It’s a divisive and hotly contested debate in the usually peaceful world of camper vans and caravans, with both sides believing they are in the right – so which is best: camper van or caravan? We explore the pros and cons of both to help you make up your mind.
Freedom to Explore
When you visit a new area it’s only natural that you want to explore everything it has to offer, taking in the scenery and local places. While a caravan allows you to set up camp for your fortnight away then jump in the car to hit tourist trails, it can be a hassle to have to decamp to another site and settle in if you want to explore a greater area. A camper allows you to hit the road and take in more miles, stopping off for a brew on the way, in between overnight stops at campsites. However, due to their size, camper vans cannot always go places that a car can go.
Setting up Camp
Arrive and drive to your pitch, turn off the ignition and you’re fairly well ready to relax – that’s a major advantage of a camper van. Caravans need a little more attention before you can kick back and let the holiday begin. You might face the challenge of reversing a long caravan into your pitch, unhitching it and making sure it’s flat and stable, then putting up the awning in the vagaries of the British weather.
Question of Cost
Budget is a consideration for most camper vanners and caravanners, so depending on how much you want to spend caravans are generally seen as the cheaper option. But don’t forget that you’ll also need a car that’s capable of pulling your caravan, so factor that in to your finances. It’s definitely worthwhile doing some research into the type of car that’s suitable for the particular caravan you are interested in, looking at weight restrictions and guidelines. Obviously, you’ll need to have a tow bar fitted, which can cost between £200 to £400. If you’re looking for space for all the family and ease of set-up, one of the larger models of camper vans could be a better option. However, the cost of a top of the range camper van or RV (recreational vehicle) can be comparable with a luxury car and high-end caravan.
Generally, due to their smaller size caravans are a little easier to store than motorhomes when not in use. If you opt for a smaller model of caravan, it can be detached and hand-reversed into your garage. While bigger motorhomes might offer a spacious getaway for families, it does mean that they can take up a lot of room on your driveway for many months of the year and, due to height, will be unlikely to fit inside a garage.
Motorhomes offer the advantage of being a tow vehicle and place to stay all in one, so can be a little easier to drive than their caravan counterparts. However, larger vehicles may take some getting use to, particularly on smaller roads. Towing and manoeuvring a caravan takes more practise, particularly reversing. Again, you also need to ensure that your car is suitable for towing the size of caravan you’re looking to buy.
Which is coolest? It’s a touch choice. While most modern campers and caravans couldn’t really claim to be cool and put comfort, practicality and mod cons over style, roll back a few decades and it’s a different story. Who could resist the combination of cute and cool demonstrated by a vintage Eriba Puck caravan, then again VW campers are celebrated the world over as true icons of cool. We’ll leave you to decide!