Motorhome advice: A guide to campervan hire
There are lots of reasons why hiring a campervan might make more practical and financial sense than buying one, from wanting to flaunt a pristine classic camper on your wedding day to needing a mobile office or spare bedroom from time to time.
Perhaps you enjoy going to the odd festival or event with friends and don’t fancy camping in a tent. Maybe you don’t have anywhere to park a campervan permanently, or worry that you might not get enough use out of it to justify the upkeep costs. Or perhaps you’d like to go further afield but don’t have enough time to drive to Spain or ship your camper to Australia.
If you’re set on the idea of buying a campervan but have little experience of using them, or are undecided about what layout and size to go for, then hiring a campervan for the odd weekend or holiday is also the perfect way of dipping your toe in…
Test the waters
There are lots of well-established specialist campervan and motorhome hire businesses around, from small, family-run joints to large companies with multiple branches.
Such places tend to offer a choice of campervans from different manufacturers – ES Hartley, Freedhome, and Roseisle, for example, offer everything from basic little campervans to large family motorhomes.
As these campervans tend to be under 24 months old, renting them is a great way of testing the latest models and exploring what brands you like, what size you’re comfortable driving and what layout works best for you.
What’s included in the rental package varies so do check before you drive off. Some companies include basic things like crockery and camping chairs, and most will offer a range of packages so that you can add bedding, towels, sat-nav, etc.
Freedhome and Life’s an Adventure both offer pet-friendly packages so you can take the dog along, too.
If you enjoy foreign holidays and fancy a change from hotels, going on a fly-drive campervan holiday is the perfect opportunity to find out how well you really fare on a week or two of touring in pastures new.
Companies like Worldwide Motorhoming Holidays (from the Camping and Caravanning Club) can send you to far-flung corners of the globe, and can arrange flights and hotels as part of the package.
If you don’t want to leave the mainland, why not take a relaxing train ride up to Scotland rather than driving? Edinburgh-based Roseisle will pick you up at the station and even plan a Scottish adventure for you to enjoy in your campervan!
Try before you buy
If you think you’ve spotted your perfect campervan at a show or on a dealer forecourt and wish that you could try it out, just to make sure, then you might be in luck. Before getting your chequebook out, it’s worth asking the question because an increasing number of dealers are now offering their customers exactly this service.
Poplar Motors in Derbyshire, for example, specialises in importing Toyota Granvia MPVs from Japan and converting them into campervans. If you hire one of these and then go on to buy, it deducts the hire cost from the sale price.
Swift Go rents models from its best-selling Escape motorhome range and Select panel van conversions, and also offers a range of ‘try before you buy’ incentives.
Try someone else’s campervan
Fans of Airbnb will love companies like Camplify and Quirky Campers, as the premise is very similar. If you have a campervan or motorhome sitting on the drive gathering dust, then you can put it to good use by renting it out for others to enjoy. Just sign up to create an online account and you can then start browsing the website to see what’s up for rent.
As you can also list your own, it’s a great way of getting your camper to pay its way.
Buy an ex-rental campervan
Rental campers are usually less than two years old, which means that they are sold on once they reach this age. Many companies sell their campervans on directly, and list all of their ex-rentals on their websites.
Buying one of these isn’t a bad idea because it will come with a full service history and will have been maintained by the rental company. But bear in mind that these vehicles will have had a hard life, too. The interiors are likely to be on the worn side and they’ve probably covered a lot of miles for their age.
(picture - James Ruddy collecting a campervan from Rent Easy, c/o Travelworld)
Campervan hire company contacts
Bunk Campers (throughout the UK)
ES Hartley (Cheshire)
Eye Kettleby Lakes (Leicestershire)
Life’s An Adventure (Manchester and Lancashire)
McRent (c/o Lowdhams)
01159 663838 (Notts)
01484 642613 (Hudds)
Poplar Motors (Derbyshire)
Rent Easy Birmingham (c/o Travelworld)
Rolling Homes (Shropshire)
Swift Go (Stockport)
Worldwide Motorhoming Holidays
This article was first featured in the June 2019 issue of Campervan magazine - click here to buy a digital version and browse our archived editions.