Camping and motorhoming is in our blood, it’s something we’ve done for many years. Tents, pop tops, coachbuilts and van conversions, we’ve tried them all. We have travelled extensively in the UK, France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Morroco, the Canary Islands and Australia.
Backpacking and wild camping in the 70’s and early 80’s was a great free way to travel in the UK and Europe.
As the camping season in the UK came to a close each year we would head off to Australia for the winter exploring the East Coast between Sydney and Cairns.
We had many pop tops and enjoyed the luxury of a larger coachbuilt but couldn’t help thinking there was something more suitable in between.
After building our first van conversions in 2007 we realised we could have the best of both worlds – the driveability of a pop top with the luxury of a coachbuilt.
Top Ten Tips to Your New Motorhome
- Size Matters – The overall size of your motorhome is the key to it’s drivabilty, go too big and you will limit where you can travel and park, go too small and you will compromise on your comfort. The overall width is as important as the overall length.
- Layout Is Key – A rear lounge layout with two front swivel seats creates a dual zone so even with the bed made up there is still a sitting area at the front. This will also allow a user friendly kitchen and washroom ‘a mid ship’. With a front lounge layout, once the bed is made up, access in and out of the sliding door is restricted and the large boot storage created by the rear bunk is lost. Additional passenger seats in the back will significantly disrupt the layout and whilst the idea of a 3 or 4 berth may sound like a good idea, the reality is that 90-95% of the time your motorhome will be used as a 2 berth, so why compromise.
- Storage Solutions – A place for everything and everything in it’s place is the mantra here. By compartmentalising your kit, it will be more easily accessible and much easier to find when you need it. Your key areas of storage will be; a large boot space for your chairs, barbecues, water carriers and other outdoor equipment, top box storage for your bits and pieces, under bunk storage for your bedding, easy access kitchen storage for your cutlery, crockery and pans, a pantry area for your groceries, a large eye-level fridge freezer (so you’re not on your hands and knees when accessing the fridge), wardrobe hanging space backed with underbunk storage for folded garments, a bathroom storage cabinet for your toiletries and somewhere to hang your toilet bags for use in campsite amenities.
- A Good Nights Sleep – If you sleep down the length of the van you will generally have the option of either two single beds (allowing you to swing your legs in and out of bed) or one large super king size. If you sleep across the van this will usually be a double bed, so bare in mind with this arrangement a night time visit to the loo could involve one person climbing over the other.
- Fully Insulated – A properly insulated motorhome will keep you warm in winter and cooler in summer allowing all year use. Underslung water tanks need to be built to withstand the cold weather without freezing up.
- Free Camping Friendly – There are now more alternatives to the mainstream campsites such as small farms or free parking areas (especially in Europe), so it is a real benefit to be able to be independent, battery power and water storage being the main features here and you may wish to consider a small inverter for occasional mains power.
- Built To Last – Build quality is important together with the quality of the materials used. Buying direct from a manufacturer will give you the facility to deal directly with the company that built your motorhome, so when you need any repairs or warranty work done, they will have the wherewithal to undertake this type of work with you directly, rather than via a third party dealer.
- Wash & Go – Generally if you are on a campsite you will use the showers and facilities available on site, the theory being that it is easier to take your body to the water than bring the water to your body, however, a fully equipped washroom with cassette loo, large wash basin and shower will be of real benefit when you are not using a campsite.
- Ready Steady Cook – Having the facility of a gas hob, oven and grill will give you all the onboard cooking options you need and will use very little gas. At first glance a microwave may seem attractive but bare in mind these will not work without full hook-up facilities and in many cases can be sited at an awkward if not potentially dangerous height, these will also take up valuable storage space.
- Spec & Tech – The specification on your base vehicle will give you total comfort on the road, key areas to look for here include: adequate engine power (140hp not 120hp), twin leaf suspension and the options of sat nav, reversing camera, cab air con and cruise control are all worthwhile considerations. When it comes to the motorhome spec do a thorough check and watch out for subtleties such as lighting, position of USB ports, easy access storage etc – lots of small details will make a big difference – the devil really is in the detail.