Our ultimate buying guide to caravans, campervans and motorhomes

Motoring 2018-9-26
Caravans, Campervans and motorhomes - Our ultimate buying guide.jpg

Our ultimate guide to choosing and buying your perfect caravan, campervan or motorhome.

If you crave the freedom that camping holidays provide, but without having to pitch and sleep in a tent, then either a motorhome, campervan or caravan may be the answer. However, the next question you will be asking yourself is, “Which one is for me?” We have saved you the hassle and done all the ground work for you. We’ve put together the ultimate guide to choosing and buying your dream caravan or campervan.


First things first, what’s the difference?

Caravans are a classed as a vehicle without an engine that is towed behind a car or van. It is a living mobile accommodation traditionally kitted out with beds, a living area and kitchen. Campervans are generally just caravans with an engine and the only difference between a campervan and motorhomes is that they tend to have a divide between the cab and living quarters … simple really.


Which one is right for you?

So now that you know the difference between a caravan, campervan and motorhome; the next step is to decide which of the two is suitable for your needs and budget. There are pros and cons that come with these options so we have put them in a handy list for you below: 


Pros and cons

Campervan

Pros

  • They are more manageable to drive without worrying about roundabouts or having to take corners wide like when towing a caravan. Also city centre and narrow country roads are less of a challenge.
  • You can park up and relax straight away as there is no pitching required. Just put your hand break on and make a brew.
  • Discretion is a given with these are there isn’t much to give away that it is a campervan and not just a regular van when being driven or parked up. With the exception of the VW Camper, many of these campers have been designed in this way to add an extra level of security in comparison to a motorhome or caravan.

Cons

  • Less convenient if you are just wanting to go on a day trip. Unlike with a caravan, you cannot just unhitch the car and go but instead have to take your whole living area with you.
  • They tend to cost more as their fuel efficiency is a lower with less miles to the gallon, plus additional insurance and repairs costs may be higher than a car.
  • Less living space as it is essentially a converted van as opposed to a motorhome or caravan.

Caravan

Pros

  • You can unhitch and use your car as normal to get around
  • Bigger living space compared to a campervan or motorhome where space for the cab section must be taken into consideration.
  • You get more for your money as there are no fuel costs for a caravan and there is less to mechanically go wrong.

Cons

  • When you arrive at your destination, you will need to pitch up your caravan which can be a chore after a long journey.
  • You need a suitable car to tow as well as the correct licence requirements.
  • Harder to drive with more skill required eg. Reversing into a pitch.

Motorhome

Pros

  • Very much like a campervan, one of the main pros is being able to just park up at your destination and be able to relax straight away.
  • They tend to come with a fully fitted bathroom which not all caravans or campervans have which is a huge bonus if you are not parked on a dedicated site.You get a lot of space for your money and it will feel like a home away from home.

Cons

  • Depending on the size of the motorhome you choose, they can take up a lot of space so will need somewhere suitable to park it.
  • They can be quite expensive to purchase in comparison to a campervan or caravan of the same capacity.
  • You may need a different licence depending on the size of the motorhome you are driving.

Our picks

Caravan

We’ve put together some of our favourite caravans to suit each budget to get you started on your hunt. If you’re fancying a quick great away, we also have some great destination ideas for a Staycation.

Small budget

The 2012 Bailey Pegasus Genoa is a lovely example of an affordable 2 berth caravan with a TV point, full kitchen, a fully kitted out bathroom and comfy sleeping area. This model is perfect for short breaks or weekend away with plenty of storage, cleaver design and airy feel. Starting at only £8,995, you get plenty of caravan for your money.

Medium budget

From £14,995, the Compass Omega 540 2014 is a lovely example of a mid-price caravan. Sporting a fixed bed which means you don’t have to make it up every night as well as a full sized bathroom! There is so much space available in this model with a huge kitchen, and comfy lounge area. This model is perfect for couples who enjoy all the mod cons of a home away from home.

Large budget

If you enjoy caravanning in style, then this is the one for you. With enough space for 4 people to relax surrounded by full home comforts, this vehicle will make you feel as though you have never left the house. The Adria Alpina Aolorado 2018 boasts a full sized kitchen, huge fridge, ample storage (that you might even struggle to fill), comfortable bathroom and large sleeping quarters. Prices start at £22,999 so it may cost a bit more as it a newer model but you will be able to take this caravan and enjoy some of the best caravanning destinations in Europe.

  • Our customer, Peter Kayley says "We bought our first caravan in 1984, it was an old one with glass windows, gas lamps, & didn't have any 240 volt hookup. Over the years we gradually worked our way to a new model with all the current tech, that was 3 years ago! We wouldn't consider a camper van, because unless you have one big enough to tow a small car or a small motor bike, once you are pitched up somewhere, you cannot visit anywhere without packing everything away. Furthermore, height restrictions on some parking areas do not allow for camper vans. Others will disagree, but we are all different, so each to his own I guess."

Campervan

As previously mentioned, campervans allow you to have a more freedom compared to caravans as they are easier to drive and there are more options for travelling around the UK and aboard. If you still need a bit more convincing then our article on why you should get a campervan and travel around the UK may do the trick.

Small budget

If you’re retro at heart as well as having a small budget then there is no better option than going for a 1976 VW T2 Westfalia Berlin. This little trooper oozes the 70s vibe with a wood trim steering wheel and cool upholstery. It also come with a fully kitted out kitchen and lovely sleeping area. With prices starting at around £25,000 for a well looked after and preloved model, it’s modestly priced for the unlimited freedom it will provide.

Medium budget

The VW California is definitely a firm favourite of ours - It’s the camper than just keeps on giving. With enough space to sleep 4 people very comfortably (including roof bed!) it also has a fully functioning kitchen with plenty or storage for all your essentials, a mini dining area and a compact wardrobe so you don’t have to cram all your clothes into drawers. As an added bonus, VW has even included an outside table with 2 chairs so that you can sit underneath the pull out roof. One last surprise is that there is EVEN a shower which is definitely a luxury for anyone who travels on the road a lot. VW have outdone themselves with this model. Prices start at £46,625 for a brand new van but if you are on a tighter budget, you can pick one up from £36,500.

Large budget

The V-Class Marco Polo from Mercedes is their answer to the VW California. Even though the cost for this camper is a little more with prices starting from £49,670 (base model), it really is a great choice. This van is basically a house on wheels with swivelling chairs, a comfy bed, a fully kitted out kitchen with a 2 burner hob, fridge and sink as well as looking pretty damn elegant. The huge amount of freedom you will get from this campervan will be worth the cost.


Motorhome

Small Budget

 

If you’re looking for your first motorhome on a bit of a budget, then this motorhome is for you. You get a lot for your money with the amount of space that you get. Being able to sleep 4 people quite comfortably and not compromising on space in the lounge or kitchen area then this one is perfect for those family getaways. Due to the weight not exceeding 3.5 tonnes, you only need a normal full UK driving licence with no add-ons. Prices start at around £50,995 which is good value for money.

Medium Budget

If you are on a modest budget then this one has everything you would ever need to be comfortable on the road without missing home too much. Kitted out with a lovely kitchen, full wash room, storage and comfy sleeping quarters. In regards to driving, this model has an automatic gearbox which makes the drive a lot smoother and easier for those of you who may not be used to driving such a big vehicle. Prices for this model start at around £66,495 for a brand new 2018 model.

Large Budget

This model of motorhome is the definition of luxury with everything you ever need to feel right at home no matter when you decide to spend the night. With a huge lounge area, you will never feel cramped or like you are on top of one another and the kitchen area is just as impressive. There is a fully fitted kitchen with granite work tops and robust appliances so that you are able to enjoy home cooked meals while on the road. The bedroom is very spacious with additional storage under the bed which is great if you are going away for a longer than a weekend. As well as all the mod cons, this motorhome also does something a little bit special in the form of having an auto stabiliser which ensures that your vehicle are always level regardless of where you have parked. How great is that? Prices start at around £149,995 for a second hand model so it is at the higher end of the market.


Hints and tips on towing a caravan

Towing a caravan does require a little bit of skill and extra care due so if you have never done this before it may seem a bit daunting.

  • Allow extra time for breaking and accelerating
  • Ensure you take corners a bit wider so you don’t clip the curb
  • Use wing mirror extensions for increased visibility
  • Don’t forget the legal limit is 50mph on single carriageways and 60mph on dual carriageways.

What not to do…


Once you have fallen in love with the perfect caravan, campervan or motorhome, we can give you a helping hand in making it yours with our low cost motorhome and campervan loans. With rates starting from just3.1% APR Representative between £7,500 and £25,000.

Hitachi Hints and Tips is intended to be informative and interesting. It does not constitute financial advice, and you should always do further research when making any financial decisions. All information was correct at date of publication.

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