- Cooking Aids
- Computing and Communications
- Camping and Parking Apps & Books
- Other Gadgets
Despite all mod cons, we check our route with a good old fashioned map. And in certain counties, like Italy (Sicily in particular) I use google satellite view to ‘look’ at the road or parking.
Garmin Nuvi – An ancient one but I have lifetime EU maps and it clearly displays the speed limit and your current speed in miles or km. It has a tendency to route us through the centre of towns and down minuscule lanes, so absolute skepticism and an alternative method of navigation is required.
Co-Pilot for Caravans – We won this in an ‘OurTour.com‘ Competition for a poor sat nav in a motorhome story. And we ‘rely’ on this most. I had an ancient 2nd issue iPad (dubbed the Sat Pad) which is too slow for normal use, so I cleared everything except maps and Co-Pilot. ETA is pretty accurate. This old iPad is SIM enabled so it has GPS … and important factor if you are thinking of doing the same. This is our go to and most used nav aid.
Update 11/19: The ancient iPad finally gave up. We tried using a phone but found the screen too small. We bought a refurbished (good as new) Samsung Galaxy Tab A and downloaded our navigation apps to this.
Maps.Me – A fabulous free download. Not only does it show the route but the map is so detailed is displays shops, petrol, car parks, water fountains etc. You can click on them to show the GPS co-ordinates and then enter these on another sat nav device. It will try to take motorhomes down roads too narrow, so needs a lot of checking if used as a driving sat nav. It has car, bike and walking modes, so we have it on the Sat Pad as well as phones. Essential for waking and bike trips.
Pressure Cooker – Top of my list. I use it for soups for lunch and for casseroles. It tenderises meat much better than a slow cooker. Cooking under pressure means that you use much less gas. It is heavy, but so worth carrying. I use mine nearly every day. I am on my second; the cheap Italian one was replaced with a Swiss made heavy gauge Kuhon one. Worth it’s weight …
Slow Cooker – Useful especially if you spend a lot of time on sites with electric. I tried two 12 volt cookers and burnt them both out so now have a proper domestic one. It is not heavy to carry. It does work on our sine wave inverter, but I tend to only use it when on hook up or driving. It makes a super moist sticky roast chicken.
Whisk – I cook for us and for others when travelling and hand whisking cream and sauces stresses my tennis elbow, so I do have an electric one. I do recognise it is a bit of a spoilt nonsense to have one though.
Spiraliser – I don’t eat pasta, but James does. So I spiralise courgette to soak up the sauces for me. Great for shredding veg for coleslaw and adding variety to how veg is presented (and it often tastes different too).
Update 11/19: This has been now left at home.
Kitchen Scales – Well, if you cook, you need them! We weigh Oscar’s food too.
Hand Blender – The wand type. Brilliant for soups and sauces. Would not be without it.
Smoothie Maker – I have a baby Magic Bullet, which I use to blend bases of sauces and smoothies. Also useful for grinding spices.
Cadac Safari Grill – We have not used this a lot, despite the external gas BBQ point on the van, as we prefer the taste and rigmarole of a proper charcoal BBQ. However, with the weight and size of the new e-bikes, we had to leave the Weber Kettle BBQ at home. The Cadac does BBQ, cook and wok food outside.
Update 11/19: This has been now left at home – far too messy to clean.
Electric Twin Hob – This came out of the motorhome garage whenever we were on hookup, to save our gas. Using an extension cable, I could also cook outside. In reality, we are not normally on EHU, or on campsites and LPG is cheap, so it did not make it our of the garage that often. So this was another casualty to be discarded when we bought the E-bikes. On hindsight, it would have been worth the weight for travelling to countries where wild camping is illegal. My standard one is seriously slow at boiling a kettle … wish I’d bought induction, but a lot dearer and may have had to change some pots and pans …
Update 11/19: This is an item that got reinstated! But whilst not an induction one, the current version is quicker. However, too much of a pull on the inverter to use off grid.
Computing and Communications
MacBook Air – Mostly used for blogging. I have MarsEdit for creating posts offline before loading to WordPress, but this really does limit what formatting I can do. All our pictures are stored on a 2TB external hard drive, backed up on another ext. hard drive and on DropBox. Occasionally we watch a film and use the MacBook; the screen is on the small side, but for the odd times we do …
iPads – Emails, reading, camping apps … you name it. This is the tech device of choice. We also have an old GPS iPad which we use solely for sat nav apps.
iPhones – We both have iPhones. James’ is loaded with Maps.Me and TripAdvsor. I now have an iPhone 6 with a mega 64mg … so I have maps too.
Samsung Galaxy tab A 10.5″ – the replacement Sat Pad. In fact, having been an Apple loyal (stupid) customer for years, I am seriously impressed with this. Clear screen and some nice touches. Use it in preference for streaming TV, not that we do often.
Three Mifi – We have a paid for mifi hub with the 20GB/month of data on contract for £15. Roaming in Europe is capped at 12GB/billing month. It works in most countries but can be a little slow. Having said that, it seems to be less slow than it was 2 years ago.
BlueTooth Speaker – We use a Flip 3 and we have been pleased with the sound quality on those occasions where we want to make the ‘van rock. We also use it when watching films as the speakers on the MacBook are not great.
BlueTooth Headphones – I have some lovely Beat headphones which I ‘nicked’ from my daughter. Really useful as I listen to music or story books when I’m knitting, cooking or pottering.
SlimBuds headphones – Bluetooth and small. We both have them.
DropBox – We have a 2TB DropBox account to back up all our docs, films and pictures. It is also great to share folders of pictures with specific friends. We don’t back up all the time as it is really slow and I tend to do it on someone else’s data. I have also shared a document with all our financial info with our executors. If anything ‘happened’ to us, there are no paper records for anyone to refer to.
2Tb External Hard Drives – I back up the MacBook files to one and the TimeMachine (system settings and set up) to another.
Amazon Echo: Just loved using it at home, so had t bring it with us. I bought a battery base for it so it does not need to be plugged into the sine wave inverter all the time. We’ve learned that it canes the data on the wifi hub, so we switch both off when not in use.
Camping and Parking Apps & Books
CamperContact: seems to be less updated than a couple of years ago, but still of use. If you pay the subscription fee, you can download offline maps. Pretty rubbish in some countries, such as Greece.
Park4Night: Pretty useful, especially in some of the less frequented places. People seem to post reviews regularly. Again, you can download offline data. My go to app.
Campingcar-infos: Does the same as the previous two, but you need to speak French. Pretty accurate – some bods use only this.
ACSI: Some people moan about the fact they have to buy it, but it is really useful, as you know exactly what you’ll pay. We tend to use the app more as it has a map. Don’t be confused by ACSI sites and ACSI inspected … the former only offers a set price for 2 people with EHU. The latter just means they are inspected … there are 2 separate apps.
SearchforSites: Told about relatively recently. Does the same as above, as seems to have ‘borrowed’ everyone else’ databases. Gaining in the number of reviews so becoming quite useful.
Wildcamping.co.uk: Brilliant forum for interest and advice, excellent on wild spots in UK, France and Iberia. About to launch worldwide. They also organise members’ meets.
Motorhomer.com: A new site, excellently organised. Live as of Jan 2018. Vibrant forum as well as as sites.
CamperStop: We have the book, which is pretty weighty, but again I tend to use the app as it works off a map. Reviews are few and far between, but so far it has been accurate. Update 11/19 – this has been culled.
France Passion: Really fab scheme of free parkings on farms / vineyards and some attractions. Usually no more than 5 pitches, and often in really beautiful locations. A little pressure to buy some of the produce.
Twin Tub: Less than £100, but weighs in at about 22kgs. It has more than paid for itself and lives in the garage next to the external shower … in the last ‘van it lived in the shower (showering therefore became a major removals event). Weight is an issue in the current ‘van, but we still have this on board. The trick is to try to keep on top of the laundry, as a massive load can eat into the day. It will run happily off the sine wave inverter on a moderately sunny day. Just need a good supply of water. I use soap nuts (eBay to buy and google to see what they are), as they need much less rinsing and they are organic so I don’t feel guilty releasing the waste water onto the ground. When wilding, we stick the twin tub in the door of the van and James empties washing up bowls as they fill.
Karcher Window Vac: Brilliant for clearing condensation off the windscreen and water from the shower. An extra weight of course and needs re-charging (fine on the sine wave inverter), but useful, if you have the space.
Black & Decker Hoover: We had this, removed it to my parent attic, and then put it back on board. It runs from the cigarette lighter when the engine is running. Fairly efficient for its weight. And particularly useful as removing grit from the habitation door grooves. Now redundant.
Dyson Hand Held Hoover: Much more powerful than the above and you don’t nee to run the engine to do the hoovering, upsetting neighbours. It has a super boost function which is really powerful.
Expanding Trellis: For dogs … stops CO2 escaping out the hab door and doesn’t weigh much. Oscar trashed the hab, door fly screen and taught Corrie to push through too!