Time to Renovate on the Road

Salt lake camp

We’ve been travelling now for some years and have reached a point where our beloved home on wheels is in need a bit of work. Like a house, the van suffers all that wear and tear you experience from constant use. On-going maintenance is a must! But what people don’t talk about or perhaps don’t experience as they use their vans intermittently, is refurbishment.

Over the years we have found the necessity to do a number of modifications, or jobs of maintenance. From strengthening the sub-frame, resealing, repair to catches and locks and even upgrading the solar panels after the original panels broke down. Most of these tasks you can find here in the blog and over the years there are innumerable small tasks that never made these pages.

Old bush showerI might have mentioned that my folks travelled for many years, as did any number of relatives. I come from a long line of restless first-footers but their tales over the years fed my own imagination and my love of adventure and travel. Often the touring troupes would call in and stay a spell in the back yard, as they attended to all manner of tasks. These tasks would range from medical appointments, dental, optical and even celebrations. Such travellers are not like your normal guests… they lived in their vans for one and often were fully self catering and self contained… apart from the shower. Those travellers and vans from yesteryear rarely came with their own showers. The loo was another issue as there are of course all manner of accommodations one can make, but a shower… now there is a challenge for the older vans.

Watching our travellers come and go over the years I in time became aware early of the ongoing maintenance regimes. Greasy bearings, wheel rotations, springs and the list goes on. But rarely did you come across refurbishment. Most travellers just looked to upgrading or down (or up) sizing their vans. This was an often, regular consideration and one that promoted often interesting discussion.

We, ourselves, have now have reached the renovate and refurbishment stage. We love our van, it suites us well and we have no thoughts of replacement, be it upgrade or downsizing. Like our tow vehicle we have made small and large modifications to suit ourselves, and in consequence we have tweeked away to our satisfaction. Now though we are looking at that adventure of refurbishment. It is the bathroom, that smallest of spaces set aside for a wet area and all manner of privy arrangements, or the dunny on wheels as my Dad would have put it.

Screen Shot 2014-03-09 at 8.55.01 amMy folks never travelled with the convenience of a bathroom nook in their van. They would have thought it the oddest of needs, in fact one set of travelling rels thought the bathroom nook so unnecessary in their newer van that they used theirs for storage, and no less convenient to run the occasional still. The greater outdoors was their personal choice for ablutions but then, while they often camped bushside, and indeed preferred the bush camp, they too spent a few days of each week in a caravan park when on the move. They also never really experienced the much larger numbers of travellers on the road today, compared to the 1980 – 2000’s. The vans of yesteryear were also not commonly kitted up to be as self-sufficient as they are today.

However it is now time for us to consider refurbishing the bathroom nook area. The wall panelling is degraded, the fibreglass seating is discoloured and degraded and on the whole it is looking pretty sad. The design of the unit that comprises the loo, the sink and the small storage cupboard is also less than is to be desired. The sink never really worked proper and required something of a balancing act if you didn’t wish to wash the feet and shoes when tipping the water out down the less than adequate drainage arrangement. They tell me the new design is considerably improved and I am looking forward to that convenience at the very least.

So what value do you put on a bathroom refurbishment? This refurbishment includes repaneling, replacing the ablutions unit and new shower and taps. We thought $1,500-$2,000 at the outside but you can near double that. Is it worth it? DEFINITELY! As I mentioned I love our van and replacement would not only entail a long and arduous search but also a lot of bother and inevitable cost as we tweek away once more.

Of course this cost is nowhere near the cost of refurbishing the bathroom at home, and it will give as immeasurable pleasure for the next eight or so years, if not considerably longer, that we plan to continue to travel and explore this vast land. So the bookings are made, the arrangements sorted and let the adventure begin…

RV daily

Another adventure I have embarked on recently is the publication of some of my work in a excellent new on-line magazine RVDaily. You can read the article in edition 2 of the new mag. The format is excellent and the content is something again, that is aside from other e-mags, I have found. The article is on 15 Things I have Learned after 5 years on the road. I hope you enjoy it. The e-mag is free to subscribe too and offers great advice and tips for the nomad and traveller. Well worth the time to subscribe too for their monthly editions.

Travel well.

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