02/11/2023
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Campervan layouts guide

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The layout, or floorplan, of a campervan is the most important aspect to get right. We talk you through everything you should consider before choosing a campervan

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Words by Iain Duff

 


Choosing the right campervan layout for you

Side kitchen campervans

Side kitchen campervan layout

 

Rear kitchen campervans

Rear kitchen campervans

 

The layout (or floorplan) of a campervan is probably the main reason you'll buy it. It's far more important than aesthetic details, like fabric colours, and more crucial than any dealer discounts. Here, we talk you through everything you should consider in a campervan layout.


Types of campervan layouts

Micro-campervans and camping cars

Micro-campervans are also known as camping cars and these are the smallest campervans available. Car-sized campervans are typically built on vehicles like the VW Caddy, Ford Transit Connect and Fiat Doblò.

Micro campers are usually two-berth campervans, with or without a pop-top roof, and sometimes feature a basic kitchen set-up. VW's Caddy California is a good example of a micro-campervan.

Medium VW-sized campervans

Medium-sized campervans are typically built on vehicles like the VW Transporter, Ford Transit Custom, Mercedes Vito and Renault Trafic. They are often referred to as ‘VW-sized campervans’ and can be two or four-berth with a pop-top or high-top roof.

The most common layouts are side kitchen with a rock ‘n' roll-style double bed, or rear kitchen with two single beds and a toilet cubicle.

Reasons to choose a micro-camper:

  •   It's my only vehicle and I need a car

  •   I don't want to drive or park anything bigger than a car

  •   I'm a solo camper and don't need a lot of room

  •   We're a couple and want a double bed

  •   I only need a basic kitchen for day trips

Reasons to choose a side kitchen medium-sized campervan:

  •   I need four or five belted travel seats

  •   We need two double beds for all family

  •   I want a good kitchen and lots of storage space

  •   We don't need a separate toilet cubicle

  •   It's my only vehicle and I use it daily

Reasons to choose a rear kitchen medium-sized campervan:

  •   We will mainly travel and camp as a couple

  •   Having two single beds is really important

  •   I like the kitchen and lounge to be separate

  •   We need a separate washroom cubicle

  •   It's my only vehicle and I use it daily


Large panel van campervan layouts

Large panel van campervan conversions are typically built on vehicles like the VW Crafter, Ford Transit, Mercedes Sprinter, Fiat Ducato and Peugeot Boxer. A wide choice of layouts and different bed configurations are available, including pop-top roofs for four-berth models.

You can expect a full washroom with a loo, shower and washbasin. These campervans are ideal for families and/or longer trips and year-round touring and have various different floorplans.

1. Transverse fixed bed layouts

Transverse Fixed Bed Campervan Layout

A transverse fixed bed layout is as much about the storage below the bed as the bed itself. That's great for storing bulkier items but make sure you can easily get in and out, as it might be positioned quite high up.

Transverse bed layouts    

2. French bed layouts

French Bed Campervan Layout

A French bed refers to a fixed double bed arranged lengthways against a side wall of the campervan, either offside or nearside. One corner is usually cut off in order to allow access to a washroom.
 

French bed layouts    

3. Single bed layouts

Single Bed Campervan Layout

If you don't want to be climbing over each other when nature calls in the middle of the night, then single beds could be the answer. Ideal if you sometimes go camping with different family members or friends, too.

Single bed layouts    

4. Bunk bed layouts

Bunk Bed Campervan Layout

If you're looking for a family campervan, especially for travelling with younger kids, bunk bed layouts are streets ahead of any other layout, offering private spaces in a compact yet comfortable format.

Bunk bed layouts    

5. Front lounge layouts

Front Lounge Campervan Layout

These layouts are without a fixed bed, meaning you'll need to convert seats to beds at night, so check carefully how many cushions are involved and where these are stored during the day.

Front lounge layouts    

6. Rear lounge layouts

Rear Lounge Campervan Layout

Rear lounge designs provide lots of relaxation space and great views out of the back. They are great for entertaining and a removable table usually goes in the middle.

Rear lounge layouts    


Best family campervan layouts

How you are going to use your campervan will determine what will be right for you.

Number of seats

If you have a family, you might need at least four travel seats. Make sure you have enough seats with seatbelts for your biggest party. Look for Isofix fittings for child seats if you have small children.

Is it a daily drive?

If your campervan is going to be your only vehicle and therefore your daily drive for dropping the kids off at school, doing the weekly shop, etc, you will also need something short enough to park on the drive and in regular car parking spaces, as well as go under height-restrictor barriers. Many medium-sized campervans will fit this bill. Opt for a short-wheelbase model with a pop-top (elevating) canvas roof.

Convenience versus luxury

Whilst medium-sized campervans are very convenient, note that they can be a bit basic. Expect a travel bench that converts to a double bed and another double bed in the roof space for the kids. The kitchen is likely to have a two-burner gas hob, a sink with a cold tap only, and a small fridge/freezer.

You may get a portable loo in a cupboard for night-time emergencies. There won't be a lot of storage space, so think carefully about where you will store clothes and bedding, etc, for all the family. Consider buying an awning to increase your living space.

Bigger is sometimes best

If size isn't an issue for you then a large panel van conversion is likely to be much more practical. This will offer a good-sized lounge and table for enjoying mealtimes together or doing jigsaw puzzles on rainy days.

You will also get a full washroom with a private toilet cubicle, a washbasin and a shower – with hot water, of course! Some even have bunk beds for the kids.


Best couples' campervan layouts

Space and comfort

If it’s just the two of you going campervanning, your priorities are likely to focus on space and home comforts. You probably a want good-sized lounge for relaxing in, a separate washroom with a comfortable toilet and single beds – these are much easier to get in and out of in the cramped confinements of a campervan!

VW-sized campervan options

If your campervan is going to be your only vehicle or you don’t want anything too big for squeezing down narrow country lanes, then a medium-sized VW campervan will do the trick. These usually have two single rear travel seats that convert to single beds or a double bed. The kitchen is usually at the back and will have all the basics (two or three-burner hob, grill, fridge/freezer), and maybe even a small oven and hot water boiler.

A small washroom is likely to be situated opposite, and should have a fixed toilet and a washbasin. These campervans are often four-berth, having a double bed in the pop-top roof space. Note that they are usually built on long-wheelbase models of the VW T6, for example, to accommodate the rear washroom and kitchen.

Consider upsizing for touring

While smaller campervans are very practical and ideal for short breaks, you are likely to want more space and luxury if you plan on touring for longer than the odd week. Consider a larger panel van conversion and you’ll get a wide choice of layouts, including front or rear lounges, different bed configurations, and a full washroom with a hot shower.


Final thoughts

Selecting the right campervan layout is a pivotal decision. It defines the essence of your home on wheels, catering to your unique needs and travel aspirations. From compact micro-campervans for solo adventurers to versatile medium-sized options for families, and spacious panel van conversions for extended journeys, your choice hinges on practicality and comfort.

Be it for couples or families, the layout directly impacts your daily life on the road. So, when choosing, remember: your campervan layout shapes your travel experience.


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