KISS Principle – Keep it Simple, Stupid!

Those of us who camp in a van have one thing in common (at least as far as I can see).  We never really reach that state of being “done” tinkering with our home or “home away from home”.  Part of the joy of van camping or van dwelling is a more simple lifestyle.  It takes a while to understand that and sometimes extra objects come along for the ride.  Most of the earthly possessions are gone but I still need to better implement the KISS Principle in the Trekker Van.

Between living at Dad’s and camping part time, there has been time to figure out what works and what doesn’t.  There are changes planned that might be helpful to share.

Things to think about BEFORE you build your van… (hopefully)

1)  What do I do most in the van besides sleeping?  Other than sleeping, most of my van activities include watching TV, reading, and computing.  Reading and watching TV are quite comfortably accomplished in bed with little attire – a true luxury!  Computing is done on my belly on the bed and it sucks.  A desk is badly needed and is now in the planning stages.  It will  be located by the end of the bed.

2)  How much cooking have I been doing and do I want to do?  I have used the microwave twice.  Each time it was to warm up stuff that was really unhealthy.  On the other hand, I’ve used the lunch box stove quite a number of times and it has made some tasty meals.  In the effort to eat healthier foods, there is little need for the microwave.  To accomodate a desk, I am considering removing the microwave from the foot of the bed and either relocating it or eliminating it altogether.

3) How much refrigeration is truly needed?  Right now the Trekker Van has a large 5 day cooler that holds about 30 pounds of ice.  It costs a fortune to fill unless I mooch ice.  Basically it is just a soda and water fridge.  What a waste of space and money!  I am going to temporarily remove it from between the seats and just use a portable ice cooler in front of the front seat.  Because of when and where I camp anything more is unnecessary.

4) How much clothing is needed?  Once again, it was easy to get carried away.  It seemed I needed five or six pairs of pants, a week’s underwear and all kinds of shirts.  Of course, three towels somehow crept in.  When you factor in the 340 lb body size that’s a lot of volume of clothing!  Two large dresser drawers sat above the microwave.  That used up space from the floor to the horizontal L-box level. It seemed logical to put all this crap in the van.  It consumed space that was unused.  But was it really needed?  Was there a better use for the space?

Admittedly, some of the things in the van were built by “shooting from the hip”.  It’s not like you can just buy a plan to build a house from a floral delivery truck.  Living space is specific to the individual so all you can do is to plan, learn from mistakes, and adapt. 

Here are some really simple little revisions coming in the next week or so.

1)  A desk is sorely needed for comfortable computing and dining or sipping my soda.  (It’s hard to sip a soda horizontally).  The desk will be 24 inches wide extending from the foot of the bed to the bulkhead wall.  A chair will be used which will allow me to sit upright with tight clearance to the ceiling.  What is cool is that there is at least 24 inches of depth to work with so the desk can be deep or, if I wish, the top can hinge up, allowing for storage space of a nice folding chair (with short legs).  The sky is the limit.

2)  The microwave is going to be removed.  It will either be relocated under the head of the bed by the back door or go bye-bye.  Despite not being used much, I can see some use for warming bathing water etc.

3)  The 5 day cooler between the seats will be taken out.  I’m considering building a wooden console between the seats to house two pairs of pants, a couple of shirts, underwear, and toiletries.

These enhancements should make the van more comfortable and useful while reducing unneeded clutter.  As the upgrades are implemented, more pictures will be posted.

Look at each modification as an enhancement.  Tweaking your vancamper is a fun hobby and the project of a lifetime.  Plan a lot, celebrate successes, and relish every second of the experience.  You are probably happier than 99% of the people in the world.  🙂

About VanTrekker

I am a former vandweller in Eastern Iowa who, for several years (off and on), lived in a 2007 Chevy cargo van. I still travel around Iowa with my tortoise shell cat, Jennifer Stefanie. Our favorite place to explore is the Country Heritage Community, the four far northeastern counties of Iowa (Clayton, Winneshiek, Allamakee, and Fayette). Ride along as we fish in pristine trout streams, enjoy fine home cooked camping meals, and meet new people. It's all possible on a shoestring budget. Happy travels always! --- Brad, the "Van Trekker"
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2 Responses to KISS Principle – Keep it Simple, Stupid!

  1. Gacknoops says:

    An old Boy Scout trick is to pack everything you think you would ever need for your first excursion. Write all of these items down in a log book and put a checkmark next to each item when you use it. After each trip remove items that didn’t have a checkmark next to them and add items you could have used or maybe had removed previously but now need. After a half dozen trips you will have just the essentials.
    I wish you continued success in your van camping.

  2. Bradford says:

    Thanks for the comment. Is that ever true! Once I got rid of some of the lesser used items, there was room for ideas I really wanted to have and didn’t have room for. Thanks for posting this suggestion for everyone to read.