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Challenges of long holidays in a Beach

MattBW

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Our Scotland trip was probably our longest stay in the Beach so far at over 2 weeks (when you include the Stratford Meet. Our lives tend to mean short trips of upto a week which we manage fine in the beach. We had an absolute blast, but those longer stays do present more challenges.

I thought I would put down some thoughts on what we found a struggle for future reference and in the hope that others may have some wisdom to share with us.

  • Weather
    • We got some regatta waterproof overcoat and trousers, made Scotland's weather no issue.
    • We need something similar for the dogs, drying them was a constant battle.
    • Damp used clothes created smells, relegated to the roof box but this was quite the challenge and the most annoying thing for me.
  • Clothes and laundry.
    • We took far too much clothing with us. A lot of space was taken up with things we didnt use, mostly shirts and tshirts. Socks and underwear we got right. Many of these clothes (cotton tshirts etc) didn't dry easily if they go wet creating damp smells.
    • We are pondering taking far less clothing and adopting technical clothing that we can wash and dry quickly. As Scotland was regularly damp drying was a major issue.
    • Laundry is usually something we put in a cloth bag but after 1 week it was scarily full, Combined with wet socks it got unpleasant pretty fast. The bag ended up in the roof box. Because of the rain it wasn't easy to wash clothes because they generally didn't dry.
    • We are pondering a trasheroo style laundry bag that could be fixed to the outside of the vehicle, although technical clothes that dry fast and can be washed may be the answer.
  • Roof box
    • Used to carry the awning and a cadac SC2 I put it towards the sliding door so I could reach, but this caused the roof to raise slightly loose on that side. It was not possible to open with anything significant inside so had to be emptied. With hindsight less clothes and the awning on the shelf was better. I've seen some put their hookup cable in the battery area under the bonnet, may consider this.
    • Had to carry a ladder to get into the roof box, initially annoyed me in the van but when camped it was under the van and occasionally served as tables, airers and all sorts. Actually strangely useful..
    • The beach gas struts really struggle with all but the lightest of roof boxes, if you plan to take one, you need to plan for emptying it. A tailgate box would maybe suit us more.
  • Floors
    • We have striped club carpets but also have added some muddle mats (Dun Elm) over the top only £15 each. They absorb a lot of water and dirt especially handy with dogs. The van cleaned up better than expected in no time.
  • Tailgate Awning, Storage and Slidepod
    • We used the awning a couple of times only, it was a welcome place to cook or sit whenthe rain came but likewise it was a pain when it was wet to put away. The Outdoor Rev dried incredibly quickly and in fact could be quite easily shaken dry. The roof box was a blessing for wet stuff like this.
    • The slidepod eats up masses of stuff, all our non re-fridgerated food, pots pans, plates, bowls the lot, cooking outside wasn't an issue unless the rain was sideways as the tailgate protected you.
    • We only really need to store our clothes, bedding and personal belongings. Bedding and some belongings squeezed behind the rear bench, clothing on the shelf.
    • Seriously pondering the VanEssa window bags which we saw at Stratford, that may be the answer to our clothing storage and may constrain us to packing less and only what we need.
  • Power, hookup and solar
    • The NASA BM-1 has given me lots of confidence in my power useage and how long we can go without hookup. We used this to decide if we needed hookup or not which we probably had for 3 nights out of 12 in Scotland mostly at the start. Driving around always helps but the heater does take a lot of amps so it was good to know. Battery never got below 75% the whole trip with heavy use of the heater.
    • Solar panel, suitcase solar was great, we only used it a handful of times (there wasn't much sun) but it performed brilliant and because it wasn't fixed I could move it through the day to maximise the output. Even this little 50w panel put out more amps than my fridge used so although not off grid with heater use it certainly would extend a stay. Pondering a 100w flex panel to stick under the mattress. Combined with the BM-1 I got smug satisfaction watching how many amps were going in for free :)

  • Items that never got used.
    • Solwise Wifi Extender and Rocket, Fon wasnt really a common thing in Scotland or rather it was never close to sites (usually someones house in the middle of nowhere), and often the Pitch was so far from the Wifi hotspot even the extender was no use. I've carried this so often and I think its only ever actually proved useful once. Maybe I will only take it in future if I'm certain of Fon spots close by. With such poor 3/4g cover up there I was hoping this would be invaluable it wasn't.
    • Fiamma light bar (for the Fiamma awning), this is brilliantly bright and nice but has been superseded by my cheap Philips solar lights which take up less space and don't use my 12v power. It sat there for two weeks getting in the way. Useful for longer stays in one place and will be left behind for travelling trips in future.
 
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MattBW

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Oh and Satnav
The offline satnav was a gem too, we did use Waze and Google when data was available (on A roads usually) Interestingly, google and Waze wouldn't give us directions over the Applecross pass, when we wanted to go but only some 4 hour long route around. The trusty RNS315 though was happy to oblige.
It did at one point tell us the M6 was closed on the way home though and wanted to send us through the middle of nowhere but I assume that was someone in the office inputting an incorrect piece of data.
 

Romke

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Seriously pondering the VanEssa window bags which we saw at Stratford, that may be the answer to our clothing storage and may constrain us to packing less and only what we need.
Since we're trading our Beach in for a Coast I have a spare set of those window bags. I'll sell them for half the new price + shipping (from France). Send me a PM if you're interested.
 
MattBW

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I am very interested, I have dropped you a PM,

I will be very interested to hear how to get on with the Coast, I must admit I wished this had been available when I got my beach, it may have tempted me.
 
RoB5urf

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I'm with you on the "too many cloths" thing Matt. We had the same experience on our 2 week break.

Using technical, quick drying cloths is a great idea, we already replaced our towels with microfibre alternatives.

I also want to look into packing cubes so I can keep my smalls separate. Got fed up rooting through my bag looking for that last clean pair of undies.

I looked at storing our hookup cable under the bonnet. The available space didn't look big enough to me without forcing it in (and we only have a 10m cable)
Cheers

Sent from my Moto G (5) Plus using Tapatalk
 
Amarillo

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Drive away awning is essential for an extended trip in a Beach. We have four Vango light strips, one lights the wind out (when we use it) one lights the drive away lobby area, and two light the awning. They give us plenty of light for long winter nights. In addition to the drive away we now have panels for the wind out. This gives us many options:
1. No awning for single night stops
2. Wind out with panels for more relaxed single night stops.
3. Drive away only when plot size is limited
4. Wind out and drive away in fine weather
5. Wind out with side panels and drive away in wet weather.

We are currently using #4, photographed.
c553304006a6e5a9753d8698bf880798.jpg


Plan meals in advance of arrival at campsite to reduce drive aways to the supermarket.


Follow my blog: www.au-revoir.eu
 
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Bramco

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Matt, you headed in the wrong direction - head south. We've done 2 six week trips; Italy last year and this year Croatia and Slovenia. Warm weather means you require far less in the way of clothes and also you can manage with the roll out awning rather than a drive away.

We do a lot of walking and find that meusli or a croissant for breakfast followed by a lunch allows us to have a pleasant evening with a glass of wine or three and some bread and cheese, or alternatively fruit at lunch and an evening meal at a restaurant/pub near the camp site. So don't carry much food - it's mainly drink tbh...

We're 3 years into ownership now and have culled almost everything we haven't used although there are still possibly a couple of things that could go. So we just have 2 crates under the multiflex, our pots, pans etc, in the drawer under the seat, a coolbox, and a couple of IKEA boxes with lids behind the seats for food and waste.

Also, there are dog kennels - OK I'll get my coat.... :Iamsorry

PS Having said that we're headed to Scotland in a month or so, so I'll probably revise this post when we've been through a tempest or two...
 
larrylamb

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Might be stating the obvious but pack less clothes and every 5-6 days schedule in a trip to the campsite washing machine and dryer or launderette if on a basic site. Helps if all the clothes you have packed can go in the same wash. It doesn't help if the weather is wet, creates a lot more washing.
 
D

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We had a trip this summer 18 days in total, 3 kids 2 adults. Window storage bags make life much easier. As with all things camping less is more ( more sense) microfibe towels a must as are light weight trousers ( they also dry quickly) . For me 1 pair of trousers and shorts do all trips, t'shirts etc along with a fleece and waterproofs should you need them. All dirty clothes go in a dry bag, keeps the smells down if they get damp and regularly use washing, drying facilities at good sites. Due to pressure from my eldest we now have an awning but it's only used for stops longer than 1 night. I would really try and reduce what you take and do without the roof box. Too much effort to pack and unpack. As usual you need a day or two to get things into place when you first go away but after that it gets much easier. Scotland is a lovely place to go camping if the weather is good.
 
MattBW

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Matt, you headed in the wrong direction - head south. We've done 2 six week trips; Italy last year and this year Croatia and Slovenia. Warm weather means you require far less in the way of clothes and also you can manage with the roll out awning rather than a drive away.

We do a lot of walking and find that meusli or a croissant for breakfast followed by a lunch allows us to have a pleasant evening with a glass of wine or three and some bread and cheese, or alternatively fruit at lunch and an evening meal at a restaurant/pub near the camp site. So don't carry much food - it's mainly drink tbh...

We're 3 years into ownership now and have culled almost everything we haven't used although there are still possibly a couple of things that could go. So we just have 2 crates under the multiflex, our pots, pans etc, in the drawer under the seat, a coolbox, and a couple of IKEA boxes with lids behind the seats for food and waste.

Also, there are dog kennels - OK I'll get my coat.... :Iamsorry

PS Having said that we're headed to Scotland in a month or so, so I'll probably revise this post when we've been through a tempest or two...

We carry enough food for a couple of meals nothing more but we enjoy cooking so we go with that in mind, we like to eat out too. We don't really drink very much so there is rarely more than a few beers or a bottle of wine in the van freeing up space in the fridge too.

We had planned to go to Europe this year, I'm not sure why but V changed her mind nearer the dates and we went for Scotland instead. Europe may have been less miles to be honest and we already have the dogs passports. ;)

When we got our dogs we made the decision they would go with us in the van, and to be fair they love it. In fact one of them loves the van more than he loves the house. One of them is terrified of other dogs and reactive so we couldn't put her into a kennel and rest easy anyway. We have left them with the parents a few times but not for two weeks.

I think those bags from Romke will make a huge difference, plus we like you have got rid of a lot of stuff and intend to get rid of more. I also recently got seat pockets which we intend to utilise more effectively too.
 
MattBW

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Interestingly we also found we revert to two meals a day in the van, a late breakfast/brunch and then dinner, as opposed to 3 at home.
 
CALI FATE

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I have decided that a Beach is great for two - drifting around / wild - stealth camping - all the fun of not booking anything and just seeing where you end up. No matter what the temperature or the weather, its a cosy place to spend weeks on the move. We have had some great times, and just seem to have a knack of finding amazing places to stop over ....and intersperse with posh hotel stops for showers and luxury ..... but when you add kids and / or pets it is different, and we do things differently. It becomes a big fast comfy car with masses of space to carry all the camping kit, canoes, bikes - with a bed upstairs for us. We generally book ahead and take tents etc for the kids - and no wild camping. Best of all worlds - fingers crossed i will have mine back from the brink next week.
 
Stuart

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Window bags made a big difference to us. All clothing for a family of 4 easily fits in them. Plus you can load them up in the house and then fit them in the van
 
Meoncoast

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Matt
on our longer trips we have caught up with washing of clothes by using a site with a laundry - a few £ then into dryer - job done
 
RedCali

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To dry wet dogs and cut down on the mountain of wet dog towels we use 'Groomers' dog towels from Amazon - they are a bit like a very thick jay cloth which you store damp in a plastic tube - they absorb an unbelievable amount of water and you just keep wringing out until the dog is dry. We keep two on the top shelf of the boot cupboard and they dry our Labradors with no problems.
For clothes which wash and dry really quickly we recommend Rohan - both their casual/walking stuff, and also their business clothes which are literally the only clothes Mr RedCali takes on work trips - everything performs brilliantly. Regardless of how long we are away for we just take one full change of clothes, PJs, spare underwear and coats. We put the site washer on every other day, so we never have to store dirty clothes.
 
vmaxkiddy

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Technical clothing and microfiber towels are so easy to clean and dry. I also use quilt covers, pillow cases and sheets made from microfiber, as well as being easier to wash and dry compared to poly/cotton bedding they are lighter in weight and more compact, they also wick away moisture and sweat making for a better nights sleep in warmer climates than Scotland.
 
Borris

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Hello Matt,
An excellent and informative thread.

So next time, is it leave the dogs in kennels and go naturist then?

We also toured Western Scotland and the outer Hebrides in October last year in our SE (now sold) and are now planning a trip to the inner Hebrides in our Beach so your thread is very interesting. From what you have said, it sounds like you had some very Scotish weather, which whilst not uncommon, was a shame. When the sun shines there is no other place like it.

I hadn't heard of technical clothing before. It's something that we shall now look into as like you we always take too many clothes. In fact, storage in the Beach is still something that we are refining. The main issue being that we have to learn to be ruthless and only take the very bare essentials. Something that neither of us is that good at.

We didn't have any problems regarding battery power whilst touring in our SE but as the Beach only has one leisure battery we are going to have to consider solar panels. Altough many people swear by them, I have never been very keen on the roof mounted units as they involve drilling holes for the gubbins that's mounted internally. Its also necessary to puncture the rubber umbilical connection between boot lid and the body in order to run the cables inside. My experience on previous vehicles, is that any split in this rubber component can lead to corrosion in any nearby electrical connections and water ingress. My reservations may sound daft and be unfounded but I would prefer to at least start looking into something that is self contained before going for these fitted units. It would only be of use on extended trips to the remoter parts. Normally, we have found no need for solar panels as we either book an electric hook up or when wild camping, we stop when it is very late, go straight to bed and leave very early so as not to cause any hassle. Therefore we don't use the battery much when stealth camping.

As for the communications issues, all that I can say is that Mrs B, who is never to be found very far from her mobile, didn't really experience any problems obtaining a signal in most areas that we went to. As for my part, speaking as an ex fire officer who for very many years, had to remain in contact with fire control for 72 hours a week, either by phone, radio pager or by radio fitted in my car, I would be quite happy being completely cut off. I do have a mobile somewhere but the battery is probably flat and by now, I will have almost certainly been chucked off the network for not making any calls.
All the talk of Fon spots and extenders sounds to me like some sort of hairdressing technical jargon. What's the rocket for? Is it to attract the Air Sea Rescue Helicopter if you get lost?

Best wishes
Paul
 
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MattBW

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Matt
on our longer trips we have caught up with washing of clothes by using a site with a laundry - a few £ then into dryer - job done

The sites with laundries were early in the trip before we needed them and then when we needed them the sites didnt have them. We spent quite a bit on tumble drying for our various microfibre towels etc when it was available until we got to the more remote places.
 
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