Hi Jason, I have been reading your book which I got as a pdf file from the website. I have a 96 Chevy express 1500 low top conversion van. I bought it new, my wife Mary and I used it to raise our family of 5 kids, then as a work van back and forth to the vet hospital (I'm a vet) and now as a travel van.

For about the last 7 years, when I drive from the Cleveland Ohio area to Orlando for my annual vet meeting, I have been fishing and Vanaboding in the Florida Keys for about 3 weeks per year. I have fallen in love with the crystal clear waters, fishing, kayaking, marine life in the lower Keys. We have met friends down there, I am almost 59, and I hope to spend more time there as I near semi-retirement plus traveling the country for the first time.

The van has rusting running boards 220,000 miles with a still strong engine and tranny, but I also got rear ended last year while in Marathon. The van seriously needs replaced. I would be very happy getting one just like yours but my wife is quite hesitant to do too much Vanaboding with me. Her one objection is personal hygiene and space. She wants something more of a shower. She probably would eventually get used to the ideas you present in your materials, but I was considering getting the Chevy extended van to make more room in case I do have to put some type of shower/tub/potty combination in.

My concern is as you say about parking. I usually stay on a quiet street in Boca Chica, or Key west/Stock Island area. I suppose with a little extra effort, I could find a slightly larger (18 inches) parking space for overnight. Then there are the times when we use the public parking garages in Orlando or Cleveland etc..

Just when I was about convinced I couldn't park a low top extended van in a public garage, I called a supervisor at a Cleveland lot, and she said she didn't think it would be a problem. Do you know if the extended vans can't be parked at public indoor ramps or are they just harder to park (or both)? I'm trying to make this decision so I can take the next step and find one with the sliding door like your said. Do you think the 6 liter gas model is reliable as the 5.7 has been for me. Only one gasket problem in 17 years. Thanks.

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If you have had little to no problems with your vehicle choice of 5.7 then I would not change with your next purchase unless it is no longer sold new. As for the extended vans I have never seen them parked in the easy entrance sections of parking garages, that is from San Francisco to Virginia to Las Vegas and LA. They are very limited in that regard though you can sometimes find "oversized" parking in Vegas at all the big resorts. However, if you need the room; so you can install a small shower that will make your wife happier; in order to do more traveling, I would do it, and live with the consequences.

Here are some other pages that will help those investigating various platforms for travel.
Best Camping Vehicle covers real Vanabodes verses other choices
Mini Van Camper discusses the proper way to calculate the savings in fuel verses the loss of comfort.

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