How Much Does It Cost To Road Trip Around The U.K. In A Campervan?
Tuesday 18th February 2020
By Ely Power
How Much Does It Cost To Road Trip Around The U.K. In A Campervan?
There’s no doubt that a campervan road trip is the ultimate way to explore Great Britain in all its rugged realness, enabling you to experience so much more than any other mode of travel.
Hopping on a train, coach or flight is certainly a faster way to reach the U.K.’s bustling cities, but why head straight for the big dogs when you could be discovering hidden gems, local favourites and remarkable wilderness with every mile? Life’s about the journey, after all.
But when it comes to figuring out how much a road trip will cost, there’s no set answer. Your total expenditure depends on your holiday style, travel companions, destinations, activities and choice of season:
Do you dream of exploring the countryside in a luxury campervan or will a budget rental do the job? Are you bringing your family and friends along or riding solo? What do you want to do each day? Where would you like to camp at night? Are you planning a summer getaway or a winter break? We could go on but you get the jist.
With truck loads of variables to factor in, it’s important to take the time to budget for your holiday. While you probably won’t stick to it religiously (what’s a road trip without some spontaneity?), having a rough guide of what you plan to spend each day will keep the small things from adding up and taking over your bank account.
We’re here to help kick start your journey, outlining the major costs of a U.K. road trip so that you can get calculating - because there’s nothing worse than running out of funds halfway through an adventure!
Costing Up Your #VanLife Experience
While you probably won’t come across too many, U.K. toll roads are definitely something to consider when planning your route. Drivers are charged a fee for their use, which varies depending on vehicle size, toll plaza, time of day and day of the week.
For instance, a ‘Class 4’ campervan travelling on the M6 between 7am-7pm on a weekday will be charged £11.80, as opposed to £9 between 11pm-5am on a weekend.
Below, we’ve listed some of the major tolls to look out for across the U.K.:
M6 - West Midlands
M4 - Second Severn Crossing
M25 - Dartford River Crossing
M48 - Severn Bridge
A15 - Humber Bridge
A4 - Batheaston Bridge
A38 - Tamar Bridge
A57 - Dunham Bridge
A3025 - Itchen Bridge
A477 - Cleddau Bridge
A19 - Tyne Tunnels
A41 - Mersey Tunnels - Queensway
A59 - Mersey Tunnels - Kingsway
A533 - Mersey Gateway
Of course, the extra expense is often worth it to reach a certain destination and keep your itinerary on track. That said, you probably wouldn’t want to be doing this every day if you’re on an extended road trip - these charges can add up quickly!
The great thing about van life is that you can avoid the expensive rates and strict bookings of hotel accommodation. But even with a campervan, you’ll have to work out where to park each evening.
So plan ahead by considering the cost of your pitch. From wild campgrounds to farms and caravan parks, price per night will vary according to the facilities and location of each camping spot.
Easily the most expensive option (thanks to their prime settings and wealth of amenities), holiday parks range from around £20-£40 per night. If you can’t resist their home comforts, our advice is to choose your travel dates wisely - off-peak holidaymakers can score some game-changing deals.
Case in point: Camelford Caravan Club Site in Cornwall offers a 50% midweek discount on standard pitch fees from April 6th to May 21st. And there’s plenty more bargains where that came from!
Campgrounds & Farmstays
If you want to immerse yourself in Mother Nature without foregoing facilities, check out these National Trust campsites, which charge anywhere from £7-£25 per night. Staying on a farm is also a brilliant way to cut costs without missing out on the bucolic beauty of our countryside, with prices ranging from about £10-£30 per night.
Many places from pubs to community centres offer safe and legal spaces to park overnight, in return requesting that you buy some dinner, pay a few pounds (about £5-£15) or simply respect the premises - very handy when you need a quick solution after sunset! Find your closest Nightstop here.
Aiming to save some money by camping off-grid? Although often free, wild camping in the U.K. also requires some forward planning. With a lack of official regulations prohibiting overnight parks in public spaces, it seems to be up to local jurisdictions most of the time. Our advice: double check where you can set up camp on the park4night app or by asking around town.
Fuel economy is a key factor to consider when choosing a campervan for your road trip, especially if you plan to cover lots of ground. The frequency with which you’ll have to fill your tank depends on vehicle size, year of manufacture and engine type, with older and larger vans managing less miles per gallon (mpg).
For example, a VW T4 averaging 40mpg will cost roughly £15 per 100 miles to run on diesel. Compare that to a VW T2, which may only return 18mpg and have you paying double the price to fuel up.
These days, the price gap between different fuel types seems to be tapering, with cost per litre hovering around £1.24 for petrol and £1.30 for diesel. That said, diesel engines are generally more efficient, running on 15−20% less fuel!
Whether you’ve gone for diesel or petrol, the easiest way to slash your fuel expenses is to find the cheapest service station on your route, comparing fuel prices as you tour around the U.K.
With cuisine of all kinds, the U.K. has a shining reputation amongst foodies far and wide. From fish and chips to gastro pubs and michelin star restaurants, you’ll be spoilt for choice in all corners of the nation.
But while you can silence your rumbles wherever you roam, it’s not always cheap. Check out our estimated dining costs below:
Budget: £5 – £10 per person at a café, fast food chain or takeaway shop
Moderate: £10 – £25 per person at a casual bistro or pub
Blow out: £30+ per person at a fancy restaurant
To really save money on food throughout your road trip, make homemade meals whenever possible - with a kitchenette, you can cook up a feast without even leaving your campervan! Of course, you’ll need to think ahead with this one, stopping to grab ingredients before you set up camp. Good thing we’ve got supermarkets all over the place.
Attractions & Activities
Perhaps the most variable cost of all, it goes without saying that your interests and hobbies will have a big influence on your expenditure. Like to hike, swim and kick back in nature? Chances are you can spend your days happily without spending a cent.
Alternatively, things like museums, guided tours and workshops tend to cost about £6 – £12 a ticket. And don’t get us started on extreme sports like skydiving and coasteering, which can set you back up to (thrill seekers, look away now) £300 per person.
So strike a balance between crossing off your bucket list and enjoying the wonders of our wilderness for free - there’s no better opportunity to do so!
Your Campervan Rental
With Camplify, you can hire a van no matter your budget. Our local owners share their campervans without the middleman markups, meaning you get to enjoy a quality rental for a fair price.
With so many makes, models and conversions available, you’ll need to decide which features you’d love to have onboard and which characteristics you’re willing to compromise on (if necessary). What matters most: size or transmission, layout or mileage?Equipped with these priorities, you’ll be ready to hunt for bargains!
Don’t forget to consider maintenance costs, either - some models are manufactured with exclusive parts that are pretty expensive to repair and replace! More on this below...
For a retro road trip you’ll never forget, look no further than the iconic Volkswagen Kombi.
Quite compact for its price, this two-berth campervan is the perfect treat for your next birthday celebration, anniversary or well-deserved holiday. Or maybe you want to go all out for the ultimate festival glamping experience!
But securing a Kombi in top condition is no cheap feat - its unbeatable style and surging popularity bring with them a greater purchase price and rental rate. Running costs are high, too - with a slower engine and relatively poor fuel economy, this postcard-perfect campervan is best suited to holidaymakers with larger budgets.
Our opinion: if you’ve got the pounds to spare, a romantic road trip in a one-of-kind Kombi is worth every penny!
The Mercedes Sprinter is the go-to for many roadtrippers. With a spacious living space, wide choice of configurations and impressive fuel economy, some would say that this campervan strikes the perfect balance between comfort and cost. And with a seriously smooth driving experience, the Sprinter lives up to its name as soon as you hit the road.
A veteran in the van life community, buyers and hirers alike can find an older model for a really reasonable price given its size and performance. And if you’re aiming to convert one yourself, widely-available online guides can save you lots of money on the build!
But be warned: Mercedes exclusively owns many of this vehicle’s parts. That means most issues must be fixed at a dealership, which, consequently, can charge far more than your standard mechanic.
All in all, though, the Mercedes Sprinter is an affordable, reliable van that shouldn’t let you down if well maintained.
A generously-sized van with enough berths for the whole family, the Ford Transit gives you real value for your money. Larger and taller than most other campervan models, you’ll enjoy far more space for your quid - and even a little extra room makes a massive difference when you’re living on the road!
So why can you buy and hire this fuel-efficient, commodious campervan for much cheaper than its smaller, slower competitors?
Maybe because it lacks the Kombi’s vintage charm and the Sprinter’s many driving configurations. Either way, we think this lofty campervan is a steal - especially considering its relatively cheap parts, which can be repaired by any mechanic at an affordable price.
Set Your Road Trip Budget? Time To Hit The Road!
Hopefully, you now have a better idea of how much it’ll cost to tour the U.K. in a campervan. Of course, you may end up spending far less or far more than the above benchmarks, depending on your lifestyle. At the end of the day, it’s all down to personal preference and what price points you feel comfortable at.
Our advice? Jot down all of your forecasted costs to work out the amount of money you’ll need to spend each day. From there, adjust the expenses of each aspect of your journey until you reach a budget that everyone’s happy with - it may require some compromises!
Once you’ve calculated your U.K. road trip costs, the next step is to book a campervan that will bring your adventure to life. Whatever your budget, you can find the right rental for your staycation on Camplify!