articles and blog
Amenities or facilities
Category: Facilities in your home-on-wheels. Published: 23 Jun 2009
The range of facilities or amenities in any campervan, motorhome, caravan or recreation vehicle can vary considerably from the very basic to the ultimate in luxurious comfort.
To me, the biggest advantage of travelling in a campervan is being able to sleep in the same bed every night. I always had trouble sleeping on the first night or two that I was in a strange bed. Before buying my van I used to stay in a variety of motels or on-site vans or cabins in caravan parks when I was travelling. As I used to stay in one location for only a couple of days I always struggled to get enough sleep. Not anymore! No matter where I am or how long I'm staying, I always sleep in my own bed.
The bedding arrangements vary considerably in the various types of campervans, motorhomes, caravans and recreation vehicles. There are the island type, fold-down ones, and some, like mine, that are built over the top of the cab where you have very little room -- not suitable if you suffer from claustrophobia. Some vans have a number of bedrooms, depending on the number of people travelling. Beds in some vans double-up as daytime seating, others need to be "put-away" to provide seating areas. I've even seen some larger motorhomes where the bed is folded up to allow space to park a car!
In many cases the bed is not of a standard size, so the mattress must be made to fit. Pretty much any type of mattress that you require -- foam, inner spring, latex -- can be made to measure.
Cooking, eating and food storage facilities
Most campervans, motorhomes, caravans and recreation vehicles have some type of cooking, eating and food-storage facilities. This is the second biggest advantage of having your own van. On my previous travels I used the cooking facilities provided wherever I was staying, and the previous occupant did not always clean up as well as I would have liked, and the knives were never sharp enough or the pots were the wrong size, or...
With smaller campervans and camper trailers there is usually no option but to cook outside, while a number of travellers prefer to do their cooking outside even though they may have cooking facilities inside. This can be done using shared kitchen facilities or barbecues provided by the caravan park or camping ground, or using a campfire, or separate barbecues can be carried in the van, or some vans even have external cooking facilities attached to the van itself.
Other people prefer to do their cooking inside the van and can have all the facilities that you would expect in a modern kitchen: such as a gas or electric powered cook-top, oven and grill, as well as a microwave oven. If you have the space and power you can have such luxuries as bread makers, rice cookers, vertical grills, etc, etc, etc. Lingering food smells can be a problem so I'd highly recommend a range hood.
All but the smallest vans have some sort of a table and food preparation areas, although again many people prefer to eat outside.
Most campervans, motorhomes, caravans and recreation vehicles have a refrigerator of some sort, even those with a camper trailer will usually carry a portable fridge. Fridges can be powered by propane gas, power supplied by the car battery and/or house batteries, or via mains power when plugged in at a caravan park. There are 2-way and 3-way fridges that can be switched between different power sources. It is most important with any type of fridge that adequate ventilation is provided to ensure efficient operation. Many refrigerators have a separate freezing compartment, or for those people who prefer to stay in remote areas for longer periods, a separate freezer is installed.
Most campervans, motorhomes, caravans and recreation vehicles have some type of insulation to protect the occupants from extremes of heat and cold. This insulation varies in effectiveness, especially in pop-top or fold-down caravans that have canvas or similar material that fill the gaps, and camper trailers and tents provide very little protection other than from rain and wind.
Air conditioning is provided in most later models, and I wouldn't travel anywhere without it. These tend to use a lot of power so are really only suitable when plugged into mains power or if you have a good generator. Heating is also usually provided, often from the same unit that provides cooling.
A slide-out is a section of a wall that can be expanded by pulling it outward from the side of the vehicle, thus making the interior space wider. These seem to be growing in popularity and are provided in many later models of motorhomes, fifth-wheelers or even slide-ons. The slide-outs are generally used to expand the living area but can also be used to house the kitchen or bedroom.
While many travellers generally "live" outside, most campervans, motorhomes, caravans and recreation vehicles have some form of living areas inside, with varying degrees of luxury. Even in my slide-on I have a very comfortable recliner/rocker. Most have a television of some sort with an aerial or satellite dish to pick up free-to-air or pay-to-view stations.
While I do have a TV, I get more use out of my radio/CD/MP3 player, which also plays DVDs but I don't tend to use this function a great deal.
I could easily cope without a TV but definitely could not cope without my laptop computer and I need to make sure I'm within mobile phone range so that I can access the Internet every day or so.
Electricity is supplied by battery or mains power at a caravan park, while propane gas is generally used for cooking. Power needs vary depending on the number and type of appliances being used.
Fresh water is provided either from on-board tanks or hooked up to town water in a caravan park. campervans, motorhomes, caravans and recreation vehicles can have a toilet, shower or even a full bathroom. Some even have a washing machine, a clothes dryer and/or a dish washer. Hot water can be provided by a gas or electric powered water heater. Separate storage tanks are required for grey water and black water.
External living -- awnings or annexes
Most people living or travelling in a campervan, motorhome, caravan or recreation vehicle spend at least some of their time outside. In a caravan park I tend to live inside the van, but when I'm out bush I like to sit outside. Many vans have an awning of some sort and some have an annex that forms an outside living room.
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