I never yearned for van life but we ended up buying an old dispatch after our car broke down. The van has its quirks but it works, for now at least. And it is big enough for a pull-out bed which sleeps two. So, when my boyfriend’s parents were visiting, we spent a few nights in it.
The parents hired a simple caravan for their trip to the Lake District but, after unfortunate events, ended up with a massive vehicle that looks more like a coach than a van. The monster is not well suited for the narrow, twisty-turvy Lake District roads. Neither is it able to find a spot from most of the car parks that are full of September tourists trying to inhale the last of the good weather and views.
Compared to the massive caravan, which needs to book campsite spots in advance to secure a place for the night, our little van proves to be a handy mate. Sure, you can’t stand up inside and it doesn’t have a nice kitchen like the caravan, but it is much more agile and convenient. In the evening, we drive to a quiet lane and park on a layby. Sorted.
I’ve always wondered how people can sleep soundly on a layby with cars going by, but the occasional car doesn’t bother me this time. The long shrills of a barn owl are much more disruptive in the middle of the night when the bird circles around us.
Mornings are easy since nothing needs to be packed. Just turn the engine on, maybe sit about for a while to wait for the condensation on the windscreen to clear, and go. Views are definitely nicer than the red brick wall we get to admire from out flat in town.
Sleeping by the road is not as nice as putting a tent up in the woods. Fully equipped caravans are way too big for my taste and they are definitely not designed for countryside roads. On the other hand, cars and vans develop that certain dull smell when wet climbing and hiking gear is stored in them for too long – inevitable if you don’t have a place to dry your clothes and equipment. However, the occasional night in a little van can be really nice. And super practical.