Van driving challenges

I drove my van to work on Monday 18th July and haven’t touched it since. I know I need to be braver, face the unknown and wait for the unfamiliar to become familiar, but it’s a little scary.

Swapping from a car to a van and the difference in size was one challenge I knew I had to overcome but I never thought about car design. I have been a firm favourite of Ford for over 20 years and thought about buying a Ford transit but it seemed a little too big. I wanted to start van life in something smaller.

Now I am driving a Mercedes vito.

After 35 years of driving with a handbrake between my seats, now the handbrake is a peddle. I have four peddles instead of three.

The clutch is super sensitive. I only have to lift my foot off a fraction and the van is ready to take off. My old pedal had a much higher ‘bite’ and I find myself stalling a lot or shuddering along until I change to second gear.

There are 6 gears now and they’re fairly close together so sometimes when I think I am in fourth I am actually in sixth gear!

The windscreen wipers are near the indicator so they often start up every time I am turning a corner (I discovered months later that this is an actual fault and shouldn’t work that way).

Don’t even get me started on reversing!!!

These are little things that I will get used to the more I drive and I am going to start using my 2 hour work breaks to take short trips out so I can become more familiar with my new home but in the meantime it has been sat outside doing nothing.

I am still trying to find someone that can do the insulation and carpet lining for me. Most places do VW or larger vans but not the Vito.


4 thoughts on “Van driving challenges

  1. You’ll get there. Now when I sit in my van, it feels normal. It would feel odd to drive a car.

    I got used to towing a 7m caravan with our van – a rig that was as long as an articulated lorry, but not as heavy. To give me confidence, I took a towing course with the Caravan and Motorhome club. I wonder if you could find a driving instructor who would give you confidence? They can sometimes organise experiences off the road – such as at an airfield, where you could practise manoeuvering without worrying about traffic. If you Google Van Driving Courses, quite a few come up. If you are near Woking in Surrey, I can recommend someone! 🙂

    Wish me luck in the spring, when I am taking my Class 2 LGV licence so that I can drive our expedition truck, The Beast. 🙂

    As ladies, I think we sometimes knock ourselves, but there is absolutely no reason why we can’t drive a large vehicle. It is good to treat it with respect.

    And just for info, when I did my towing course, I met a wonderful lady called Bella. She was 80 years old and learning to tow a caravan for the first time so that she could do a trip around Scotland that she’d planned to do with her late husband.

    Best of luck and GO YOU!

    PS – There are a few self-build van forums on Facebook who might be able to help. The South Central Self Build Get Together is a friendly bunch. They have a Northern branch too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have definitely come a long way since I wrote that post. I love the van now and can’t imagine life without her! I have seen The Beast and it really is HUGE. Wow. Good for you. Definitely wish you luck with your Class 2. I have been considering taking a mini bus course over the last year. Its as big as I want to go with my camper – I think 🙂


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