GoneCamper 2017 Year In Review
Over 30,000 miles in a GoneCamper minivan. What did we learn?
We purchased our 2017 Dodge Grand Caravan in February with the plan to take a camping trip to Alaska. As 2017 comes to a close, we just turned over 31,000 miles! So what did we learn as we traveled and camped in a minivan?
First: traveling in a minivan is really comfortable. We actually made it through our "child-rearing" years without ever owning a minivan. Now - in semi-retirement - we are the proud owners of a Dodge Grand Caravan. If you have never driven one - and especially if you have looked down your nose at minivans - you will be surprised to learn that a minivan may be one of the most comfortable vehicles riding down the highway. Why? The wheelbase is longer than typical sedans. The wheels are positioned close to the four corners of the vehicle. This means that the minivan floats over uneven pavement and is less affected by cross winds and turbulence from passing vehicles.
Arriving in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory
Second: a minivan strikes the right balance between power and economy. Our Dodge Grand Caravan has a V-6 engine. We routinely get better than 30 MPG on the freeway. We have no problem cruising along at 70 mph or above on western highways. Of course, the minivan isn't a performance vehicle. But it also doesn't require premium fuel like most turbocharged engines. In addition, the V-6 is loafing most of the time where a high-performance 4-cylinder motor would be approaching redline.
Organ Pipe National Monument, Arizona
Third: our minivan is a pleasure to drive in the city or in traffic. With windows completely surrounding the driver and passengers, visibility is unmatched. Front-wheel drive makes steering nimble and creates a tight turning radius. And the width and length of the minivan makes parking a snap. The minivan is a very practical "daily driver". Also, the front-wheel drive provided great traction on gravel roads as well as sure-footed maneuverability in unpaved campsites.
Redwood National Forest
Fourth: camping in a minivan is truly practical AND comfortable! When traveling we usually try to maximize the miles per day. There have been days when we logged around 1,000 miles. Many days we continued to travel after supper in the evening. Part of the reason we were able to log so many miles is that often we had no concern where we were going to sleep. We were carrying our bed with us! Even better, it takes only 2 minutes to make our bed each night.
Our camping trips included a month-long trip from Arizona to Alaska and back - almost 10,000 miles. On this trip we AVERAGED 500 miles per day. Now this seems excessive, but remember that 500 miles only means eight hours driving at 65 mph. Allowing for 10 hours at the campsite, we still had six hours per day (on average) for sightseeing.
But our camping trips also included many days where we traveled only 100 miles or less. The Caravan GoneCamper took us to museums, arboretums, observatories, baseball games, National Parks, hiking trails, and many historic sites. We also crisscrossed the country twice visiting family.
In total, we have camped from the Mexican border all the way north to Alaska and the Yukon Territory. The GoneCamper matches the way we like to camp. We have a two-burner stove to prepare breakfast and supper. We have a cooler to carry fresh fruit, milk, and juice, meat and vegetables. The kitchen includes all the utensils and supplies we need for tasty meals on the road.
GoneCamper rear kitchen galley
We also can honestly say that the full-size bed in the GoneCamper is comfortable and provides a restful sleep. We use regular sheets, mattress pad, and pillows. Most nights we only need a light fleece blanket. On cooler nights we use an inexpensive sleeping bag as a comforter.
The bed has room for four storage totes underneath. We each use one as a "suitcase". We have a third tote for miscellaneous camping supplies (LED lantern, LED Luminoodle, USB fan, whisk broom, etc.) The fourth tote is overflow - rain coats, towels, shower supplies, hair dryer, etc. We stack the totes after collapsing the bed each morning. Our jackets are just laid over the totes when traveling. While one of us is finishing the breakfast dishes, the other folds the mattress and stows the sections of the bed. We are ready to roll in a few minutes each morning.
Full-size bed, with storage underneath
If you have ever camped in a tent you will feel much more comfortable in the GoneCamper. You are surrounded by steel and glass. The windows are completely covered (Reflectix window covers are included in the GoneCamper package for Caravans.). The doors are locked. Our Caravan has vent windows at the rear, and we installed Ventshades over the front and center windows to allow for infinite venting options. The window covers include flaps to allow for air flow. The Caravan (and most minivans) has center doors on both sides so we each can have full access to the storage totes and the bed. There is just enough room on both sides of the bed to kick off our shoes, which remain handy next to the sliding doors.
The GoneCamper is designed for sleeping. Obviously, the small space of the minivan means you aren't going to be spending the day lounging inside. No, our days are spent traveling and exploring. We sleep well at night. But there is also sufficient room for lounging before bed, or even a picnic lunch along the road if outdoor conditions aren't favorable. The GoneCamper bed includes a mattress that folds in thirds. Most of the time this is folded flat. (In between the folds of the mattress we store the seven Reflectix window covers.) But the mattress can also be positioned to use the rear bed section as a comfortable couch. You just arrange the mattress with two sections vertically against the rear kitchen and one section as the couch seat cushion. There is nearly four feet of space in front of the couch - plenty of space for a folding table for lunch or a game of cards.
Folding table and bed positioned as couch
Finally: the GoneCamper is the most versatile, economical, and practical camper EVER! We have camped in public and private campgrounds. We have camped (or "boondocked") in the middle of National Forests. We have camped in waysides and truck stops. Wherever you park, you can camp. Wherever you can drive, you can camp. We have driven many thousands of miles down highways, but we have also driven many rural back roads - including several thousand miles on unpaved roads from Arizona to the Yukon River in Alaska. In every case, the GoneCamper Dodge Caravan was economical and dependable. We have turned around at river crossings and rutted back roads that would have been passable with a Jeep or truck. But we didn't buy the minivan for four-wheeling. We bought the minivan and designed the GoneCamper for driving, sleeping, and preparing meals.
Camping along the Kennecott River, McCarthy, Alaska
Today "camping" has come to be defined as taking ALL the comforts of home with you. "Campers" are now required to have forced air heating, air conditioning, multiple flat screen TV's plus satellite reception, microwaves, and even fireplaces. "Campers" can cost more than the average home! Modern RV's lose 30% of their value the FIRST year in depreciation! In contrast, the GoneCamper minivan conversion costs less than $2,000. You can go further and faster and more economically than any "camper". There is ZERO maintenance expense. You don't have to pay to store it between trips. You don't have to make financing payments, insurance or $150 per hour maintenance costs. You can drive the GoneCamper every day! Because of the design you can accommodate up to four people in the minivan WITHOUT removing the camping conversion. And yet you are fully equipped and ready to go camping in minutes - just fill the cooler and go!
GoneCamper is the opposite of every trend that wants to make you believe that bigger is better. Bigger is not better! Bigger is only more expensive and more complicated. GoneCamper is big enough to be safe and comfortable - but not big enough to bring along junk you really don't need.
Are you ready to explore the most interesting and beautiful sights? Would you like to travel self-contained and with no worries? Do you believe LESS can actually be MORE? Than join us on the road. Contact us today to schedule the delivery of YOUR own GoneCamper!
Traveling Efficiently, Camping Comfortably, Living Frugally!