Campers Melody Fanslau and Craig Butgereit turned into camper van weekend warriors

COVID-19 accelerated their plans to purchase a camper van.
Melody and craig in front of their camper van
Courtesy of Melody Fanslau
Melody Fanslau and partner Craig Butgereit

Avid campers Melody Fanslau and partner Craig Butgereit always planned to buy a camper van, but probably not until 2021, Fanslau says. Then COVID-19 hit and they put their plans into place sooner. They bought a cargo van (2019 Ram Promaster City) in July 2020 and had Voyager Campervan build it out. They got the finished van in mid-September and they’ve already taken a trip to Utah (in place of a Hawaii trip that was nixed over Christmas and New Year’s). But for the most part they see their new RV as a “weekend warrior” that can double as a second car. “We aren’t able to pull anything with [our current cars],” Fanslau says. “We would have had to get a new car. So this was the most economical for us.” And it’s easy enough to drive in the city as an everyday vehicle, she adds.

They want to explore places in Wisconsin this summer without having concrete plans. “A lot of times on a Friday, we would be like, ‘Should we do something this weekend?’ Having a camper van is going to allow us to be able to look at the map and see what kind of campsites are available and what’s going on, and we can just take off and go,” she says.

camper set up inside the van

Courtesy of Melody Fanslau

The extent of their travel plans for the rest of 2021 involve hopping in the van — that’s all they feel comfortable doing while COVID-19 is still a concern. The van fits a 48-by-75-inch bed (a bit smaller than a full) when folded down, and a pull-out cooking station is perfect for boiling water for morning coffee. They bought a tent that will attach to the van for more space. “Because it is really small,” she says. “If it rains, we are going to have a problem because it’s hard to hang out in there.”

Despite its restrictive size, the opportunities for adventure feel infinite, Fanslau says. Which is partly how the RV got its name. “ ‘Garden State’ is one of my favorite movies. Toward the end, they meet up with a guy named Albert and he has an infinite abyss that he’s exploring,” she says. “The next day I was like, ‘Albie! That’s the van’s name!’ ”

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