What is campervanning?
It’s not just a van with a camp bed thrown in the back, it’s a little more than that. It’s freedom, it’s limitless possibilities, it’s travelling without sacrificing some of those home comforts. Having your very own home on wheels means that that if one morning you decide you want to move, then you can – no estate agents, solicitors or mortgages involved!
How you can try campervanning yourself
Campervanning is easy to get into. It might be best to kick things off by hiring a van for a week or two to see if you like it, and it’s really easy to do!
If you don’t have your own vehicle and want to hire a motorhome in the UK or Europe, you can search on camper-sharing sites like Yescapa to find something suitable for your trip. They have around 15,000 campervans and motorhomes to choose from, ranging from smaller vehicles ideal for mountain roads to larger vans for family adventures. Each vehicle is privately owned, so you know you’ll be getting a unique experience.
Benefits of Campervanning – why has it become so popular?
Life on the road gives you flexibility and freedom
Plans change. You get to that destination and well, it doesn’t quite live up to the hype – the accommodation is not ticking the boxes, the weather’s miserable, and the much-advertised attractions are closed for maintenance. Having paid for two weeks’ accommodation you’re stuck. But not with campervanning.
And that’s just one of the benefits of campervanning. You pitch up somewhere, and if you like it, you stay. If you don’t, well, you just carry on to the next spot. Want to change your itinerary because a fellow traveller has suggested you visit somewhere you’d not heard of before? No problem!
Campervanning gives you that freedom to be spontaneous, to travel restriction free (within reason!) and to take in multiple destinations without having the hassle of organising transfers or luggage weight limits on planes. When people travel, they want to feel free. So why constrain yourself to one location or an airline schedule?
It’s like taking your home with you
We’ve all been there. You get out all the clothes and kit you want to take on a trip, and no matter how stringent you try to be, you always find an argument to take the unnecessary “essential” item, just in case – which without doubt never gets used. With a van, you don’t need to be quite as stringent with your packing. With all that extra space, you’ll be able to treat yourself to those additional luxury items to enjoy guilt-free.
And that’s the joy of taking your “home” on holiday with you. You don’t have to restrict your packing, your schedule, or even have set times and places for eating! If you want to eat stir-fry whilst watching the sunset over the ocean, you can. Want to have that first coffee of the day looking over a vast canyon with no one around for miles? No problem. By having these homely creature comforts at hand, travel becomes far more relaxed, comfortable, and carefree. You can also work from the road if you’re a digital nomad, so long as you have a portable internet facility.
Campervanning can save you money
Let’s face it, everyone is having to tighten their financial belts at the moment. Products and experiences are costing more, which can have a real hit on those finances, especially if you’re wanting to travel long term. But why should your desire to explore, to discover new places, and to meet new people be curtailed by rising costs?
Your plans really doesn’t have to suffer if you embrace the freedom that a van can offer. Campervanning can often be cheaper than booking hotels, especially if you’re in it for the long haul. If your van is “off grid” then you’ll easily be able to find free park-ups for the night. If you still want a few comforts that a campsite provides, then these will still be a cheaper option than a hotel.
No one is saying campervanning needs to be austere, if you want to go out for a meal, treat yourself…you’re on holiday after all! But eating out every night, popping to the patisserie for breakfast, and stopping off for yet another hot drink, soon adds up. That kitchen in the back of the van is there for a reason. Use it, and you’ll quickly see the savings. And is it really cooking when you’re in the back of the van listening to the soothing lullaby of crashing waves as you chop an onion?
You can access places you may otherwise not be able to
Many travel companies offer tailor-made itineraries, but when you look into the finer detail, are they really that “bespoke”? Sure, you can choose a tour, but that’s from their finite list of options, and ultimately you still get told the starting point, the finishing point and the route between the two.
Meanwhile, having your own campervan gives you that ultimate luxury – freedom. Your trip can truly be bespoke. If you see something on the map or road sign that tickles your fancy, then you have the flexibility to change your plans. If going remote is your thing, then a van gives you the ability to get completely off the tourist trail and into the wilderness. This way, you’ll be able to spend time in places that maybe not even the locals go to.
Bear in mind that you do need to take into account the size and capability of your van. Just because your satnav says there’s a track you can drive, it doesn’t always mean it’s accessible for all types and sizes of vehicles.
Van trips can be a sociable experience
There is a thriving campervan community in the UK and all across the world. You will never struggle to find like-minded people to share a drink with around a campfire, to swap inspiration and tips on where to stay (some of the best spots are often shared by word of mouth to keep them special) or even to join up and travel in convoy.
Equally, if you’re in a bit of a pickle and need help with a bit of maintenance or technical know-how, other campervanners will often be more than happy to provide that assistance. It’s a sociable way of life, whether you’re just travelling around for a couple of weeks or have hit the road for the long-haul.
Things to consider when hiring a campervan
When renting a campervan there are lots of things to consider. You will need at least some rough idea of where you want to go and the type of roads you’ll be driving on. For instance, a six-berth motorhome could be great for cruising the motorways between campervan sites. But just try and drive one of those in the Lake District, England, and you’ll soon be stuck!
Think about what kind of trip you want. If you want a true off-grid wilderness experience then you need to ensure that the van has the setup to last a week or two. Consider things like the size of the freshwater tank, and whether there’s enough LPG or solar power to cook and/or charge your electricals. Does the van come with a toilet? If so, is it a cassette or compostable toilet? Different styles of toilets need different maintenance and different methods of emptying.
If you are wanting that freedom of a van but are planning on staying at designated sites with hook-ups, then some of these considerations are not so important. But you do need to plan and book your sites to ensure you have a pitch for the night, especially during the peak summer season.
Check what is included in the rental agreement. The majority of vans will come with the essentials like cooking and eating utensils, but not all include bedding or toilets – these may be provided at an additional cost. And like hiring a car, always check the mileage policy to avoid unexpected supplements.
Be aware that driving a campervan or motorhome is significantly different to driving a car. They are a lot bigger, and they weigh a lot more. Campervans also take longer to accelerate and brake and get affected by crosswinds a lot more. So, if it’s your first motorhome experience, then take it easy until you build up familiarity and confidence with the vehicle.
It’s time to hit the road
Come on, what are you waiting for? If you like freedom, spontaneity, and waking up to a different view each morning, then campervanning is the way to go. Start out by hiring a van for a couple of weeks to get a feel for life on the road. Then, if you want to try long-term van life, you’ll be all set to make some big decisions. Go on, give it a go, and you’ll probably never look back.