Why a campervan?
What’s so special about a campervan? We asked Daniel Lopez-Ferreiro, campervan expert and the co-author of Camper Van Life, for his answer to the big question - why buy a campervan?
Camping holidays, of all types, have long been popular in the UK, appealing to families, single people and couples alike. And this trend shows no sign of going away - if anything camping is more popular than ever. But, when you’re trying to decide how to go camping - and you look at tents, trailer tents, caravans and campervans - how do you choose? In short - why buy a campervan?
Camping is good for you
We all know that getting out in the countryside is good for our health - both physically and mentally. Going on camping holidays and enjoying the beautiful coast and countryside of the British Isles is one of the best ways to beat stress - especially if you force yourself to turn off your mobile phone, tablet and laptop.
Why not buy a caravan?
You could buy a caravan. They’re quite cheap to buy and offer lots of facilities inside. It’s not that difficult to buy a big car, have a tow bar fitted, and then learn how to hitch up a caravan to your car and tow it to a caravan site in a popular holiday destination. If you’ve never towed a caravan before you might want to book a towing course with one of the two big caravan clubs. They’ll remind you that in the UK you must stick to 60mph when towing, even on a motorway. And you’re not allowed to tow anything in the overtaking lane of the motorway.
It’s wise to book your campsite in advance, and make sure the access road is good for caravans. If you ask very nicely, some campsite wardens may agree to help you to pitch the caravan correctly. This is handy if you struggle with reversing.
When you do arrive and check in, you’ll drive to the pitch, unhitch the car, wind down the corner steadies, level the caravan as much as possible, plug into the electric hook-up point, roll your Aqua-Roll to the tap to fill it with water, connect that up - and then start putting up the awning. Phew!
It’s not quick to set up your caravan, so once it’s all set up, you won’t want to move it again anytime soon. You will be rather stuck on that pitch and in that one place. Of course, you can go out for the day, but you will always have to come back to the same base at night. That can be fine if there’s somewhere you really want to go - and you don’t mind being there for a couple of weeks. But it’s not the same thing as having a campervan, which you can drive from place to place on a voyage of discovery.
Why not buy a tent?
Well, yes - why not buy a tent? They’re as cheap as chips and you can just slam a tent in the back of any car and pitch it on any campsite. You might even be allowed to squeeze into an odd space on a campsite that’s full, if you’ve only taken a little tent.
Of course your car will be full to the brim with all the camping gear you need in a tent. You’ll need a washing up bowl, tea-towels, a collapsible box full of pots, pans, cutlery, washing-up liquid and sponge, a camping stove, gas canisters, camping chairs, torches, lanterns, wellies, flip-flops, a mallet, a box of food, sleeping bags, bin bags, air beds, inflator, coolbox, water container, baby wipes, and so on.
And with a tent you’ll find stray earthworms, slugs, earwigs, spiders and flies trying to seek shelter in there with you. If it rains, your clothes will become damp and cold. In a little tent, you’ll find out how to get dressed while lying down. Tent camping is not too bad for Scouts, Guides and youth groups - but it’s not for everyone.
Why not stay in a hotel?
Perhaps by now you’re wondering if you should just book a 5-star hotel - or at least a Premier Inn or Travelodge?
With a hotel the advantages are obvious - you do have someone else to cook and wash up for you - at a price. But you do rather have to dance to someone else’s tune, don’t you? You have to eat breakfast when you’re told, lunch when you’re told, check out when you’re told… and the hotel is located in just one place. There’s no sense of ‘laissez-faire’.
If you don’t like the chef’s cooking, or you find it too rich and creamy for your health, sadly there’s nowhere to make your own food. And if you have a late night, you can’t even have a lie-in without upsetting the chamber-maids.
With a hotel there is none of the freedom or spontaneity that you can have with a campervan. That, to me, is the key benefit of owning a campervan.
Why buy a campervan?
Sussex Campervans are fully equipped with all you need on board, so packing to go away is as easy as going to stay in a hotel. You’re in control of the heating, lighting and timetable. You don’t have to book ahead, because you don’t need to stay on busy campsites - there are plenty of places to park up for the night for free.
You can drive to a clifftop or seafront and enjoy your dinner at your own table, with the best view of the sunset. You can get a takeaway, or eat out, enjoying an ice-cream from the ice-box for dessert.
I think that a caravan is camping with standards, but a campervan is camping with class!
Lots of our clients buy their campervan, thinking that they are just going to go away for a couple of weeks and tour the UK or the Continent. And they do those things, but what they don’t always foresee is the everyday use they’ll get out of the campervan.
Campervan owners say, “What we didn’t realise until we bought it is the potential for a quick afternoon out at the seaside, or that unplanned cheeky weekend away.”
They say, “Do you know, we end up using it all year round.”
Some folk were here earlier, and they bought their camper from Sussex Campervans 18 months ago. David said, “We spent Christmas in Falmouth, looking out to the sea, for six days - it was fantastic.”
Once they’ve got the van, our Sussex Campervan owners find all sorts of ways to use it every week. That spare Saturday afternoon turns into a glorious afternoon out. Going to see friends turns into a night away from home. And that’s what campervans can do, that nothing else can.
So I hope I’ve answered the question - why buy a campervan?
Camper Van Life, by Daniel and Rebekah Lopez-Ferreiro, is a celebration of the campervan lifestyle, complete with personal stories, advice and stories from fellow owners. You can buy the Kindle version for £1.99 (Amazon) or the paperback for £14.99 from the Sussex Campervans Shop when you visit us.
Click here to get the Kindle download.
Tip: If you buy the Kindle book it includes a £5 money-off voucher for the paperback copy.