We bought our van in autumn 2017. Having a van was a project we were talking about for many years but we were always postponing the purchase as we already had two cars and we were puting all our money in our house and in our travels… At the end of the summer that year our main car had some serious issues we didn’t expect and rather than buying a new one of the same kind we decided to check for vans sales.
We already had our two kids at that time and we quickly realised than buying a Renault Trafic was the same than buying many of the “family cars” we see in every street of France (maybe cheaper…). I wanted something less “working trafic” than this white one but it was the best deal we found and it took us only a few minutes to decide to switch to this van.
Now that I told you the story behind the van, let me tell you what model is it and why I chose to build our sleeping and eating configuration the way it is. Just don’t pay attention on the dust and on the dirty floor on the van pictures, I took the pictures with my phone after a trip in the forest with the kids. And the furniture are already 3 years old now, so they also look their age (espacially the Ikea stuff…).
First of all, it is a long one. The exact model is Renault Trafic III, H1L2. It cans carry 9 people including the driver and still has a big trunk available. If we only were the two of us we could have chosen a short one (L1H1) but having two kinds and a dog quickly swiped this option.
Back in 2017, it was a time in France where the law was changing about cars technical controls and van owners were not anymore able to do everything they wanted in terms of construction inside the van. According to the new regulations, I decided to find a configuration easily removable with nothing fixed on other things that metal rings already available at some places of the van.
First decision : we removed the middle seat. Is it not foldable, the last one is. Renault also explain in the van notice that the last one can’t be put in the place of the middle one so from the start we had to deal with that configuration.
Second decision : we needed a furniture behind the front seats to store personnal items and to make a seat for the kids. Indeed, the idea was to be able to eat inside the van, parents in the back seat, children in the furniture, and a foldable table in the middle.
I was thinking about building the furniture myself when I realised that the Ikea Kallax shelving unit of 4 boxes could perfectly fit the available space without having to remove any element of the van. I put something like 10 feet on the shelving and fixed with two security ropes to the bottom metal rings of the van.
To make boxes stable when driving, I also added a ring on each side of the shelving to add another security rope to hold them. This rope is also fixed in the van two metal rings : nothing can move.
We are using this shelving for three years now and even if it is a basic Ikea construction it is still doing the job. The black surface is slowly getting erased on many parts but is it not a problem. Maybe I will buy a new one next year just to give a better look to the van and use this used one in the garage…
We also used this Branas baskets since the beginning, but I will probably switch to something harder like the Bullig boxes soon.
For the table, I opted for something really simple and easy to pack :
- Two peaces of wooden cooking board attached by a hinge (54*45cm each)
- A foldable trestel with many positions availables
To cook, we use our classic hiking and camping stuffs. Nothing fancy, just basic things that do the job for van trips like we do.
With this configuration, we were able to cook and eat inside at any time. The perfect dream for travellers used to deal with a small tent for years ! We are still on the same configuration right now (2020) and I can assure you than we travelled a lot with it, including a 3 weeks travel in Norway in 2018 and a 3 weeks trip in Dolomites in 2019. No way I will switch to the tent – except on backcountry trips 😉
On the next posts I will explain how we all sleep in the van, adults and kids.