The clocks have gone back, the nights are drawing in, and I think there might’ve even been a frost last night! Yep, no doubt about it, winter is firmly on its way. It’s been a mad and crazy 2020 for all of us, so maybe it’s good a thing it’s on the way out. Even so, I can’t quite believe it’s already a couple of months since Dave and I took our inaugural trip with Irene to Cornwall. Just us, the dog and the first of many globetrotting trips.
The start of a new life?
It’s so exciting imagining where we might be this time next year, and hard not to break out in song, despite the turmoil everywhere. This one is stuck in my head (nothing to do with the gorgeous singer, I promise Dave!)
Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today!
Anyway, with summer a distant memory I’ve realised it’s a great time of year to do a thorough clean down and make sure everything is ship-shape and Bristol fashion. While it’s still relatively warm and bright – it’s not like we’ve got anything else to do at the moment, is it?!
We’re still deciding on the way Irene is set up and what we want to put where. Sometimes something just isn’t right, even if it works perfectly well. I don’t know if I’m explaining that very well, but I’m sure you get what I mean.
Like Tetris? You’ll love vanlife!
I’ve talked before about the sort of stuff you need for life on the road. Packing and unpacking vanlife is like a military operation and a giant game of Tetris! You can fit in so much more than you think, it just takes a few goes to find out which way fits best. But Irene is starting to feel like a proper home from home with each trip we make. It’s made me realise that vanlife on four wheels doesn’t have to be so different from regular life. That’s not to say regular life is boring, in fact, what is normal anyway?! But now that Dave and I have sampled life on the road, it’s all we can think about.
However much you think you’re prepared and don’t have to unpack absolutely everything and search every nook and cranny for an hour. Only to discover it isn’t right where you said it was, invariably, you learn something new every trip you make.
So many vanlife essentials to buy, so little time…
Hopefully, by this time next year we will be pretty much ready and not constantly scouring the internet for this or that. Which is the reason for this post. We know from experience what its like wondering
‘Is this one is better than that one?’
‘Is this really worth the money?
The list could be endless…
Frankly, wading through all this info as a newbie can be a bit of a pain in the ass, so we thought we would share our experience. To help you avoid common pitfalls on your way to achieving pro-level vanlife!
Throughout the experience of owning a home that is mobile, you discover some fabulous innovation and technology. And you also buy some things that never see the light of day again after their maiden voyage. We love tech and have really enjoyed combing through to work out what works best, and what really doesn’t. If that’s not your cup of tea, then look no further because we’ve done all the hard work for you!
All the plugs
One item which we both knew straight away was essential for not only vanlife, but also for our dreams of surviving as digital nomad affiliate marketers was some sort of power hub. Something to support all the technology which in a physical house we take for granted – phone, laptop, tablet, printer, television, Wi-Fi, etc.
They are all power hungry, and they have a big appetite! We looked into the best way of connecting your essential tech to your campervan or motorhome with a safe, reliable and smart piece of kit. There are many out there and they connect very simply, through your cigarette lighter socket and run off your campervan or motorhome battery.
Apple fanboy disclaimer!!
Although we were looking for a device capable of charging multiple items, our priority was that it was compatible and optimised for our chosen technology. Both Dave and I use Macbook Pros for our business, but on top of that, Apple products can be temperamental beasts, so we needed to be sure they wouldn’t be damaged by an inferior power source.
After an in-depth search, we highly recommend the GISSARAL GISCCA-AM2 110W Laptop Car Charger for all your Apple charging needs.
Be careful when purchasing a charger for a specific device that it is compatible. This device is suitable for the Retina MacBook Pro, the MacBook Air (2012-2015 models) and any MacBook range of laptops using the MagSafe 2 Connector. iPads and iPhones are also compatible. Other devices which use USB or USB-C, such as Android smartphones, Android Tablets or Chromebooks should be okay, but please check to be certain.
It will throttle the amperage of the USB connections up to a maximum of 5V/4amp. This means if you need to charge something fast, connect just one device for the full 5V/4amp.
We gave it a road test – literally!
Now we have got all those numbers and stuff out the way, how does it actually perform?
Firstly, it looks nice. It has a stylish and smooth design and looks like a solid and serious bit of kit. I can’t help but take in the aesthetic with things like this. I know it’s all about the performance at the end of the day, but I still think it looks as good as it performs.
Secondly, and most importantly – it fits like a glove. No, sadly, I’m not talking about the glass slipper that prince came round trying to flog this morning. I’m talking about the connection between the connector end and the cigarette/aux socket. I don’t know about you, but I remember as a kid playing around with these in the car when my parents had popped out. And I still have the scar on my thumb to prove it!
It seems crazy that we haven’t moved forwards in terms of this connection. But a lot of campervans and motorhomes are venerable and classic (posh words for very old!) And so are simply not up to date with the latest and greatest.
Olden is golden, but also well-worn
Often, I see a very poor connection here. You have to waggle the charging plug around to connect and it easily slips out. No problem here, once connected it stays connected, even when driving around over fairly rough terrain. So, for all those motorhomes sporting a ceiling mounted connection, this will prove no problem.
Finally, the price. Whilst by no means the cheapest on the market, we were determined to have a device that would last and would work perfectly with our Macbooks. In this regard we chose well, but I can see it might put others off. Devices of a similar nature (although not Macbook Pro-optimised) are available for as little as £8.00 to 25.00. But we weren’t sure about using such devices with laptops, which have a higher power requirement. We haven’t had one connection issue since we bought it.
DC power socket is a great addition
The Gissaral Giscca also comes with an extended 18-month warranty as standard. It’s FCC, CE and RoHS compliant and one of its biggest sell is the DC connection. It adapts perfectly to our Magsafe2 T cable which is a superb bit of kit. A real godsend and absolutely essential. The Magsafe is designed to clip into place using a magnet, but not much else. This means you don’t have to yank the plug to remove it, potentially damaging the socket. More importantly, if you absent-mindedly stand on or trip against the cable you won’t see your shiny expensive Macbook flying through the air with a look of horror etched on your face. The cable will simply unclip, the magnet all ready to clip back in at a moment’s notice.
Although we use it for the MacBooks, the DC connection is a really nice touch and gives you a few other options for charging devices which require 12v and is not often seen.
All in all, this device gives you everything you want. And it will keep going day in day out, when life on the road leaves you feeling a bit all over the place. Turn on, plug in and relax…