For the last 3 years prior to this year, I’ve been wandering around the country in a RoadTrek 170. It’s a small RV van, having everything larger RVs have, including refrigerator, range, generator, air conditioner, hot water heater, furnace, shower, and toilet.
Over time, I found my use of the conveniences in the RoadTrek diminished, and some I did not use at all. The Roadtrek was great at National Parks, and I had very few problems with stealth overnighting in the cities. But I felt like something smaller might work even better.
So I decided I would get an ugly 2013 Transit Connect and build out the interior myself. I converted my condo into a woodworking shop for a few weeks, and endured sawdust in my socks, up my nose, and in my hair.
I considered this an experiment. If it worked I would sell my Roadtrek. If it didn’t, I would break down and have a good cry.
I built it out for long term use, with storage cabinets on each side of the centered bed, and more storage under the bed. The bed is made of two small cushions and two large cushions, with plywood bottoms loosely resting on rails on each side. This allows me to easily convert from seating to sleeping, and to get to the storage under the bed.
I didn’t want to take my road bike on an outside rack, so I built a “garage” inside for my Brompton foldable bicycle.
There’s a place to prepare food, and room for a Yeti cooler. I put up blackout front curtains, and adjustable blackout material for the rest of the windows.
Although there is no shower, I can clean myself inside if necessary – but that’s what my Planet Fitness membership is for. They are everywhere. And yes, I can do the necessities inside if I have to.
The disadvantages are that I can’t stand up without hunching, and I don’t have all the conveniences. But since everything inside is within easy reach, I don’t really need to stand up and move around inside.
There are many more advantages. I only need one vehicle now, and so I pay for maintenance, insurance and license renewal once. I can park in a standard 7” parking deck. I come under almost all the height-based parking restrictions out west. The carbon footprint is less, as the fuel cost is a little over 1/2. I don’t need to find a level parking place to accommodate an RV refrigerator. I don’t have to winterize. U-turns and parallel parking are a breeze. I can take it through a car wash. I can get a tent spot at a campground, which is generally prohibited if you are in an RV.
I’m on my third week on the road in the Transit Connect, and I’m loving my new home-on-wheels. The experiment worked. I won’t be selling my condo anytime soon, but I will be selling the Roadtrek.