As I write this post, we’re actually on holiday in Cornwall – me, my husband Dave and our dog, that is. If you’re not familiar with this part of the UK, the most south-western county in England to be precise. So if you’ve never been, please come. It’s the most beautiful place – beautiful beaches, beautiful countryside, lovely people, great food and drink. Cornwall just has a magical feel to it and even has its own language. It’s just a special place, at least to us anyway.
This holiday is also the maiden voyage of our campervan. We’ve owned it for about four weeks (purchased early August 2020) and other than a night away when we bought it, this is the longest that we’ve spent in it and we’re just beginning the second of a two-week trip.
But owning a campervan has been years in the making. There isn’t a weekend goes by when Dave isn’t watching vanlife vlogs and conversions on YouTube. And now his own vanlife is finally starting. It’s not looking likely we’ll be doing our own van conversion for some time yet, but they’re still fascinating to watch online. There’s something so compelling about watching somebody else’s progress but also the hypnotic, soothing effect of the mundane, which has got to be a big part of the popularity behind stone age man.
Fiat Ducato Campervan Conversion: The Inspiration
The inspiration, or rather the catalyst for buying the van was losing my Aunt who I was very close to. She sadly died earlier this year, actually a week after I joined the SFM. Four months from diagnosis, aged 64 – it’s no age really, is it? If there’s one thing this brought home to me more than ever, it’s that life is too short. You’ve got to grasp it with both hands and that’s exactly what she did – she was free-spirited, she was feisty, she didn’t take no for an answer and if I can take even a grain of her approach to life.
We’ve wanted a van for at least a decade, and we’ve hired vans several times over the years. This is our sixth or seventh trip to Cornwall since we’ve been together and our third in a camper of some description. Firstly, in a VW Bay (a wedding present), then a converted Mercedes Sprinter and now our own Fiat Ducato (converted by somebody else).
The reasoning behind the Sprinter hire from Quirky Campers was a practice run for when we converted our own Sprinter. And we learnt a lot. We learnt how much space we had to work with, what we would and wouldn’t do with our Sprinter. One odd thing about it was the layout. Across the back of the van it had a bathroom and a rock n roll bed in the middle of the van doubling up as a sofa during the day.
Fiat Ducato Campervan Conversion: Fixed Bed Non-Negotiables
An absolute non-negotiable for us was a fixed bed which the Ducato is ideal for us because of its 2m width. It’s almost the same footprint as a Sprinter but with the width to take a full-size Queen bed. Especially if you’re planning trips of longer than a few weeks. Admittedly I’m not the most tolerant of people, but I think having to make up and fold away the bed every day when it’s your home is up there as grounds for divorce with assembling a tent!
If you want a permanent bed, a Sprinter, Ducato or other LWB (long-wheel base) vehicle will do, depending on how tall you are, of course. Dave and I are both under 5ft 6” so it suits us fine. If you’re tall, it’s definitely worth investing in a permanent bed.
A couple of years ago Dave also converted part of his Sprinter work van into a sleeping area, which has saved him $1000’s on hotels. It comes complete with a raised single bed he can store some of his tools and equipment underneath, a TV and clad interior for starters.
But I’ll get him to vlog about that at some point.