I’d like to introduce my new best friend. She’s silver on the outside and plush tan velour with faux walnut wood on the inside. She talks to me in Japanese, so I call her Geisha.
Geisha is a 2005 Toyota Estima, an eight seater people mover. She’s an automatic, with 85,000kms on the clock and is immaculate inside. When I’m driving her, it’s like sitting on a big comfy couch, so darn comfortable – she rides smooth (unlike say, a Toyota hiace) and high (I love a high perch when driving).
I have big plans for Geisha. She’s going to be converted into a camper!
I bought her to travel in, but then realised I could fulfil another dream of mine which is to run tours so I can take other gals on adventures too (I tried this a few years ago but the cost of insurance and van hire made it unviable). But the call of the open road is strong in this one, so I bribed my friends Ben and Nick with a feed at The Hangi Pit and they agreed to help me remove all the seats from the back.
Bolted to sliding tracks along the floor, the seats were fairly easy to remove (though Ben says it’s a bit of a mission if I ever want to put them back as the hydraulic hinge on the back seat is fiddly).
The seats were surprisingly heavy, I couldn’t even lift the single one by myself – my hired brawn (Ben and Nick) somehow managed to haul them up into Ben’s loft, wrapped in plastic to protect them while in storage.
Once all the seats were out I realised how roomy Geisha is, plenty of room for me, and fine for two as well (my boyfriend will join me for some adventures).
Unfortunately, the seat tracks stick up from the floor and can only be removed if I never want to put the seats back in (they are the safety rated anchor points). I’m thinking to build a raised floor for the bed base with storage drawers underneath which would get them out of the way.
It’s early days and I have lots of research to do (check out my vanlife board on Pinterest), but I like the idea of a big sliding draw that pulls out from the passenger side (away from traffic when you’re parked on the roadside) and two sliding draws at the back. I’ll have my water, cooker and 12v fridge at the back. The good thing about the hatch back door is it provides a bit of protection if it’s raining and you need to cook (better than barn doors which open out sideways).
For now I’ve thrown a nice thick mattress in the back of Geisha and we’re doing little trips away. I have plans for a much bigger trip next year, down the east coast to Adelaide, playing golf across the Nullarbor, up to Perth and then who knows! That’s my big hairy audacious goal and I’m as excited as (**looked for Honey Badger quote to insert here, couldn’t find one, but hows this…) I’m as excited as the Pointer Sisters!
Hi I’m Shannon, and this is my blog Eat Well Travel Often. If you enjoyed this post and want to follow my vanlife adventures sign up for my newsletter. I post heaps of photos on Instagram, and you’re welcome to pop into my Facebook lounge for a chat about all things travel and food.