Campervan adventures with Dolly, travels

Is hiring out a caddy camper to others a good thing?

Hiring out a caddy camper and sharing with others is something that I started doing last year, via www.camptoo.co.uk

Taking off in a campervan is fast becoming one of the most popular ways to get away, holiday, travel and camp. Why? Because it’s spontaneous, it feeds our desire for adventure, it’s easy, it allows us to go where we want at our own speed, and, perhaps most importantly, it’s fun.

Why hire out your precious caddy camper?

Hiring out a caddy camper to others means they can:

  • see how they get on with Dolly’s miniature size
  • try before (perhaps) they buy
  • arrange the caddy camper hire via a reputable campervan hiring firm
  • be safe in the knowledge that insurance, breakdown cover etc is all included
  • get to know Camptoo’s easy airbnb-type of booking for campervans
  • take off and travel in an instant
  • know that they will be hiring a delightful miniature camper

Friends ask me how hirers look after Dolly and whether she comes back looking as pristine as she did when she left. And the answer is, yes, she has been returned in perfect condition. So far I’ve done five hires via Camptoo and all of the caddy camper hirers have been wonderful – respectful, trustworthy, and like-minded. And I know that, following two hires of Dolly, one of my hirers is already well on the way to converting his own caddy. How amazing is that?

My tips for a good hire

What would I recommend as being essentials for hiring out a caddy camper?

  • keep your camper as uncluttered and uncomplicated as possible – this makes for fast-turnarounds and easy cleaning and maintenance
  • choose a camper insurance arrangement that is best for you. Going with my own camper insurance that would cover hirers as well would be a considerable annual expense. Going with Camptoo’s insurance policy takes the onus away from me – ok, it means less for me for each hire once the insurance cost has been discounted, but it gives me peace of mind
  • make sure your Gas Safety Certificate (if your camper has gas) is kept up-to-date each year
  • keep an inventory of everything in your camper (Camptoo insist on this anyway)
  • get to know your hirers a little before they hire
  • keep dates free in the year so you can enjoy your camper too!
  • an obvious one – ensure that the camper is well serviced and maintained throughout the year

Hiring out a caddy camper is a bit like Airbnb, but for holiday homes on wheels instead. And who wouldn’t enjoy waking up to views like this? If you would like to hire Dolly, here’s how.

View from caddy camper
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No. 5 place to visit post-lockdown

No. 5 place to visit when the pandemic is over is a pub stopover. Close to my No. 4 place to visit – the beautiful tunnel of trees at Halnaker – it’s a perfect overnight stopover for me and Dolly. And it means more time to explore, more time to relax, and more time to walk on the South Downs.

Apparently, the Prince of Wales pub is only 15 minutes drive from Chichester and it has a few camper places in the field behind the pub. Even better, you can enjoy traditional pub food and there are overnight facilities – a must for Dolly and me. It’s got some good reviews on PitchUp too.

Why is it important for me and Dolly to have overnight facilities?

  • Dolly has a water supply but not a toilet
  • It’s always nice to be able to enjoy some pub food after long walking stints
  • In the UK, wild camping (camping anywhere) is illegal
  • I feel safer
  • I never know who I might get chatting to at the pub!
No. 5 place to visit with Dolly the Caddy Camper

No. 5 place to visit is my final top 5 suggestion

Just to recap, I started the theme of my ‘top 5 places to visit when the pandemic is over‘ way back in September 2020, just before the covid virus got worse again. When we are all allowed to get out and about again, simply focusing on these top 5 places has given me lots to look forward to. Here’s a reminder of my top 5 places to visit:

Good start to my 2021 planned trips in Dolly the Caddy Camper!

We’ve all needed some positivity to get us through these dark virus times. And we all have different ways of coping and ‘looking forward’ Dolly and trees give me reasons and passions to ‘look on the bright side of life’. What are yours?

Always look on the bright side of life

Until next time,

Sarah x

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Tales, travels

No. 1 place to visit post-lockdown

No. 1 place to visit - somewhere with trees
Beech Trees

No 1. place to visit is somewhere with lots of trees.

Why? So many reasons. I love trees. Without them, the human race wouldn’t survive – trees take in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and, in the process of making wood, they emit oxygen…vital for our existence. I’m always thanking trees, hugging them too.

No. 1 place to visit - somewhere with trees
Hugging a Pine Tree

Second, trees are sanctuaries. Sanctuaries for calm, peace, nature, wildlife, thought, de-stressing, happiness, beauty.

Third, being in a forest is good for the soul, it’s impossible to be unhappy in a forest. It’s the simple things that take over, like listening to branches whistle in the wind, noticing how the mind starts to unclutter, feeling the crunch underfoot as you walk, and breathing in the fresh forest air.

So…where are the No. 1 place to visit local forests and woods where Dolly and I can travel to for the day? Here’s my list so far:

Just think of all the No. 1 places to visit of wonderful forest spaces, untouched after months of being human-free during the virus-crisis months, that will be ready to explore, abundant with nature, and full of bird song.

I can’t wait…

No. 1 place to visit - somewhere with trees
Tree Hugging at Buriton, Hampshire

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Tales, travels

No. 2 place to visit post-lockdown

No. 2 place to visit – the Mawddach Estuary, North Wales

Victorian artist and writer John Ruskin had a home in Barmouth, North Wales during the nineteenth century and was inspired by the Mawddach Estuary’s isolation and beauty. He said ‘there is no better walk than from Barmouth to Dolgellau other than from Dolgellau to Barmouth’.

I love this part of the world. I first came here when I was 6 weeks old, a babe in arms. Just as my mother’s parents had brought her, and her parents before her. In fact my maternal grandfather was half Welsh and lived along the North Wales coast at Aberdovey.

The slopes of Cadair Idris
Family time on the slopes of Cadair Idris, 1960

I can’t wait to introduce this part of North Wales to Dolly the VW Caddy Camper. With its mountain peaks, forest-lined green valleys, long sandy beaches, and isolated roads, the Mawddach Estuary landscape brings back so many wonderful childhood (and adult) memories for me. And what better way to re-visit than in a home-on-wheels. I’ve walked the Mawddach Trail many a time. It follows the disused course of the old railway line along the south bank of the river from Dolgellau to Morfa Mawddach. With the river on one side and the craggy slopes of majestic Cadair Idris on the other, as the landscape widens to the mouth of the estuary at Barmouth Bridge the views back upstream are stunning.

Barmouth Bridge at the mouth of the Mawddach Estuary

I’ve found two idyllic campsites with views overlooking the Mawddach estuary that will be perfect for me and Dolly. The Bwlchgwyn Farm campsite and The Craig Wen campsite (featured in the Cool Camping guide).

No. 2 place to visit – why? Hidden beauty.

No. 2 place to visit - North Wales
View from the George III pub of the Old Toll Bridge & slopes of Cadair Idris beyond

Just as the estuary begins to widen, there’s the 17th century George Inn. A favourite stop off way back when my grandparents used to bring me and my brother down to the estuary to swim. It’s still a popular pub/dining stop off today for walkers, bathers, families, and visitors who can relax with a drink taking in views of the estuary and watch the cars as they rumble across the old toll bridge

There’s so much hidden beauty in this part of the UK. I will leave you with a pic of what I think conjures up this favourite part of the world for me…mountain peaks, rolling green hills, dry stone walls, farm animals roaming free, and low misty clouds that are often quick to burst open for sunny blue skies behind.

No. 2 place to visit - North Wales
The Green Valleys of North Wales

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Tales, travels

No. 3 place to visit post-lockdown

Bridge Villa riverside campsite Wallingford, Oxfordshire

No. 3 place to visit Bridge Villa campsite

No. 3 place to visit is Bridge Villa campsite at Wallingford, Oxfordshire. The site is shaped a bit like a horse-shoe, with lots of lovely leafy pitches up at the top end away from the entrance, but still lots of trees to park-up under at the entrance end (nearer to the facilities).

Even in the height of summer, when the site is full with the buzz of families and I hear the early-evening hum of chatter and outdoor cooking, the site doesn’t feel over-crowded.

No. 3 place to visit – riverside walks, riverside pubs, and great restaurants are only 5 mins walk away

Bridge Villa campsite is located in a picturesque spot beside the River Thames and close to the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  Close by there are unspoilt river-meadows, a part-medieval bridge into Wallingford town, and glorious riverside Thames Path walking ways.

Who knows when these wonderful eateries will be open again, but when they do, here are the ones to try.

Just over the river is The Boat House pub with a riverside terrace. I’ve enjoyed many an early evening drink here gazing up at the tall riverside trees and watching the boats glide by.  So many other pubs in Wallingford to choose from – The Coachmakers Arms (also near the river), the Old Post Office, and The Coach and Horses.

No. 3 place to visit
View from The Boat House pub at Wallingford riverside

So many brill places to eat in Wallingford too.  I haven’t tried them all (yet).  My favourites are The Wallingford Tandoori (just over the bridge),  Delhi Brasserie, and Pizza Express (Pizza Express were running a prize promotion for a few months last year and I won quite a few delicious dishes).

Always a friendly welcome

The team at Bridge Villa are always accommodating and helpful.  I can ring last minute and there always seems to be a small space for me and Dolly.  I was late arriving one evening and they telephoned to check that I would be arriving ok and to assure me of my space.

Bridge Villa facilities are top class

I’ve left this one til last as it’s the most important for me.  Clean, warm, well-maintained, and well cared for toilet and shower blocks at campsites mean the world to me.  And Bridge Villa goes right to the top of the class for this.  And guess what?  There’s underfloor heating throughout!

Even in the height of summer when the campsite was full, the Ladies shower and toilet block was clean and fresh.  And the showers…well…what can I say.  Powerful hot water that gushes out for as long as is needed.  And handy mops to wipe shower floors after use that everyone seems to use.

And two clean and tidy wash cubicles with their own lights.

Perfect.

Bridge villa campsite – one of the best

So there you have it.  A quick review of one of my favourite UK campsites.  Just a few other need to knows about the site:

  • Internet – yes
  • Shop – yes
  • Disabled facilities – yes
  • Washing-up room – yes
  • Washing machines – yes
  • Drinking water points and refuse collection points throughout the site – yes

Looking forward to visiting again once the virus lockdown has eased.

Thank you Bridge Villa!

Love Sarah and Dolly

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Why I chose a VW Caddy Camper

Dolly!

VW Caddy Camper – why I chose one

VW Caddy Camper is an ideal small camper.  I discussed my caddy camper conversion with Darren from  Vantastic Campers and he transformed the back space of the van into a living/sleeping space that included:

  • a rocknroll bed
  • a mini sink and one ring burner
  • a fridge
  • hanging space
  • 2 small storage spaces
  • lots of space behind the front seats
  • space underneath the rocknroll bed for bedding
Why I chose a VW Caddy Camper
Compact interior

A caddy campervan doubles as an everyday vehicle

VW caddy vans are sleek, nippy, easy to park, uncomplicated, and easy to drive.  They double as an everyday vehicle and the campervan space can be packed away in minutes.

It’s important to keep ultra organised in the camper space. And to keep possessions and ‘things’ to a minimum in order to avoid feeling cluttered.  In fact, one very important thing I have learnt is that, when the bed is folded down, I can’t open the fridge.  So, to make a morning cuppa, I have to get the milk out of the fridge the night before.

It’s amazing what a mini -fridge can hold

I can stock the mini-fridge with enough food for a few days.  There’s a separate mini freezer section at the top with a mini ice tray, 2 small racks for holding food, a section on the bottom for a basket for fruit & veg, and separated sections in the door for milk, dairy, and other kinds of drinks.

Another tip.  I have to remember to turn up the fridge the day before I set off on my travels. This makes sure the freezer section is cold enough to start freezing some ice.

I have a leisure battery that recharges whenever I drive the VW caddy van so I’m always assured of enough charge for the fridge, the lighting, and the heater.

The cosiness of a VW caddy van camper at night

Whenever I look at Dolly from the outside I still can’t believe that her super interior space doubles up as a very cosy night-time space with comfy bed, night-light, and heating, where I feel very safe, warm, and secure wherever I bed down for the night.

Why I chose a VW Caddy Camper
Cosy at night

On those chillier mornings all I have to do is flick the heating switch on and wait for about 15 mins for the space to get warm and toasty.

It’s certainly a very compact (but comfortable) sleeping space, and with two people in the bed-space I would advise that you’re ultra-organised!  An awning can always be added on to the van and this is something that I’m planning for the future.

But hey, just think of those warm sultry evenings and nights when you can leave the back doors open, drift away listening to the sounds of the night, and wake up at sunrise looking out on the most incredible view of your choice.

My journey of exploration with Dolly the Caddy Camper has only just begun.  But am I glad that I’ve chosen such an easy, small-space, uncomplicated, comfy and cosy VW Caddy Van camper for my partner in travel.

Sarah

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Word of the Week – coddiwomple

Coddiwomple

Coddiwomple…do you?

Coddiwomple is an English slang word but what a lovely word it is. I think so anyway.  It’s meaning? To travel in a purposeful manner towards a vague destination.

Of course I do sometimes like to plan my travel and destinations.  However, the joy of waking up some mornings, seeing a brilliant blue sky, feeling the warm sunshine, having a free day, and knowing that Dolly the caddy camper is waiting just outside, means I can simply jump onboard and coddiwomple off to  travel in a purposeful manner towards a vague destination.

It’s spontaneous, freeing, exciting, and adventurous.  And isn’t that what campervan travel is all about?

Anyone can coddiwomple

Actually, you don’t really need to own a campervan to coddiwomple.  You can do it anywhere.  Set off walking around your local streets simply to just….explore.  I never knew that there’s an amazing inter-connecting set of alleyways between most of the roads where I live that cut across main roads and get to some places in a different way. Until one day I followed one and got to the local post office in double quick time.  I now coddiwomple along these alleyways frequently, often not really knowing where they will take me.

Coddiwompling is a great way to explore any destination, local or afar.  And it’s often the best way of coming across that lovely little bar, cosy family-run restaurant, or amazing view.

Nothing wrong in making a beeline for that beauty spot or tourist attraction that everyone has been telling you about.  But sometimes our expectations can be dashed when we discover that, actually, our jaws didn’t drop after all.

Codiwompling with Dolly

Dolly the Caddy Camper

I’m looking forward to doing more coddiwompling with Dolly this year.  Like a lot of people, I’m a bit hard-tuned to setting a destination, working out the route, and calculating how long it will take me to get there.

Well this year…no.  I’m going to practice setting off with a vague idea of whether I want to head north, east or west.  Can’t go south as the sea is there.  I shall drive along for a bit, turn left or right or head straight on, find another interesting road, and then coddiwomple along there for a bit.

Who knows what I’ll find and where I’ll end up, but that’s coddiwompling for you.

Take a coddiwomple sometimes and embrace the unexpected.

Sarah and Dolly

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Bridge Villa campsite is one of my favourites, here’s why

Bridge Villa campsite is one of my favourites - here's why
Dolly at Bridge Villa campsite

Bridge Villa campsite is leafy and spacious

I’ve stayed at Bridge Villa campsite during most months of the year.  In the quieter months, there are lots of pitches available, particularly under the trees, and I often head for these.

The site is shaped a bit like a horse-shoe, with lots of lovely leafy pitches up at the top end away from the entrance, but still lots of trees to park-up under at the entrance end (nearer to the facilities).

Even in the height of summer, when the site is full with the buzz of families and I hear the early-evening hum of chatter and outdoor cooking, the site doesn’t feel over-crowded.

Riverside walks, riverside pubs, and great restaurants are 5 mins walk away

Bridge Villa campsite is located in a picturesque spot beside the River Thames and close to the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  Close by there are unspoilt river-meadows, a part-medieval bridge into Wallingford town, and glorious riverside Thames Path walking ways.

Just over the river is The Boat House pub with a riverside terrace. I’ve enjoyed many an early evening drink here gazing up at the tall riverside trees and watching the boats glide by.  So many other pubs in Wallingford to choose from – The Coachmakers Arms (also near the river), the Old Post Office, and The Coach and Horses.

So many brill places to eat in Wallingford too.  I haven’t tried them all (yet).  My favourites are The Wallingford Tandoori (just over the bridge),  Delhi Brasserie, and Pizza Express (Pizza Express has been running a prize promotion for a few months and I’ve sipped quite a few free drinks here this summer.

Always a friendly welcome

The team at Bridge Villa are always accommodating and helpful.  I can ring last minute and there always seems to be a small space for me and Dolly.  I was late arriving one evening and they telephoned to check that I would be arriving ok and to assure me of my space.

Bridge Villa facilities are top class

I’ve left this one til last as it’s the most important for me.  Clean, warm, well-maintained, and well cared for toilet and shower blocks at campsites mean the world to me.  And Bridge Villa goes right to the top of the class for this.  And guess what?  There’s underfloor heating throughout!

Even in the height of summer when the campsite was full, the Ladies shower and toilet block was clean and fresh.  And the showers…well…what can I say.  Powerful hot water that gushes out for as long as is needed.  And handy mops to wipe shower floors after use that everyone seems to use.

And two clean and tidy wash cubicles with their own lights.

Perfect.

Bridge villa campsite – one of the best

So there you have it.  A quick review of one of my favourite UK campsites.  Just a few other need to knows about the site:

  • Internet – yes
  • Shop – yes
  • Disabled facilities – yes
  • Washing-up room – yes
  • Washing machines – yes
  • Drinking water points and refuse collection points throughout the site – yes

Thank you Bridge Villa,

Sarah and Dolly

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Scarborough campsites – my top 3

Scarborough coastline
Scarborough coastline

Scarborough campsites – campsite 1

Scarborough campsites – my top 3. They are the Scarborough Camping and Caravanning Club site, the Camping & Caravanning club site at Filey, and the Row Brow Farm campsite.

Dolly and I stayed for 3 nights at the Scarborough Camping and Caravanning Club site.  Set high up just above the town, it’s a great location for walking to the sea and the town, and close to lovely coastal walking routes.

So far, as a novice campervan traveller, I haven’t joined either the Camping and Caravanning Club or the Caravan and  Motorhome Club.  I gather that both Clubs offer great benefits and experiences for their members, as well as well-run campsites – particularly for families.

I’m an independent traveller and I’m keen to experience all types of campsites at this early stage of my Dolly adventures.  And that includes Club sites and non-Club sites. So, for the time being, I’m prepared to pay non-membership rates at the Club sites (which can be quite high).

Scarborough C&C club camp site

The Scarborough CCC site is huge!  On arrival, I booked in at reception, and was shown to an empty field….yay!…. by a man on a scooter.  Yes, the site is so big that it takes a ‘man on a scooter’ to show newcomers where to pitch.  I was joined by one other camper later on, and for the 3 days I was there, it was just the 2 of us. Nice.

There is everything campers need on this campsite.  There are at least 4 shower/toilet blocks, all kept very clean and functioning well, and there’s a well-stocked shop at the reception building.  And, a short 5 minute walk away, a family-friendly pub offering great value pub meals.  And free wifi.

Was it my kind of ‘Scarborough and campervan’ campsite?  It was great for bedding down in Dolly each night. I was out and about most days anyway – staff were friendly and helpful, and the facilities were excellent.  More than that?  Perhaps not.

Filey campsite – campsite 2

Next campsite was the Centenary Way Camping and Caravanning site at Filey, just south along the coast from Scarborough.

Another biggish site, very well kept, and a charming reception hut just next to the owners’ house.  There’s a lovely footpath from the site that takes walkers down into Filey a short distance away, great for dog walking too (I gathered).

Morning wake up view
My view from the Centenary Way campsite at Filey

I had a pitch just next to the entrance, with this beautiful countryside view.  The pitches were quite close to eachother, with not much ‘tree’ protection (at least not where I was), and I did feel a bit exposed to neighbouring caravanners.  However, once cosied up in Dolly, I could easily shut out the world.

The toilet/shower block was fairly small, and there was a continual queue for the shower (in the evening).  Clean though and lovely hot water.

I used the washing machine too, but had to ask reception for change.

Again, a great site for families staying for longer visits enjoying the pretty Filey beaches, and good for an overnight stop too. 

Scarborough campsites top 3 – campsite 3

My final Scarborough camping experience with Dolly the Caddy Camper was at the Row Brow Farm campsite (home of Dotty the Donkey), a short distance from Scarborough town centre. I had read both good and not so good reviews of the site, so no sure what to expect.

I was greeted by a rough and ready looking man (who I later discovered is the owner of the campsite) who put me on the right track on the road to the campsite a way up the hill.

On the phone earlier, I had been told to drive into the campsite and find a spot in the campsite field on the left.  As I found the campsite, I did as I was told, and drove into the field.  A small, slightly overgrown field, next to a pond, with electrical points dotted around.

How did I know it was the right field?

There were two other campers there – a young couple with a small tent, and a VW campervan.  Dolly felt at home straightaway.

On further investigation, I found the Ladies – one single toilet and a washbasin.  And I assume it was the same for the Gents.  I was told that the showers were further up the hill – I didn’t investigate.

Row Brow Farm campsite
Row Brow Farm campsite

This was quiet, peaceful, basic (yet functional and clean), and had a lovely, rural, farmyard feel.

Quacking ducks woke me, and I was lulled to sleep by Kylie Minogue.  She was performing at a concert at Scarborough’s open-air theatre close-by. Lucky me!

No wifi at this one though, and no sign of Dotty the Donkey.

I met the owner again (and his wife) just as I was about to leave.  They were very relaxed about the pitch fee, and, best of all, it was only £12.

Scarborough and campervans – 3 very different campsites

So there you have it. Scarborough campsites – my top 3.  I would recommend all 3 for very different reasons, as mentioned above.

There are certain things though that I know I’ll be looking out for in the future. Campsites with views, campsites with trees, and campsites ‘off the beaten track’.

So much to see and so much to learn!

Love Sarah and Dolly

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The Campervan Bible

The Campervan Bible
The Campervan Bible

I always keep this book in Dolly the Caddy Camper. why? Because it’s THE definitive glovebox bible for anyone who owns, hires, or yearns for a campervan.  It’s Martin Dorey’s The Camper Van Bible: Live, Eat, Sleep (Repeat)

All campervan lovers need this book

Get your hands on this book and you’ll be hooked on campervan living for ever.

I bought The Campervan Bible years before Dolly came into my life.  Just buying the book made me realise I would one day be a campervan owner.

It’s an amazing book and includes absolutely everything about campervan living and campervan adventures.

Martin Dorey is an acknowledged campervan expert, a writer, a surfer and a serial campervan owner.   He has also written The Camper Van Cookbook (2010), and The Camper Van Coast (2012).

The campervan bible – fun, colourful, easy to read, useful, helpful

Read The Camper Van Bible: Live, Eat, Sleep (Repeat) and you’ll be inspired by the wonderful photos and colour-coded sections.

There’s snippets from real-life campervan owners on ‘what does a camper mean to you’. And also useful info on the nitty-gritty of driving and maintaining the campervan, and a great glossary at the back of the book.

Martin Dorey even gives his very own tips on the best-sited campervan campsites on the sunny south coast of the UK.

It’s an easy book to dip in and out of.  Open it up at random and you’ll always find something new to read. How about ‘making your own shower curtain sunshade’?  Or ‘Emptying your Tanks’?  Or making a Kampervan Korma?

Incredible content

Take just one look at the Contents pages will tell you ALL you need to know about what’s included in the book. Lots of chapters divided up into easy sections within: Living, Eating, Sleeping and (Repeating) in a campervan.

Buy this perfect travelling companion for all your travels and campervan adventures.  It’s full of incredible photography, essential info, and content that’s presented in a lively and informal style with plenty of quirky and quality colour illustrations too.

A travel book that reflects fun and freedom

We all know that campervans are a universal symbol for the open road, for free spiritedness, love, peace and harmony, fun and freedom.

Just by picking up this enormously fun and inspiring book, you’ll be transported into a world of travel and the outdoors, of nature, of cooking by campfire, of making the most of small spaces, and of yearning to see places that you’ve only dreamed of before.

That’s what campervan travel does, and that’s what The Camper Van Bible: Live, Eat, Sleep (Repeat) will do for you too.

This book has an open road running through it and there’s so much inside for everyone, from expert campervanners to newcomers.

Enjoy!

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