There is no doubting that buying your first van can be a daunting process. There are just so many to choose from! Deciding that we would upgrade from our camper trailer to a caravan was a no-brainer for us. We knew we wanted to spend an indefinite period of time travelling ‘All Around Oz’, and to be able to do that comfortably a van was the right choice for us. So the search for a van to suit our needs (and wants) began.
For us the first thing we decided was that we wanted a van that was off-road capable. Initially we looked at some quite large vans, with east-west beds in them. But we worried that our tow vehicle – a 2013 Mazda BT50, would not be able to legally tow a large van. So we narrowed our search down to vans under 20ft.
Come March 2017, we still hadn’t made a decision. We found ourselves with a day off together and decided on the spur of the moment to head up to Brisbane to the South East Queensland Caravan and Camping Show. (Caravan Shows are fantastic places to start your van research) Not long after we arrived at the show we spotted the Green RV stand. We could not recall having seen them at a show before. We were immediately attracted to the NextGen Greyline that was on display there.
As we got chatting to Steve, from the Sales Team, we quickly discovered that this van ticked a lot of our boxes.
- It was off-road
- It had many inclusions that we were looking for, like solar and battery power
- But best of all it was customisable. We were able to make changes and add or remove things that we wanted.
- We were also able to push the delivery date out to the following year, whilst we waited for our youngest to finish high school
A couple of hours later and we had signed on the dotted line!
A few weeks after that we went into Green RV and chose the internal and external colours for the van. We have found the whole build process so easy as the whole team at Green RV are so helpful and patient.
As the build date for our van came closer, we had the opportunity to visit the Network RV factory in Melbourne and see how a NextGen van is built. We were so impressed with what we saw and the quality of the workmanship. Needless to say we picked up a few more ideas on that trip and came home and made a few more changes but this wasn’t a problem for any of the staff at Green RV or NextGen. We have found everyone at Green RV and Network RV to be very accommodating.
What we have ended up with, is literally the van of our dreams. The colours of the interior look even better than we imagined and the lime green decals on the outside will certainly make it stand out on the road.
With the combination of 3 x 150w solar panels, 2 x 100ah batteries, massive battery management system, a ducted gas heater, and a beautiful stainless steel slide out kitchen in the front, we are fully self-sufficient and, with favourable weather, will be able to camp without needing power indefinitely.
Another upgrade that we chose to add was a Vitrifrigo Compressor Fridge instead of the normal 3-way absorption fridge that feature in most vans. If it’s performance so far is anything to go by, we know we are already on a winner.
We have already enjoyed a couple of short trips and getting to know how everything works. We can honestly say that we love everything about our van and can’t think of anything that we would change.
Our long term plan is to travel indefinitely over the next five to ten years starting early in 2019. We love visiting smaller country towns and rural areas and are looking forward to exploring these areas and sharing with you a few of the ‘hidden gems’ of this beautiful country of ours.
In summary here are our top 10 tips for choosing your new van.
- Give consideration to the GCM of your tow vehicle
- Decide between on-road, semi-off road or full off-road
- Think about how many people you have to accomodate.
- How big is big enough for you to live comfortably.
- Do your research first before you go to buy.
- Ask lots of questions – the only silly question is the one you don’t ask!
- Think about where you like to stay – are you a free camper or do you prefer caravan parks. Maybe a combination of both.
- What are you going to use your van for? Short holidays a few times a year or is it going to be your travelling home?
- Chose any upgrades carefully. Every extra bit of weight you add comes off your end payload.
- When you pick up your new van, take the time to do a couple of short trips to get used to your van and learn how everything works.
Article courtesy of All Around Oz
Melissa and Brenden are passionate caravanners, campers and travellers. In fact they have been travelling together for over 20 years. They love nothing more than ‘taking the road less travelled’ and then sharing their travel adventures on their blog. Their aim is to support small businesses that operate in the tourism sector and promote tourism in rural and regional Australia.