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):
Amazon.com: Cartman Collapsible Traffic Cone
Super handy for marking your site occupied if you leave, or holding a space, or for emergencies. They pack up small too!
Amazon.com: Stainless Wine Glasses
Perfect wine glasses for outdoor use!
Amazon.com: Headrest Hooks
Adds extra hanging space to the van.
Amazon.com : JVC KW-M750BT Apple CarPlay
We swapped this for the included nav unit on our 2016 Travato – it uses Car Play and can tap into the van’s computer.
Amazon.com: Coleman Fold N Go Propane Grill
We love this little grill.. super small, super efficient (and pretty cute!) Great for the small space of a van.
Amazon.com: Suction Cup Shower Caddy Storage Basket
Travato owners say this suction cup caddy will stick to the bathroom walls of the 59G.
Amazon.com: Natural Latex Mattress Topper
Ordered this in full size and trimmed to fit the Travato 59G mattress. Greatly improves the comfort, and bed still folds up.
Airvent Cab Window Inserts
These inserts easily install and create airflow in the front cab while parked.
Kenwood Excelon DMX957XR
We replaced the head unit in our 2020.5 Travato with this one – wireless Car Play ROCKS!
USB Rechargeable Tactical Flashligh
We love these small flashlights – USB rechargeable, super bright and magnetic!
Amazon.com: Bellemain Spice Gripper Clip Strips
We use these on the inside of the van’s pantry/wardrobe cabinet to store spices.
Amazon.com: Camco Bamboo Folding Table
Perfectly stows under the Travato 59G bed, great for extra desk/counter space on the bed – and an outdoor table.
Amazon.com: Lynx Levelers
The only way we can level our bus & van is on boards, or leveling blocks. We carry a combo of both.
Amazon.com : CGEAR Sand-Free Outdoor Camping Mat
The Small size is perfect for the van entry mat – folds up super small.
We use these wireless cameras for security alerts, remote monitoring and temp alerts in all of our vessels.
Amazon.com: SkyGenius Battery Operated Clip On Oscillating Fan
This battery/USB powered fan is perfect for airflow in the front of our 59K. Small, quiet and clips to a window valance.
Flat-Jack Air Tire Levelers
VANLIFE Outfitters has hooked us up with a set of these innovative inflatable bags for leveling a van (instead of using blocks). Arrived in Jan 2021, we’ll be testing these out!
Amazon.com: CSS-1195 Coil SumoSprings
The SumoSprings for the front of the Dodge ProMaster Van – helps improve the ride! (Added to our 2016 Travato, standard on our 2020.5)
Thermacell Portable Mosquito Repeller
AAAAH… mosquitos!! We love our Termacell so we can sit out doors enjoying an evening cocktail at sunset without losing all our blood.
Amazon.com: Hanging Roll-Up Organizer
We organize a bunch of ‘stuff’ in this bag – rolled up it fits perfectly in the Travato’s medicine cabinet. Each compartment is also removable.
Amazon.com : Magnifying Makeup Mirror with Light
We use this mirror in the Travato’s bathroom – it helps with the limited lighting.
Amazon.com – BLACK DECKER Pivot Vacuum
This rechargeable vacuum SUCKS! Very compact and awesome. We got it for the Travato, and will likely put on on the boat & bus too.
Amazon.com: Kamenstein Perfect Tear Paper Towel Holder
Mounted this with VHB tape to the ceiling of the Travato’s kitchen – perfect fit!
AmazonBasics Premium Wall Mount
We replaced the TV mount with this so we can use our screen as a monitor over the table, or watch TV from bed.
Amazon.com : STRONGBACK Elite Folding Camping Chair
We had a set of these on our boat, they didn’t hold up well after a year. Strongback honored the warranty and sent us a new set – they now travel in the van. Hopefully they last longer this time.
Amazon.com: Oxygenics Shower Head
This water saving shower head is fantastic combing air with water to feel full pressure. We’ve had them forever!
Amazon.com: First Aid Kit
First aid kit we keep on all of our RVs and boat.
Amazon.com: Luci Lux – Inflatable Solar Light
These solar powered inflatable lights are great for ambient lighting!
Amazon.com: SSR-313-54 Yellow SumoSprings
SumoSprings for the rear of the Dodge ProMaster – helps improve the ride! (Added to our 2016 Travato, standard on our 2020.5)
For more Gear we love on our bus, van and boat that enables our mobile lifestyle – check out our Gear Center.