You can’t take everything – but you sure can take a lot!
Full gym attire – tick;
High heel shoes – tick;
Super-sized shampoo and conditioner- tick;
Hairdryer and Straightener –tick;
Runners (trail and road) – tick;
4 pairs of swimmers – tick;
Sandals, thongs, wedges, sarongs, leather jacket, cardigan, water bottles – the list goes on and on.
“You’re not taking all that are you?” utters C43 (AKA my husband Chris) as his knees strain to lift the oversized purple luggage into the boot of our 2010 Nissan Patrol with 5 inch lift kit.
“Sure am”, I casually refute with just a miniscule amount of wifely guilt.
The above scenario is a typical reaction when it comes time to pack for either a short weekend away or a lengthier family holiday.
It’s true, I am definitely the world’s worst packer and tend to fall victim to the “take but never wear or use” conundrum.
Even if I’m only jetting off on a quick weekend jaunt, it’s easy for me to start dreaming up every possible weather contingency or holiday activity scenario that could have me needing my Ugg-boots, 3 gym outfits, or any one of my hair-styling gadgets.
I am a self-confessed “Over packer” so when we decided to make the colossal decision to travel around Australia with our two kids (and dogs) I was instantly overwhelmed…….
OMG… What am I going to take and how the heck am I going to fit it all into one little home on wheels?
What to Pack and What NOT to Pack? …
This is the million dollar question that had my brain working overtime in an attempt to make sure that we (and the family) had everything we needed (and wanted) for a twelve month travelling holiday.
Previous to now, we had only been used to packing for shorter holidays in our camper trailer. We had the packing system pretty much down pat and each person in the family would get a small box for clothes, toys (for kids) etc. We’d always pack the surfboards and scooters for the kids but they were the only bigger items that had any particular bulk. C43 is a bit of a handyman so he was able to custom build some bigger storage containers which stowed extra things like Christmas Presents from Santa and BBQ equipment. We always aimed at keeping our setup simple but I always found that there were things that we packed that we just didn’t use.
Now….. There’s a big difference between packing for a 12 ‘day’ holiday versus a 12 “month’ holiday. A whole lotta difference ….and there was absolutely no way that our camper trailer was up for the task.
Out with the Old… and In with the New
Once resolutions were made to tackle a 12 month nomadic lifestyle, then further decisions,(albeit BIG decisions) needed to be made regarding the type of caravan we were going to choose.
Enter the SPINIFEX…..
I’d always baulked at getting a JAYCO (blasphemy…I know). Everyone seemed to have one a few years back and I didn’t want to get what everyone else had. That’s just me….
So when C43 saw the SPINIFEX online with all its specs and off-road capabilities we knew we were onto a winner. I knew he’d done his research so when it came to having a look at our first (and only) SPINIFEX we immediately were won over.
Now… I don’t believe for a second that a woman’s domain is in the kitchen (or indoors for that matter…) but I was instantaneously blown away by the spaciousness of the modern interior and all its storage capacity. This van was a breath of fresh air on a hot stinky day in Pittsworth under the roof of a 30ft tin shed. I knew there and then that this caravan was for me. This epic adventure was actually going to come to fruition.
Along with its 34 cupboards (13 overhead), 2 wardrobes, 240 litre fridge/freezer and under seat/bed storage (and that’s just the interior…..), this van has more than enough storage capabilities to cater for any self-confessed ‘over packer’ such as me.
My pre-caravan anxiety slowly abated as I dreamed of all the things that didn’t need to be left behind… with the mothballs in the shed. The cupboard space provided every opportunity for me to bring along my Nutri-bullet, toaster, toasted sandwich maker and ukulele. I even have a whole drawer dedicated to all my ‘healthy foodstuffs’ – so never fear… Pepitas, sunflower seeds, green powder, fish oil capsules, protein powder and walnuts… – Yes you can come along too. I am one happy mum/wife…and as the saying goes “Happy Wife – Happy Life”! And who wouldn’t want a happy wife, if cooped up for 12 months with her 24//7. Win Win.
Storage for the Kids
Now let’s be honest…..having growing children (J11 – Jules and J9 – Josie) means that our caravan needed more space to accommodate their belongings as well as ours. Jules, our 11yo boy’s needs are quite easy to accommodate. He’s happy with his 2 drawers, one which has his clothes and the other which houses his toys, gadgets etc. (books, iPad, scrapbooking kit, DVD’s, Nintendo DS, wallet etc.). As you can see by the attached photo, he keeps it pretty tidy.
Josie (J9) on the other hand has the potential to be a little bit of a hoarder. She decided from the outset that the drawers weren’t big enough for her (or so she thought) and made a bee-line for the bottom wardrobe instead.
“It’s just a lot bigger, because I have a lot more things than Jules” said Josie when questioned about why she chose the bigger cupboard space.
As you can see by the photo – We have installed some portable drawers into the bottom wardrobe space so that J9 can accommodate her ‘extra’ things. She too manages to keep her space quite tidy (with a bit more coercion…) however floor space is at a minimum once she makes the mandatory five wardrobe changes per day and leaves the clothes scattered all over the bathroom floor…
And Speaking of Bathrooms
Yes, we do actually have a good sized bathroom with a further six cupboards to store the super-sized shampoo/conditioner as well as various hair styling gadgets and styling products. There’s certain things you just can’t skimp on.
Clutter-free External Storage
The additional storage outside the van means that we’ve been able to take a lot more on the road to help cater for the times that we are without power and water. The two front storage compartments (in addition to housing the 3 batteries, inverter, and air compressor) also means we have ample room for things that may get ‘dirty’. Things like oil, brake pads, spare parts and tools. The kids can also easily access the fishing rods, tackle box and cricket set which are all easily retrieved via the lockable compartments.
The three storage compartments on the side of the van (which normally would house the generator) easily store our annex equipment and all our outdoor cooking equipment e.g. pots and pans, thermos, rice cooker, spare dunny paper and butane bottles. A separate storage space is where we house all our extension cords, water hoses and sullage hose. The photos do not seem to show the true depth of the compartments and as you can see, we have lots of spare space which definitely satisfies C43’s need for a clutter-free space.
“Everything has its place and as long as we always put things away where they belong we should always be able to find things when we need it!” says C43 as he proudly shows off the storage features to curious campers as we travel.
The Piece de Resistance
By far, one of the best storage features of our van is something that most caravans don’t have.
“Due to the fact that we’ve opted for an ‘east/west’ queen bed configuration – we’ve managed to score loads more space where the island bed would have been.” Says C43.
This was a major drawcard for us and has meant that we can easily store things such as outdoor tables, chairs, yoga mats, cycling equipment, wetsuits, swimmers and extra towels. This means that the kids don’t need to constantly go inside the caravan in their wet swimmers to get flippers, goggles, beach towels etc.
“Anything that has ‘daytime’ use is stored here, which tends to keep our van tidy and relatively clutter free”, reiterates C43 (whom I’ve now nicknamed ‘Clutter-free Chris).
The kid’s school boxes (for home-schooling) are also stored in this section which also frees up valuable space inside for things such as food, Tupperware containers (yes, I even have a Tupperware drawer), board games and DVD’s.
“I love to play ‘Family Feud’ and ‘Articulate’ at night after dinner or on a rainy day” says J11 and thanks to the ample storage inside, there’s heaps of space for all the board games. “It’s also fun to play some of these games with friends we meet along the way. We have a huge outdoor table which means that we can have lots of kids playing at once. One day over Christmas we had 10 people playing ‘Monopoly Empire’. It was so much fun.”
There’s no doubt that the copious storage capacity in the SPINIFEX has resulted in a smooth transition from home to caravan. But it’s the security of knowing that all our belongings that are stored within are secure from disaster whilst on the road as well.
The twin shock absorbers configured with air suspension makes sure that our caravan gets to our destination safely and smoothly without any interior (or exterior) carnage. The secure clips on the cupboards in conjunction with the ‘smooth ride’ means that jars of olives and bottles of tomato sauce also arrive safely, void from a cupboard full of stickiness. Sure, there have been times where I’ve forgotten to lock the lid on certain soap dispenser containers, but without the air suspension, I reckon the end result would have been a whole lot worse.
So, there you have it….all there is to know about the storage capacity of our van and how all of it contributes to the overall ‘wellness’ of our family.
As I said before, there are some things you just can’t skimp on. But realistically…
…… you can’t take everything but with a SPINIFEX you sure can take a Lot.
5 things we wish we didn’t take.
1) Scatter cushions – they look nice, but they are completely unnecessary;
2) Hats – They’re necessary but for some reason I brought too many;
3) Kids Scooters – They use their bikes a lot more and are quite awkward to move in and out of the van storage areas;
4) Esky – We have a car fridge so don’t tend to use it;
5) Big Water Container – we have plenty of filtered water so just fill up water bottles instead;