First Road Trip – Part One

van interior I’m on my way back to Missouri to complete my inaugural road trip in my new van. I spent five days on the Appalachian Trail doing some short hikes. I’ve done most of the AT from Springer to PA but there a few small gaps that I skipped before that I want to hike now so I can complete the AT.

Van Customization

You can see what little I have done to make my van better suited for sleeping and living.  I took out the two captain chairs that were where the front of the cot is now.  The rear bench seat folds down to a bed but it is much too small of a bed for me to be able to comfortably sleep on it. That is why I bought the cot to sleep on.  The cot actually has three legs and the middle leg luckily fits in the gap between the two parts of the rear seat.  The cot is roughly the same height as the rear seat.  The height is close enough to allow me to sleep but it is hard on my back.  I’m going to remove the rear seat as well so I can sleep better and to create more room in the van.

The main other thing I need to do is improve the privacy of the back of the van.  As you can see the van has shades over the windows already but I still need to cover the back window and screen the back of the van from the front windows.  I’ve been using jury-rigged solution for both of those right now but need to come up with a more permanent solution.  Also, the shades on the side windows are fine for providing privacy but they still allow a lot of light in the van.  I’m planning to make panels that will fit in the rear window and side windows which should block all the light and provide even more privacy.  I want to make a privacy curtain or partition to install behind the front seats.  This will be a little complicated because the sliding door is on one side and I have to avoid where the hardware for the door slides and it will be difficult to attach anything to the plastic around the sliding door hardware.  I’m sure I can figure something out though.

Gas Mileage

I have tracked three tanks of gas in the van so far and I have gotten 17.2, 17.5, and 17.9 MPG.  The strange thing is the lowest MPG was the tank that was almost all interstate driving.  This makes me think the van gets worse gas mileage at 70 MPH than driving around town.  The van is rated at 15 MPG combined and 18 MPG highway which means I’m getting about the expected mileage.  I’m going to try to improve that though.  Removing the heavy rear seat should help a little.  Once I have a little extra money I’m going to buy a ScanGauge or similar fuel economy computer. There will be a future post on my efforts to improve gas mileage.

I have spent way too much on gas since buying the van. I’m going to have to get much smarter on planning my daily errands and reduce or eliminate unnecessary trips. Also, any future road trips will be at a much slower pace so the money spent on gas per day will be reduced.

Part two should be up tomorrow.

4 thoughts on “First Road Trip – Part One”

  1. Andy,
    I asked my husband’s grandmother who is very tight with money how they save on gas. She said that she drives 55mph or less everywhere she goes. I decided to try it but I did not want to drive 55. I settled on 60mph. I was using about 1 1/2 tanks a week. At 60mph, I am saving 1/2 a tank per week!

    • Driving slower definitely does improve the gas mileage but I don’t want to go too much slower than the traffic around me. It sounds like 60mph was a reasonable compromise in your case.

    • Thanks, SonyaAnn. I’ve actually been aware of that site for a few years and have already consulted it since I bought my van but I do appreciate the suggestion.


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