Road trip plans coming together

It has been an expensive week. Amongst other things I have finally bought the van that I am planning on driving across Canada!


It’s a 1996 Plymouth Grand Voyager with just under 300,000km on the clock and is in surprisingly good condition for it’s age/milage. This is the first car I have ever owned and to be honest buying a used car in another country was a bit daunting. Thankfully the first few vans I test drove I was helped out by my friends Richard and JR who gave me a few pointers. This time the van was 111km away in Port Alberni and I went alone.

I liked the look of the van and it drives well – it is also a good size: roomy for one and big enough to squeeze in two people should anyone accompany me for a portion of the trip. I managed to use my expert haggling skills (fine tuned in Asia) and got the price down from $1900 to $1680 (£1070). After the deal was done me and the old owner rushed over to a ICBC Autoplan dealer to get the vehicle transferred and insured, just 10 minutes before closing time. As I had driven to Port Alberni alone I needed to leave the van at the old owners house, drive back to Comox and return on the Greyhound the next day to pick it up. As he lived a little out of town I also got a 4km run in!

A comfortable ride. I have a feeling the cruise control will come in handy!

The van has two previous owners – both mechanics so I am telling myself that means the van has been well looked after. To be honest I am thinking that I only need to van to last me six months and then whatever I can sell it for at the end will be a bonus. I figure even if my trip clocks up as much as 20,000km then that is only 6.7% of what the van has already done – hopefully it can hold on in there! Of course it is inevitable that something will go wrong, so I have put some money aside for repairs and will be taking out breakdown cover. I just hope that whatever falls off isn’t too important!

The second and third row seating

Getting the van ready for the trip is going to be a nice little project over the next couple of months. The big thing is getting the van kitted out for sleeping. There are a few options and I am not sure which route I am going to take yet. I will probably have to take the seats out of the back and as I am going on a one way trip I will loose some money when it comes to selling the van without them. But hey, this was never an investment! I plan on documenting the conversion so more to come.

The seats fold forwards and backwards and pop out easily.

With the seats removed – plenty of space.

As for my plans – On the 19th February I will be moving out of the apartment that I have lived in since arriving in Canada. To start with I am house sitting for Richard’s parents in Victoria for a week and then I plan on travelling around and doing some more woofing, while sticking on or close to Vancouver Island. I plan to work on a few different farms to earn my keep and have already been in contact with a couple on Salt Spring Island which may well be my first stop after Victoria. Richard and Karina have kindly offered to put me up again if I need to crash somewhere which is a huge help – they really have been wonderful.

Although I am not completely leaving Comox just yet this is the first step and I am both excited about my plans and a little sad to be preparing to leave. I have mad lots of good friends here and have really gotten to like this beautiful area. Although I will be a lot more mobile I am still planning on spending more time around here and hanging out with friends as much as possible before my cross Canada trip stays in early May.

As well as the van I have also been buying bits and pieces for the trip – such as camping gear, running gear and odds and sods for the van. As well as money I have spent a lot of time researching everything before I bought it (thanks for the pointers Simon!) so I might do a “gear update” once I have had a chance to play with it all.



about 7 years ago

Exciting stuff, Joe. The van looks tidy. Can't see why it would not be good for the trip. Looking forward to see your conversion of it. Poop poop!



about 6 years ago

Thanks Charles, yes I am very happy with it so far. I expect to get a fair chunk of it done this week so I will put up some photos as and when.


Jessica A. Hawes

about 7 years ago

That's what we call an estate car over here! It looks good - especially at that price. Best of luck with all your plans. love, Grandma'



about 7 years ago

Thanks Gran, it's a bit bigger than an estate - more like a people carrier (but people giggle if you say that over here) They call them minivans. I'm pretty excited!



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