Summer 2018 was when we started our vanventures, a big decision to fork out a wedge on the beautiful black bus, and we swore we would keep it forever (cos that’s how long it would take to pay it off!!) but almost immediately, well when we saw the likes of the Grand California, we started to dream about whether a slightly roomier van was a possibility.
A house move, a pandemic and about 40,000 miles later and that’s what’s about to happen.
We began investigating what kind of van we wanted, mainly via You Tube to get an idea of what is out there. From the beginning, the only hard and fast rules were
- Definitely not a coach build – too caravanny.
- Indoor John and shower, lovely and hardworking as our well travelled John tent and Popaloo are, their days are numbered.
- Separate sleeping areas for each kid, to have their own space
- We initially said fixed bed for us, mainly because that’s what most vans have
There were loads of vans we didn’t like though, too many with cramped innards and no room to lounge, some with crazy moving parts, like a wardrobe that hangs in your shower (no thanks) or a bed that lowers over your seating area (I know we’re short…)
After spending many hours in the company of Alan and his plughole fixation on YouTube, we quite liked some of the Auto Trail, Knaus, RP Motorhomes, Devons and Westfalias. We had a real liking for the Affinity with its fancy bunk beds, but the price tags were steeeeep.
We tried to see what vans we could in real life, but in the middle of a pandemic it wasn’t easy.
We were resigned to having to have another pop top, even though windy and cold weather is not ideal when a pop top has to be deployed. But that didn’t cater for individual sleeping areas for each anklebiter.
Having loved the VW we searched in vain for a Crafter conversion, or one on a MAN, but the price tags were far too much.
And then we saw a video of a Wildax. It was actually one of their smaller vans, but it looked well put together so we checked out if they made anything bigger. And they did. And they don’t cost as much as some other brands. And their factory is geographically convenient.
When we first saw a Solaris we weren’t sure what to make of it because the layout wasn’t the standard tiny dinette and fixed bed. But when we looked at what it offered we realised it ticked boxes we didn’t even know were a thing.
We saw a second hand one and had a full tour around and pretty much decided then that it was what we wanted. Not that particular one because it was a grim metallic blue and the upholstery reminded me of Granny Pearl’s front room.
The fact that there’s no kitchen unit obscuring the sliding door, separate travel seats for each child, and separate bunk beds, a big lounge area that’s open, a decent shower room, a large kitchen including an oven and a massive fridge with a beer drawer, no pop top, full insulation, a gas tank instead of bottles, solar, heating and hot water and loads of other good kit.
So we have one on order, in deep red and it’s just finished in build. Few more weeks and it’s ours! More updates to follow.