Not every RV or camper is a homebuilt project. Many Recreationalists are in the enviable position to go shopping and find the RV that best suits their needs. There are a lot of commercially made RVs that go a long way towards being the perfect adventure wagon. There are huge advantages in getting a vehicle that is professionally built. Even so, once you have an RV, chances are the DYI bug will kick in and there will be running repairs and alterations. The addition of board, kayak and bike racks and whatever other modifications suit your recreational needs. In all probability the best person to do them is you.
Kiwis pride themselves on their Do It Yourself, number 8 wire attitude. And RV’s, especially adventurised ones, fall perfectly into the DIY ethos. While all the systems needed can be overwhelming at first the simplest thing to do is to just chip away.
Camperising a vehicle is time consuming, but ultimately a hugely rewarding project. Talk to any Recreationalist and chances are the conversation will swing to what modifications have been done.
Estimate a simple wiring of a new LED lamp will take an hour? Allow half the day. Want to beef up your roof insulation? Couple of hours; it’ll be a day. How much did it cost, about $1000.00. It is a running joke; everything seems to cost wayward of a $1000.00 nzd. A solar system kit, a diesel or LPG heater, $1000-2000 uninstalled. But the added comfort and enjoyment is incalculable.
Everything comes back to the basics of what you need to live; food, water and shelter. The balancing act is establishing what levels of comfort are acceptable for you on your adventures. The awesome and mind bogging world of RV’s is that there’s everything on the scale; from a mattress chucked in the back of the work ute in the weekends to a $500,000 bespoke built penthouse on wheels.
It may come as a surprise but the funds spent on a camper and its size is not always to scale to the owners disposable income. Decisions are made around the owner’s usage, not everyone wants to drive a 6 berth behemoth. Deciding factors may well be the ease of parking, the luxury of a hot shower après or how fast the vehicle will get you there. The equation is different for every Recreationalist.
A good way to view RV’s is as boats of the highway. You have weekenders and runabouts, and then you have absolute gin palaces and super yachts. In fact many of the systems used in campers are adopted from the marine industry, as the requirements are similar.
You need to figure out what type of RV best fits your needs.
Deciding on the perfect vehicle is impossible, so let’s get that notion out of the way completely. Every RV represents a list of compromises the owner has decided are acceptable. And that list is ever changing as the owner hones their needs. Heck it’ll change depending on your mood.
What are you prepared to drive, what are you prepared to live without. Do you want to be off the grid and 100% self-reliant? Is plugging in at a nearby campground just fine. Are you doing weekend escapes or are you away for a week, are you planning to spend months [or years] on the road.
Is taking the whole family away a priority or is the RV your solace. What do you need to make the less-than-keen partner comfortable. Compromise is key for deciding on a vehicle, fitting it out and then using it. The more Recreationalists you talk to the more you’ll realise how many they have owned, requirements change, the list of must haves and not needed is honed.
A good starting point is figuring out how many people you need to provide beds for. For example; a queen mattress is perfect for you and your partner, but maybe not so great for you and your surfing buddy. If you love a cheeky little siesta between sessions, where are your traveling buddies going to sit while you nap. Do you need a cot for your toddler. You love the idea of going away with three mates and everyone being comfortable and having their own space.
Recreational Society Tip: Most Recreationalists covet a permanent bed. Making up a bed at night and breaking it down every morning to have the day configuration gets real old, real fast on long trips.
Before you purchase or start a DIY fit out, it’s a great idea to rent a slew of different types of RV’s. Find out what works best for you. Debrief your trip with the participants, build a picture of requirements and what is not needed, and after minimizing… what luxuries do you want, after all a camper is about having fun. A really great way of doing this is checking out the camper sharing sites that operate on a similar format to Air’n’b. In New Zealand the two dominant sharing sites are Mighway.co.nz and ShareaCamper.co.nz. PS; Both sites are a great way to check out other people’s builds online.