Is the lure of the open road beckoning? Do you want to travel, see the sights and have plenty of adventures along the way? Or perhaps you just want to quickly and easily be able to get away for weekend jaunts, or the annual family holiday?
Well, whatever your reason, if the freedom to take off whenever you want is an appealing prospect: no booking up to stay in hotels or guest houses, no sleeping in strange beds and abiding by other people’s rules. Then you are already half way convinced that you need a way to do it on your own terms. But which do you choose – a campervan or caravan – which is best for you?
As a lover of the freedom and excitement that having your own home on wheels affords you, plus lots of experience of travelling in both a campervan and a caravan, I am here to sum up what I see as the advantages and disadvantages of each. So, here goes:
There is nothing like just getting behind the wheel and hitting the road. You have your home on your back and any time you want you can pull over, put on the kettle and have a cup of tea, or use the loo.
Great for sightseeing and exploring, for days at the beach, lakeside walks, and moody mountain views. In fact anywhere that there is a stunning view and a parking space, you can take advantage.
It can make visiting places even close to home an enjoyable and novel experience. Sit in your own space, make yourself some lunch, you can even have a nap – then off you go, on your way again – it’s the ultimate freedom! Travelling in a campervan is just plain downright fun.
Other bonus points:
No towing! You just drive without having to worry about a big white box on wheels following you everywhere you go! Easier and quicker to set up than a caravan. Everything is always with you. Long day driving – just park up, crawl in the back and go to sleep, wake up refreshed and ready to go!
You have a lot more freedom and flexibility with a campervan. You always have towels, clothes, food and drink handy, it’s like driving around in a swiss army knife! Depending on the size of the campervan it can be easier to access and pitch up on smaller campsites than it would be in a caravan. Just drive in, turn off the engine and you’re done.
Now, for the down-sides:
The big down side of a campervan over a caravan is that you have to pay road tax, MOT, and insurance on it. If it is your only vehicle then this isn’t too much of an issue, but if you have a car as well, then this can double your expenses!
Some of the bonus points of a campervan can also be the downsides. Yes, it is great that you take your home with you wherever you go, but if you wake up one morning and while your partner is lying sleepily tucked up you offer to make the morning cuppa – then find you’ve run out of milk, you have to pack everything away before you can drive to the shops.
Also if you have nabbed a great pitch, unless you have a detachable awning to mark your spot, then there is a chance that after you’ve been out for the day, you might return to find someone else sitting in your spot. If you have a high top campervan, then access to certain car parks and supermarkets will also be an issue. One last thing… what are you going to do with your wet boots and waterproofs! An awning might be a good idea to store those!
Well, adventuring in a caravan involves a bit more planning. There’s no stopping and taking in the sights – you are much more concerned with taking the best and quickest route to your campsite. But once you are there, this is when a caravan comes into its own. You can literally set up camp – your own castle wherever you decide to pitch it.
Once you’ve got your ‘home away from home’ established, then for however long your holiday, whether a weekend or a fortnight, you have a comfy and familiar place to return to, leaving you free to just pop in the car and go and explore!
Other bonus points:
You can more than double your living area by erecting an awning, which will also give you extra room to spread out; plus it will also give you somewhere to store your tables, chairs, and any other accessories which your holiday wouldn’t be complete without. An awning is also a handy space to leave wet boots and waterproofs in case of the inevitable rainy day. And another big bonus – you haven’t got any road tax, MOT, or insurance to pay!
Now, for the down-sides:
Caravan storage! Where are you going to keep your caravan when you are not using it, and over the winter? Have you room for it at home? If not you will have to find (and pay for) secure storage.
You have to tow – I know that the thought of zooming down the motorway with your caravan behind you can be daunting for a lot of people – and remember that the caravan can be double the length of your car, and sometimes it can feel like it has a mind of its own when you are faced with a cross wind, or passing lorry. Then of course there is the issue of maneuvering your caravan into the pitch and reversing it into place, which can be a bit nerve wracking until you get the hang of it!
Tight spaces and winding lanes! Because you have the extra length to consider it can make some picturesque places feel almost off limits, and you will probably find yourself Googling to find out what the access to the campsite is like! There is always going to be a certain level of nerves when traveling to a unfamiliar campsite: is the road going to be wide enough? What if a vehicle is coming the other way and I’ve got to try and reverse this rig? etc. etc.
You will also need to have a large enough car (and a towbar) to tow your caravan (it is recommended that the weight of a loaded caravan be no more that 85% of the cars kerbweight), which could mean that you’ll be driving around in a bigger, less economical vehicle in your day to day life. And of course, you can’t just stop and pop the kettle on like you can in a campervan!
So there you have it: Campervan or Caravan. Both have their good points, and the freedom they afford is beyond question, so how do you choose which would be the best one for you? Hopefully the points above will give you some food for thought and will help you to decide. Weigh up your circumstances and decide what it is you want from your home on wheels? How do you plan on using it? Which option will suit your lifestyle and needs best?
Whichever you choose – Campervan or Caravan, I’m sure it will be a brilliant addition to your life. Have fun!
If you need more help in making up your mind, then checkout our article Should I buy a Campervan.
“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.” – Anonymous