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Happy campers: the rise of motorhome holidays

02 June 2022

Motorhomes and campervans are increasingly popular with experienced holidaymakers. Iain Macauley gets behind the wheel with those who know all about going where they want, whenever they want.

Motorhome driving on a coastal path

Many of us dream of owning a holiday home, but invest in a motorhome and you can enjoy a holiday base in as many places as you choose. With that one purchase the world, as Arthur Daley put it, is your lobster. 

Jenny, 60, a former catering manager from Essex, spends around 250 days a year away with her husband, retired plumber Andy, in their motorhome. ‘I've got my own bed, bathroom, gas central heating, and solar panels for electricity. We take a motorcycle for local trips when we're parked up somewhere,’ she says. 

Her motorhome is a top-of-the-range Concorde, bought secondhand in 2019. It may be 15 years old but it's luxurious - and would sell for at least the £100,000 they paid for it, probably more, as values march steadily higher. 

But what exactly are motorhomes, and how do they differ from campervans? The latter are the more basic of the two, but even among these there are the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’.

At the bottom of the ladder are ‘day vans’, based on delivery vehicles. They have no special features and no insulation, just the most rudimentary of modifications for sleeping and eating. These are good for weekends away but, says Dave Murden of Oaktree Motorhomes in Nottinghamshire, ‘Owners quickly move on to a “proper” campervan, with everything you need, including kitchen, shower, toilet, heating and insulation.’

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Motorhomes come in two formats: the coachbuilt and A-class. A coachbuilt vehicle is ‘basically a box on a van chassis’, says Dave, while an ‘A-class’ looks like the archetypal American cross-continent-style motorhome, with living area and cockpit integrated. Basic coachbuilts start at £20,000 for an older one, with premium models between £60,000 and £100,000.

Separate from campervans and motorhomes, there is a third category – ‘vanlife’ vans.  ‘Vanlife’ is about living in a van. Inside, the vehicles are comparable to motorhomes, and ‘vanlifers’ usually go to one of the specialist ‘vanlife’ conversion companies who convert load space into living space. 

Essential for all motorhomes and campervans is the habitation check, which ensures your motorhome is a safe place to be, verifying that gas and electrical appliances and fittings are in good order, and there are no signs of damp or developing damage. It's no more complicated than taking your car in for its MOT, and you get an MOT-style habitation check certificate, which is required to ensure a warranty remains valid. Regarding insurance, make sure your vehicle is registered with the DVLA, and, if it is a conversion, have it listed as a campervan rather than as a van.

‘Whether you spend £20,000 or £250,000 on a camper, motorhome or ‘vanlife’ van, you're buying into a relaxing lifestyle,’ says Ron Harris, Secretary of the Motor Caravanners’ Club.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.