Travel trinkets

We’re off on our travels again soon.

This trip has been planned and anticipated for months and months, and we’ve come to realise that in the future, we’ll want to do a lot more trips with Miz Lizzie the caravan. We needed to reconsider our towing vehicle. We have a very nice modern car we love, with lots of useful features, excellent fuel economy and a very enjoyable driving experience. But it’s not really up to the job of pulling the caravan very long distances. It gets the job done, but long term it will suffer excessive wear and tear. We’re sad to see it go, but we’re selling it. Instead of doing what most people in our position do, replacing it with a new and enormous ‘tank’ with a vast and thirsty engine and multiple gizmos, we have bought a 12 year old workhorse.

I like the idea of recycling a perfectly good older vehicle, which has several benefits: there are scratches, dings and fading paintwork, so I’ll never worry again about putting a scratch on its gleaming surface; it comes already fitted with a number of things we’d have wanted anyway; it’s affordable (and so are parts!), despite being a much more powerful and roomy vehicle than we’re used to, and finally, it feels cosy and safe despite its size, unlike many new cars which are sleek, complex and intimidating. It has been looked after, and we will continue to look after it, so I hope to enjoy driving it for many years. Oh, and I love being higher up, with greatly improved visibility and larger windows.

Meet Bill. He’s a Hyundai Terracan, a 2.9L CRDi, with 7 seats and already set up for caravan towing. He’s capable of hauling 2 tonnes. We’ll be taking out the rear 2 seats to give ourselves an enormous cargo space. He’s tall, with excellent visibility, proper 4WD and chunky tyres. But there are three important things he doesn’t have. The first is satnav, a very, very useful thing in this enormous country of vast distances and poor signage. The second is a reversing camera. The car is nearly 5 metres long, and the driving seat is a very long way from the towbar… And the third thing is Bluetooth hands-free for our phones.

Hence the trinkets. We’ve bought a Garmin satnav after days and days of research, and it seems pleasantly easy to use and intuitive, plus it has Bluetooth built-in so it enables us to use our mobile phones hands free, safely and legally. The other trinket is a replacement rear-view mirror with a built-in display for a reversing camera and a forward-facing dashcam on its back. We can reverse safely, and also record our front and back views in case of accident.Β  The mirror is enormous, about 25cm (10 inches), so we get an excellent view too.

Naturally, I’ve made a little pouch for the Garmin. Well, you didn’t really think I could resist, did you? The Garmin’s not built in so it’ll need to be removed from the car when we leave it.

I’ve put a sheet of tough vinyl between the layers on the front of the pouch to protect the screen from damage by sharp poky objects, and the whole pouch is padded and quilted to give it a better chance of survival when I inevitably drop it.

Because there may be times when we need to get at it with one hand, I’ve made a button and elastic loop closure; no fiddling with a zip or buttonholes. Don’t you love the way the button matches the fabric? And that ribbon is just perfect; I got it from the lovely Annett in Germany as part of a package of goodies – this is absolutely the right place to use it.

And the car’s name? The Husband is responsible for that. Terracan -> Billycan* -> Bill. It’s a very good name for the car, who’s definitely a bloke πŸ™‚

*For non-Aussies, a billycan is an essential feature of Australian outback camping, used for making tea and cooking over a fire of gum leaves and wood. Perfect for our Bill and the life he’s going to lead.

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56 thoughts on “Travel trinkets

  1. As you might expect, our Garmin satnav has a crochet pouch!

  2. Bill is very handsome, I’m impressed πŸ˜‰ I have a Hyundai Tucson, smaller than Bill, but I also love being higher up. Metaphorically speaking!

    • katechiconi says:

      My sister has a Tucson too, which she loves. Bill’s more of a workhorse, less sporty, and he’s decidedly rugged, not at all a city slicker!

      • City slicker?! hahahahha that just so isn’t me or my Tucson!!!! πŸ™‚
        I justified its purchase because of having to cart stuff around for markets, but it was also 10 years old when I got it. It was in excellent condition, was very reasonable, and will see me through the rest of my working life, I hope. It is obviously heavier on petrol than a sedan would be, but then that too is a valid business expense πŸ˜‰

  3. oops, I meant NOT metaphorically!!!

  4. craftycreeky says:

    A perfect pouch! The button blends in that well I had to look twice to see it πŸ™‚

  5. Great idea on the button/elastic loop closure for the pouch. I gotta remember that as a possibility for future projects. =)

    • katechiconi says:

      I just remembered what a pain it is to fumble with bags, purses and cases with one hand while driving, and this was something easy to open. I may have to change my sunglasses case too!

  6. cazinatutu says:

    should have called him Phil … it goes well with Lizzie

    as you can tell, I’m a Brit lol

  7. tialys says:

    A very sensible purchase. I am so used to being ‘up high’ in a car now that I feel very vulnerable in a ‘normal’ height car. I’ve never had much luck with Satnavs – I can’t look at the screen while I’m driving and sometimes the spoken ‘first left’ is not the same as the ‘first left’ showing on the screen. It brings out the Anglo Saxon lingo in me too I’m sorry to say. I like to have a live navigator in the seat next to me who can look at the screen or read my Google Maps print out to me. However, I do have a Satnav and it does have a pouch but not as sophisticated a one as yours. Anyway, you’re all set!
    p.s. What button? πŸ˜‰

    • katechiconi says:

      We have become used to having one as it was built into our other car, and while it occasionally had its moments, we have generally found it extremely useful for navigating through cities, etc. Plus the Bluetooth aspect made it even more necessary. The button is there on the black & white ribbon, it’s got black and white stripes, so it’s cunningly camouflaged πŸ™‚

  8. claire93 says:

    a big warm welcome to Bill who looks exactly what you need for holidaying with Miz Lizzie! And what a lovely pouch – I too had to search to see that matching button lol.

    • katechiconi says:

      I do find older, pre-loved vehicles have much more personality than brand spanking new ones, and Bill feels like a large and tweedy uncle who’s been through the wars a bit but is now calm and cheerful. He is a tad harder to park, I concede…

  9. We drive older vehicles (with names!) too. No worries they’ll be stolen, cheaper insurance, and easy repairs. Plus they sort of match are scuffed shoes, comfy clothes, completely no-fuss selves. Happy adventures with Bill!

  10. Conor Bofin says:

    You had me at “powerful and roomy vehicle”. Wear well. Or as we say in Ireland, “Keep her between the ditches”.

  11. gwenniesgardenworld says:

    Bill and Miz Lizzie, the perfect match !!! I hope they’ll give you lots of fun and adventures !!!

  12. kathyreeves says:

    You’ll have some happy trails with Bill!

  13. rutigt says:

    Have a nice and great holiday! Congrats to a new (at least it is so for you) car! We also have a “new” car, a Volvo! Some friends ended up with one extra car and asked if we would have it (for free) Of course we said yes!! πŸ™‚ A Volvo is a much better and safer car than the Skoda pick-up we have been driving till now!

  14. manicmumdays says:

    When I worked at Avis years ago we had a pair of Terracans. They were both called Jerry (As in Jerrycan)
    What type of car are you selling? I think I’ve only seen the bike πŸ™‚

    • katechiconi says:

      We have a Kia Sportage Platinum turbo diesel 4WD. It’s a load of fun, very comfortable, all sorts of great extras, but it’s not really up to any extended hauling of the caravan, which is right at the top of its weight capability. Plus I’m always scared of denting or scratching it!

  15. Congratulations on new-Bill! I’m sure you’ll enjoy each other’s company. YES on getting a used vehicle rather than new. I’ve had one new car in my life, purchased 18 years ago. It’s the one our son is driving now and has more than 220,000 miles on it, I think. That was a good one to buy, but we drive so little these days that buying new would be silly. Enjoy!

    • katechiconi says:

      We cover huge distances, but even so, I hate the wastefulness of just ignoring a great older car because you’ve ‘got’ to have a new one. The only new car either of us have ever had is the one we’re now selling – while it’s still in good condition.

  16. magpiesue says:

    Welcome to Bill! I’ve been on the lookout for a new, used car for myself. I don’t need Bill’s strength but I’ve been wondering about looking into the “taller” vehicles for the visibility aspect. Trying to find a car with a safe interior is a challenge…

    • katechiconi says:

      I imagine it might be, but I wonder if a used car wouldn’t be safer, on the basis that all the plastics and fabrics would have outgassed long ago. But then I suppose you have to watch out for everything the previous owners introduced: air fresheners, cosmetics, detergents… Buy a car and let it stand somewhere for a week with all the doors open! There are plenty of tall vehicles around that aren’t designed for towing 2 tonnes. You’ll find something.

  17. How exciting to get a perfect tow vehicle. That was very fair of you to let hubby get the opportunity to name the second child. πŸ™‚ I never thought of the cover for the navigator but I usually just use my phone since I don’t go very far. You picked up the perfect and important trinkets for traveling. Here’s to a fantastic holiday!

    • katechiconi says:

      Our phones are really quite small, and our eyesight isn’t what it was, so one of the advantages of the Garmin is its large, clear maps, and the voice-over. For shorter trips when we don’t want to turn it on, we have another device that clips to the visor for phone calls, but its battery life is a bit pathetic!

      • Boy do I understand the vision part. I have to have the verbal directions since I see so poorly. It does work well for me though. The battery life does become an issue with the phone. I have a Magellan navigator in the car but rarely get any use out of it since I don’t drive very far. I used to be able to drive all over the country and in any country I went to visit. Sad state of affairs to not be able to anymore. I’ll be with you in spirit.

      • katechiconi says:

        It’s pretty miserable when the body gets in the way of stuff the mind wants to do… I doubt I’ll ever be able to fly anywhere outside this country again, unless I win the lottery and can sit in one of those seats that turns into a bed!

  18. Good on you. Very sensibly trying & testing your options, gathering the gear necessary to building up to a big trip down the track β™‘

    • katechiconi says:

      We’re never going to be rugged, off-the-beaten-track campers, but we do want to do a lot more travelling, and not getting lost is an important part of the plan! The reversing camera was a definite must; this is going to be our only car, and if I’m going to be driving it in town and parking it, I have to have a camera; I simply can’t see the back end! We’ll be taking out the two extra seats in the luggage space and installing the cargo barrier that came with it. (Just between us, that’s looking remarkably like a dog space….)

  19. Lynda says:

    I’m so happy you found Bill. I have never seen that model in the states. I loved my Handai until I killed it in a crash… boo-hoo, I really do miss it. And hey, I need to get onto making a pocket for my Garmin. I’m slippin’! Do have a wonderful and safe journey.
    (I’ve been down with a bug for about 2 wks, still not 100% but, will be catching up with you shortly.)

  20. I might have come up with Terry! Terracan = Terry can. Terry can pull the caravan. Terry can go cross country. Saying that, Bill is a good, sturdy name for a good, sturdy workhorse of a car. I know one Terry, and he is terribly impractical. πŸ™‚

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