(We are really late getting this post out! Starting writing it a few weeks ago. We decided to post it in its original form to keep things in sequence.)
We haven’t actually camped in our Winnebago, Coachese, yet. We haven’t even had him in our possession for most of the time we’ve owned him (more on that HERE). But hopefully, sometime this month, we’ll set off to travel and live in him for a couple of months. So, how do we know what we’ll need to make the trip a success? We don’t. But that hasn’t stopped us from dreaming/planning. Some of the things we’re keeping in mind are:
- Camping without hook-ups. Private campgrounds can be a drag (and expensive) so we want to be able to take advantage of some amazing National Forests and other free public lands.
- Space efficiency. Coachese is pretty small for an RV, just 19′ long and no slide-outs.
- Food. We cook a lot. We want to make smart choices about what to bring so we can eat the way we want to without dragging a lot of crap around.
- Money. We came to the states to make money, so ideally, we don’t want to spend it all before we get home.
With those goals in mind, here is a list of things we’re hoping to have for this trip- we’ll let you know what we are actually able to get and how everything works out as we go:
- Nature’s Head Composting Toilet. Pros: I know, it sounds gross but stay with me. It uses no water at all and there is no black (sewage) tank to dump. We know from our experiences renting RV’s that we HATE emptying the black tank. Plus, it’s an insane waste of water. So this should allow us to convert our black tank to a gray tank and keep us from using a lot of our fresh, drinkable water to flush poop.This one piece of equipment should allow us to camp in the wild, without dumping, for much longer periods of time. I’m not going to go into all of the science-y details of how this works because other people on the internet have already done a much better job than I can do. Check them out. Cons: It’s bigger than our existing RV toilet and it might be a tight squeeze in our very tiny bathroom. If it doesn’t fit where the old toilet was, we’ll put it in the shower stall, essentially turning it into a wet bath like in a sailboat. Another drawback is the expense. The Nature’s Head costs about $950. Yeah, American Dollars. It’s a big investment for an RV we’ll only be using a couple of months at a time, but we’re also considering one for our house in St. John where water conservation is crucial. This’ll be sort of a test case. Verdict: We are definitely getting this. It’s being shipped and/or installed right now. We’ve never actually seen one in person and I know some people might be as curious as I am about it, so we will be sure to post about it every (possibly disgusting) step of the way.
- Solar Power. After looking at a bunch of fancy rooftop solar solutions, we decided to just go small. We think it will be easier to be careful about how much power we use than to go super high-tech. We’ll be using the batteries for the lights (which we’re changing to LED), a couple of 12V fans, phone and laptop charging, the circuit board for the fridge (which will run mainly on propane) and the very small vent fan for the toilet. We ordered a 100W RENOGY Solar Suitcase to charge our batteries. We also got this Renogy 30 Amp Charge Controller and some extra long cables so that we can park in the shade and leave the panels in the sun. The whole setup cost about $350. You can also get the suitcase with a built in controller, but those were out of stock when I ordered. The whole package is on the way and we’ll let you know how it works out.
- Water. We’re big fans of clean drinking water without disposable plastic bottles. You should be too. To filter our cistern water in St.John we use a Big Berkey Water Filter. We love it. It’s easy, it tastes amazing, it uses no power. For this trip we need something small and easily stowable, so we opted for the tiny 1-qt Go Berkey and a couple of Berkey sports bottles, neither of which we’ve used before. Our plan is to use the GoBerkey to fill up a bigger container of water we’ll keep in the fridge or wherever.These are all items we can take back with us if we need to. The Berkeys just came today and when we try them out we’ll let you know how it goes.
- Kitchen. The sink in the RV is tiny and we know from experience that doing dishes will be a challenge. Remodeling the kitchen is out. Bringing along a couple of collapsible tubs is in. We love this one. We used it for years when we were camping in the VW. Wash in the sink and rinse in the tub. Super easy. Very cheap. We also ordered a slightly larger one as a general purpose bucket. Because you never know… And, finally, we splurged on this nesting set of pots from Magma. Seem to be high quality pots that take up very little space. Can’t wait to try them out!
Disclaimer!!! Just to be clear, we are not getting any compensation at all for trying these products out. Zero. Really. We bought them all ourselves and we are just writing about it because we’ve gotten a lot of pretty good info from people on the interweb and we think we should contribute something. We’ll keep you posted on how this stuff works out for us, and if you have any questions or comments about something specific just leave us a note. Thanks!