IHN good point, its always packed ready to go. We love camping but got sick of packing the car up and then sorting it all out when we got home. The van is so much easier, we keep it stocked with basic food and brew kit, a set of clothes each and toiletries. It takes just a few minutes to get on the road, happy days.
Living with a motorhome
Spando, thats very nice, like the shoe cupboard and the RIB seat...
now you got me looking at Ducatos....
We have a Ducato conversion, which suits Mrs M & I fine. The double bed at the back is up most of the time, so effectively the van is a small flat, with bathroom, kitchen, bedroom & living room. We had it converted by Autohaus, who were 95% ok, some compromises were made in our spec.
However I really like driving it, except in town. Tis a bugger to park in tight spots, at 6m long. I can send pics if you want. We've hada couple of fortnight holidays, & it's just great for 2 people.
Try L&C vans in Stone. They know what they're doing.
We get 30-33mpg at 25000miles.
It sounds silly but one of the criteria we had for our design, was to have a side door which slid open far enough for both of us to sit on the sill. It's just very companiable, if not downright romantic. Coachbuilt campers have little awkward doors so you lose the open airness of van conversions, and the big sliding doors are very secure when closed.
I agree that one of the virtues of a bigger camper is that we can keep basics in there are all times, so that a weekend away can involve just chucking a duvet & a pint of milk in there.
Having the bed at the back ready made means that we can just pull up somewhere, make a cup of tea & crash without rearranging everything.
If you want to use it as a second vehicle rather than exclusively for holidays, you want to be looking for a 6 metre panel van conversion (PVC).
Up until recently we only had tight/competitive onstreet parking and its the sort of size where you can hang out the door to get into a tight space, as soon as you get to the wider coachbuilts you have to rely on getting out/a camera/a helper to park in tight spots.
A 6m PVC will just about fit into your average sainsburys space (although normally I will take a tandem bay to dissuade people from trying to park right up behind me as my spare wheel makes the rear door vulnerable to damage) and if quiet I will take four spaces as it makes leaving much easier.
The only time we've ever had issues with the high top is when we have been to forest car parks for biking, but its a good thing really as the last place on earth you want to leave a camper is in a deserted forest car park.
Mine is a self conversion, and having stripped it out last year for a refit, I can say with confidence that a fixed rear bed with garage under/behind is many, many times more practical and more than outweighs the extra space it takes up. For us the fixed bed has become a second seating/lounge area whereas before it was partitioned off full height for bikes. Despite less floor space the van is easier to live in.
Edit: Mr Moses, why are your pics marked 'restricted' and therefore outside my 'safesearch' settings?!
Sorry, no idea why my pics are restricted. They're all innocuous, I think.
I can still see them, just caused me to hesitate, being on a work machine and all that
I think my choice of camper would be dictated by it having it's own toilet and shower. I would love a T5 sized van but I'm not using campsite toilets and in bad weather pooing in the bushes is not fun!
I'm not using campsite toilets
Why on earth not?
in bad weather pooing in the bushes is not fun!
And pooing in a cassette toilet housed in a wardrobe is? Not to mention the fun of emptying said toilet.
I have a VW T4 with a toilet in it. It's a godsend when it's raining at night, especially for the mrs. In addition car doors are noisy, you don't realise until it's 4am and deathly quiet on a campsite. They wake children up, I DO NOT want to wake my sleeping child and I like to drink a lot of beer when I'm camping...
I was squeamish about chemical toilets for years, now I've got one and it's really easy, takes 5 mins to empty but...
no poos, never ever. ever.
childhood memories of campsites where people had had dodgy tummies from being in a foreign country/bad BBQ food/alcohol.
Emptying....don't they come with a dash mounted button for when you get away from a populated area? (joke)
Personally I prefer pooing in the bushes, but Mrs M doesn't. She also takes our van to festivals, as an ex-hippie chick would. Having her own loo & shower makes all the difference to the experience. The cassette loos aren't that unpleasant to empty, a 5 minute job. The combination of a valve over the hole & the chemicals mean that they don't don't smell, either.
Happy SWB Pop-top T4 California owner here. We did consider larger vans but it had to double up as a second daily use vehicle. Good points are that it can easily be used as day to day driver and no parking issues. Also great for day trips out as we can get a brew on and prepare lunch etc.
As others have stated it really is more akin to tent camping with better weather protection and without having the hassle of putting up a tent - personally I see this as a good thing, but if comfort is your thing you are probably better getting a bigger van with separate sleeping compartment. Ours is kept ready to go at a moments notice over the summer months so it's just a case of slinging in a bag of clothes for a night away at the beach or in the hills. When we get there, we pop the roof and are done. For longer trips where we're staying several nights in each place we pitch a driveaway awning which gives us loads of extra space.
Can be a bit cramped in bad weather without the awning, particularly if you've got a load of kit but we've learned to travel light as a result.
Personally I'd be averse to ablutions in any vehicle so the lack of onboard facilities is a blessing rather than a curse - less to clean and less to go wrong.
Ours is a Westfalia conversion - if I was going to upgrade it I'd probably look at something with a full width rock and roll bed and a removable kitchen unit, just for greater flexibility. The Westy design is great but relies on you packing it well, and we do find not all the storage is used effectively so I'd be prepared to sacrifice it for some more interior space. Captain's seats are a must as they really help you make best use of the space - we've had 4 people + child in ours eating dinner.
A good compromise between a camper and full on coachbuilt may be the larger Westfalia conversions - take a look at the Exclusive which is the high top LWB T4 version (EDIT: Just discovered they're introducing an LWB T5 version called the Club Joker) and has a fixed bed in the roof, separate kitchen area and washroom. Or the James cook which is on a MWB Sprinter base. Both of these are smaller than a coachbuilt motorhome but have more space than a T4/T5. Hope this helps.
Buy a caravan.Cheaper to buy and run.Less depreciation.No mot,tax,servicing and cheap insurance.
Motorhomes are ok if you're moving on each day and want to do some wild camping.
If you intend using campsites and staying a week or so then a caravan is much more practical as you've got a vehicle to get out and about in.
Towings easy and if you don't fancy reversing on a site get one with a motormover,Easy.
Modern 2.0 litre diesels are easily powerful enough,giving around 30'ish with the 'van and 50'ish without.
Just looking to get another caravan myself after a year off and theres some cracking vans about in the 3 to 4k region.
Wouldn't touch a old cheap motorhome with a bargepole.
I would love a T5 sized van but I'm not using campsite toilets and in bad weather pooing in the bushes is not fun!
Just open the door and piss out the side...It's a great way to scare the dog walkers at South Fistral
We have a T4 with the typical lowering and Audi TT wheels, R&R bed and Kyham Pop up Awning for Races and the like. Now we've added to the family I'm just about to put a 3/4 bed in (Pull Tested) rip out the Half Bulkhead and drop captain seats in and build a bit of a buddy box type thing down the side with stow aways so it's all a bit more slick.
For 24hour events and stuff we have a porta loo
That's reminded me of one of the other benefits of going with a quality VW type conversion over a coachbuilt... they do hold their value really well. I could probably get back what we paid on ours 5 years ago if I sold at the right time of the year.
I think it depends on where and when you intend to use it. If you are going to mostly go abroad to somewhere sunny, a small an is fine as you wont be spending too much time in it. If you intend to use it in the UK and therefore spend a lot of time hiding from the crap weather then I would suggest something bigger.
As a compromise though, I saw some really nice renault trafic type conversions in France last year. One couple I talked told me they got rid of their biggish van for one of these as the big van was just too much hassle, even though it was more comfortable. Bit like this but a renault:
I really like these, garage for the bikes :
Motorhome over Campervan every time... We have tried both for multi week trips as well as single night stopovers and now have a Motorhome.
For the simple reasons that (as other people have already stated) you need space to move around each other when it's rubbish weather outside and
It's nice to have a bathroom and not have to take tha portaloo out from under the seat and find somewhere private to take it.
We have just about the smallest motorhome we could find - 17ft long with overcab bed, and it is really comfy for two adults. Reckon we could use it in more or less the same way with up to two nippers in there too...
I have a separate bathroom in my T4
Some of the more middle class faux-hippy sites that we favour are a bit sniffy about white motorhomes
but yes, if you really want the internal space then a van isn't as big as a motorhome. If it's only for 2 and you have the cash, something the size of a Ducato Tribute would be awesome;
For us, it's more about the big sliding door and the outside/inside nature of camping, that, and I wanted a VW.
Sniffy about white motorhomes hahaha - nothing the desperately insecure aspirational middle class types won't be snobby about if they think it helps separate them from the masses.
Caravans do make sense in a way but they are so ugly. Why do we have these horrible white plastic things instead of Airstreams?
Coincidentally when I was looking up 5th wheel caravans I found this:
Coincidentally when I was looking up 5th wheel caravans I found this:
Last year in France I saw the ultimate holiday set up. Artic cab (Harley Davison behind the cab) towng a 15m (very expensive looking) caravan, pulling a trailer with a q7 and a final little trailer with a jet ski. Not sure how many campsites would be suitable though.
We thought about a caravan but decided on a motorhome in the end (we tend not to stay in any one place for more that a few days). We're on our second now, and have been all over UK and Europe with them, including much of Scandinavia.
Here's our current one:
Has a nice big garage for the bikes - swallows 4 no problem, or one motorbike. Not exactly useable as a daily vehicle though.
Motorhomes are particularily good if you're not using campsites. Ours is self-sufficient for a few days without a hookup or access to water.
I drove a big van last year with a trailer on the back - 14 seater with 9 guys and bikes for half of it. (I was driving LEJOG) Having never towed a trailer before I found reversing really difficult with a trailer and never really got the hang of it over the week so a bit put off caravans.
We went to a showroom at the weekend to take a look and saw a couple of T5's that were 3 or 4 years old with 74-80,000 on the clock which seems quite high. Prices were £24k & £28k which is above our budget anyway.
Going to be difficult to choose between a camper and motorhome for all the reasons eloquently put in the above comments. Toilet would be nice for No 1's over night.
we have a peugeot boxer converted to a camper.
I have the swb low roof with 100bhp engine. I average 37mpg on a roads but 32 on the motorway.
Boxer is great as its wider than a T5...I sleep sideways. At 5"8 I can just about stand up in it, enough to cook standing and change easily - no chance in a t5 without pop up / high roof.
Its my only vehicle, fits in normal car parks (too high for multi- stories but so is almost every van)
I have corner seating that pulls out into a double bed, cooker and cupboard and a half height (so doesn't block the rear windows) boot. It fits 3 bikes in or 4/5 surfboards.
Happily spend a long time in it. If it wasn't my only vehicle i would consider a mwb but I have enough room for 3 adults to spend a lot of time in, change into wetsuits etc...
Definately worth trying to have in van storage for bikes, I always got nervous sleeping in the van with them on a rack. Plus when we were away and wanted to sight see for a day or few days around a city it was a nightmare trying to hide bikes.
sorry dont have one with bikes in!)
We have a Chausson Flash 04 which is a low profile coachbuilt motorhome. It has a garage under the rear double bed which will swallow 4 bikes and loads of associated kit. It is on a 2.2 diesel Ford Transit base. I view it as a result if I average more than 30mpg, but am annoyed if I get less than 28mpg. I NEVER exceed 60mph, as it guzzles fuel at higher speeds. It is a 2010 model and does similar mpg to friend's hitop VWs, but with plenty of space and toilet/shower.
We have done 3 6 week Alpine trips over the last 3 summers, and use it a lot in Scotland all year round.
I agree that if you are looking at site-based week-long holidays, a caravan may be better. We have stayed on a campsite only 4 times in 3 years, and for us discrete wild camping is the way.
I have a 96 vw t4 hightop autosleeper. 2.5 petrol. Gets about 25mpg.I use it every day and it's been great.
Gettin on a bit. Arches need looked at and it's gettin a little tatty but i still love it and will never not have a camper if i can get away with it.
It is time for a replacement mind you.
I'm goin for a T5 with the pop top.
What a great thread folks, love your vans. Its such a personal thing and all vans are great large, small and cara...
It is interesting to hear some folk mention the large sliding door, that was one of our deciding factors for a panel van conversion.
We went for years dreaming about having a van of some sort and can safely say we really did our research lol. We looked at every conceivable option within our budget and are so happy with our wee van.
Hope those with your vans have some great missions and those on the quest for a van find the one. Enjoy the journey......
I've just gone from a custom built panel van conversion, to a proper motorhome and the difference is amazing, we can actually move around in this one and there is space for everyone, We've gone for a 6 berth, though there's normally only 4 of us to give us some space.
Proper motorhome for us. We had an ace Westfalia T3 high top. Loved it for being a VW and being part of the scene. But the truth was, it wasn't big enough and everything had to be moved to do anything. We sold up and bought a 2000 Ducato Hobby. Its under 6m long, has a garage and a fixed over cab bed.
LH drive is perfect for us, easy to drive, easy to live in (when we sold the house we moved into it) everything has a place in it. Gas outlet for a BBQ and an awning so outdoor living is ace but double floor for winter protection. Our biggest 'upgrade' for us was proper camper tyres, make the world of difference. Having a toilet and shower is wonderful especially if your racing, come back, shower something to eat and head home. No restrictions on toilet use, no point. If you only use a cassette for night time use the stench will build up over a few days. Use it every day and they are fine and clean and never stink. Chemical 'tea bags' are cheap and very easy to use.
I wouldn't want use to go back to a van conversion, too much of a compromise.
These are my experiences, yours may differ.
Tech, what difference did the tyres make? Since we have a panel van conversion, I wasn't aware of special tyres for campers.
If I remember correctly the tyres for motorhomes are necessary for the amount of time motorhomes spend effectively near fully loaded and not actually moving. I think they have reinforced sidewalls so they last longer under these conditions - but this may be pants, I'm sure I'll be corrected if I am making it up. They may run better as well, but I only had motorhome tyres.
I also have a feeling most tyres have to be binned because of age rather than mileage.
I do remember they are damn expensive
Yup damn expensive, but worth it. On STD van tyres we used to find the rear end was very wayward, tramlining on the motorway sliding around in corners. Fitted the Michelins and it stopped all that. It may be because they are just better quality. But the sidewalls are stiffer, but give a nicer ride and they can be inflated to a higher pressure. Also with the Motorhome being loaded all the time they have a higher force rating. Quieter everywhere and seem to run less hot, ie on the old van tyres, i couldn't put my hand on the surface if we stopped at the services, that worried me - if that ever had a blow out, it was stick your head between your legs and kiss your ass goodbye. Michelins are also Mud and Snow rated too.
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