Touring caravan or campervan

I know this really belongs in the 'holidays' board, but I have a v strong association between being over 50 and having a caravan!
And this board is friendly.
And I know there are people here who have caravans...

So, anyway.....we've been doing camping holidays for over 40 years, but are beginning to think a bit more comfort would be nice. Especially now that I don't work and DH works less, so we have more time to travel.
Been kicking around the idea of a campervan for a couple of years, on and pension rules mean we could afford to get a reasonable second hand one.

Just back from a trip to the States where we ended up staying a whole month in a friend's very elderly camper, and it was fantastic. Somewhere to sit when it was windy/cold/hot. A 'real' bed. Somewhere to rest when I was poorly with a cold (caught off a fellow Brit!).

This camper was so old we were a bit scared to aactually drive it anywhere, and we had a hire car anyway, so we just left it parked in one spot until we dropped it back with our friend. This got me thinking about caravans.

Perceived as terminally uncool maybe?
But seem to make a lot of sense as you don't have to drive everywhere in a big vehicle. We do tend to go somewhere and stay a week or two, then move on - rather than moving every day or two, which is perhaps where the camper would come in.

And I'm thinking a car/caravan combo could be much less expensive than a campervan.

Just thinking aloud really and looking for any thoughts/experiences/ whatever.


  • queengoth
    queengoth Posts: 135 Forumite
    edited 1 May 2015 at 5:44AM
    I suppose it depends how long you use it for and what level of comfort you want ? It's camper van for me all the way. It was the whole having to store a caravan when not in use that put me off. At the moment we have a American day van and I repurposed a caravan awning to fit on the side so we have a bit of extra room and somewhere to put the loo. The van is small enough to get in carparks, hubby uses it for work and it fits on the drive. We had an LPG conversion done so its economic too. The only change I would make is to have the passenger seat changed to a captains chair so it could swivel round and give us a bit more seating. My brother has a large motor home as he goes away more but it's the whole parking thing again as it doesn't fit on his drive and he has to pay to store it when not in use. A caravan would also need something with a substantial engine to pull it and also addition insurance ? Hope you find what suits you

    Ps I love the American campers too, we hired an RV for three weeks to tour the USA and it was a fantastic (very expensive) holiday.
    Shady pines ma, shady pines
  • Rodders53
    Rodders53 Posts: 2,149 Forumite
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    Head over to and other similar forums. Also check out info from the caravan club and caravan and camping club...

    Do lots of research and reading... and visit some of the caravan and motorhome shows...

    Towcars may need to be quite big to tow some caravans you might want to own due to the weight. Some rules also apply and vary depending on your driving licence(s).
  • slopemaster
    slopemaster Posts: 1,579 Forumite
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    edited 1 May 2015 at 8:01PM
    Thanks for those thoughts - already some stuff I hadn't even thought of, to look into.
    I'll have a look on those forums too.
    I suppose the real Q to ask is, "what do you wish you'd known before you bought?"
  • Savvy_Sue
    Savvy_Sue Posts: 46,018 Forumite
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    I am sure I have seen a large camper van thing towing a small (tiny) car, which I guess is the other way of doing it.

    I know it's not the same thing, but one of my siblings has just sold a narrowboat which they had for a few years. They'd had great fun with it, but reached the stage where they either had time to maintain it, OR time to go out on it, but not both.

    I'm fairly sure that there's more to maintain on a narrowboat than on a caravan, but there is still maintenance to be done. We had one in our garden for years (a caravan not a narrowboat), it had been used as an office. When we finally managed to get rid of it, there was a hole in the floor and the back window fell out as they were rigging the lights.

    What I'd suggest would be hiring a campervan on one trip, and staying in a touring van on a fixed site on another, and comparing the two.

    I know I found the narrowboat quite claustrophobic, because it was so narrow. Whereas when we stayed in a static 'van it was just generally a bit on the cramped side without actually being claustrophobic.
    Signature removed for peace of mind
  • seven-day-weekend
    seven-day-weekend Posts: 36,755 Forumite
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    We camped (tent) for about thirty years. We liked the tent camping, especially when our son was small.

    We haven't done any, however, for about fifteen years.

    Last year we had a static caravan holiday, I hated it, especially the bedrooms, they were so claustrophobic. I also hated the loo being just a hardboard partition away from the bedrooms.

    Before this we had a small touring caravan for a while. I quite liked this as it did not have a separate bedroom (only two berth)so was not claustrophobic, nor an inside toilet. We used the toilets on whatever site we were on. However, I suppose you could also use a toilet tent if you didn't want to do this.

    I wouldn't want a camper van because you are in danger of losing your camping plot every time you move it.

    My ideal therefore would be a small touring caravan.

    Just my humble opinion.
    (AKA HRH_MUngo)
    Member #10 of £2 savers club
    Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds, and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology: Terry Eagleton
  • Nebulous2
    Nebulous2 Posts: 5,112 Forumite
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    We've pretty much done it all; camped, folding camper, nearly new caravan, old caravan and self-build motorhome.

    What you need to remember is anything you do will be a compromise. Add up the pros and cons and work out what offers most for yourself.

    To give some of my thoughts.

    First of all the vehicle. A motorhome for many people is too big for everyday use and cannot get into a lot of carparks because of height barriers, so you may need two vehicles. That's two lots of vehicle excise duty and two sets of insurance.

    A caravan doesn't necessarily improve things there either because you need a fairly large car to tow most of them and you need a towbar. Caravans have grown in features and become heavier and cars have strict limits on towing weights.

    A motorhome has an issue on site in that you may have some of the same problems as you had at home, if you want to go into town you may find difficulty manoeuvring and parking. Losing your space isn't really an issue as most sites have booked stances.

    I probably prefer a motorhome, if you are prepared to pay for it and risk the depreciation and maintenance costs. The main reason for me would be the ability to camp off-site. After a lifetime of paying campsites, with some of them now costing more than a cheap hotel, it was extremely liberating to be able to sleep in a layby and get up in the morning and drive-off. That's another real advantage. No need to empty water, crank up legs, spend a lot of time getting ready to leave like in a caravan. If you are touring, instead of locating in one place a motorhome wins.

    We generally only slept in laybys en-route to places, if we were on holiday we would book a site for electric hook-up and facilities.

    So there isn't a perfect answer - just what is the least worst one for you. That sounds quite negative, but we have had a lot of great times and adventures in both - and in various big and small tents.

  • busiscoming2
    busiscoming2 Posts: 4,459 Forumite
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    When DH and I got together many years ago he had a camper van. It was great because he had a drive to keep it on so that solved the problem of storage. It was great for taking off for the day and if you decided to stay away, everything was there. The downside was having to pack away stuff just so you could leave the site. Parking in public car parks which quite often have height barriers were a pain.

    We have had touring caravans for the past 18 years and I much prefer it. Downside is having to have a large competent enough vehicle to tow with and the cost of storage. We made the decision last year to store the van on a site we could also camp on, which suits us well. We have been able to downsize the car (it manages to pull the short distance necessary) which has saved money.
  • Alter_ego
    Alter_ego Posts: 3,842 Forumite
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    Smallish caravan for me. Then you have the car for use when on site. Unless you can afford to tow a smart car or similar. Would campervan be main vehicle when not on holiday if you went that route?
    I am not a cat (But my friend is)
  • slopemaster
    slopemaster Posts: 1,579 Forumite
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    ooh, thanks for all your thoughts, which I'm taking on board...

    One thing I was wondering - is it much harder to get used to towing a caravan than driving a campervan?
  • Nebulous2
    Nebulous2 Posts: 5,112 Forumite
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    ooh, thanks for all your thoughts, which I'm taking on board...

    One thing I was wondering - is it much harder to get used to towing a caravan than driving a campervan?

    Neither is particularly difficult. You just need to remember you have a bigger vehicle. In a caravan you need to allow more space on corners as the trailer takes a different line. The bleepers help. Reversing is the biggest issue but many people get by without ever needing to.

    In a motorhome again you need to remember your vehicle is bigger and higher, so allow more room. In both of them it is good manners on country roads to pull over and let people behind pass.
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