The van we will be touring Europe in is an Autotrail Apache 632. We have owned him for nearly six years. Ollie is technically our fifth van over a period of 29 years! We had a caravan in between van number 2 and 3 for a period of about 8 years but we don’t really like to talk about that!
It’s fair to say that all our holidays other than one package tour to Ibiza in 1988 have been diy affairs either with a tent, camper van, caravan or self catering cottage. We like our freedom and don’t like planning too far in advance and we just aren’t a fan of hotels. We started out with a blue VW Type 2 Camper in 1988 and thoroughly enjoyed being able to get into the warm and dry after a bike or hike instead of crawling around a damp windswept tent. Alas that van was sold to raise some funds to buy our first house.
Van number 2 was another VW Type 2, in orange this time, and we enjoyed getting away nearly every weekend in the summer down to Cornwall. Again, the van was sold in 1995 to partly fund our second home, after a move from Devon to Wiltshire, and pay the negative equity on the house we were selling!
Then came the caravan – a compromise but it offered more space and was a cheaper option than a van and we had two large dogs by then.
However, the love of the VW’s never went away and we ended up purchasing a VW Type 25 in 2003. We had intended keeping the caravan for our main holidays and using the VW, who we named Mabel, as a weekend van. After the first weekend away in her though we loved it so much we sold the caravan the next week!
Three years and many bills later (!) we decided we wanted the luxury of our own loo and shower so we reluctantly sold Mabel (yes i cried when she went) and bought Margot, a Murvi Morello.
We loved Margot and had four brilliant years touring around in the UK with her but with thoughts looming of a longer trip around Europe in the future, we started looking for a van that would fit our future plans. In 2010 we found the van we were looking for after much perusing of dealers and shows. Info about our van can be found here. We had, for so long poo pooed the idea of having a fixed bed in a van as it takes away so much living space but the transverse bed does give us a large amount of locker space beneath it accessed from outside the van. Everything is a compromise when choosing a van and we wanted space to store outdoor gear without dragging it into the van. Being a British van we feel the lounge area has a more spacious feel than its European counterparts and we are very happy with it. We think it offers what we need for long term touring without being too big to manoeuvre around small villages.
For all you van nerds out there our van is now equipped with Gas-it LPG tanks, solar panel, second leisure battery, 4G Wifi antenna, air ride suspension, tow hitch and a heating element in the water tank to stop the water freezing. Ollie’s all set now for our life changing adventure!