my preference, for peace and privacy. Just remember to park responsibly i.e., not in lay-bys.

Check out local pubs, cafes and shops. Stop and spend a few pennies in the places you visit.

Buy suitable food for inside the van – things that aren’t going to leak everywhere and cause you to loose your van deposit! Food that can be cooked/heated on a hob is best, soup, pasta, cous cous!

Keep an eye on water and gas if you are going further off grid.

Take the slow lane and enjoy the journey – but pull over to let cars past if your causing a pile up.

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Caledonian Campers

How easy are the vans to drive? 

Very easy! I was really nervous about driving the van before I picked it up. But driving a new VW is as easy as driving a small car, power assisted steering, parking sensors, really good turing circle. I found it a doddle (and I usually hate driving). Stay wide, slow down and you’ll be grand!

What are the costs?

Low season (Nov-Feb) £71-£85 per day

Mid season (March, April, Sept, Oct) £85-£99 per day

High season (May-Aug) £110-£122 per day

What happens if something goes wrong? 

You are fully insured and have full AA breakdown cover if you have any hiccups.

How many people can sleep in one van?

They can sleep 4. I would say it would be perfect for 2 adults, and 2 kids. 4 adults would be pretty cosy!

Any hidden costs? 

£20 hire fee for a gas bottle

You are also required to take the van for a mini valet before return – depending where you go this could be between £20-£30.

Heres what I got upto...

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I collected the van in Glasgow and drove 2 hours to Glen Coe

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Parked at An Torr (walking distance to the Clachaig Inn)

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Went for a wander in the snow – took lots of snowscapes

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Drank tea and read books all afternoon

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Slept here on night one

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Woke up with a beautiful view of the Aonach Eagach ridge

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Crossed Loch Linnhe on the Corran Ferry

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En route to Glenuig we stopped at Loch Sunart for a walk

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Looked but failed to find the local Elephants…

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Parked here for night 2

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With beautiful views of Eigg, Rum and a wee bit of Skye in the distance

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Then lazed in the sun reading books for the rest of the day!

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Heading home we stopped at the Glenfinnan Viaduct for another snowy walk!

Huge thanks to Caledonian Campers for lending me their van for the weekend.

Ad(van)tures Pending

RIP Rusty - The search for a new van begins

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Summer is approaching… slowly! And the search has begun for a new family van, because our loved and ‘trusted’ red T4 kicked the bucket last year… due to summer exhaustion. I say family van; its my mums – she is the poor soul who has to pick up the pieces whenever it breaks down! So why a van? Why not pack your kit and sleep in a tent somewhere further away from a road? I asked exactly that when we first got the van a few year ago, but van life is so much fun and only enhances accessibility to the outdoors. A van becomes your own portable base of warmth and safety, as well as your mode of transport. It provides storage, cooking facilities, shelter, a place to charge your tech… and you can always tuck your tent away somewhere for more adventurous nights.

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The positives of van life

Freedom – the ability to go where you want when you want for as long as you want.

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Cost effective holidays – you can eliminate the cost of hotels, restaurant bills, flights, public transport, tickets, organised entertainment! Some cash for fuel and food is all you need.

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Simple living – Living in such a small space allows you to cut out nonessential items that clog up your average day – having a level of simplicity discards distractions that tend to melt away time day after day (Netflix, instagram, doing your hair and make up)!

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Forces organisation – not essential, however a messy van is pretty awful. Once things have a place, it makes finding them again much easier!

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Inspiration – new people, places and thoughts. I think it’s always nice to notice how your thoughts change depending on where you are and what you’re doing; at home I’m guilty of  toxic rational thinking – but when I remove myself from certain environments I think I become more logical, creative and adventurous!

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Waking up to awesome views and fresh air – waking up and being outside immediately is the most refreshing thing (unless its raining and howling)!

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Negatives

Planning ahead – almost everything requires a bit of planning and preparation, going for a shower, to the toilet, cooking, washing up…

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Loneliness – it’s always a nice idea to run away and be by yourself, but being alone without much human contact even through social media can quickly become a little too isolating – find someone to share adventures with!

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Time goes slow – although this can be good, the weather always gets bad and you can be stuck in a small space with not a lot to do. Always remember to pack a few books, and even more wine!

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Breaking down is expensive! It’s bound to happen at some point, so be prepared with some tools and good breakdown cover. Just try to break down somewhere beautiful, with waves to surf while you wait!

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Things to pack and things to do

Surfboards, bodyboards, SUPboards – something that gets you in the water. They’re easy to strap on the roof, so don’t take up any precious inside space… and if anyone forgets their sleeping bag, a board bag is your next best bet!

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Snorkel on rainy days – because it doesn’t rain underwater!

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Open water swimming to rinse off that funky perfume that you develop from living in a van for too long!

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Catch yourself some dinner while you’re in the sea!

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Warm yourself up, get the blood pumping and head for the hills –

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Check out a west coast music festival – even when your siblings aren’t thrilled to be getting drunk with you for a 4th night in a row!

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Search for magical fresh water pools to wash the salt away –

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Meet the local wildlife –

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And finally – hang out with your fam, they’re the best friends you’ll ever have!

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If you fancy a peep at some of our adventure videos (that are extremely amateur) – follow these links!

48 hours on Tiree // April 2017
Tiree Ultra 2017
Thanks for reading 

Oidhhe Mhath

R x