The holiday season is approaching and many of us are weighing up our staycation options, and considering whether to purchase a caravan, motorhome, campervan or tent for the holidays.
The motorhome has long been a national treasure – from the super-luxe, super-sized custom motorhomes to the humble two-berth, there was plenty to be tempted by at this year’s Caravan, Camping and Motorhome show at the NEC, attended by our motorhome specialists Motorhome Direct.
But if you’re new to owning a motorhome, what do you need to know to make a start… and where do you start?
New to motorhomes?
Unlike flying abroad, or driving to a location to begin your holiday, a motorhome holiday starts as soon as you set off. But for the uninitiated, this can suddenly feel a little overwhelming. Thanks to several conversations held at the Caravan, Camping and Motorhome show, we’ve compiled some helpful tips to help motorhome newbies hit the road with confidence!
- Consider renting a motorhome initially – it’s a big expense, so take a few trips in a rental to make sure it really is for you before you commit.
- Try different configurations and sizes – some have separate bedrooms, others don’t, some have full kitchens, others contain kitchenettes, and some of you may need to think about a nook for the dog bed. Yes, they come in all shapes and sizes, so it’s worth testing a few on some short breaks.
- Awnings can be expensive but could triple your space – another good reason to rent one with and without an awning to find out if it’s something you’d enjoy having.
- Always test the size and comfort of the bed before you drive away!
- Know that it’ll take around an hour to adjust to driving a motorhome. Take the pressure off – you won’t know it all and will be learning as you go.
- For your first trip, stay local and get comfortable. Don’t be too ambitious and plan to tour the Scottish 500 from the moment you pick up your motorhome, as tempting as it is.
- Find out how to turn all the lights on before it gets dark – there is usually a control panel near the door which is much easier to find when you can see it.
- Test the heating – make sure you know how it works before you set off, otherwise you could be in for a very chilly first night.
- Paul Merton’s top tip, repeated several times, was “make sure you know the height of the vehicle and write it down and leave it on the dashboard”, followed by “if signs says ‘not suitable for motorhomes’, believe it!”. We believe him.
- Learn how to ‘level up’ – there are many different accessories available to make the level up easier. You can start by asking your motorhome centre to explain what ‘chocks’ are, which can prevent your motorhome from leaning to one side. There are plenty of YouTube videos you can also watch in advance.
- Take bicycles – once you’re parked and just need to pop out for a pint of milk, you’ll have a handy bicycle available to nip to the shop.
- Don’t overpack – start small! You also won’t need an extra leisure battery or gas cannisters for your first trip. It’s a small space so any clutter can have a big impact on your comfort.
- Don’t travel with valuables – keep your expensive jewellery and gadgets at home and only travel with what you need.
- Get to know the community – by trialing pitches, even just locally, you’ll get to know more about the scene and pick up all sorts of handy tips from fellow enthusiasts.
- Expect visitors – the community is very sociable and only too happy to show you around their motorhome and find out how yours differs from theirs.
- Don’t be worried or embarrassed about making a mistake – you’ll find those who own a motorhome are quite a relaxed bunch and on-hand to help, whether in person, in a Facebook community group or via handy YouTube videos! Something tells us they’ve been through it all before…
Once you have an idea of the type of motorhome that is most likely to fit your budget and lifestyle, you can start to look at the running costs, including insurance, so spend some time finding out all you can prior to purchase.
Our motorhome specialists are not only enthusiasts themselves, but they have relationships with numerous motorhome dealerships, so can be a great starting point if you have any questions surrounding your new ‘home from home’. They can talk you through motorhome insurance (for example, does standard insurance cover awnings and valuables?), and what happens if you break down, as well offering handy vehicle tips!
Much like any motoring scene, the key is in the community it brings and the openness in sharing information, from maintenance to the best places to go. So, get out there, ask questions and start having fun!