Wanderlust Camper Co is an independent camper-van rental business owned by Annah and Andy Todman. Based in Dymock in a rural part of Gloucestershire the vans are in the perfect location to explore the the countryside around the border counties of Hereford and Worcestershire or embark on a road trip to Wales, the Midlands or the West Country.
I’ve been following the development of Wanderlust Camper Co with great interest over the past year as so much of what they stand for appeals to my own passion for family adventure. Annah and Andy decided to set up their tailor made fleet of family-friendly vans after struggling to find suitable vehicles for their own road trip adventures once they became a family. They explain,
‘As our family grew, so did our need for spacious, family friendly homes-on-wheels. The options available to us as a family were either too small for us to stay in comfortably, or too big for the roads (or licence type).’
They decided families needed another option and established Wanderlust Camper Co in early 2017. Having felt frustrated by the limited choice currently on offer they made it their focus to custom design each of their interiors creating practical, shared spaces with comfortable sleeping whilst still fitting in a vehicle that could easily navigate country roads.
Photo courtesy of Wanderlust Camper Co.
The Wanderlust Camper Co van fleet is made up of 3 custom converted vans affectionately named Sally, Lula and Amelia. The vans are immediately striking with their glossy sky-blue body work. I was thrilled to be invited to review one of their vans to feature on the blog and test out the practicalities for myself. So during the October half term I drove 4 hours from East Sussex to meet Annah so that I could road test Sally…their largest van for 3 nights…with two kids in tow….and no other adult back up! I needed Sally to accommodate our needs or I was in for a tricky few days!
Ahead of collecting the vehicle Annah was in touch with me to make sure she had all the relevant documentation for insurance cover. Communication throughout was excellent…as there are several proverbial ‘boxes’ that needed to be ticked before I would legally be covered to drive Sally. Annah was clear in explaining everything I needed to do to complete this process and was both patient and supportive throughout!
On arriving at Annah’s home to pick up our home for the next few days we were introduced Sally….and she is a beauty! Sally sleeps up to 4 comfortably with a bunk bed behind the drivers seat, a kitchen area with storage in the middle and a seating area which converts to a large double sleeping area at the rear. Everything has been customer designed and made meaning that everything has a clear purpose and function.
I found driving Sally surprisingly manageable. I drive a mini bus in my role as a special needs teacher so I had some insight into the aspects of big vehicle driving that I knew were a personal challenge. With this in mind I made sure we had more than enough food to get us through the week so I wouldn’t have to navigate any busy supermarket car parks and I planned days out with parking and driving in mind. These decisions were made due to my own lack of confidence. Despite this, by the end of our 3 days with Sally my confidence was significantly boosted and I was finding day to day logistics a lot more straightforward than I had anticipated. These are vehicles that you can drive as a solo parent even if, like myself, you don’t feel overly confident about it. They are easy to drive and small enough to manoeuvre effectively without any complication.
The front seat fits a driver and two passengers which worked perfectly for our little road trip. It was such fun having my pair of navigators sitting up at the front with me and they certainly loved the new perspective elevated above the rest of the traffic on the motorway.
The kitchen is designed to accommodate so much in such a small space…it’s astounding! There are two gas hobs for cooking, with gas being switched on as you park up for your evening camp. There’s also an under counter fridge, a sink for washing up (using a water canister filled on arrival), toaster, kettle, cleaning products, utensils, crockery, cutlery and plenty of storage for supplies. Time and time again as I was using this space I was surprised at how functional the facilities were. Small touches like the high quality OLPRO kitchen ware added a sense of luxury and their durability was appreciated with the children in mind.
The seating area is easily converted into a dining space by inserting a table post and top into the floor space. We sat comfortably as a 3 but I would imagine the space could accommodate up to 5 or 6.
The children both loved the bunk beds! Daisy was particularly snug in her top bunk. Logan, at the age of 3 tended to roll out of the bottom bunk (much to his annoyance) so slept with me in the double after the first night. You need to bring your own bedding so we took sleeping bags, pillows and warm PJ’s (this was October).
The van has a very effective heating system which blasts warm air on a timer but we decided it might be a bit noisy running through the night. Fortunately, Sally comes equipped with a compact radiator which we set on a low heat throughout the night keeping us toasty warm despite the low temperatures outside. The double bed was again simple to set up and extremely comfortable. Annah has gone to great lengths to ensure that her custom made curtains and blinds block out every bit of light, knowing how important it is that the kids aren’t woken too early by natural light streaming in. In all honesty…I slept better in Sally than I do at home!
We spent 3 nights driving across Gloucestershire and Warwickshire in Sally and we genuinely loved every minute. The children quickly became adapted to ‘helping’ with routines like filling up the water canister or keeping watch as I tentatively reversed. We became a team and it was great! There were moments where I got stressed…but that would happen over any 3 days on my own with the kids. Generally the children loved their unique space and talk fondly of their holiday in Sally. It’s certainly something I’d love to do again in the future….and I’ll definitely consider using Wanderlust Camper Co. The level of understanding that Annah and Andy have of the needs of a family on the road are second to none. I’m hoping there’ll be another Wanderlust adventure in the pipeline for 2019….but this time I might bring Daddy for back up…just in case we run out of milk!!
You can now pay for your Wanderlust Camper Co adventure by paying in instalments. See here for details.
Disclosure: We received a complementary stay in Sally thanks to Wanderlust Camper Co. All thoughts and opinions are my own.