The Go-Pod caravan: small but spicy!
A love of chilli peppers inspired Suzanne and Ian Jones from Greater Manchester to customise a bijou Go-Pod caravan. We met them to find out more (and watch our review below).
Is this your first caravan?
Myself and Ian used to camp; however, Ian had a bad accident in 2007 and it has taken him some time to recover. He had an accident at work when a component exploded into his eye.
He has been left with glaucoma so lifting anything heavy is no longer an option. We get hilarious looks coming out of shops with myself carrying massive boxes and him walking at the side of me not carrying anything! Therefore, our 43kg frame tent had to go.
In 2014, as Ian was a lot better, we toyed with going camping again. I bought a Kampa five-berth tent but it just stayed in the cupboard. I got incredibly bored with self-catering holidays for many reasons (cost, cleanliness of accommodation, things not working) and we decided to get a trailer to put the tent and everything in. We used to have an estate car for camping. I tasked Ian with finding a towbar.
He was having a look online at towbars and trailers when the Go-Pod came up in his search. He came running in with his iPad to show me the Go-Pod. We made an appointment in September 2017 and ordered it the next day.
What do you love most about the Go-Pods?
What appealed to us about Go-Pods was that you are able to customise things so you can have something a bit different. You can have a coloured GRP shell if you want. There are a few Go-Pod owners who have done this.
You can choose the colour of the interior fabric, too. Also, you can add on different extras like solar panels, exterior gas sockets, dual-fuel heating and many more items. We pretty much added everything and we also do use nearly everything every time we go away.
We got the Pod from Red Lion Caravans in Southport – the vans are made in Portugal, and they are the sole importer for them.
What reaction do you get on sites?
The reaction we get when we are staying places is fabulous. Everyone wants to come and have a look inside the Go-Pod. When they see inside it, they cannot believe how much is fitted in there. It is always referred to by people as a Tardis. We often get other people with 'quirky' units that want to come and have a look.
What kit does the Go-Pod have?
The pod has a 100W solar panel, dual-fuel heating, a small sink and running water, two-burner hob, microwave, wardrobe, underseat storage, a front box for the gas bottle, a motor mover (Ian has to be careful with weights because of his glaucoma; despite only being 750kg fully loaded, the Go-Pod is difficult to move on a slight incline), 12V lighting, outdoor 230V socket, 12V socket, gas socket, air awning and all sorts!
So it’s small but is it a little on the cosy side?
The Go-Pod is really comfortable. It has a very appealing seating area around a small table. Take the table down, pull out the slats, move the cushions and you have a very comfortable king size bed.
The bed is really quick to set up. The Pod has a pop-top above the kitchen area so that most people are able to stand up. It also helps with ventilation. I am 5ft 9in and Ian is a shade over 6ft tall.
Now, we need to talk about those chillis…
The side panels were only changed recently as, previously, they were grey. We couldn't quite decide what we wanted when we first bought it and, as the side panels were on offer at the time, we just went with the grey.
We picked the Go-Pod up last weekend after having a service at Go-Pod HQ and the side panels were done at the same time. The chillies bit came about because we love chillies. We love any food with chillies in, anything hot and spicy.
Also, it's a bit of a play on words. The Chilli Pod is for getting away from it all and chilling out. We also really love bright colours and decided to have a bright green interior.
So you don’t need a big towcar then?
Our car is a Ford Focus 1.5 EcoBoost and the Go-Pod is so easy to tow you hardly know you are towing it. On long runs, the Go-Pod doesn't make a massive difference to the mpg which is great as we love taking it to Cornwall.
A small van is great because it is easy to tow. Most people can fit the Go-Pod in a garage or on their drive. We keep ours in storage and feel it has been easier to get onto good storage because the Go-Pod is so small. There are always those spaces left that won't fit a bigger caravan.
For one or two nights away, we use the Go-Tarp canopy that came with the Pod. This means the Pod is so quick to set up. For three nights or more, we use an awning. The awning fits on the back so we do check with sites on pitch length and have a few different awnings to choose from. A Khyam quick-erect tailgate awning, a Kampa Crossair Travel Pod and a SheltaPod.
I think the Go-Pod appeals to all age groups because it is small and easy to manage for single people, older people who might struggle with a bigger unit and younger people who might not be able to tow something bigger due to their licence. You can have the Go-Pod a completely different colour and make it into something unique.
What’s your favourite campsite?
Our favourite is Tudor Caravan Park at Slimbridge. There is a fantastic pub there and great walks along the canal or to local nature reserves. There is lots to do within a short drive, too. It's just a lovely peaceful place and you see lots of mad birds flying around from the nearby Slimbridge Wildlife and Wetland reserve.
And your best trip?
It has to be the Acoustic Festival of Britain at Uttoxeter Racecourse last year. Several of us went with our Go-Pods and had a great time looking at and talking all things Go-Pod and watching bands and just generally socialising.
Many Go-Pod owning friends go to festivals all summer, some go abroad, others tour round the UK. Some Go-Pod owners go off-grid by taking the loo, a solar shower and utility tent with them. If your car can get somewhere, so can your Go-Pod. It's just no stress.
Watch our YouTube review on the Go-Pod!