You may be really excited to go on a road trip or self-driving holiday but it is always best to do a little bit of research before your trip. What are the options available to you and which vehicle should you choose for your holiday? For those outside the industry, it may be confusing as there are many terms used to describe what looks like the same thing from the outside.
Common terms used are camper, motorhome, campervan, RV and the caravan. Which is best suited for your trip? Well, the most common two vehicles are campervans and motorhomes. This article will explain all you need to know about the debate between campervans vs motorhomes so you can have a fuss free holiday!
What Is a Campervan?
A campervan is basically a regular van that has been converted so that you can sleep inside it. A campervan only has basic fit outs and they can only typically sleep about two to four people depending on the size.
A campervan typically comes with a double bed that is converted from the dinette. A 4 berth campervan will also have an upper bunk double bed close to the ceiling. Usually, it comes equipped with a kitchenette or basic equipment to cook meals. However, campervans are usually not equipped with showers or toilets.
Usually, campervans are more associated with younger drivers for road trips, festivals and surfing.
What Is a Motorhome?
A motorhome is a self-contained vehicle that has holding tanks for waste from the shower and toilet. It is generally much bigger than a campervan and is built on a customised light commercial vehicle. Depending on the size of the motorhome, you will be able to sleep from two to six people inside so if you are travelling with a family, a motorhome would be an excellent choice. You will be able to stand and move about inside rather easily.
A motorhome often comes with fully-equipped kitchenettes, living space and a shower and toilet. Some higher-end motorhomes even come with luxuries such as an external slide-out BBQ, solar panels, remote control beds etc. Yes, just like a hotel room!
Depending on the layout of the motorhome, it may have a slide out panel that creates more room for the living and sleeping areas when the vehicle is parked. Read more on "Tips for motorhome travel in Australia"
Most of the time, motorhomes are the preferred choice for families, large groups of friends or couples. But before you pick one, read about the "Key tips for first time motorhome drivers in Australia"
Which Is Better - Campervan or Motorhome?
To answer that question, you first have to decide on a few things such as:
What is your budget?
How many people are you travelling with?
Where will you be staying?
Will you need other vehicles?
What kind of traveller are you?
You want to be able to compare campervans vs motorhomes to see which would best suit your needs before deciding. The few major considerations should be:
Are you buying or renting your travel vehicle? If you are just starting out on living on the open road, it is recommended that you rent from a reputable company such as Aussie Campervans to get a feel of things. This will give you a chance to have a taste of the nomadic life of living on a home on wheels. Renting also allows you to test out different vehicle layouts and its offerings.
Some of the costs that new buyers should consider include vehicle storage rental, road registration, service and maintenance cost etc. This is why it may be more cost effective to rent if you are not travelling as frequently.
Type of Traveller
Do you enjoy nature and sleeping under the stars? Or do you prefer a holiday in a luxurious hotel? Do your travel companions prefer the same?
If you prefer being at one with nature and travelling minimally, a campervan with basic facilities is all you need. Sleeping with the windows open, listening to the rhythms of nature certainly brings a different perspective on life.
If you prefer a hotel stay, get a motorhome instead. You will have all the facilities with you such as a shower, toilet, tv, air-conditioning and heating. Although that sounds really basic, compared to a campervan, it is very luxurious! Read more on "Advantages of hiring a motorhome in Australia".
If you are not planning on baking your own pizza and are not much of a chef, go for campervans as this vehicle comes with the very basic stove top only. If you are travelling as a couple and do not need to whip up a banquet, a campervan kitchen would be sufficient to make a hearty meal for two.
Motorhomes are usually equipped with the usual kitchen appliances that you have at home like a microwave and even a small oven. Therefore, cooking a delicious meal for a sizable group of people is entirely doable in a motorhome. You can also do the washing up easily as sinks are readily installed in motorhomes. Some motorhomes even have dishwashers installed!
Shower and toilet facilities
Campervans generally do not come with an ensuite shower and toilet. However, some campervan rental companies do provide outdoor showers for hire. This may be a hassle to set up and water may not be heated. This issue can be easily fixed if you spend the night at paid campsites with communal showers and toilet facilities. However, this would be an additional cost to factor in for your road trip.
On the other hand, a motorhome is equipped with shower and toilet and is self-contained. The waste water from the shower and toilet goes into a holding tank in the vehicle. This is highly recommended for families with young children.
Generally, a standard car driver’s license is all you need to drive a campervan or motorhome in Australia. If you have an international driver’s license, it is important to ensure that you are permitted to drive vehicles with a gross vehicle mass of 3 to 4.5 tonnes.
If you wish to rent a campervan or motorhome with a foreign driver’s license that is not in English, it must be accompanied by an accredited English translation or International Driver’s License
How much space do you need? This is one of the most important factors when it comes to deciding if you should go for a campervan vs motorhome.
Campervans are more compact, therefore, storage spaces are very limited. If you are a light traveller who lives a minimalist lifestyle, campervans would be a good fit for you.
On the other hand, motorhomes are basically homes on wheels. There are multiple storage compartments for you to store your personal belongings and equipment.
Tip: For ease of storage, pack personal belongings in soft bags rather than hard cases.
Future vehicle storage
If you decide on purchasing your vehicle, keep in mind that there are different ways to store campervans vs motorhomes during off-travel seasons.
Generally, campervans can be stored in a home garage if the ceiling has enough height clearance.
However, most motorhomes require a designated storage space. When you want to use your motorhome, you will have to pick it up from the storage location. Many owners end up spending a fortune to store their motorhome when they are not on the road.
Is a Campervan Considered a Motorhome?
Both campervans and motorhomes are actually categorised as an RV or recreational vehicle since it can be moved from one location to another and has livable space in it.
That is where the similarities end. A campervan and a motorhome are different in terms of what it comes with and it depends entirely on what your individual needs are when it comes to choosing motorhomes vs campervans.
What Are the Advantages of a Campervan or Motorhome Over a Caravan?
Caravans are another type of vehicle that can be lived in but does not have an engine. It is similar to motorhomes in terms of functionality. However, a caravan is typically towed or transported by another motor vehicle. Fifth wheelers, demountables and micro campers are also considered caravans.
Generally, motorhomes have more advantages over caravans. These advantages include:
Travelling in a motorhome is less of a hassle because you will be driving and sleeping in the same vehicle. As for caravans, you will have to couple and uncouple the caravan every time you arrive at a caravan park. Not forgetting, bad weather would turn that into a nightmare. Hence, this may be a tiring routine that you want to avoid on a holiday
Easier to drive
Caravans are towed at the back of another motor vehicle and is not an easy task. You have to take the time to master hooking and unhooking, towing, manoeuvring around tight roads and so forth.
For campervans and motorhomes, all you have to do is drive it like you would a normal car. Many have expressed that it almost feels like second nature on their second day.
If you are purchasing a caravan, you have to factor the cost of the vehicle that tows it. Your existing vehicle may not be suitable to tow a caravan and you may end up having to buy a new car. Placing a lot of strain on a car that does not have the horse power to tow a caravan can also increase gas prices.
Motorhomes and caravans are a lot cheaper to run. The options when purchasing a motorhome are better in the long run as it also has a better resale value.
Campervans and motorhomes are more versatile for travelling from campsite to campsite. Using a caravan is slower and may not be as convenient when travelling constantly due to the hassle of towing and available campsite facilities.
To sum it up, factors you have to take into consideration when deciding on a campervan vs motorhome are your budget, the type of traveller you are, storage space needed and whether you want to buy or rent a campervan or motorhome. If you are still undecided, it is recommended that you test the vehicle in mind by renting from Aussie Campervans’s range of campervans and motorhomes. Go for a short holiday and have a taste of van life. Enjoy your trip!