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  • small campervans eg T5 + kids
  • meeeee

    Just been reading the driveaway awning thread and a couple of people mentioned they have motorhomes with 2 kids.

    Is something T5 size with an awning ok for a couple of weeks in France, or would you get something bigger for trips of more than a few days?

    I like the idea of a motorhome but dont really want anything massive, if something T5 size and an awning gives enough useable space for 2 adults and 2 kids (2 and 4 at moment, but would hopefully use it for at least 6-8 years) then we could probably get rid of one of our cars and manage with 1 car + the T5 as it wouldnt be too big for my everyday commute

    Is it quick and easy to remove / reattach the awnings?

    What age can you use the pop up roof beds to, i’m guessing they are pretty small?

    Premier Icon spacey

    Mine are 5 and 7, they love the bed in the pop top and it looks like they’ll be happy up there for a few years yet. By the time they hit the dreaded teens they can get out into a tent.

    Premier Icon lorax

    I think the last year we managed with both nippers up top they were 9 and 12, perhaps 8 and 11. We’re on our second T4 Westfalia and it’s been great up until last year (11 and 14), at which point it was too small, and my son was too adolescent. But we coped then with a tent for my wife and me, and the kids shared the van. Not sure what to do with it now, but we’ll probably just hang on to it and then start using it again properly once the kids have stopped coming on holiday with us.

    I’ve nver bothered with a driveaway awning. They always seemed like a faff to me, so we just have a tent and a roll-out awning that bridges the gap across to it. It’s good enough to keep the rain off, and easy to deal with when heading off for the day. A small pop-up tent for shorter trips is also great, just to dump the stuff in during the day.

    Premier Icon llama

    plus side of a van sized camper: not too big, more choice for camp sites, can use as a daily drive, can fit alot in, more comfy than just a tent.

    neg side: the need for somewhere additional to put all your chairs/table/bbq stuff/sunbed/toys/etc/etc increases with the length of time away and the number of people; and not as self-sufficient as a motorhome (bog/shower/etc).

    Awning or separate tent is your choice, but you’ll probably need something for 4 over more than a couple of nights.

    Takes me 5 mins to re-attach, the key thing is leaving a marker where to park before you leave.

    We didn’t buy ours for long trips away but the ability to basically get away every single weekend at a moments notice is brilliant.

    Longest stint we’ve done is 6 nights (3 nights in one place and 3 nights in another) with the driveaway awning and there was plenty of room. The van was almost solely used for kipping in and the awning as living/eating space.

    Attaching/detaching the awning is a few minutes job so no hardship. It takes longer to pull down the pop top, remove the blinds, fold the bed up etc.

    Premier Icon jeff

    It’s well worth hiring a T5 for a week/weekend.

    We did this last summer when we were thinking of converting our van.


    Spent two long holidays travelling around France in the T5 with our kids last year and year before via the Alps. They are now 2 and 4. I’ve been busy so we also now have a 3 month old.

    The Van had a pop top with simple removable bed boards, but in the end we got an inflatable Vango tent which simply clipped onto the awning rail – expensive but a great bit of kit. Wife slept in the Van and myself and eldest on a blow up mattress in the tent with the two year old in a travel cot (when she was a baby of course).

    Not sure what we’d do now with number three, but at 4, the eldest is old enough to go in the pop top. Not sure about the 2 year old yet. You can also apparently get beds which stretch across the front seats, I presume like a hammock.

    One important thing to consider is your space when the kids are asleep which without a tent means you have to sit outside. At least with the tent you can sit in the van with the doors closed while cooking, `talking’ etc. Think we may be selling ours.

    Premier Icon mattbee

    We got rid of our T5 this year after buying a caravan
    Two of us & a dog. The t5 was awesome for weekends away, climbing, biking etc where you’re out all day & just want somewhere to crash.
    Throw in some bad weather or the midge storm we experienced at Glyncorrwig last year and it’s a bit crap basically sitting in the back of a little tin box for hours on end.
    That & the fact that we were constantly having to move stuff to get to other stuff started to wear thin after a few years. Was the same when we had a T2 years ago. Yeah, you can use an awning but that’s extra hassle & even more stuff to move about.
    Caravan, once parked has full size cooker, shower, loo, big sofas/bed & room to move around. Plus we can drive places without packing the whole lot away or leaving the awning & everything in it.
    Basically, I reckon if all you do is 1-2 night trips & are out and about on bikes or similar during the day they are proper ace but for longer breaks or lazy lounging either a bigger camper or a caravan is way better.

    Van Halen

    Happy to use our type4 for weekends or for 2 weeks away. Have 3 girls 4 7 and 16. The 16 has her own tent. The smaller ones are in bunks over the drivers seat and back.
    This year we will evict the 7 yr old into the 16ers tent.
    We have a drive away but only use it for weeks away. No cooker or any of that rubbish in the van. Tried it but didn’t get on with it. Had vans for 17yrs.
    We cook outside or in the drive away. We do have a sail awning thing we set up over the van for weekend camping.

    Premier Icon a11y

    Echo mattbee’s post above. Had our T5 for 8 years but not slept in it as a family since last summer. Kids currently 16mths and 3yrs. Managed a week camping in Germany enroute to 2 weeks in a chalet in the Alps, it was a challenge but we’ve always used a pop up Khyam driveaway awning which is ace.

    However, since bought a caravan for benefits mentioned above. Kept T5 as my everyday vehicle but TBH might swap back to a car sometime. Van extremely useful for days with the kids and biking though!


    Cheers for all the replies! Think we’ll hire one for a week later this summer and see how we get on. Caravan is something else we’re considering, as a few have mentioned above.


    we love our (unconverted) pop-top Mazda Bongo – fitted out with leisure battery and hookup but that’s about it from standard. Decent sized awning and it’s fine for camping with our two girls (now 9 and 11). It’d be nice to have more room / dedicated camper or caravan but that’s far outweighed by having it as a really practical second-car / day trip van / loading up with kids + grandparents etc etc.

    its a nice drive too…

    At pretty much the same same as we got our T5 a mate got a caravan. As has been mentioned above, there is more space etc so if its heaving down its comfier to sit around a table etc rather than moving things around in a T5 sized van.

    But that said, we wanted a VW camper van – for 18 years we’d talked about it and we’ve been places in it that you wouldn’t stand a chance of getting a caravan to. Horses for courses but definitely reccommend trying a T5 out first.

    The other consideration is that they’re a money pit. Not because they’re unreliable, I just got sucked into the VW thing big time. I’ve probably got knocking on for £40k invested in my T5 now. That said, I absolutely love the thing…


    we have 2 children and dog and are currently selling the 18 month old 5 berth caravan with pretty much every luxury to go down the T5 route. Only time will tell if it’s the right call.

    Premier Icon takisawa2

    Am I greedy in wanting a T5 to tow my caravan…?
    Ok, just a day van sort of thing. Had a Galaxy for years, love the space & towing ability, but don’t need all those seats.
    A T5 looks to give me the space plus a bit of heft for towing.
    It’s that or a Super Estate.

    I wouldn’t swap the caravan for a camper. The caravan is just fab. Kids basically have their own bedroom, walk in shower, room for all the bits & bobs.
    Kids talked me in to camping in France once. I did a trial pack of the car & gave up. Caravan was just so much easier.

    Premier Icon pictonroad

    I had a LWB extended T4 with a high top and toilet inside. Ok with 1 kid, torture with 2, sold it. Wouldn’t dream of anything that small with two kids again. It’s the constant moving things around and no space to do anything once the kids are asleep that sealed its fate.

    Not ‘so’ bad somewhere hot where you’re outside all the time.

    Premier Icon downshift

    Managed all 4 of us in our T2 when the kids were 4 and 9. Got a 4 person Decathlon pop up to throw stuff into to make more space inside, and then figured out quite quickly that it was far more civilised for everyone to sleep in the tent, leaving the interior of the camper as a pleasant place to spend the evening without a kids-enforced curfew.

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