downsides to buying a campervan please…..

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  • downsides to buying a campervan please…..
  • trail_rat
    Member

    bikes have to live outside is the main bug for me.

    T4 has plenty space IF all you want is a bed… once you turn it into a real camper its very very limited.

    im having a similar fight with my self just now – 4 berth coachbuilt camper and bikes ina box on the rear OR a LWB semi high top transit(ish) van with a self conversion.

    Myself and the better half bought a Mazda Bongo last year.

    Downsides:
    [list][*]It’s a heavy van.
    [/*]
    [*]There’s more nice stuff to ruin inside.[/*]
    [*]We run into problems with the 2m height limit on a lot of stuff (the Bongo is 2.1).
    [/*][*]It is a thirsty little monkey – 25-30mpg, and the 4-6k mile service interval that goes with owning an older diesel.[/*]
    [*]On a long, dull motoway commute it isn’t as efficient or useful as our other car – a quick Skoda estate[/*][/list]

    Upsides:
    [list][*]It’s absolutely fantastic.[/*]
    [*]We’ve driven round Europe in it, in relative comfort with a bit of forethought.[/*]
    [*]It’s easy to drive, and surprisingly nippy.[/*]
    [*]The better half uses it as a commuting vehicle, and has no issues.[/*]
    [*]The community surrounding campers is eclectic, fun, friendly and incredibly helpful.[/*]
    [*]Getting changed and making a cup of tea in the van after a cold surf / ride cannot be recommended enough.[/*]
    [*]Resale is good, should you decide to part with it.[/*][/list]

    Would I run it instead of a car? With a regular 70 mile commute, no.

    Am I glad we own one? Undoubtedly a massive yes.

    Premier Icon Master Of None
    Subscriber

    We have a bongo, but not really a camper van, its a tin top with 8 seats and no conversion. Went from 2 cars to just this. as above its fantastic! wife took a little convincing but now wont be parted from it. Back seats fold down to make a bed or a table and four seats. we keep sleeping bags, pillows, and camp chairs in the van just in case and have used it for touring around scotland, wales and Ireland.

    Downsides
    – Insurance is only available through specialists but is actually pretty cheap (circa £400)
    – finding parts can be a PITA (but again quite cheap once you find them)
    – heavy on fuel (diesel – as above 25-30mpg)
    – they are old cars, so leak all fluids (16-17 years old, regular coolant and oil top ups)

    not really any more problematic than any other car though. had ours 4 years and has been no more of an issue that the 4-5 year old cars it replaced… repairs and maintenance actually probably cheaper.

    lasty
    Member

    CONs ??
    Fuel bills
    Youll soon tire of the commute and everyday use – cheapo banger and a smart camper is the way to go.

    PROs ??
    Too many to list here but freedom to explore on a whim is a massive plus …

    If youre bothered about ruining the interior with bikes simple solution is rear rack and an awning .
    I spent 2 years living and travelling around Europe and Turkey in mi old bay – best thing I ever did !!

    Junkyard
    Member

    having owned a few unless you want to live in it is nothing but a compromise and I would rather own an estate and a caravan tbh or a camping trailer

    Poor on fuel, limited space when camping, cannot take it everywhere, higher service costs, bike dont fit inside etc

    Its an nice idea but the reality is quite poor

    I suppose it gives you year round camping as a plus

    andrewh
    Member

    bikes have to live outside is the main bug for me

    Not in mnine they don’t 🙂
    In the process of building myself one out of a Transit, so about the same size as a T4. SWB low roof.Rear half is all bikes and related kit, tools, spares, dirtworker, etc. Front half is a sofa/bed foldy uppy thing with a fridge underneath. Heater and hot water supply on board. No sink (use a bowl) no cooker (normal camping gas stove)
    It’s not a lot a bigger than a Mondeo in terms of ground area taken up so no major dramas parking, occasionally tricky in very tight spots.
    40mpg, tax and insurance both cheaper than my previous MPV, three seats so actually more than that had when it was full of bikes. All good.
    Much warmer than a tent, less likely to blow away and far more pleasent all round. Got an easy up for use as pit garage at races.
    It’s my only vehicle too.
    If it’s mainly for biking purposes go for a self-build. Two benefits, budget goes further to get newer/lower miles van to base it on, and you can build it how you want, more/less bike/bed space etc.

    donks
    Member

    I knew people who got fed up with packing up and tying down the contents every time they went to the shop or just out in the van which is why I think the big homes have a wee car towed behind or a motorbike. But if you don’t have too much gear then this shouldn’t be an issue. Mate has a vw westfalia as his only transport and its a total money pit… Off the road more than on really.
    I’d still love a van though..

    trail_rat
    Member

    “If youre bothered about ruining the interior with bikes simple solution is rear rack and an awning”

    stuff the interior …. im more worried about ruining the bikes by carrying them on the exterior having dealt with the aftermath of road grime on many many bikes over the year – not an issue if you only use your camper/bikes during the summer months i guess.

    thats not a camper andrewh that is a van – this is probably the route ill go down – but im wanting 4 berth/traveling seats so require a bigger van

    Premier Icon dknwhy
    Subscriber

    I think for short trips and overnights they’re ok but for long stays it would be a pain in the backside to pack up to drive to the supermarket or for day trips.
    For the type of trips we do, i’d take the unpopular choice and opt for a caravan….

    andrewh
    Member

    Poor on fuel, limited space when camping, cannot take it everywhere, higher service costs, bike dont fit inside etc

    Cheaper fuel for me than my last car. Space is subjective, it’s bigger than my tent. Have been able to take it everywhere I took my car and it’s cheaper to service (old van = nothing electrical = easy DIY) Bikes fi in mine. Think you have the wrong van Junkyard!
    .
    Also, much nicer to drive than a car and caravan combo and easier to ‘wild camp’ at roadsides.

    me and missus have a 2.5v6 petrol bongo converted. its a bit of a xmas tree as only does 25 at best on a run so it sits on drive and has done no more then 2k a year as i have a 1.4tdci fiesta that does 55 minimum around town and 75 + on a roads. having camper is good though and nice to stop and make tea etc fridge for food etc etc but it is a bit of a luxury. if had money would get a 2010 + T5 as only vehicle as they can do 40mpg. like the t4 but live in LEZ so no good

    trail_rat
    Member

    what ages is your that it doesnt have the dreaded electrical injection pump that lunches its self thanks to biodiesel additives in many of our fuels these days at a cost of 2100 quid for the replacement part ?

    Keef
    Member

    I’ve got a vw t25,had a few,did a month long,11 countries,4000 mile trip round Europe in the last one.just sold my car and use my bus for everything now.went down to ssuk in it,go away with mrs Keef,two teenage sons,4 bikes,and a 7st Dobermann,camping etc.
    insurance fc , £230 a year,35mpg,runs on 50/50 veg oil.servicing,LOL,oil and filter change,£20.cambelt £20,brake pads £20,etc….

    first trip away that it pisses down,you’ll know why you didn’t want a tent 😉
    love it.only downside for me is the economy,but I only do 50 miles a week,(except for away trips)so no biggy.

    if you’ve got the finances,buy a camper,if you don’t like it,sell it !

    uselesshippy
    Member

    The main problem, is when those scumbags staying in tents nearby, wake you up asking for a cuppa. 😀

    trail rat- presume your asking what age fiesta is??? PS dont use cheap fuel only use the SHELL expensive one defo make a difference

    Junkyard
    Member

    Think you have the wrong van Junkyard!

    All three were wrong 😉
    My current car does 60 + mpg
    I ended up with a car and a van so ended up getting rid of the van as it was too expensive to justify

    I have had small[ Citroen Romahome] meduium[VW] and large {iveco conversion]as well FWIW

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    Outrageous cost and naff all space are the downsides in my view.

    I think for short trips and overnights they’re ok but for long stays it would be a pain in the backside to pack up to drive to the supermarket or for day trips.

    We took the bikes down to Croatia and back last year. We stopped at supermarkets when necessary and camped near bakeries etc. The awning is a driveaway, so relatively easy to leave behind. Then you have the same security problem that any other camper in a tent has. FWIW, we took DSLRs, and they always lived in a locked box in the van.

    We were actually pleasantly surprised by how easy it was with an awning. To be fair, when we didn’t use the awning at short/stealth camps, it was a pain in the backside trying to cook etc. However, we managed without too many issues.

    Regarding bikes on the back – we carried two D locks and two lengths of Kryptonite cable. We also covered them at night with fitted tarps. Ideally I would carry in the van, but when you’re living in something that has the same footprint as a Mondeo, it isn’t practical.

    trail_rat
    Member

    not at all VC – more andrews lack of electrics in his van…..

    if you’ve got the finances,buy a camper,if you don’t like it,sell it !

    Probably the best advice on this thread so far. You’ll more than likely get back what you paid.

    Premier Icon sadexpunk
    Subscriber

    im being drawn to getting one, looking at selling the car, sorting out finance ready etc…..

    itll be a big decision, and ive obviously been lured by the threads on here lately describing idyllic scenarios of driving wherever you like, pulling up and sticking the kettle on 🙂
    that sort of thing appeals to me (dont want a caravan) and i think id camp more with the missus if it was as easy as pulling out the driveway instead of loading tent etc into boot and trailer. everythings ready to go. thinking vw t4 sort of size. budget 5 or 6 grand.

    i realise there’ll be trade-offs. so far ive considered X1.5 in fuel costs at a guess (thinking around extra £30 per month in my case). lack of space compared to a tent, but id get round that by getting a zip up and leave awning.
    also thought about being crouched over the hob cooking due to lack of roof space. havent looked into it yet but im expecting dearer insurance, tax, maintenance costs.
    so…..ill look into that a bit more to compare the yin and yang. id just like to hear of any other considerations that ive mebbes not thought of. anyone here done the same thing and got p*ssed off with it cos it didnt turn out as good as was hoped?

    thanks

    ChrisF
    Member

    We had a Bongo for a few years, 2 adults, 2 kids, 4 bikes… we used it with a large driveaway awning, we just couldn’t live/sleep in the space provided by the Bongo. But we loved it and had several 3 week trips to France, 1 or 2 week holidays in the UK and numerous weekends away. It got used as a second car quite often.

    We’ve outgrown it and now have something bigger, which is also great. I’d say get one, make good use of it for a year, then if it doesn’t work for you, sell it. The downsides are all covered in earlier posts.

    I can’t see us being without a camper now we’ve found out how much fun they are. We certainly get away more now than we did when we camped using a tent. It also makes cold weather trips more comfortable (ie weekend before Christmas in the Lakes, Easter in Scotland etc).

    Premier Icon sadexpunk
    Subscriber

    some great stuff here, thanks chaps…..keep em coming 🙂

    Premier Icon cakefacesmallblock
    Subscriber

    Had my first van 7 years ago, when I opted out of co. cars. Just bought it for daily drive to work and to cart windsurf kit and mtb about and maybe sleep in.
    Rightly or wrongly, it became more than just a van, but got used loads to travel to nice places and stay over in.
    Changed jobs since, have a car for work again and am now on second van.
    Driven steadily 2.5tdi s.w.b transporter gave about 36mpg and occupies no more space than a Passat. 2.0 ltr T5 gives about 40mpg, but lwb needs a little more parking space. However a lwb van is loads more useful. Although converted ( homespun),I can carry one mtb ( front wheel out) in the van and even make the bed up with it there. I do have a fiamma rack on the back for quick trips and really muddy bike.
    VW are stupidly expensive, but dont devalue very much, although I actually made a profit on my t4 after my 90000 miles in it.
    Easy to get carried away on the fit out, don’t believe all the hype and design the inside to suit you.

    Premier Icon sadexpunk
    Subscriber

    couple of things……

    firstly, i dont think id be too bothered about bike storage, id want a bike rack for meeting mates for a ride, but really if i was camping, itd just be me and wife, no bikes.

    as for fitting a conversion myself, i know nowt about it so would probably overlook things that others would insist on, so probably safer to buy one already done that i like the looks of. unless itd work out cheaper of course, which i cant see it doing.

    thanks

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    You could always buy my caravan if there’s only two of you. Loads of space in that and it’s cheap 🙂

    Premier Icon sadexpunk
    Subscriber

    tis a very sweet offer my good man, thank you 😀

    but….. caravans just dont appeal, the towing, stowage too, just dont like the thought of them. campervans just seem the best compromise of different camping methods.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    Towing and storage for me are insignificant downsides compared to the massive improvement in living space and low cost. £1300 gets you hot cold running water, shower, toilet, hob, grill, oven, fridge, blown air heating, loads of space, two single or one full king sized bed, and that’s without an awning.

    trail_rat
    Member

    does it come with a free leak for 1300 quid ?

    first rule of camper/caravan club is buy dry –

    Junkyard
    Member

    We were actually pleasantly surprised by how easy it was with an awning. To be fair, when we didn’t use the awning at short/stealth camps, it was a pain in the backside trying to cook etc. However, we managed without too many issues.

    See this is the thing they are generally too small to be of any use when camping and you need a tent [ so defates th eobject] or so big you cannot use them as daily transport due to impracticalities/fuel costs

    trail_rat
    Member

    i agree JY which is why ill be buying a monster van if i do that.

    My mate has a 4 berth 1989 fiat ducato his parents left him.

    I was in it after an event on saturday and seriously – more spacious than any caravan ive ever been in …. – much wider.

    5 of us in having a cup o tea and we could still move about – my mate had just had a shower to warm up and was cooking food on the stove while we sat at the table.

    shame it would still cost me about 6 grand but if its dry and not rotten chassis id quite gladly have one.

    edlong
    Member

    i think id camp more with the missus if it was as easy as pulling out the driveway instead of loading tent etc into boot and trailer. everythings ready to go.

    The reality’s not quite that, unless you are going to own two sets of everything you need for living (clothes, toiletries, everything kitchen and cookery related, books or other entertainment, maps, towels, shoes, mountain biking kit, I could go on).

    Main disadvantage we’ve found, as a few have said is being either trapped where you camp or having to pack / stow away everything to drive somewhere. It doesn’t take long, sure, but it’s still a faff to make sure that all the loose bits are put away, the cupboards are shut, the seats are swivelled back to driving configuration, the electric is unhooked, and cables stowed, the van is off its ramps (and then ramps put away), the gas is off, the bikes are secured, the ceiling window thing is shut, the silver screen is off the windscreen, and packed away, the awning is retracted and secured (if attached to van), the fridge is locked…. if you’re just popping to the shop two miles away for some milk.

    The answer to that, of course, is better planning and bringing milk with you. Or a caravan. Then you can leave all your stuff as it is and hop in the car.

    I have a motorhome. I think a caravan would have been a better choice. Still had great, great times in the motorhome though, so if that’s what your heart is set on, just do it.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    does it come with a free leak for 1300 quid ?

    No, they were removed at great length and considerable expense by me.

    The only campervans I’ve ever been in that had significantly more space than a decent caravan were articulated and required a HGV license. Seriously. Even the £60k jobs are pokey compared to a £16k 18ft van.

    Only advantages I can see to campervans are driving (although the big ones aren’t exactly car-like either) and the fact that they often have a big storage box inside.

    Van Halen
    Member

    the only think that bugs me about having a camper is i dont get to use it to its full extent as often as i like.

    We’ve recently looked into this seriously – getting rid of our car and getting a really smart 4 berth T5.

    But the downsides seem to outweigh the plus sides:
    – for the same money you were looking at decent RS4 Avant money. 1.9 van vs super comfy V8 engine’d estate?
    – yes it’d be ace going away in the van but as mentioned, bikes would have to live outside during the night which really is a no-no.
    – yes it’d be ace going away in the van but once at your destination and you want to go shopping, you need to go there in the van most likely. Which I’m guessing would result in packing up of stuff etc – ie, major faff.
    – did I mention they’re expensive?
    – safety concerns. We would want one with an ISOFIX bedchair in the back and for that you’re looking at £2k easily. Just for the bed.
    – parking it in our road wouldn’t be any fun.
    – driving it day to day would be a nightmare.
    etc etc etc

    We really were on the verge of doing it but the costs put us off hugely. For what we were looking for, our budget went from £10k, to £15k, then to £20k and really you’d want a bit more.

    Might be something we do one day but I reckon you’d still want a car to run alongside one. It’d be a shed load cheaper to just buy a caravan – more space, cheaper and you’d still have use of the car when you got to your destination (at the cost of p*ssing off every single other road user).

    Premier Icon DavidB
    Subscriber

    ps. on height restrictions .. drive up to it and check. So many of them are out by 50cm, we’ve got our 3.2m motorhome under many a 3m restriction banner. Obviously make sure a third party is on hand to advise as you inch forward.

    trail_rat
    Member

    do you have alot of them barriers in england ?

    cant remember the last time i saw one ? – we regularly use my mates LWB HItop transit for bike trips and its never been an issue for us.

    Gunz
    Member

    Downsides? There’ll be one more impediment when I drive back home to Devon on a weekend.

    The Dail Mash summed this up perfectly in my eyes;

    Camper van creates illusion of freedom

    Buying a decent T5 campervan doesn’t really make financial sense. They cost a fortune to buy, and a lot to run and unless you live somewhere with good wild camping (Scotland/Norway) then they cost a fair bit to use.
    They are great for an impromptu doss by the side of the road, as long as you don’t have too much stuff with you. But as soon as you are planning to stay somewhere for a few nights but want to drive each day then they’re a pain.
    In terms of practicality they make almost no sense at all compared to a caravan. However caravans have the one key overriding, all conquering problem… they’re caravans. Because of that point and that point only, campervans win hands down.

    I think I must have spent north of £10k pa running my van for the last few years, there’s no way that makes financial sense. But having said which, very few of the bikes people have here make financial sense, they have them because they like them.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    For what we were looking for, our budget went from £10k, to £15k, then to £20k … It’d be a shed load cheaper to just buy a caravan

    Brand new caravans start at £12k or so, £17 or so gets you a really nice big one, and £21k or so gets you a top of the line luxury job. You could get one of those AND a BRAND NEW Audi A6 3.0 TDI V6 for the price of some of the relatively modest campervans at the dealer near my folks’ place. Shocking.

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