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Campervan experiences ?

After much ummph and aaa's, we've sort of come to the conclusion that the campervan is what would suit our family best, compared to static caravans or movable ones. We don't have a fortune to spend on the setup and my husband at the moment doesn't have every weekend off, so we don't want something expensive sitting idle on the driveway one weekend out of two. We fancy the freedom of being able to set off with a reasonable amount of gear at short notice.

Anybody willing to share their experiences please, in terms of costs, pitfalls, practicalities and good points ?

Many thanks in advance
Keep calm and carry on


  • markandkatemarkandkate Forumite
    846 Posts
    We hired a camper van in Austrailia and it was fantastic but the one we had was a free upgrade to a six berth. It was huge and had two double beds. In OZ thats fine with long straight roads but it would be aproblem in little country lanes in England. We also had to keep stopping to fill up and I would think that a large diesel tank would be a good idea. This one also had a water reservoir so that you could have a shower which was nice.

    Height will also be an issue as many ferries and the channel tunnel have a height restriction. You do not say how many it is for but I would say that the same sort of principle applies to a caravan ie of there are 4 of you then get a six berth to give you a bit of space. You could also look at an awning to increase space.

    You also need to consider where you are going to sit for meals and inthe evening. If your van is big enough to have a table fine otherwise you are going to need fold up chairs and table and probably and awning too.

    If you are taking children you will need to consider what you are going to do in the evening if it is raining Some vans can be equipped for wi-fi, satellite and games consoles.

    We too are thinking of buying a van soon and ahve discussed many of the above issues but there are just two of us
  • kegs_2kegs_2 Forumite
    50 Posts
    Well we decided to take the plunge last year and bought a 1977 VW campervan after years of washed out camping and one particularly unhappy weekend were even our 2 dogs were getting fed up with the rain!

    We were slightly picky on the van as I wanted the retro feel and we wanted it to fit in our garage, especially with newer housing estates having restrictions on caravans, etc on drives.

    One year on and the work on the van isn't yet complete its off having the body work completed but will be ready next year to fulfil the lifestyle we wanted. We knew it was going to be hard work to get it exactly were we wanted it, but probably under estimated the timescales for completion. This hasn't been a major problem for us.

    All I'd say is do lots of research particularly if going for an older van. I'd recommend the justkampers forum lots of info and advice which we found very beneficial.

    Whatever decision you make keep us updated, always interested to hear what lifestyle choices people make for their weekends away.

  • We bought a 1970 VW camper van several years ago and had many many happy holidays in it. It was v.basic and tiny but did us fine - had good breaks in England and Scotland and also toured Ireland, France and Spain in it without a hitch - when away for 3 months once in it. NOt sure what kind of van you are looking at but the advantage with a VW is that they seem to make everyone smile and you attract attention on campsites!
  • edited 1 June 2010 at 2:33PM
    AnnaLicious_2AnnaLicious_2 Forumite
    281 Posts
    edited 1 June 2010 at 2:33PM
    I'd say 80% of my childhood holidays were in a campervan.

    On the plus side - great for children, as we had free run of the van. We had lots of room for toys, a small b&w tv (hey, it was the 70s), our own food with us, and could bring the dog.
    On the down side - I think it was around 16 miles to the gallon for petrol. Unless you towed a car with you, you were limited on where to go as they are so difficult to take down city streets and find parking. After a few days it will feel like a prison cell and you will be plotting your sibling's demise (maybe just my family, I have no idea how my brother is still alive).

    We used to drive from Florida up the East Coast and stay in a variety of camp grounds. I'd say they were of a wide standard. Some had a club house, shops, pool, things to do. Some were redneck hell and sort of like an outdoor homeless shelter. But there are huge communities of people that do these and make friends all over the place (US and UK).

    If you have kids, bring their bicycles! A must at any campsite, UK or anywhere else. Be prepared to barbeque a lot, if the site permits it. They are way too hot to cook in realistically, and you can only have so many salads and cheese sandwiches. Not sure in the UK, but in the US and I believe in Europe there are chains you can buy a membership to any of their grounds so you're not constantly forking out for site fees.

    Do keep in mind on small rural roads you will be sweating with anxiety. Especially when you get to a low bridge. Invest in plastic cups, plates and so on. Get a book of car games. And a map - sat nav will let you down. You can always find parking at a grocery store or Tesco if all the car parks fail you.

    Oh - forgot this! Be careful if you go into europe and go on mountain roads. Those windy steep roads will really invite trouble if you catch a strong wind, or if it's raining heavilly. It's worth reading up on specific driving skills you will need. I really do think we were close to serious trouble in the Blue Ridge Mountains once!
  • travelgrantravelgran Forumite
    297 Posts
    Check on the MMM (Motorcaravan Motorhome Monthly) forum. (Sorry I don't know how to post a link!) We took our kids camping with a motorbike and sidecar for years and they survived and still go camping with their own kids. We now have a small campervan, 'white van man' size, so reckon we can go anywhere he can go, and park. We do tend to avoid large towns though - 'Park and Ride' is great.
    "They are way too hot to cook in realistically, and you can only have so many salads and cheese sandwiches." Not sure what this is about if you're camping in the UK or much of Europe! I'm happy cooking in the van. If it's too hot keep the door open and indulge in a glass of chilled white wine or a cold beer. Even a cold meal isn't limited to cheese sandwiches!
    PS We still use the bike and sidecar even though we're both retired. Off to France with it for a fortnight next month then to Italy with the van for a month in September. Can't be bad. Do it while you can!
  • FortyfootFortyfoot Forumite
    1.9K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts
    Link HERE

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