They say unplanned trips are the best; we say they're right! When you leave your home randomly to explore the world, you allow the adventure to take control and let the wild lead you to unexpected places.
But there's a challenge that comes with spontaneity—stressful and expensive last-minute hotel reservations! Well, not anymore. We bring you the ultimate solution to random yet meaningful trips with your friends and family—a campervan.
With an RV, you can have the independence and spontaneity you've always craved because your van doubles up as your hotel too. If living on your own terms sounds like something you'd like to do, continue reading this 2023 updated guide to choosing a campervan. Start your new van life with confidence:
While it's easy to start your search online looking for the cheapest or most affordable camper for you, we would advise you to take things a little bit slow. First, start by making a game plan. Without knowing the kind of RV that suits you, you could have the most beautiful or expensive campervan and it still wouldn't serve its function.
That said, write down the answers to the following questions to begin understanding the kind of van that will suit your needs:
• What purpose does the campervan serve?
• Who will use the campervan?
• How frequently are you going to use it?
• What kind of destinations would you like to take your van to?
• How much do you intend to spend?
• When do you need the van?
With the answers above, you'll have a better sense of the kind of vehicle you're looking for. In turn, you can narrow your search to vehicles that serve your intended function. Without this, you'll be looking for a needle in a haystack. Save yourself time and stress by shortlisting as per your needs! Let's dig a bit deeper into the questions and their answers:
You are not buying a van for fun, to show off, or have it look pretty in your garage. Instead, you are investing in a vehicle to fulfil a need. That is why, above all else, the function comes first. As such, it's critical to comprehend what you want from a campervan in terms of its purpose and function, vital to real van life.
What are the activities you'd like to engage in? Which locations do you want to visit? Make a list of your plans, and identify the main function of your van individually. Naturally, people have different interests. For some, it will be for surfing excursions, while others will prefer to use it to travel from city to city and explore the culture and architecture. For others, it's simply for friendly road trips around their home country, and for all these functions, the van specifications will be different.
Who are you buying it for? It is for your nuclear family, close friends, or even random hangouts with workmates? Do you want to travel with your children and grandchildren, who will all sleep in the camper, or will it be just you and your wife? If it's to be used by many, how often would such trips happen?
Knowing who will be using the van will help you know how many travel seats you want your RV to have. Besides that, it will also help you determine how many beds you'll need and how often. After all, if you just require a two-berth most of the time, it makes no sense to purchase a huge six-berth van for one major vacation per year. That's because most times when travelling with extras, they'll naturally prefer to sleep in tents or a driveaway awning near the campervan rather than squeeze themselves inside the campervan.
This way, they still enjoy your companionship, the warmth of the campervan lounge, and the kitchen while yet having privacy stopped to park overnight. Large families will even bring a second car so that some younger folks can have time to visit theme parks, and kid-friendly attractions, or engage in extreme sports while others may opt to enjoy more relaxed activities. It may not just be you in your van life.
By now we bet you're already visualizing the kind of van that will suit your needs, but let's get to the spending. Just how much have you budgeted for? How much does it cost to buy and modify a campervan? It all depends on your preferences and how much you're willing to spend.
Some of the variables that determine the final price include the price of the camper van, the cost of construction, and the costs of maintenance throughout the vehicle's lifetime. When it comes to buying, you can either opt for a new car or buy a used one and refurbish it. Let's dig a bit deeper:
You could opt for a new van or simply get a repurposed one from a van conversion such as Vansppeed. The company converts Mercedes Sprinters model years 2014 and above. In any case, the first step to converting an old one is buying a used van. Here are some pointers for purchasing a pre-owned camper van:
To ensure that your priorities are in line with your camper van, you must first ask yourself what the objective of the RV is. Of course, when looking for a camper van, it's simple to get overexcited and purchase the first one you see.
To avoid regretting later, therefore, make sure to list all the qualities an automobile should have before making a decision. Since you'll be spending a lot of time in your camper van, you want to be sure it fits you comfortably.
Examine the camper van's general condition before making a purchase. Remember that the general health of the car is determined by a variety of factors, including age, mileage, and vehicle history. If you're not good with vehicles, have your mechanic handle the inspection to make sure everything is intact. Here are some things to think about:
✓ The age of the vehicle: Newer cars typically have more safety measures than older ones.
✓ Rust: Cleaning rust can be difficult and makes upkeep more difficult.
✓ Vehicle-specific problems: Certain makes and models from particular years may experience recurring problems.
✓ Mileage - typically, cars with more than 200k miles are more likely to break down, but a well-maintained van with more kilometres can be in better health than a car with fewer miles but poorer maintenance.
• Preparing a Budget for an Outdated RV
As is the norm, buying a used car will be less expensive than buying a new one. Nevertheless, buying an older camper van will probably result in more maintenance and repair bills over time. Make sure you have money set aside in case these expenses arise. That classic VW camper may not be as good of an idea as you thought.
Besides repurposing an old RV, you have the choice of getting a new car. These have wider price ranges, with amazing features. A Ford Transit is popular as a base vehicle for a camper conversion. Volkswagen campervan is also another popular model, particularly their Volkswagen California model.
The caravan market has excellent offerings with features that will leave you gapping! While some of these are easy to have you hooked, it's crucial not to get distracted by some opulent features. Stay focused, unless they are affordable and offer all essential features, only then can you stay glued and purchase them.
Here is a list of all the components we think any campervan needs, whether you want to use it alone or with a family:
✓ Stove and other cooking facilities
✓ Storage space
✓ Heating. If you ever spend the night in a campervan on a very chilly night, you'll realize just how crucial this element is.
✓ Running water
✓ Four or more travel seats. Even though you don't need 4 seats now, in case you do, this will save you a ton of hassle.
✓ Gas and electricity
✓ A leisure battery with a minimum voltage of 12 Volts is required. in case your car's battery fails. For off-grid charging, solar panels are a viable solution.
✓ Sufficient headroom—preferably a hi-top or a pop-top—to prevent back pain.
✓ Enough storage
✓ Portable chemical toilet
Choosing a van involves more considerations than just your budget. While deciding on a budget can be helpful, you should also consider how you will use the vehicle. Numerous factors should be taken into account when choosing the ideal camper van for you. Here are other factors to look for:
How frequently will you use your campervan? Will the camper van serve as your residence for most of the year? Will you use it occasionally for travel? Will it be the main mode of transportation for you? The more you use it, the more you need a hardy van.
You should also think about where you'll be parking your car. Camper vans range in size although they are typically compact. You however need to know that while some can fit in a standard parking spot, others require more space. Go for a car that will fit in any typical parking space if you'd like to avoid the hustle of looking for convenient parking spots.
Camper vans can have low, mid, or high roofs. Some have pop-top ceilings, though. If you'd like to stand comfortably in your van, consider a longer roof height. The RAM Promaster and Mercedes Sprinter (which has extensions and cut-outs) are two great camper van options for tall folks.
Even though it's just you and your best friend, you could have one or two friends join you every so often. As such, it's always wise to consider extras in your vehicle seating requirements. Think about who will use the seating to know the kind of specifications that you need like a rear seat.
Following that, you can choose single, double, and bench seats, among other choices. A specialist should be relied upon to install this addition. This guarantees your safety and the safety of your passenger.
Another thing to think about is van width. How wide would your van need to be able to fit all the features you want in it? How much room will you and the passengers in your van need? To maximize space, flares are a fantastic addition to any design.
Basic camper van designs consist of a bed, a kitchen, storage, a floor, a ceiling, and walls. However, you may change your camper van to fit your way of living. Several examples of camper van modifications are as follows:
All camper vans must have insulation. Naturally, it offers protection from heat, cold, and noise, but it is capable of much more. High-grade insulation can defend against harsh weather such as:
-Light and UV rays
-Mildew and mould
-Erosion and corrosion
Insulation comes in 3 major types: organic, spray-on, and 3M Thinsulate. Here are quick descriptions of each:
Organic insulation is the way to go if you're looking non-toxic and eco-friendly choice. Some good examples here include Hemp and sheep's wool. Although materials like sheep's wool first have a scent, once that goes away, you'll have a well-insulated van.
This type of insulation is applied with a spray gun. It is water and mould resistant. It needs professional application not unless you are experienced in that area. If you're not diligent, it could be difficult to correct your errors.
Originally used as a lining in cold-weather apparel, Thinsulate is now used to insulate camper trailers. It reduces heat flow while being breathable, non-toxic, and allowing moisture to escape. Although expensive, it performs a superb job of defending your van.
So, where do you plan on taking your hired campervan? If you enjoy outdoor adventures, mountain climbing, and other excursions across challenging terrain, you should probably look at some of the most dependable vans even before looking at campervans. From here, you can then look at van conversions from reliable brands.
You should also consider your car's fuel economy especially if you plan on taking longer trips. A lightweight campervan will use less fuel and be more economically and financially viable, making it better suited for frequent use. Besides this, the lighter campervan is also less likely to get trapped in mud than a heavy van.
Another aspect to consider is the cost of servicing and maintaining your campervan. No matter how cautious you are on your excursions, touring will cause your camper to naturally suffer some wear and tear. When the time does come to service or repair a problem with your car, the work must be done at a reasonable cost.
You will also need to look for something with extra space if you plan to travel for extended periods, maybe months at a stretch. For this, make sure you have enough space in your campervan because lengthy vacations or excursions call for a lot of extra gear.
How soon do you need it? Obviously, if you need it urgently, your options are limited to whatever stock cars happen to be parked on forecourts nearby. Of course, you might get lucky and find the ideal camper waiting for you, but most times, you'll end up settling for a compromise between what you want and what's currently on the market.
That said, here is our pro tip: It's always best to start your campervan search more than six months in advance! For instance, to get a campervan for an incoming summer, people typically begin looking for a campervan in October. Being prepared allows you to take your time, browse a wide selection of campervans for sale, and get to know the local van conversions and dealerships.
Preparing in advance will also help you purchase from a reputable seller that offers a guarantee and top-notch after-sales care. Furthermore, instead of purchasing from a dealership, you could get a van converter who will provide you with direct knowledge and support for your campervan all year round. Start early enough.
Before purchasing any vehicle, it is crucial to check for any damage. The first thing you should do is to see if there are any battery issues, whether the solar panels are functioning well, whether there are any leaks, and whether the brakes are functioning effectively.
Additionally, make sure the transmission and engine are in good working order. You can request to drive the van to confirm all these mechanical elements and check the stability of the van at high speeds as well as the smoothness of the van's acceleration and handling. Additionally, we strongly advise checking the campervan's electrical system, any rust in locations where it tends to accumulate, appliances, furniture, wipers, and windows.
For this, coming up with your own checklist and bringing it with you is always a good idea. If you're not tech-savvy, especially with cars, tag along with someone who understands the mechanics of it all. That way, if your van passes the test, it's because it has passed, not because you didn't check well enough.
When is the ideal time to purchase a campervan? Although we may be a little partial, the answer is as soon as you can! The cost of campervans is always rising, so if you wait a few more months, the model you have your eye on can end up costing much more.
Nevertheless, the truth is that there is most likely never a terrible moment to purchase a campervan. Campervan supply and demand are generally balanced during the summer, making it simple to locate some unusual models and chances. Although waiting until the winter season may result in lower pricing, it also means that you might have to postpone your desire for a sunny camping getaway.
Although campervan storage capacity is one of the biggest concerns individuals have when first considering purchasing a campervan, most caravans have sufficient space. As such, this is usually not a cause for worry. In actuality, as long as a campervan is well-designed, it will give far more storage capacity than first appears.
But because storage is such a big deal, here are some pointers First, decide where to store each type of equipment so that it's easy to locate them by category. Second, bring only a small selection of clothes that you can wash, dry, and reuse while travelling. Third, choose compact kitchen equipment. You can get compact silicone cookware available from Kampa to make the most of your locker space.
Last but not least, avoid shopping at home. Simply buy items, especially foodstuff on the go. While you could batch-cook several stews and load them into the fridge, buying local food is considerably more enjoyable and space-efficient. Furthermore, you could also enjoy some takeout or a meal in a bar. It helps you get to know the locals and guarantees a friendly welcome wherever you go.
Another major concern is the weather. Well, the good news is this one is that we have weather forecasts! If the weather's poor at your desired destination, simply change destination and plan to revisit in the future. Generally speaking though, keep tabs on the weather to avoid surprises.
Now that you have these insider tips, we believe you have more than enough information to make the right choice. If you're still unsure, please feel free to reach out to us for more advice. Otherwise, enjoy living free!