Working from a motorhome / campervan (1 Viewer)

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STEVEN YOUNG

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Mar 19, 2019
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Hi All

Very, very much the newbie :)

My wife and I have discussed getting a VW Colorado / Transit sized campervan for us and our 2 children for past few months with a view to hiring one for the 1st time this summer for a holiday.

As a bod thats worked from home for the last 10 years I also see an opportunity to use a camper for working from different locations. Beats being stuck at a desk in 1 place!!! :p

Having not yet taken the time to really get to grips with the basics on motorhomes / campervans (will do very soon) Ive no idea where to start, what camper(s) I should be looking at and which campervan is generally perceived as being a better allround camper than the rest, usability/ reliability etc

Ideally im looking for something between 1-3 years old,, possibly upto 5 years old. Again, I've no idea on specs and Id need to know how the heck I'd power something like a laptop and 1 or 2 other electrical items during a usual 8-9 hour office day whilst being based in different locations.

Of course at other times we envisage disappearing with the kids for the odd weekend away too.

I hope that waffle made some sense! Any advice would be very much appreciated :)

All the best

Steve
 

Kannon Fodda

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Presumably when you are working at home you have a dedicated space set aside for that, out of the way of all the disturbances of household life. How are you going to reconcile your working needs in a small space with everyone and everything around you. Can you really manage with a 2' square corner of a table with everyone else brushing past. What happens on the damper days when you can't kick everyone outside. At best I'd suggest you will want a much larger vehicle than you are enisaging so you can be tucked away out the back. I also think you'll want a proper awning space, but beware many sites will want to charge you for the extra space.

It's one thing to need to do a bit of email. Another thing to want to actually do a full day's work. The camper seating itself won't be that ergonomic compared to a proper desk.

In terms of electronics, you'll need good dual batteries, or somewhere with a hook up. Solar may give a boost in the height of summer, but otherwise you'll need to drive at least every day.
 

Rusty Pumper

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Further to Kannon Fodders’ excellent advice, you might consider a half way house - a medium wheel base - a panel van conversion.

VW’s are lovely week end vans, but in my opinion not ideally suited for full timing. A Transit sized van - with headroom to stand up in and fully kitted out might be worth thinking about it, if the budget can’t stretch to a motorhome.

Do your research and hire one out - that’s a good way to find out what’s right for you.
 
Sep 17, 2017
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If you want a bathroom, then you need at least one of the larger vans (Sprinter/Ducato). You could theoretically get away with a 5.5m panel van, provided you're all on really good terms... I'd suggest longer!

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TCG

Jul 6, 2017
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I sometimes work from the motorhome, which enables us to extend our weekends away. however we have a 8 metre MH with just the two of us. we also have Mifi internet to enable me to work with teleconferencing and webex etc.
Could i do it with less space or children around... no thanks ;)
 
Sep 17, 2017
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I've done a few holidays with some "remote working" days half way through. Our 5.4m van has a fold out table that makes a good workspace. We also have MiFi. I just run a single battery, a small Inverter and a large solar panel.

Only works when wifey can walk/ride somewhere while I'm working though.
 
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STEVEN YOUNG

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Mar 19, 2019
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Presumably when you are working at home you have a dedicated space set aside for that, out of the way of all the disturbances of household life. How are you going to reconcile your working needs in a small space with everyone and everything around you. Can you really manage with a 2' square corner of a table with everyone else brushing past. What happens on the damper days when you can't kick everyone outside. At best I'd suggest you will want a much larger vehicle than you are enisaging so you can be tucked away out the back. I also think you'll want a proper awning space, but beware many sites will want to charge you for the extra space.

It's one thing to need to do a bit of email. Another thing to want to actually do a full day's work. The camper seating itself won't be that ergonomic compared to a proper desk.

In terms of electronics, you'll need good dual batteries, or somewhere with a hook up. Solar may give a boost in the height of summer, but otherwise you'll need to drive at least every day.

Thanks Kannon Fodda for your reply :)

Certainly take the point re ergonomic seating. Definitely worth a thought.

The working arrangement would be for me to have a day a week or several days a month working on my lonesome somewhere (else) with a laptop and a separate screen with none of my family about. My dearest would be at work elsewhere and my kids would be at School with the campavan being used for short breaks for the 4 of us at times.

Sorry, I can see from the replies above that I didnt quite clarify that one :p

Thankyou too for your other advice on the dual batteries plus the solar option and the possible need for larger vehicle. My kids are growing at quite a rate! :p

As it happens there is Motorhome show in Harrogate this weekend which for us is well timed so will be heading there for a nose about :)
 
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STEVEN YOUNG

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Further to Kannon Fodders’ excellent advice, you might consider a half way house - a medium wheel base - a panel van conversion.

VW’s are lovely week end vans, but in my opinion not ideally suited for full timing. A Transit sized van - with headroom to stand up in and fully kitted out might be worth thinking about it, if the budget can’t stretch to a motorhome.

Do your research and hire one out - that’s a good way to find out what’s right for you.

Must admit the VW California is it? (I may have said Colorado in my original post!) that immediately sprung to mind but im very open to looking at any van type campa. Transit included. We are going to hire one out later on this year as a bit of a first so cant wait for that :)
 
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STEVEN YOUNG

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If you want a bathroom, then you need at least one of the larger vans (Sprinter/Ducato). You could theoretically get away with a 5.5m panel van, provided you're all on really good terms... I'd suggest longer!

Yes the bathroom. Definitely need one of those. Its added to the quickly growing list of 'must haves'!

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STEVEN YOUNG

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Our 5.4m van has a fold out table that makes a good workspace. We also have MiFi. I just run a single battery, a small Inverter and a large solar panel.

Only works when wifey can walk/ride somewhere while I'm working though.

Are solar panels easy enough to setup correctly? Also by MiFi do you mean a kind 4G dongle type device?
 
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If you do decide on a Transit base campervan or motorhome make sure you have deadlocks fitted as soon as possible if they are not already fitted, sadly they are very easy to steal, (just do a search through here for "stolen" to see how many go missing).

If your work mainly involves just using a laptop then consider using a DC power adapter rather then an inverter as you will get longer out of your batteries between charges.

Oh and please consider subscribing it's well worth the money :)
 
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Or, look for a converted race van. If there was space for a couple of motorbikes and workshop equipment there is space to create a small office.

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Sep 17, 2017
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Are solar panels easy enough to setup correctly? Also by MiFi do you mean a kind 4G dongle type device?

Solar panels aren't too hard to fit. It's a 'need a friend' type job, but it's technically not hard:
http://endlessweekend.co.uk/solar-powered/

You can just put a 4G dongle on a laptop or even turn your phone into a WiFi hotspot (which, if your phone contract allows, is the cheapest option). However, if you are reliant on Interwebs for your work, you might want to consider doubling down and getting a MiFi device and an external aerial:
http://endlessweekend.co.uk/fitting-a-wifi-hotspot/
 

donnkim

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Hi Steven
We have been using our motorhomes for work for the last 8 years. Our present van is a Hymer S640 which has been ideal.
However, we are beginning a new venture renting brand new Possl Campervans for the 2019 season then selling them at the end of the season.
Our experience has always to have a Toilet and Shower as essential fittings.
If you would like to hire a campervan please pm me and have a look on
www.elliscampervanhire.co.uk elliscampervanhire@gmail.com
We have been all over the UK usually on small sites/CLs - it has been a great way of earning a living.
 
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STEVEN YOUNG

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Mar 19, 2019
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Hi All

A little update.

Visited our first Motorhome show yesterday in Harrogate, bit of an eye opener tbh with some fabulous motorhomes and campers on show.

As mentioned above we were keen on the VW California and although we're keen on the van type camper because it can be used as a second car. We were taken back at the options available in terms of Motorhomes and their comparable costs to a California.

We noted just how much more room, comfort and convenience you can have for similar money if not a little less. Im sure this doesnt come as a surprise to many of you.;)

However, sticking with the Campervan idea, we got chatting to a number of VW Transporter conversion companies who can supply a customised LWB version of the VW Transporter T6 for much less than a new/nearly new California. So I think thats the route we're going.

it definitely feels like the start of something! Very interested in the larger Motorhomes too,they look amazing and definitely something for the future.:D

Again, thankyou for your advice and comments, theyre very much appreciated. :)
 
Sep 17, 2017
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There are several people on here that will point out to you that you can squeeze a H2L2 Ducato in a supermarket parking space, but the headroom and little bit of extra width make masses of difference to the livability. The only downside compared to a T6 is many car parks have a 2.1m height barrier... which might still catch you out with a pop-roof.
 

Frankiej

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I have been working on the Isle of Wight for three months and living in my Moho. I have owned and used a PVC for several years and had long holidays in them.
But this stint has been in a 6.5metre motorhome, on my own, with dog and I would suggest that any smaller would be very difficult to do. Of course, it depends on the type of work and hours you are doing.
I have been working long hours away from the van, so the last think I want is to be filling the water tank frequently just to have a shower, so the larger tank on a Moho has been a godsend. If the work was based in the van, that’s a different matter.
So think very carefully about what you need.....
 
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STEVEN YOUNG

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There are several people on here that will point out to you that you can squeeze a H2L2 Ducato in a supermarket parking space, but the headroom and little bit of extra width make masses of difference to the livability. The only downside compared to a T6 is many car parks have a 2.1m height barrier... which might still catch you out with a pop-roof.


We really liked a couple of Fiat based models, im guessing based on the Ducato. They had loads of room but the one thing that as obvious though was the fact that it is a big bulky vehicle and not the kind of thing that youd just jump into and tootle off to work in, where the T6 is kind of car like in that respect but then lacks the out and out convenience and comfort of the bigger campers. However those biger models do appeal for later on down the line I think :)
 

Ridgeway

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I work from our van quite often when the children are on school holidays and i can't be away for too long. I can only do this when everyone is out of the van as others have mentioned although i understand this isn't this issue here. Make sure you have plenty of cables and spares..... think i have a duplicate set for all my devices and a dedicated headset for conference calls.

PS: one advice, your client, boss or colleagues hearing your children splashing around in the pool in the background can some times be embarrassing, other noises also some times need explain on my conf calls:LOL:

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STEVEN YOUNG

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If the work was based in the van, that’s a different matter.
So think very carefully about what you need.....

Thankyou for your reply. I can certainly see you've the experience of living in these things :D(y) Fab!

From a working point of view,it would be for a number of days each month, possibly no more than 8 spent in the van to work from with possibly the odd night away too so nothing too heavy I suspect.

We're looking to get it for a mixture of me working at different locations on my lonesome and also as a weekend thing with the odd longer break thrown in too with the family. (4 of us). Its vehicle with the flexibility to replace a 2nd car too that we're after as a first camper, so we're thinking the VW T6 will just be the ticket!
 

Cheshirecat57

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Is getting road tax for these things tricky?

I think we're looking at a LWB T6 Transporter conversion, is this likely to cause an issue when it comes to insurance ?
The road tax on a Genuine California is a fortune for 5 years because its in the car class and is over 40k new
A conversion needs to be registered correctly as a motor caravan to avoid issueswith insurance and indeed re-sale

A conversion by a “back street” converter make look cheap but will turn out to be a POTENTIAL problem if you are not aware of the pit-falls
 
Sep 17, 2017
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We really liked a couple of Fiat based models, im guessing based on the Ducato. They had loads of room but the one thing that as obvious though was the fact that it is a big bulky vehicle and not the kind of thing that youd just jump into and tootle off to work in, where the T6 is kind of car like in that respect but then lacks the out and out convenience and comfort of the bigger campers. However those biger models do appeal for later on down the line I think :)

A LWB T6 is 5.3m and there are some Ducato/Boxer/Relay campers that are only 5.4m. The Ducato is only 10cm wider (folded mirror measurement). I'm guessing the reason it looks so much bigger is the permanent height and that it's so square sided. So you've got about 20cm of extra width by the time you get to shoulder height inside. That extra width means it's practical to have a centre isle, and you can also sleep across it (provided you are not much more than 6' tall).

A Ducato is surprisingly easy to drive. All the controls are light and easy. It does ride like a van though. The VW is quieter and smoother.
 

Markas

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I was about to say that a Ducato is very car-like. It depends what you're used to but it rides just fine unless your expecting a RR Silver-Shadow / Citroën DS type magic-carpet ride.
I bought a Ducato pvc onversion, sight unseen, much less test drove it, but would say I was comfortable in it within 2/3 hours max.
Only tried to drive round the wrong way round one roundabout on the way home (in Dover)
 
Aug 22, 2017
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The two of us have worked from the van (6.1m PVC) -- both abroad and in the UK. (Both have jobs that can be done wholly online). If we are both working, one sits at the table in the rear lounge, the other up the front in the swivelled passenger seat which also has a small table. The experience for our employers/customers has been seamless. That means having a back-up plan for 99% of eventualities, so multiple mi-fi devices in case one fails, multiple SIMs to ensure coverage, spare phones, data back-ups (easier in these 'cloudy' days), spare machines, etc., so a fair bit of planning required for surviving a couple of thousand miles away from base. The person in the rear gets the option to use the TV as a second monitor. We've done it off-grid too, using 12v power supplies for all the equipment (a couple of 100Ah batteries and solar panels) -- we also now have a hard-wired 19v power supply for one laptop/PC in the rear lounge that works off the 12v system.

In the early days (you learn from experience) when working without a spare machine, my laptop developed a keyboard fault. One of the letter keys stopped working: I got around this by using the escape code sequence for that character. The next day another key stopped working. This continued until half the letters didn't work, so eventually composing a simple email using escape codes became like programming an enigma machine! These days I would have a spare.

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