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Author Topic: Where do I put everything?  (Read 2987 times)

infiniterider

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Where do I put everything?
« on: October 03, 2014, 11:23:10 AM »
I recently bought a 1997 Chevrolet Express extended van, which I plan to gradually convert. There is a lot of space in the van, but I have 5 kids. That means that on some trips, we'll need a lot of luggage and supplies.  (For example, I'll need to carry a tent for some of the kids to sleep in: There's just no way to fit 7 in a van that small. )

I am considering several options, including a top storage rack, storage under the seats and beds, cargo carrier box, mini trailer, etc. but I simply don't know what is the best option. So I guess I'm asking for suggestions and your experiences: What has worked for you in the past, when you've needed extra storage space?

Thanks in advance.

SeilerBird

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Re: Where do I put everything?
« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2014, 12:00:06 PM »
Seven people in a van will not work. Period. Too much weight and not enough room. You need a class A.
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RodgerS

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Re: Where do I put everything?
« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2014, 12:26:52 PM »
I think you have an issue of trying to pour a gallon of water into a pint jar. A creative solution may be found, but it may not be safe or appropriate.

When I was younger I could carry it all on my back with a smile. As I got older and more people surrounded me, I learned that not everyone would go along with my ideas, and other considerations like safety and managing/keeping relationships under pressure forced their way into the mix.

Can't say I earned a passing grade.

Good luck, but if you can't afford a more appropriate solution, you may have to follow a different entertainment path.
Gone RVing with Susan
Class B- RV: 2001 Mercedes CLK320 Soft Top

blw2

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Re: Where do I put everything?
« Reply #3 on: October 03, 2014, 01:04:34 PM »
Just wrapping my head around the question....

So this is one of those full size vans, that are sometimes configured for 15 or so souls, right?

And you plan to convert it to an RV?

Is it a 1/2 ton 1500, 3/4 ton 2500, or a 1 ton 3500?


Regardless, if your question is what to do with the stuff considering that the van is mostly full of people.....
My thought would be this
1st choice roof rack
2nd choice hitch carrier
3rd choice trailer

all of course dependant on what sort of stuff, how much stuff, and how heavy it is.

I would opt against the trailer because it's one more failure point while on the road. (flat tire, bad bearing, etc...)

But I would prefer the trailer for ease of access.  Maybe one of those enclosed cargo type trailers
Brad (DW + 3 kids)
13 Thor Chateau 31L Class C on Ford E-450
'06 Silverado
'05 Rockwood Freedom 1910 (5-1/2 years)
former tent campers

blw2

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Re: Where do I put everything?
« Reply #4 on: October 03, 2014, 01:05:29 PM »
I think instead of converting the van to an RV, maybe finding a travel trailer to tow behind it might be a better solution......
Brad (DW + 3 kids)
13 Thor Chateau 31L Class C on Ford E-450
'06 Silverado
'05 Rockwood Freedom 1910 (5-1/2 years)
former tent campers

infiniterider

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Re: Where do I put everything?
« Reply #5 on: October 03, 2014, 02:32:11 PM »
Sorry- I should probably clarify something: I don't plan to use this for long vacations or extended stays. It's really more of a quick and easy getaway. There are literally hundreds of campsites within a couple of hours of my home, and I want to be able to pack up the family and go camping for a weekend, without spending half the night setting up camp.

I should also mention that my kids are all small: The oldest is only 11, and the baby just turned 1, so for now we can fit in the van and one small tent. It's a tight fit, but we manage.

I guess my question is "What, in your experience, is the best option for storing and carrying luggage?" Are roof racks a good idea, or have you had negative experiences with them? What about those enclosed rooftop carriers? Does anyone have any experience with those? Any feedback would be helpful.

Thanks again.
« Last Edit: October 03, 2014, 02:40:16 PM by infiniterider »

infiniterider

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Re: Where do I put everything?
« Reply #6 on: October 03, 2014, 02:35:09 PM »
And yes, BLW2, this is a 15 passenger van. I am taking out the extra seats, and wanting to turn all that space into something a lot more comfortable. It's a Chevrolet Express 3500
« Last Edit: October 03, 2014, 05:29:25 PM by infiniterider »

DearMissMermaid

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Re: Where do I put everything?
« Reply #7 on: October 03, 2014, 08:09:18 PM »
I think you are in for a TON of fun!

First off, I would get the BIGGEST tent possible. When you need to corral the kids, it will come in handy for sure. It sounds like you will get plenty of opportunity to use it too. Amazon has an amazing selection of tents in all sizes and price ranges. It sounds like with 7 people you seriously need a hefty size.

Big tents:
http://www.amazon.com/mn/search/?_encoding=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&field-keywords=family%20tent&linkCode=ur2&tag=motorhomeandrvstore-20&url=search-alias%3Daps&linkId=DBV3LG6344XGZUAN

I would also consider adding a 2nd enclosure such as screened tent or screened room or  portable gazebo this is a way to corral the younger kids by day, while still giving them great views of the outdoors.

Coleman makes an awesome 8 sided one.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00339C3FA/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00339C3FA&linkCode=as2&tag=motorhomeandrvstore-20&linkId=32H2SZSAPIXUAERU


I worked in tourism for decades. I met a fascinating family that loved to travel. They  bought each child and adult a backpack that fit them. Into the little backpack went their clothes and toys for the trip and that was IT. Even the couple packed in a backpack each. They camped, they flew, they sailed, they went by car, but they stuck to their 1 backpack per person routine.

They said it enabled them to travel far and wide without worrying about lost luggage, too much luggage or bell hop tips. The kids learned to play with what was around them (nature, playgrounds etc) they learned if they trashed their clothes and ran out, they had to live in the dirty ones anyhow or go wash them (if available). They said it enabled them to make quick get away trips too, the kids (as they grew older) could pack their own backpacks in just a few minutes.

Next, I would get an aluminum hitch mounted cargo carrier. Aluminum carriers are much lighter than steel ones. Get one heavy rated, like for 500 pounds.
http://www.amazon.com/s/?_encoding=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&field-keywords=aluminum%20cargo%20carrier&linkCode=ur2&tag=motorhomeandrvstore-20&url=search-alias%3Daps&linkId=IHKR2B2UQJBFMON5

On top of that you can add a big storage box or just strap down the tent, cooler and other stuff.  I imagine you will want the biggest cooler possible, which will also double as a bench at the campsite.

Install a hasp and lock and the cooler. Otherwise crafty raccoons will help themselves when you least expect it.

Get a vinyl table cloth in excess of 8 feet so you can cover the entire picnic table with one cloth. Some camps have 6 feet, others have 8 feet. I travel with a 108 inch table cloth and never regretted it because it fits all picnic tables.

Make sure everyone has their own battery light. You can get assorted ones at Dollar Tree for just a $1 each. You can also get lanyards so they can wear them around their necks. (I do this too!) That way they each have a light to find the restroom after sunset or anything else they need after dark. Too many families show up with too few lights. Best to have one for each person as a minimum.

Enjoy!
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blw2

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Re: Where do I put everything?
« Reply #8 on: October 03, 2014, 09:49:28 PM »
lot of good points there....

Revisiting this, I would suggest the enclosed cargo trailer if you can.
Your kids are only going to get bigger and you'll need more and more stuff down the road
With a trailer, you could bring bikes when wanted, or beach chairs, or whatever.  The hitch rack or even roof rack will be much more limiting.
It would be secure while enroute and protected form the weather.... and you don't have to worry with tying things down and such quite so much....

Roof racks  are good because there no extra tires and such to break... and they don't lengthen your van, but they can be a royal pain to load.  And whatever you do don't consider one of those roof bags.  Horrible.  IF I were doing a roof rack I would invest in a good yakima or thule and a hardbox trunk.

Oh, one more tip..... the thetford pottie I had in my old popup was the best thing for kids.
http://www.thetford.com/HOME/PRODUCTS/PortableToilets/tabid/83/Default.aspx
 I used to tent camp, before that & never would have even considered it...... but I would have bought one even when tent camping had I known.  Much better than a bucket and better than running the kids to the bath house all the time.
Brad (DW + 3 kids)
13 Thor Chateau 31L Class C on Ford E-450
'06 Silverado
'05 Rockwood Freedom 1910 (5-1/2 years)
former tent campers

HappyWanderer

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Re: Where do I put everything?
« Reply #9 on: October 04, 2014, 07:50:43 AM »
15 passenger vans are notoriously unstable and roll over easily. Be very careful about making modifications that will change how the vehicle handles, especially anything that will raise the center of gravity.
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RodgerS

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Re: Where do I put everything?
« Reply #10 on: October 04, 2014, 09:53:36 AM »
Been a really interesting discussion. Personally, it reminds me of trying to figure out the best way to go skydiving using an umbrella rather than a parachute, but there are big umbrellas out there.
Gone RVing with Susan
Class B- RV: 2001 Mercedes CLK320 Soft Top

redbarber

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Re: Where do I put everything?
« Reply #11 on: October 04, 2014, 11:29:12 AM »
I'd recommend a smallish enclosed trailer.  You can pack your main camping gear (tents, mattresses, sleeping bags, cookware, etc) in the trailer first, and just KEEP IT THERE.  That way when you want a quick getaway, you grab some clothes, toiletries and fresh food and hitch up the trailer.  Off you go!
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infiniterider

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Re: Where do I put everything?
« Reply #12 on: October 06, 2014, 04:29:56 PM »
Wow- these are awesome suggestions! Thanks very much for the feedback. I realize how crazy I must sound, trying to comfortably fit 7 people in a van that should only sleep 2 or 3. (You've come up with some pretty great metaphors about that, by the way.) As my kids get bigger, I will most certainly start looking at other options. Fortunately, the kids inherited the family's not-too-tall gene, so we will be okay for a few more more years.

Happy Wanderer, thanks for the tip about the vans tendency to roll. I will definitely keep that in mind before I add anything to the top of the van. It sounds like a hitch rack is probably safer than a roof rack, based on what you've told me.

I have a couple more questions, but I will post them on some other threads. Thanks again for the suggestions.

 

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