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Bins for Modular Storage during Travel

Modular Travel

Putting the most stuff in the least amount of space...

When researching how to fit the most amount of stuff I realized that everything must be modularized and compartmentalized for quick access and efficient storage. Measuring the rear access of the van I determined the width of the bins needed. At Walmart I found these blue bins with grey clasps. Two large sizes were available. The combined width of one wide one and a narrow one were just within the width of the rear doors. They were perfect.

Into these bins lots of miscellaneous items must go. Rather than throw everyting in, a system had to be developed to maintain order and quick access. So after rummaging around and trying different combinations, Walmart also had a set of smaller containers that fit snugly within the larger bins. These containers came in several different sizes which proved very useful for different configurations.

Modular Food

The Food Module

Arguably the most important, the food module actually spanned two large bins with numerous smaller containers. A wide bin was employed for long-term storage. Inside was neatly stacked lots of canned goods, oatmeal silos, tins, spices and bags. The cooking stove slid to one side and a smaller interior container held extra propane, a cooking pans set and accessories. This large food bin was in the very back on top of the tool bin.

Modular Organization

The other food bin went up front and had lots of immediate access food. Smaller portions of food were transferred to this bin for daily use. Since I eat 5 - 6 meals a day it was essential that this bin be stocked with paper plates and towels, silverware, preparation accessories like a wisk or hand blender, and the very handy Jetboil cooker. Bins full of vitamins, nuts, dried fruit and vegetables, canned meat, bread and condiments rounded out this module.

Modular Clothes and Cosmetics

Clothes & Cosmetics

Since these items do not fit well into the smaller containers, they all went into a large bin with cardboard compartments. At Ikea I found these rigid yet collapsible cloth containers for socks, underwear and a whole load of cosmetics. On top of those items a floor of cardboard held up all my pants and shirts rolled up into cylinders.

Modular Tools

The Tool Module

Besides my toolbox I use a drill and jigsaw quite often. The jigsaw had been purchased to neatly cut out ovals in the van's walls to inset the speakers. Extension cords, a power strip, tape, glue, straps and bungee cords all went into a medium container. Power cables, cable adapters and all chargers went into a small, convenient container. The tool bin also held a big bag of dog food and extra toilet paper rolls.

Modular Motorcycle

The Motorcycle Module

The bulkiest module, the motorcycle and all of its accessories would not fit into bins. With the bike secured inside, the helmets, bags and other items were nestled around it and filled up the extra space. As for the bike ladder, it folded up into a sturdy box shape, pillowers were piled on top and it and helped extend my bed to body length.

To unload the bike just almost everything has to be removed from the van. The couch can usually be pushed to the front but all bins muct come out. Typically it takes a half hour to 40 minutes to unload and reload everything.

Modular Computer

The Computer Module

While most of the computer went into storage, the laptop was taken and hidden near the motorycle with the camera. In fact, most valuable or easily snatchable items were stashed out of sight. Even the motorcycle was well-concealed bulk. A casual inspection of the van would only reveal bed, refrigerator, half-covered bins, and a German Shepherd dog wondering why someone was peering into the van.

Modular Dog

The Dog Module

Thankfully most dog accessories like food and bowls were stored within other bins, but the dog and her bed took up floor space at the foot of my bed and could be considered a module unto herself. The dog module was the only one that moved itself when the van was being organized.

Thermoelectric Refrigerator

Besides the core modules, a few other items proved very useful. The first would be the Koolaton 65 Watt refrigerator. This drew about 5 amps if used continuously and could drain both deep-cycle marine batteries in about two days. However, once it is cool it is very efficient at staying cool if the power is disconnected. However, I ended up using it mostly when I had a steady source of charge, such as when the van was plugged into an external source (like at an RV park), or when the van was running and the alternator was charging the batteries. This thermoelectric fridge uses a Peltier thermoelectric device attached to a heatsink(or cold dissipator in this case) with a small fan blowing the cold air into the chamber. Since the other side of the Petier device gets hot, this side blows hot exhaust into the van. Therefore the fridge must have room to ventilate properly or it could burn out.

Bags of Food

The only other item of note would be the six-gallon jug of water with heavy-duty pump. This was an essential component for obvious reasons.

Selected Foodstuffs

Since constant refreigeration was unfeasible, most food was dried or canned. Oatmeal was a favored breakfast standard. Powered whey, casein and egg protein were added to most meals. Powdered milk was reconstituted for cereal. Dried vegetables and beef jerky were cooked into soups and instant ramen. Dried fruit and nuts was a handy snack item. Vitamins were taken regularly. Health should not be compromised!

This modular system proved successful over the course of the six months I was travelling in my van. Besides fitting everything into convenient, accessible modules, the other regular challenge was power supply and consumption.

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