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Which Holiday RV Type Is Best For You?

Monday 29th July 2019
By Neil Fahey
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By Neil Fahey
If you’re looking to improve your lifestyle with the addition of regular stress-free road trips, an RV is the perfect option. RV’s offer the flexibility to holiday your way, with the ease of a self-contained living space that you can pack up and drive away at any time.

But which is the perfect type of RV for you?

Whether you are looking to hire an RV through Camplify or buy one of your own, there are lots of options available, including caravans, campervans, motorhomes and trailer tents. They all have their advantages. The perfect RV for you will be based on a lot of factors, taking into account things like the type of travel you are looking to do, whether you are travelling solo or as part of a couple or family, and how much money you are looking to spend.

With so much to choose from, we’ve laid out the pros and cons of each type of RV, from static and touring caravans to trailer tents to campervans and motorhomes, to make it easy to choose the best RV for you.

  1. Static Caravans
  2. Touring Caravans
  3. Motorhomes
  4. Campervans
  5. Trailer Tents

It’s always best to take a test drive or two. Hire your perfect RV from Camplify and try all the options before you buy.

Static Caravans

While static caravans may not traditionally be considered an RV, they are worth mentioning here because they are on wheels and can be moved from their static site if need be. However, static caravans are not designed to be towed around. The idea of a static caravan is to find a nice spot in a holiday or caravan park, park the caravan, and leave it there indefinitely.

Static caravans come in either single unit or twin unit setups. The single unit is designed to be moved easily and all in one piece, while the twin unit has significantly more space, but will need to be moved in two pieces. Both the single and twin unit come with everything you would expect from a caravan - reasonably large beds, space to move around, and a full kitchen. Some also come with showers and toilets, but this can be less of a concern if your caravan spot is located close to the amenities of whichever caravan or holiday park you are in. 

Having a static caravan can mean a lot more space, both in the single and twin unit variations. Annexes and decks are commonplace with static vans, which increases your living space but can also increase your sleeping space, especially in summer. Obviously, twin units will provide more berths than singles - perfect for big families or those who like to travel with friends. 

While a static caravan may not be ideal for people who like to travel far and wide, it can be perfect for those who vacation regularly and like a quick, close weekend away that can be planned at the very last minute. While static caravans are great options for everyone, young families will appreciate the ease of having everything already in place and not having to pack up or set up camp. There’s also the added bonus of getting to know the other young families who will invariably be sharing your caravan park, and the ability for kids to form friendships in a secure, comfortable environment that they have been holidaying in for years. 

The obvious drawbacks for static caravans are the lack of versatility - moving your static caravan is a lot more work than moving a touring caravan. There’s also the additional cost of paying for the site your caravan is on, even when you are not there, and you will have to trust that the caravan park your van is parked in will take good care of it for you and ensure its security while you’re away.

You can have a look at our available static caravans to hire here.

Touring Caravans

If you like the idea of a static caravan but want more freedom to move, a touring caravan is one of the more suitable options for you. Touring caravans are what you would usually think of when ‘caravan’ comes to mind - a trailer-style home designed to be towed by a vehicle. Touring caravans are lightweight, strong and well made, and have variations available that will suit every traveler.

A conventional touring caravan has a single axle and is between 3 and 6.5 metres long. Depending on the size, they usually sleep between two and six people. Depending on layout and additional accessories available, they will generally have a full kitchen including a hob, sink and work spaces, and a washroom with a basin, shower and toilet.

Twin axle caravans are also available. These are usually much larger and heavier than single axle caravans. The twin axles make them easier to tow on the road, but significantly more difficult to manoeuvre and park. They’re obviously superior in terms of sleeping and living space, and amenities.

While not as popular as they once were, pop top caravans can offer distinct advantages. These caravans use a popup roof to provide extra headroom and standing space on an otherwise small frame. Pop top caravans are generally easier to tow and park due to their low height, and for the same reason can be stored in a regular household garage. 

In the same style as pop tops, fold out caravans are also available. Just like the pop top, they make a relatively small trailer size to tow and store. You will be amazed the first time you witness a fold out caravan bloom from a small trailer into a full-size caravan. While they store small and look impressive, a fold out caravan means a lot of setup time while pitching camp and not a lot of room for internal storage - all your gear has to come out before you fold the caravan away again.

On the other end of the scale are fifth wheeler caravans. Originally designed and manufactured in the US, fifth wheelers are becoming a popular option in the UK as well. Rather than having a normal caravan hitch, fifth wheelers can only be towed by a pickup truck with a proper articulated towing connection on the bed, which means you’ll need a specific towing vehicle as well. Fifth wheelers are generally very spacious and roomy, with lots of living space, and some are available with slide-out sections that increase the internal space even more.

With all these options available, caravans are an attractive choice when looking at RVs, especially for families with young children who are looking to stay in the same spot for days at a time, or older couples with more time on their hands to tour. Compared to a campervan or motorhome, caravans can take a long time to set up and pack down, and generally don’t lend themselves as well to quick getaways.

However, one of the biggest advantages to hiring or buying a caravan over a motorhome or campervan is the ability to leave your van behind after you’ve set up and take your car where you need to go. If you’re looking to buy an RV, a caravan means you can store it away and still use your car as your everyday vehicle, which is more difficult with a campervan.

Caravans also offer the distinct advantage of more space and potentially more facilities, often with berths for up to six people (even more in some fifth wheelers) and conveniences like a toilet and shower. 

While a caravan is great for almost everyone once it is set up, getting to that point can be one of the main disadvantages. If you are not comfortable with it, towing a caravan can be a terrifying experience. There’s also a lot to consider when packing your van, with things like weight distribution being essential for safety and peace of mind. Owning a caravan can also get expensive and complicated quickly when extras like friction coupling and weight distribution hitches are required.

You can have a look at our available caravans to hire here
Good to know: All towable RVs on Camplify are available for owner drop-off to a location of your choice, taking away the stress of having to tow it yourself.

Motorhomes

If you are not looking for a vehicle you can tow, a motorhome can provide a comfortable, self-contained RV that is packed with all the comforts you would expect if you were staying at home instead of out on the road. 

Motorhomes are generally on a large wheelbase and provide sleeping quarters for two to six people. They have ample living space and generally contain everything you will need, including kitchen and bathroom, Wi-Fi, tv antenna, large water storage and possibly even solar capacity. 

Coachbuilt motorhomes are the most common, using a cab and chassis from major van manufacturer, with the motorhome body built on to complete the vehicle. Most coachbuilt motorhomes will have a washroom with a cassette toilet, small kitchen and a fixed double bed. The main bed will be mounted transversely high across the back wall, with a large locker space underneath (usually referred to as the ‘garage’). If you are on the taller side, make sure to check the length of any transversely mounted bed to make sure you won’t be too cramped sleeping in the crossways space of the van.

For a larger motorhome, a panel van conversion offers more space for living and sleeping areas. Factory fitted on to an existing cargo or panel van, these motorhomes also offer more headroom. However, if you are really looking for a lot of space and a lot of creature comforts, an integrated motorhome is an A-class, top of the line option that is quickly becoming more popular in the UK.

Integrated motorhomes do away with a separate cab and contain both the driving and living space within the one large purpose-built body. While the living space in integrated motorhomes is huge and often contains a full washroom and kitchen, they generally only have sleeping space for three people (but are also more likely to feature larger and more comfortable double and single beds).

American RVs are also becoming more popular in the UK market. A number of American RVs are imported to Britain and these can range from vehicles not much bigger than a typical British coachbuilt to giant vehicles worthy of a Country and Western superstar. All offer lots of room and luxury and many are petrol fuelled and in bigger sizes these can offer better miles per gallon. American RVs are similar in size to medium-sized buses and coaches and are much larger and heavier than most European motorhomes. Additional driving license entitlements can be required for UK use.

While motorhomes offer comfort, living space and even a little bit of luxury, they do have their drawbacks. They can be large and bulky, and you might have a problem with height restrictions. They are also bigger than campervans and therefore more difficult to drive and park. While they require much less set up than a touring caravan, they also mean you have to take most of your campsite with you when you want to go anywhere, unless you’ve got a bike rack. You’ll also need to consider where you will store or park your motorhome while you are not using it and take into consideration additional fuel and engine maintenance costs. 

You can have a look at our available motorhomes rentals here.

Campervans

A campervan is almost like a motorhome’s little brother. Smaller, more compact and with much less living space (sometimes none at all), a campervan generally sleeps two to three people and has basic facilities for cooking and sleeping. While campervans are more basic than caravans or motorhomes, they are also easier to drive and perfect for quick, adventurous trips where you want the freedom to move around and hit the road as much as possible. Campervans are perfect for festivals, honeymoons and adventurous road trips.

Search the #vanlife hashtag and it becomes clear - self-made van conversions are extremely popular at the moment, and for good reason. Vans like the Ford Transit and Mercedes Sprinter are compact and affordable, as well as being easy to drive and versatile - they are rarely held up by height restrictions or narrow windy roads. Converting a van yourself means you can style it however you like, and prioritise what’s important to you, whether that be a full-size double bed or a well-stocked kitchen area. For van hirers, the current trend of camper conversions means you have a wealth of unique, affordable vans to choose from. 

While self-made van conversions are all the rage right now, campervans have been popular for years. Older style Volkswagen and Toyota campervans are making a comeback. Many of these offer pop tops for more head space, and have a classic old school charm, with magazines, fan clubs and festivals dedicated to them. 

In addition to old school and self-made van conversions, many companies offer factory fitted van conversions in vehicles like the Volkswagen Transporter. These can be a more affordable, stress-free option than a self-made conversion, and a newer vehicle means less cost and upkeep when compared to the older VW campers.

The downside of vanlife is undoubtedly the reduced living space and restricted room for facilities and conveniences, which may not suit older travellers. With only two to three sleeping specs, vans aren’t  always an option for larger families, but the cosiness can be extra romantic for couples. That being said, the addition of an awning can create more bedroom space and berth capacity. Campervans require minimal set up compared to caravans, but also mean you will need to take most of your campsite with you if you decide to go for a drive. But the drivability and compactness of a campervan make it perfect for wild camping and driving adventures.

You can have a look at our available campervans to hire here.

Trailer Tents

If you like the idea of tent camping but want to take a step up in terms of ease of setup and a few extra luxuries, a trailer tent might be an option for you. A trailer tent is a trailer, towable by a standard sedan that folds or winds out into a large tent, usually featuring a double bed, storage, and a kitchen of sorts - a sink and enough room for a camp stove.

Standard trailer tents are almost indistinguishable from a regular tent when they are all set up. The trailer itself is usually a standard width and size. Some trailer tents will require poles and perhaps tent pegs, which all store in the trailer itself.

If the idea of messing around with poles and pegs doesn’t appeal, a flip top trailer tent is an easier, albeit more expensive, alternative. With a flip top, the trailer lid folds down to become part of the floor. The canvas roof and walls, arranged like a giant pram hood, fold out to become your waterproof covering. Flip top trailer tents are unbelievably quick to erect, and rarely need pegs or poles, unless you want to add an awning (which can be very useful for a bit of extra living space.)

Overall, trailer tents are cheaper, more accessible and easier to tow than traditional caravans, being lighter and smaller. They are the perfect option for families as they offer ample sleeping and living space, and are perfect for setting up and staying for a few days at a time. They also offer a more ‘authentic’ camping experience and can be manoeuvred into spaces caravans can’t, especially the 4WD variations which can be taken off road for wild camping away from the crowds.

If you’re looking to move around a lot, a trailer tent may not be ideal. You also need to keep in mind that you will have to pack a lot of extra stuff, including your camp stove and fridge if your particular model doesn’t have these, as the trailer isn’t nearly as self-contained as a campervan or caravan. 

Of all the options listed here, the trailer tent is also the least weatherproof. It won’t be as warm in winter, and you will have to dry out the canvas thoroughly before packing it up. You’ll also need two people to set up and pack up and bring air mattresses or stretchers for bedding if there’s more than two of you.

You can have a look at our available trailer tents to hire here.

So… which option is best?

As you can see there’s no shortage of options available on the RV market, be they large or small, towable or drivable. The right option for you will depend on how many people you are travelling with, what your budget is like, the kind of vehicle you already own, and what kind of camping adventures you want to go on.

It’s important to thoroughly research all the variations available, and take a good look into the pros and cons, as listed above. When buying an RV, we recommend hiring with Camplify to try before you buy and take the vehicle on the road to assess how practical it will be for you outside the dealership or showroom.

You can start your adventure today and start planning for bigger ones at the same time. Check out the range of caravans, trailer tents, motorhomes, and campervans available on Camplify.



So what is Camplify?
We are the UK’s largest caravan & motorhome RV sharing community, helping connect thousands of holidaymakers with RV owners.



What does that mean?
Essentially, we provide a unique sharing service where owners of caravans, camper trailers, motorhomes, and campervans list their RV for hire while not in use. As an owner, this enables you to earn over £10,000 each year instead of having your RV just sitting around while you’re not using it.


As a holidaymaker, Camplify helps you find an RV that is perfect for you so you can experience the joys of caravanning  - without having to own one yourself. 

Interested? Learn more about Camplify here > 



To find out how Camplify can work with you and your RV, register today here.

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