Hi there! I’m new to this forum, so let me introduce myself. I’m a 64 years old woman, preparing for a long van trip through Europe. I have a lot of questions, specifically on travelling solo as a woman. Any information will be accepted with sincere gratitude.
Greetings & Welcome!
I’m on the wrong side of the pond to be much help for Europe, but hopefully others will jump in…
For general questions, you’ll find lots of help here.
Good luck & we’ll be looking forward to your participation here.
Hey and welcome. I think the first thing to do is to do good research about all the digital apps and gadgets that you’ll need on your way. They can definitely make your life so much easier. Just to start with the basics such as Trip Advisor, translating apps, maps… and learn how to use them prior to your trip. Also, take a look at each country that you plan to visit due to different regulations, etc.
Thank you, Katja. Found Park4night and am thrilled about it. Great for finding free or cheap camp spaces.
Do you, or does anyone, know about an online tutorial/video/workshop on the basics of power inside a van? Starting from scratch, that is. Batteries, solar, how much is needed, what is a convertor…. That kind of stuff. Just some general information for dummies.
With years of experience, and tons of trial & error, I have come to the conclusion that the simplest power solution is not only the best, but also the cheapest & most reliable.
I use an isolator to charge my house battery while driving. People use isolators, relays, or solonoids for this purpose. In my case, I’m actually using a solonoid instead of a dedicated isolator. My system was installed at a used/recycled battery shop for $80 which included all the parts & labor including a rebuilt 100ah deep cycle battery with a 5 year guarantee.
I then put my house battery in a marine style battery box, and added four accessory ports on each of the two sides facing outwards. No tools or skills are needed to accomplish this. This gives me a total of 8 accessory ports total, which is far more than I ever need, but available if I need them. My van is unmodified, with no built in wiring or plumbing. I can just plug in what I need when I need it. A few things just stay plugged in all the time.
99.9% of the time, that takes care of all my power needs, everything I use regularly is 12v, so I don’t need a power wasting inverter to convert things to shore power. For a backup plan, I have an el cheapo $99 inverter generator, and a $29 automatic battery charger. If I need shore power, the generator can provide it, and with the addition of the battery charger, I can charge my house battery, my starter battery, or anybody else’s batteries. That simple & cheap combination is just about as versatile as it gets, and it’s also easily portable, with no building skills required. It just resides under my bed until needed.
I don’t have solar on my rig, and don’t recommend it to anybody who doesn’t like tinkering with stuff. It is more expensive, more finicky, and far less versatile than my system. I think relying on the weather for power is a poor choice, and I prefer to park in the shade during the summer. Adding unnecessary complexity to a simple & reliable system just gives you that much bigger of a chance of equipment failure & expensive repairs. I much prefer things that are cheap & easily replaceable where ever I might happen to be in my travels.