“No more!” That was my statement 30 years ago after a four-week tour with friends through England, Wales and Scotland.
No more camping, especially not in a small igloo tent. No more crawling around on the floor. No more putting up and taking down the tent every day – in rain, wind and sunshine. No more eating wobbly pasta out of the pot because we left the colander at home. No more defending supplies against ravenous squirrels. No more having to vacate the campsite plagued by belligerent midges. No more…
It was a great trip, on which we probably saw more of Great Britain than many a Brit. But this feeling of falling into a soft Scottish hotel bed after weeks of – well, how should I call it – “basic” camping, because at the latest in Edinburgh none of us felt like camping anymore..! Simply priceless!
And because civilization had us back, we didn’t come back to Loch Ness at the time, but went straight home. Too bad actually.
For decades I stuck to the decision I made at the time, traveled to other continents, spent my holidays in Holland by the sea, lived in hotel rooms, B&Bs, holiday homes, but never again in a tent. Until – I got a new roommate named Mowgli.
It was clear from the start: Mowgli would come along on the journey. Why should I leave my dog at home during the holidays, when I have the most time and leisure for him? So I only booked accommodation that allowed dogs and traveled by car. Anything within a six-hour drive is completely unproblematic. Should we ever go to England, we have just spent the night in Dunkirk.
A new chapter
One day I remembered how much I loved being in Graubünden as a child. But since I was a bit short on cash at the moment, I was looking for a way to travel to Switzerland at low cost. camping? Hm. Well, the equipment would have to be procured, but together with the campsite fees, that would still be cheaper than two weeks in a hotel in high season. I could also use the things again on future trips. I could buy a tent with standing height, after all I don’t want to go on an expedition with adverse weather conditions, I want to go to a campsite. So camp.
A tent for around 100 euros and everything you need in terms of basic equipment was quickly obtained, packed into my small Renault Clio and then we set off towards the Bernese Oberland, Lake Thun or Lake Brienz. It’s fascinating that you don’t have to commit yourself, but can simply see where it’s most beautiful! We ended up staying at the Bönigen campsite near Interlaken.
It was wonderful vacation! You can read more about our excursions in my post about this trip.
A thunderstorm rumbled in late one afternoon. At first we held out in the tent, but the rain pelted hard on our dwelling, which we had pitched next to a tree. The closer thunder and lightning got, the more I worried that lightning might strike this very tree. I took my pooch and barricaded us in the car. Just in time, because now the storm was directly overhead and rain and wind pushed the small tent in from the side. Mowgli’s face was horrified.
Not the horror, but my feeling of displeasure at level 5 on a scale of 1 to 5 when we returned to the tent after the thunderstorm and I saw that the awning was under water. Although the inside cabin remained dry and so did the sleeping bag, clothing, dog blanket and electronics, but there was still a lot to do. I tried as best I could to dry and seal the awning again and went to sleep. But it kept raining. It’s actually kind of cozy lying in the tent and listening to the drumming raindrops, but that night it was pattering and pouring, so I had to brush away a new puddle that had formed on the roof of the outer tent at short intervals. In short: a pretty sleepless night. Probably those were the hours when the idea of traveling in a campervan crept quietly and unnoticed into my mind.
A new project
Like a balloon being inflated, this idea grew in the months that followed and I began watching countless campervan videos on YouTube and studying DIY websites.
As much as I liked what some people had achieved, I was looking for the simplest possible way with little conversion, especially since I don’t have the faintest idea about electronics. At first there was a plan to convert my little Clio. Something similar already exists, but my friends said: “Forget it!” And they were right, it would have been very cramped.
Since the Clio was getting on in years, I thought about plan B: buy a new car. Not too big or too small, suitable for everyday use and no diesel. And one day he stood there, a Kangoo as a year-old car at the Renault dealer. The rear seat and passenger seat can be folded down to form a flat surface, so you don’t have to remove anything, you just have to put in an inflatable sleeping pad. Easy!
All my luggage and camping equipment was packed into Euroboxes and stacked (and secured!) in the trunk so that Mowgli still had enough space. Larger parts went into the roof box. Then it was off to Denmark. I loved how easy it was, but it was annoying having to move around and move boxes around when you needed something.
This is how the idea came about to build a camping shelf and put it in the trunk. And finally, with the camping shelf, my Kangoo became a Mowglimobil.