Van Life – a book review
Not just a manual…but also a worthwhile companion
Samantha Browne reviews the latest release from Haynes Publishing…
‘Van Life…All you need to know in one concise manual’…or so claims the sub heading on the inside front cover. That’s a big promise, so let me say at the beginning of this review that this delightful hardback lives up to it and then some.
Author Nigel Donnelly’s aim was to celebrate our ancient nomadic way of life in its most contemporary form; living in a caravan home on wheels. The book looks at both types of mobile caravanning. i.e. ‘motorised’ and ‘trailer’. Obviously, most motorhomers will prioritise the motorcaravan sections but will find much to interest them on the trailer side and of course also in the case studies, travel tips, and general advice on choosing the right `van and what to look out for. Specific advice on such important issues as storage, solo travelling, full timing, selecting routes and insurances, as well as a good shifty at the history of early `vans are all part of the book’s DNA. They are counterbalanced wonderfully by inspirational features on travelling around the Scottish North Coast, Norwegian Fjords, Italian Amalfi Coast, French Atlantic Coast and along the Romantic Road in Germany and down Route 66 in…I’m sure you are all aware of where that iconic road is!
Detailed buyers’ guides are included on affordable base vehicles. These underline the breadth of appeal of Van Life…it’s not just targeted – as is frequently the case – at well-off early-retired empty-nesters but also at young folk without much dosh and everybody else in-between. Case studies look at `vans and owners including those starting on a budget as little as £800.
We’ve all read books and magazine articles purporting to be from enthusiastic motorcaravanners, only to discover that they are full of touristy manipulated PR photographs and that the words lack the gravitas, detail and passion of those coming from a genuine enthusiast. Van Life is the complete opposite of such fluff and puff, it is authoritative, inspiring and features nuggets of pure gold from those who don’t just talk-the-talk but are keen exponents of the very best way method of travelling and living, including from the author himself who edited Practical Motorhome and Practical Caravan for 14 years. In addition, Nigel has toured extensively at home and abroad in many different `vans. His current carriage is a real retro-ride…a (not always cooperative) 1980 Westfalia on LHD VW T25 called Wilma.
With a nod to the popular music chanteuse Vanessa Williams, “I’ve saved the best till last.” A ‘proper’ hardback 160-page book with clear print and rich images on quality paper must come at a price. Fortunately, it’s a very modest one. Although the RRP is a trim £12.99, on-line purchasers can buy it direct from Haynes at the auction price which is currently an amazing £7.79.
Van Life is a grand companion and is suitable for everyone from greenhorns to old hands alike. Remember it’s never too early for Christmas shopping…and as far as the Bancroft tribe are concerned…it’s always an appropriate time to treat yourself!
Haynes Publishing (Somerset) 01963 440635. Van Life by Nigel Donnelly. Published 2019. ISBN 978 1 78521 595 7 RRP: £12.99 but see text!