It’s hard to believe – we have been in our 2016 Winnebago Travato 59G for nearly 3 months as our home base.
It all started with wanting to be with my mom back in early August for her surgery and then evacuating for Hurricane Dorian.
Since the boat was already hauled out, we decided to just take off in the van to return to Zephyr – with a stop in St. Louis on the way.
To our own surprise, the van has been far more comfortable than we anticipated for extended travels. What we thought would be a comfortable shuttlecraft for a couple weeks at a time – has been pretty darn thrivable.
We’re now back in Austin and will soon be switching back to bus life.
Before we do that, we wanted to take a moment and share what van life for the past few months has been like – and the modifications we’ve made to make the ride more comfortable for daily living and working.
In this new video, we give you a tour of the mods we’ve made – from creating a pantry out of the wardrobe to creating an awesomely productive work space.
Nearly three months from Savannah to Florida to St. Louis and then to Austin has been pretty comfortable – despite some whiplash adjusting back to road speeds.
That was in no small part to some dry runs in the van, and doing some mods along the way.
This isn’t meant to be a full documentation of those modifications (there just aren’t enough hours in the day), and nor does this cover everything shown off in the video.
But here’s a quick list of the major projects (note, check the end of this post for links to products mentioned and stuff we’re using in the van.).
We went with the ClosetMaid system sold at most home improvement stores – the 16″ linen shelving (installed upside down) is the perfect depth to leave a bit of room for installing spice racks and bins on the cabinet door.
This has massively increased our storage space.
For our clothing, we just use the overhead cabinets above the bed – we typically only have foldable clothes anyways.
Monitor Arm & Office Space
The Travato comes with a 24″ Insignia TV on a very basic monitor arm that positions the screen in a quite awkward angle for viewing only from the front seats.
We wanted something that would allow us far more flexibility
While in Charleston this summer I replaced my iMac (a 21.5″ retina monitor with built in computer) with a Mac Mini and 24″ LG UltraFine 4K monitor for more flexibility to move between 3 homes.
But the problem became what to do about my workspace on the bus when we returned. I would need a monitor there too.
What we decided was to find a better and more flexible monitor arm for the Travato – which after trialing a couple different ones we settled on the $80 AmazonBasics Premium Arm.
We attached it behind the dinette seat – which allows the screen to be much better positioned for viewing from the front seats OR from the bed.. and used as a display for either my Mac Mini or a laptop.
And then we put my new monitor on the arm – which allows us to safely transport it from boat to bus, and utilize it while in the van.
The stand nicely stows under the dinette seat around the Truma Combi – so we can move the monitor to my workstation on the boat and bus.
We still have the original TV on the boat – and will reinstall it on the van for trips during our boating season.
It’s been a SWEET setup – and we fight over who gets the workspace in the van.
Mobile Internet Setup
We had been just using mobile hotspots from Verizon and AT&T with portable MIMO antennas as our mobile internet solution in the van. It’s a super simple approach that we guide a lot of folks towards.
But the Pepwave MAX Transit Duo with Cat-12 dual modems came out in early September.
Since we’d need to be testing this new consumer affordable high end option, we decided to install it in the van along with the new Poynting 7-in1 antenna (with 4×4 cellular MIMO).
To do this, we removed the King TV antenna on the roof and re-used the hole to route the antenna. We don’t watch regular TV, and stream everything over the internet anyway.
Unfortunately, the 7 cable wiring is too thick to completely route – so the cable just runs across the ceiling into the tech cabinet behind the monitor (in newer versions of the Travato, they provide a nice conduit for such things.)
Since we test mobile internet gear for a living, we’re constantly swapping out options – nothing is a long term installation for us.
In fact, we just got in the brand new WiFiRanger Converge, which we’re putting into testing too.
Our premium MIA members are following along with our hands on experience with both approaches to mobile internet in an RV or boat (and they get some pretty sweet discounts on both.)
You can learn more about our always evolving mobile internet setup.
There’s a bunch of little mods too mentioned in the video – such as our Airvent Cab Inserts for better airflow while parked, our snazzy USB rechargeable tactical flashlight and magnetically securing the rear screen for cat-proofing.
We’ll also soon be installing the SumoSprings that just arrived to hopefully get a smoother ride.
And in the future we’ll want to swap out the AC for a much quieter one – that thing is way too fricken loud. Thankfully, we’re out of AC-season now.
And there may be a lithium upgrade in the future – either by swapping out the batteries, or giving into temptation to acquire a brand new lithium model Travato.
Back to the Bus!
We got Zephyr out of storage this past week, and she’s currently at a shop getting caught up on general routine maintenance and getting some new dancing shoes.
As much as we’ve enjoyed van life – we are looking forward to stretching out and getting our old gal back on the road!
We’ll be convoying the van behind the bus on our way out to Arizona this winter.
Keep an eye on our YouTube channel – we may just do a rather spontaneous LIVE from the bus – and of course we’ll follow up with what was involved with getting an RV back on the road after a year and a half in storage.
Van Gear Stuff
Above we mention several products we’ve added to the van to make life on the road more comfortable. Here’s links to the items (some are affiliate links):
For more Gear we love on our bus, van and boat that enables our mobile lifestyle – check out our Gear Center.