Our Travato 59G
Meet Coopernicus (Or Cooper for short)
Our 2016 Travato van conversion is our shuttlecraft. We hopscotch it up the coast with as we cruise in our boat as our daily driver during extended stays, enjoy local camping trips and use it as our transportation between our boat and bus seasonally.
We purchased it rather serendipitously in May 2019 after several months of researching our options to replace our Mini Cooper, which had been our toad behind the bus since 2011.
Why the Travato?
We wanted a van that could easily fit in a standard sized parking space, as we'll often be parking it at marinas and using it for daily errands. We ideally wanted something 20' or under.
However, a touch of overhang turns out to not be much of an issue - which opened up a few slightly larger options, including the Travato at 21'.
We were far more intrigued with the Travato during our initial hunt than we thought we would be, and really were quite taken with the 59G layout with its split living floor plan.
This sort of split front-lounge floor plan is common in European camper vans, but is much more rare in the USA. The Hymer Activ has a similar setup, and was on our list for a while - but after a second look it moved down the list considerably for us.
We love this layout for a range of reasons:
- The bed and table / office can be set up simultaneously, without needing to convert from one usage to another. So many other class B layouts force a daily conversion.
- The dinette seat has two seatbelts, making it possible to cary four passengers - as this will be a daily driver for us and we're pretty social, we thought that important. And if you take some friends out to dinner, you can actually talk with them while underway! Most other Class B layouts have any extra passenger seats way in the back.
- The front seats are actually put to use when you are stopped, spinning to be comfortable recliners in the lounge. So many other floor plans limit the utility of the driver's seat, or even both seats - making the entire front of the living area wasted space while not underway.
- The bed folds up against the wall - making the entire back of the van open for bulky cargo when not in camping-mode.
The one reason so many people dislike this layout is the narrow crawl-over bed, which is a downside. But all the other advantages more than make up for it, at least for us. We did 4 years of smaller crawl over beds in our first years on the road, so we have a good idea of the compromise.
The problem was that the Travato had only just came to market in 2014. So there's a limited number of used models to be found at a reasonable price.
And a lot of improvement were made based on early feedback making the first two years of the Travato's release less optimal as choices.
And a brand new Travato (usually around $90-100k) was way out of our price range considering our limited planned usage for a vehicle like this. As much as we'd love a swanky new Travato GL model with lithium batteries, we couldn't justify it.
When a Van Lands in your Lap
We figured we'd find a Class-B by the time we next shifted back to our bus.
But serendipity intervened .
We arrived to Brunswick, GA as our next cruising stop and noticed that someone had a pretty Travato parked in the lot.
Some days, it was missing - indicating the owner used it as a daily driver.
We made note that we should try find them and pick their brain on parking one in a marina lot and if it was really as feasible as we hoped.
Turns out, the owner was actually wanting to sell, but had lacked the time to market it before leaving the marina and was just going to store it. And it was in impeccable shape.
In a matter of a few hours we purchased it for $55k and sold our Mini Cooper to local friends. Crazy!
Here's some initial photos:
Here is a video tour after our first camping trip:
With the explanation that the Travato will serve as our shuttle craft between boat and bus, and we tend towards geek.. the most popular suggestion by far was Galileo. A major shuttle craft class featured on Star Trek.
We looked deeper, and discovered many Star Trek shuttle craft names and Copernicus struck our fancy. The shift in the way we see our universe by his theory of the Earth moving around the Sun (not the other way around), is inspiring. And the van will be our own shift in how we explore the country by land and sea.
And, if you add an extra O.. you get:
A perfect way to play homage to the MINI Cooper that the van's role evolves from.
We'll probably just call him 'Cooper' for short.