A wheely great home

Escaping the stress of COVID for adventure and freedom is definitely at the top of my list of must-do soon. Yes, with my bike, wetsuit, running/walking shoes back, I’d love nothing better right now than heading to the mountains to be surrounded by nature and wilderness.

Although not everyone’s idea of the perfect holiday for me it sounds idyllic. And, if press reports are anything to go by, more of us than ever want to just that. Sales and rentals of campervans rocketed since lockdown with an estimated 225,000 motorhomes now on UK roads.

Not a generational thing

No longer are they the domain of a certain generation, you know the motorhomes before the nursing home idea, they are now desired by everyone! Since the pandemic families and younger people are seeing the attraction. It’s not just for holidays though, they are ideal for athletes competing in events around the country, surfers heading off to ‘make the drop’ and those mountaineers needing a base camp. However, families, young couples and now celebrities are joining the growing number of bubble ‘vanners’ for this have-van-can-go option for holidays. They’re definitely the way to go.

Of course, they are far more luxurious than they used to be – proper beds, showers and even TVs come as part of the package. In fact, we can honestly say whether vintage campervan, converted white van or fully-fledged motorhome these beasts on wheels are now definitely in fashion, pushing prices up by at least 20% since September 2020.

What’s the difference

Campervan or motorhome, let’s not get confused there is a difference. A motorhome is general built on the chassis of a bus or truck and can be quite luxurious. It offers a separate cab, divided living quarters, kitchen facilities, sleeping space and toilet facilities. On the other hand, a campervan is smaller, and as the name suggests, it is a van which has basic facilities for cooking, washing and sleeping. Unlike a caravan, once parked up on a site, the whole thing has to move if you want to go anywhere.

All about your age

However, don’t get all excited about investing until you have checked your driving licence.  If you passed your driving test after January 1997 you can drive a vehicle up to 3500kg and tow a trailer up to 750kg behind it. If you need a larger motorhome you’ll need to pass an additional test that gives you category C1 to your licence. For those who passed before this date you have automatic C1 entitlement and can drive a vehicle up to 7,500kg – that is quite a large home! Bad news if you’ve reached 70 years of age, because you have to renew your driving licence and complete a D2 form. This requires you to ask your GP to complete a medical form and that is likely to be a private appointment.

Is it worth the cost?

When you look at the costs though – is it all worth it? You can pick up a second-hand motorhome from a reputable dealer for as little as £15,000, although the top of the range, even second hand can be well over £50,000. A second-hand camper through Autotrader or similar sellers can be as little as £7,000. However, if you are looking for something new, prices can be as much as the cost of some people’s solid brick homes!

They are great however for exploring, taking breaks when you need to and you’ll never need to find a last-minute B&B. There is some lovely campsite that you can stop off at, check out site directories like campingandcaravanning.co.uk and cool camping.

You’ll soon discover the cost of one night’s stay at a designated campsite, in for example a popular destination like Cornwall, can add anything from £120 a night to your bill. That’s often without the basics like electricity. Bear in mind a budget hotel for a family of 4 can be as little as £60 per night depending on where you go.

So do it yourself

Many people who want a campervan but can’t afford the outlay are now converting their own. Pre-pandemic families were even renting out their homes to tour Europe bringing that sense of freedom and adventure. Autotrader has reported an increase in sales of commercial vehicles, specifically for personal use and conversion.

People are making businesses out of converting commercial vans, but expect to pay over £25,000 on top of the outlay for the van. There is a growing number of people who are turning their backs on ready-made or do-it-for-me and are going D-I-Y.

We love the story of a young adventurous woman, Chloe, who converted her own Berlingo during the 2020 pandemic. When she realised it was going to be too expensive to employ someone to do it for her, she watched YouTube videos and did it herself. That included insulating, fitting flooring, blinds and a costly bespoke bed. Her fit-out also included her own kitchen and bathroom with a shower! Take a look to see just how amazing it looks – not necessarily the size required for a family holiday! Read more about her at chloeandhervan.com

Whatever you decide, a relaxing holiday, in a luxury hotel, in some exotic faraway destination or a road trip in your converted campervan stay safe and enjoy yourselves.