New to Campervanning? We're here to help!
Posted on by Jo Page
Where to start?
Have you always wanted to go on your very own Campervan or motorhome adventure and not had any idea of where to start? Hopefully this blog post will give you lots of helpful information of where to start and all the things you need to think about.
Having a trip away in a campervan or motorhome is a very liberating and exciting experience, the open road, the freedom to travel everywhere and anywhere in your own time and at your own pace whilst having your accommodation and kitchen with you.
It is becoming an increasingly popular way to holiday whether it’s a family of 4 heading off for a 2 week summer holiday, a couple having a romantic weekend adventure or friends thinking about a festival or fun road trip to make some new memories.
Choosing the right vehicle for you
With so many options available you first need to have a think about what sort of size of vehicle and space you may want for your holiday. So lets have a look at some options starting with the smaller vehicle….
A campervan can come in many shapes and sizes but is generally the smallest of the leisure vehicle family. Most people are familiar with the classic VW campervan and want the romance of the vintage vehicle as they are undoubtedly very cool, but sometimes the reality of the drive, being a bit more retro and ridged (generally no more than 50-55mph) and the facilities that they offer don’t always match up to the romance. A classic VW camper will be suitable for two people, whereas a more modern VW, where you may get a pop top roof option, giving you more sleeping space and possibly a few more creature comforts.
As well as VW’s there are now many modern conversions available to hire. These vehicles are generally Mazda Bongo, Toyota Previa or Hyundai conversions like we have here at Highland Campervans. With driving a much more modern vehicle you feel like you are really driving a large car, not to mention more reliable, fuel efficient engines, up to date interiors and many more mod cons. This type of vehicle has enough space for two people comfortably and normally come with a rock and roll bed, where your back travelling seats convert into a double bed. If the vehicle has a pop top or high top roof option you can sleep a family of 4 (two adults and two children) or you can attach a drive away awning or take a tent for extra outside space including extra sleeping accommodation.
The next size up in vehicle is a Panel van size motorhome, these are the middle ground size motorhome that will give you many more features, facilities and home comforts but still a smaller size vehicle than your larger coach built touring motorhome.
These vehicles are mostly Fiat or Peugeot chassis and can have a wheel base as long as 6.5m. These vans are converted by companies like Swift or Globecar, for example we have the Globestar 600L and Autocruise Rhythm on our fleet in 2016 at Highland Campervans. Generally the facilities offered in these vans are fixed beds, separate toilet/showeroom, seating area, moveable front seats and up to 6 berth. Although giving you more space they are a compact but comfortable option of a motorhome. You can easily navigate smaller country/single track roads and they are still economical with fuel consumption.
The largest size of motorhome is the coachbuilt motorhome, these are generally identified by their large white bodywork and over driving cab sleeping area making them especially popular with families or larger groups travelling. These vans can accommodate sometimes up to 6 -8 berths and certainly boast space and comfort. They will have separate shower and toilet, fixed beds with options to convert other seating areas into sleeping berths. Generally you will have a better fitted kitchen with a full size cooker and fridge/freezer. Generally modern in appearance and drive, the one negative is negotiating smaller single track roads, this can be more tricky if you are not used to driving something so large.
What facilities to expect.
Whatever style of vehicle you choose there are some basic facilities you would expect to find. Cooking facilities would generally be a two burner gas hob and if you are lucky a grill or oven. You should be provided with cooking equipment and utensils, crockery and cutlery. Some companies will go the extra mile and provide you with washing up liquid, hand soap, bin bags and cleaning materials.
An on board water tank for your fresh water, a sink and tap for washing and cleaning. Again as basics you will hopefully be provided with tea towels and wash cloths although it is always best to check what is included just in case.
Toilet and washing facilities do differ depending on your vehicle. From Panel van size up to Coach built motorhome you will generally have a toilet/shower room but with the basics of a campervan you will generally only get a porta potti (Portable toilet) for convenience (Some companies do charge extra for this facility) but don’t forget that you will have the option to use campsite facilities for showers and washing so this may not be something you desperately need onboard with you if you would prefer to drive a smaller vehicle.
A lot of hire companies offer a list of extra facilities you can add onto your booking for a small charge, these being bedding, towels, DVD player, outdoor dining equipment, SAT NAV, Bike racks and awnings.
How much will all this cost me?
The cost for hiring a campervan or a motorhomes can vary with size and seasonality but to generalise it will cost anything between £350 - £1200. This is the base hire cost and you may find that there are a few extra costs to be considered.
Additional driver – There may be a charge for an additional driver of the vehicle
Additional insurance costs – Check the excess for your hire, there may be a reducer you can pay to bring the excess down in the event of a claim
Are there any limits or extra costs for mileage
Always remember your fuel costs as well, most firms will send you on your journey with a full tank of fuel, you will need to return the van in the same condition
Campsite fees – although you may want a few nights of freedom camping using campsite facilities can be a great addition to your holiday, these can range from £12-£25 depending on what standing you would like and if you want electric hook up.
Comparing this style of holiday to staying in hotels, eating out, car hire or renting self catering accommodation it is still offers good value for money. It also gives you the freedom to go where you want, when you want and not be dictated to by check in’s and breakfast times. You also get to choose the view that you wake up to!
Some best advice for when choosing a motorhome to hire would be to firstly decide on the space and facilities you would like for your journey, research the van in depth, look at photos or videos online and if possible visit the company you will be hiring from beforehand and have a tour of the van to make yourself familiar with the size. Most hire companies should be happy to discuss your questions and concerns and be able to advise you what will be the best van for you depending on your requirements.
Make sure that the hire company will provide you with a detailed handover to make sure that you leave for your journey happy in the knowledge of how everything works and don’t be shy, if you are not sure and you haven’t been shown, ask for a demonstration!
A camper or motorhome holiday is a great way to explore, be free and make some fantastic memories. If this hasn’t answered all your questions or concerns for you to attempt a first time Campervan getaway, please feel free to contact us at Highland Campervans and we will be delighted to help you with your holiday / van requirements.
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From initial contact, through to dropping my campervan off in Inverness, and soon after, picking it up with a newly installed Webasto Diesel Air Heater, I've been very impressed by the professional and highly friendly service that Highland Campervans offered. It would have been foolish of me to not to 'shop around', but their quick and informative responses along with competitive prices and being able to carry out the work before I took the van to the Alps this autumn meant that going with them was a no brainer. Many thanks, Ken