If you’re thinking (or dreaming!) about an extended road trip, you might have in mind some features your travel vehicle will need. We certainly did, and drew up a couple of lists before we ended up buying our caravan(a lovely 1960s fibreglass Olympic Riviera).

The first list included our ‘must-have’ features: essentials like roadworthiness, 12 volt lighting, a 3-way fridge, a decent-sized water tank, a maximum length (16 feet), some kind of battery set up for free-camping and water tightness. The second was our ‘In-a-perfect-world’ list, and we knew we’d most likely have to compromise on some of these features given our limited budget.

We’ve been on the road for a year now, which has given us plenty of opportunities to see how the realities of full-time caravan living have matched up with our expectations of it. We’ve found that we could easily live without some of the features our caravan has, while there are others we didn’t think we’d need but that we would love to install. Read on to find out which features fall into which category – and why. This is part one.


EXPECTATIONS: A bathroom wasn’t a ‘must-have’ for us when looking for a caravan but we were more than happy when our caravan did have a shower and port-a-potti. We thought we’d use both of them on a regular basis.

REALITY: We’ve used the port-a-potti rarely and the shower not even once. In fact, we’ve turned our shower room into a storage area! Whether or not you require a bathroom will depend largely on your travelling style (staying in caravan parks versus free camping) and your feelings towards shared facilities.

TIPS: When it comes to showering in your caravan, RV, or van, keep in mind that you either need to be connected to mains or be willing to sacrifice precious water supplies for the purpose. We very quickly learned that we were more than happy to forego regular showers (hello baby wipes and bird baths) if it meant that our water supplies would last longer while free camping.

As for port-a-potties, these are a bit of hassle to maintain (requiring emptying every 3-4 days) so when we’re in areas where there are facilities available, we will usually just use these. We recently discovered the National Public Toilet Map (they also have iTunes and Android apps available), which is really handy. You can also have a read of this post we wrote about travelling with a toilet.