Whether you live in your van or use it purely for travel, there are a few tips I can throw your way which may just save you some pain, hassle, money or or all three.
My first and probably most important tip I have picked up the hard way. Well, actually, it was quite easy – and this is what it’s based on:
When you walk away from your van, take the key completely out of the lock before you start walking. However, that’s not actually the tip. Here’s the tip:
If like me you don’t own a spare key to your van, get one made before you travel. If you do have a spare key, well done. However, if you have left it at home it’s as good as useless. The theory of someone can post it is pretty useless too as if you need it, you need it right now. When you need it in a foreign country and you’re stuck in a remote place, an available postal address is probably going to be a slim chance.
Take a spare with you. Ideally, have it accessible. Breaking a window to get in wouldn’t be ideal, so I would suggest perhaps have it under the van in a special box – combination locked ideally; don’t forget the code.
I was fortunate enough to still have an unlocked door to gain access. My next plan was to buy some super glue…
This held the two pieces of key together enough to push it into the ignition barrel (after taking plenty of photos of the key shape). However, the key didn’t turn and the steering lock engaged. Fail.
I unscrewed the trim around the steering wheel proposing to unbolt the steering lock and “hot wire” the ignition to start the engine. I had the foresight to pull the (half) key back out and put it back in the other way around – just in case luck was on my side. It was! The key turned, steering lock disengaged and engine running!
I’ve learnt to quit while I’m ahead – so the key hasn’t been pulled back out since! I wrapped a duster around it to remind me not to whip the key out when I pull up…
Thanks to Kevin at Remobilise I now have two brand new keys waiting for me in the UK for just £53 delivered. Superb service – absolute life saver! As for getting the other half of the key out of the ignition barrel, I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it! Until then, I’m mobile and my security device is on the passenger seat, with teeth.
You will never feel unloved if you sleep with a mosquito in your van. Earlier along this journey, I took a dozen to bed with me and was awake until 4.30am squashing the last one.
Spend a fiver and buy a USB powered fan. Mosquitos can’t fly when there’s a breeze. If you lie down and hear that vile buzz and you can’t catch the blighter, pop your USB fan on and have it create a gentle breeze around your body. You won’t get many bites, if any. I have tried and tested this – it worked.
A can of fly spray isn’t a bad idea either!
I have not used a single toll road, and therefore haven’t spent any money on toll charges.
Most Sat Navs have the option to avoid toll roads. I use a TomTom mainly and Google Maps at times. Both of these have the avoid toll road option, as does Waze.
You will find yourself being navigated off at the junction just before the toll road and driving down, more often than not, the old road which runs parallel to the toll road. These old roads are better than most UK roads. Alternatively, the sat nav will take you on a different route altogether to save your pennies.
However, don’t get caught short on fuel. Once you are on the old roads, you’re also separated from fuel stations by a fence. Make sure your fuel is always plentiful – I tend to fill up when I drop to a quarter of a tank.
Sometimes, you can get landed on a long, single track road for miles…
You may recall in my early blogs, Kirsty and I first experienced these alternate routes in France whilst the fuel was almost on red. My “it’ll be alright” didn’t stop her sweating! It was alright though. Everything will always be alright.
Church bells can be quaint. Though not every half hour throughout the entire night. I suggest not parking next to one. Yes, you guessed it, first hand experience once again!
If your gut feeling (or ears!) even vaguely suggest your chosen night spot isn’t right – move on.
A brilliant tool. However, it can go wrong. I spotted an attractive girl on a beach in Portugal. My Portuguese vocabulary consists of two words – not a useful combination of words in this instance.
I prepared myself a great conversation idea using Google Translate.
However, something didn’t go quite right and I sat next to her and admirably managed to somehow tell her she has a blue nipple. That was not what I had planned. In this instance, the situation can go one of two ways. A slap across the chops, or as it turned out, her finding my appalling Portuguese to be “cute” as she spoke perfect English. We spent the afternoon together and I still have no clue how to speak a third word of Portuguese. I confirmed later that day that she indeed did not have a blue nipple.
Warm countries that rarely see rain have lethal roads when a drop of rain finally falls.
I was slowly going round a roundabout when I realised I was actually sliding around it. Bearing in mind I have four new tyres which I didn’t skimp on the quality of. The road was as good as covered in oil. Be careful – In the UK we’re used to a daily rinse of our tarmac.
Finally… Ensure your chosen security device is alert at all times… Or not!
Until next time… Adeus!