Now that I had decided that I will most likely stay in Europe/Germany for the next year or two, it was as pretty soon clear that I needed to get my hands on my own four wheels again. While a few weeks ago I looked for a cheap, small run around car things turned out a bit different than expected. The whole car search was driving me insane, really – all I wanted was four wheels and doors and not too tiny but prices didn’t match my expectations. so I soon realized it was a good time to work on my personal list of opportunities and things I wanted to be doing right now…travel with freedom within Europe. So, I bought a small van instead!!
Deciding for the right car really wasn’t easy. All outdoor enthusiasts dream of a VW California or a Mercedes Viano – but prices above 50,000 euros quickly dampen the enthusiasm. An alternative are conversion kits with which you can inexpensively convert a bus or a high roof combination, so the bulky name for Caddy and Co., to a motorhome. Obviously I also would have loved to own one of these amazing VW T-something busses, a so called dream of everyone. But, not ready for the on going cost of a bigger van and a complete van transformation including ceiling, floor and cabinet wood building, I decided I wanted a high ceiling combi car that I can easily transform from a city car to my practical on the road minicamper with a few simple handy moves.. As of three weeks ago I am the proud owner of a Renault Kangoo!
Real van or rather a mini-van?
If you enter #Vanlife on Instagram, you get thousands of inspiring ideas about what you can do. But I don’t plan to live in my camper or travel for weeks. Therefore, it didn’t have to be a sprinter-sized van. Even if the spatial possibilities are already tempting. A van in the “Bulli format” was more likely. Essential criteria for me where that it had to be suitable for everyday use and being big enough for maximum bed space but still comfortable to be driven through the city and not looking like the typical camper. For budget reasons, therefore, an old used one would have been more likely. But I honestly didn’t have a buck on that either. So the field was limited to the “High Roof Combination” segment. Also on this you will find on the net a lot of examples, what you can do with so little space. And here are some exciting vehicles to choose from. From the rather high-priced VW Caddy, to Citroen Berlingo, Opel Combo, Renault Kangoo to the Dacia Dokker.
And the winner is: Renault Kangoo – “Die Dicke Berta”
I am really not that interested in cars as much as that certain things are a must have. For me, a car has four heels and a steering wheel and is used for the main purpose of transport. Therefore, I don’t need a star on the hood and I’m not willing to pay any additional charges for some extravagant features. It was important that it reached certain lengths with the back seat row folded so that a bedframe would at least be able to reach 1,80m and a height inside that I wouldn’t hit my head when sitting on the bed. My Dad who helped me quite a bit with finding the right car and the best deal is really not a VW fan, so it was quickly clear that I wouldn’t be buying a VW Caddy. After a lot of research and looking at a few Kangoos and a test drive and really enjoyed the way it’s been made, the space and the general feeling when driving. And that’s when I bought my 2014 light grey model with a fold down three seat backrow.
Since then I have given it the lovely nickname “Die Dicke Berta/ Big Berta”. I was inspired by various blogs and Instagram/ Pinterest profiles. But in the end I decided on a solution of my own like building storage boxes that fit in the car with the back seats being used, added a foldable bed, added curtains and changing the flooring. In less than three weeks I was able to transform my hightop van into a minicamper which I will be writing about in the next posts. Admittedly , I had underestimated it a little bit and thought it would be a bit easier. It is a lot of work to build the perfect set up solution for my car, when I want everything to be easy to use, easy to stow away, easy to set up and all on a low budget. It was hard work getting all the material I wanted, thinking ahead when measuring something and making it a practical smart set up with as little tools available. During this whole time my best friend was the handgrinding machine that would fix when I made an uneven cut etc. I only used a jigsaw and hand-circular saw, a pre drill and normal drill for all screws. Stay stuned!