The Motorhome Hire Guide
So you have decided to hire a motorhome - great choice! Now let us help you.
- How much does it cost?
- Recommended hire companies
- Motorhome Hire checklist
- Motorhome Hire FAQs
- Readers motorhome stories - hiring adventures
What is the typical rental cost of a motorhome?
[Image © courtesy of Bunk Campers]
So what can I expect to pay?
Roughly speaking, expect to pay anywhere from £100 a night up to about £250 a night. There are many factors that will affect the price of your hire vehicle including:
- The age of the motorhome
- The condition of the motorhome
- The motorhome facilities
- The size of the motorhome
- If extras like bedding is included
- Where you plan to go
- How long you hire the vehicle for
- The time of year you are hiring
- Demand for rental vehicles (as with the current pandemic and more people holidaying at home)
Comparing motorhome hire costs
Those headline figures might seem a little steep if you are hiring a motorhome for the first time. However you are getting a holiday home on wheels. It will be insured, kitted out, fully maintained and cleaned You need to just get in and drive.
So does it seem expensive, now? Once you factor in accommodation and transport with a hired motorhome. Plus you get to define your holiday schedule in a vehicle that can cost around £70,000 to buy.
You will often need to factor in extra insurance costs (if you need more than one driver to be on the policy), fuel costs (including any gas for cooking and heating), campsite costs and the ferry costs if you are going overseas or island hopping in Scotland, for example.
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Double check for any charges that could be incurred on return – excess cleaning charges, emptying the toilet, returning without a full tank of fuel and the gas you have used from the gas bottle.
Most companies will have clear prices on the website – the school holiday dates, as always, are likely to be the most expensive – but motorhome hire is much cheaper in the winter.
How do I get an accurate estimate?
We'd advise you to speak to the hire company directly. Make sure you know generally where you will be heading, when you will be going and who will be driving. The customer services staff will make sure you get an accurate quote for a vehicle that not only meets your needs, but will also match your budget.
Recommended motorhome hire companies
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Our traders directory has plenty of motorhome hire companies and independents in the UK and abroad (Europe and further afield). Here are companies with great reviews, a superb service ethic and that offer very high quality motorhomes for hire with all the modern safety and luxury you could want.
"Bunk Campers are one of the largest campervan rental companies in the UK & Ireland with depots nationwide. Since 2007, our customers have spent over 100,000 days on the road enjoying motorhome holidays. All of our campervans and motorhomes for hire are kitted out with everything you need to get on the road."Contact Bunk Campers
"We look forward to being able to share our love of camping and adventure with you and for you to discover and enjoy all the great outdoors has to offer from the comfort of our lovely, and very cool, VW campervan. We are an independent, family run business. Our aim is to provide you with the perfect escape to really explore, have fun, adventures and create amazing memories."Contact Camper Adventures
"Our mission is simple; To become your first choice for campervan and motorhome holidays by providing you with a first class service you will want to recommend to friends and family. Whether you’re embarking on an epic European road trip or looking for a long weekend exploring Norfolk, our modern vehicles will provide you with the perfect base from which to explore at your own leisure."Contact Capricorn Campers
Chelston Motorhome Hire
"For over 34 years, Chelston Motorhomes have been delivering the very best new and used motorhomes in Somerset, from our original customers buying campervans in the South West, to nationwide throughout the UK and now, to all over the world! ."Contact Chelston Motorhomes
"We’re motorhomers ourselves and pride ourselves on providing excellent customer service. If you’ve got an annual Comfort motorhome or campervan insurance policy, your friends and family can borrow your vehicle and insure themselves under our Discover short term hire insurance policy."Discover By Comfort
Picking up your hire motorhome
[Image © courtesy of Bunk Campers]
Once you have selected the ideal motorhome to hire, what can you expect on the day you collect it and your rental starts?
Remember your driving licence!
UK drivers will need to present your plastic card driving licence and the DVLA share code. You’ll need to go on the DVLA website prior to arrival to get the code. This then allows the motorhome rental company to view the details held by the DVLA. You may also need to supply proof of a UK address, like a recent utility bill or bank statement.
Leave a deposit
It's more than likely that you'll need a credit card for the security deposit, too. Similar to renting a car, this will be preauthorised for the amount – normally between £1,000 and £2,000 for a motorhome. Make sure it is not deducted, but just preauthorised. This does mean you need a certain amount of available balance. If it’s actually deducted, ensure that it will be refunded immediately on return of the motorhome.
Don’t overpack. Your hired vehicle might be big, but the space fills up quickly and transferring all that stuff from the back of your car to the motorhome will take too long delaying the start of the holiday.
Look over the motorhome
As with a hire car it's important to check the motorhome for any damage and declare it all. Make sure these are marked on the rental form. If you don’t declare them before signing the form, you may be liable for the damage when you return.
Know how everything works
Ask the hire company for a full overview of absolutely everything. It's easiest to work from front to back. In the cab, ask about all the controls, including how to use the reversing camera if one is fitted (it probably won't have a rear view mirror, meaning you need to rely on the side mirrors and camera). Check the position of the handbrake (it might not be where you expect it to be and it might have a mechanism to stop it interfering with any swivel cab seats). If you're making beds from the seats, go through the process and then turn them back into seats. Ask how to operate the drop-down bed if one is fitted. Look where to fill up the water tank and then how to drain it and the waste water tanks. Ask where the fuel filler tank is and what key it needs to unlock it.
This could be one of the most complicated and daunting aspects of a motorhome, especially if you are a first timer renter. Is the cylinder (in a externally accessed locker) or gas tank (often underneath the motorhome with an external filler point on the side) supplied full? Ask how to change over or fill up if you run out of gas? Replacement bottles are available at filling stations, garden centres and motorhome dealers. Some campsites also stock bottles if you get stuck, but you can never guarantee the sizes and types. If you have a fixed LPG tank it’s worth familiarising yourself with how to refill it – in the UK this usually involves attaching a bayonet-style fitting and holding a button down until the tank is full. Releasing it usually involves a loud hiss, which can be alarming the first time it happens, but is normal! Not all petrol stations stock LPG, so consult a website such as drivelpg.co.uk to find one nearby.
Ask where the fuses are and if spares supplied; these can trip the system, but it should be easy to reset? Investigate the control panel (commonly located above the entrance door) where you should be able to activate the electric and water pumps. Turn on the TV (if one is supplied) and make sure it tunes into the stations. If you are using campsites with hook-up available, it's important to know where you plug in the electric cable and where it is stored and then actually plug it in and unplug again.
Stashing your holiday stuff
We'd recommend using bags or folding crates to transfer your holiday stuff in your car before going to pick up the hire vehicle unless it is local and you can drive home to pack. You can then stash these securely in the motorhome and make a quick getaway, unpacking when you get to your first campsite, or you can pack properly at the hire depot and leave the crates/bags in the back of the car for your return. Make sure you pack everything away securely if unloading at the rental depot. Folding versions can be stashed neatly away, but they will still take up space, so if its at a premium then its best to leave these in the car, but that means unpacking and packing at the rental depot.
The littlest room
All motorhomes will come with a cassette toilet, mainly permanently fitted. These holding tanks (accessed through an external door) will need to be emptied regularly. The rental van may come with toilet chemical (or you might need to supply your own, so check beforehand) that you put into the tank to reduce niffs and help breakdown any matter (certain campsites only allow specific types of chemical due to their sewerage systems, so check in advance on this too). Make sure you know how to empty the toilet and always empty into an approved emptying point (commonly referred to as Elsan points). You may be charged or lose some of your deposit if you return a motorhome to the depot with a full tank.
Taking short showers
Extensive showering extravaganzas that you enjoy at home don’t really work in a motorhome. Do that in most motorhomes and you’ll drain all the hot water out of the tank (typically just 10-litres) plus the bulk of the main fresh water tank in minutes. A better plan is to wet your body with the motorhome shower then switch it off to lather up. Then switch it back on to rinse yourself off. Many people simply use the campsite showers. Pack flip flops for padding to and from the shower block.
Driving a motorhome
Make sure you know the size of the motorhome - the important dimensions for UK roads are width and height, although some roads will have a weight restriction too. Car parks for places you want to visit may have height barriers or weight restrictions, so call ahead to check. As mentioned many motorhomes do not have the central internal rear view mirror, and if they do the visibility through rear windows is very limited. So check your side mirrors regularly, especially in narrow roads or when manoeuvring round corners. If reversing, ask one of your family to watch the rear (standing so you can see them in the side mirror), even if reversing cameras or sensors are fitted.
Follow the code!
It's important to be considerate while you are out and about, both in the rural communities and towns you are visiting. It's not okay to empty toilets into anywhere other than designated points, without prior approval. Take your rubbish home with you. Don't park in passing places on single track roads to admire the scenery. The Lake District has issued this code of conduct that is pretty sensible advice for travelling in a motorhome around the UK.
Motorhome Hire FAQs
[Image © courtesy of Bunk Campers]
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about hiring a motorhome.
Q1: What comes with the motorhome
Answer: Many motorhomes will come with a basic set of pots, crockery and cutlery, but this might be an option you'll have to add on. Commonly, you do have to take your own bedding and towels, but check the options list as this could be an extra pack to makes things easier. Things like TV's, awnings, outdoor furniture and even bikes could be included, too.
Q2: Can I pack a hairdryer?
Answer: High wattage electrical items (domestic kettles, straighteners, hairdryers and microwaves, for example) are not advised. Motorhome electrical systems operate on 12V power, which will not charge or power 230V gadgets without an inverter. Using an inverter to power or charge appliances will drain a battery very quickly if not connected to the mains. Even if you have a mains hook-up function, some campsite electrics may not cope with the demands of selected power hungry appliances. Campsite facilities commonly offer built in hairdryers or proper electrical points for hairdryers.
Q3: How many people can a motorhome carry?
Answer: Motorhomes can vary, sleeping anything from two to seven people. But make sure there are seatbelts for every passenger. Some motorhomes will just have seatbelts fitted on the two cab seats. If you have people travelling in the rear, make sure they’re in designated travel seats and are wearing a three-point seatbelt. If you don’t have rear seatbelts, don’t take rear passengers. If you’re carrying children who need car seats then you must use them. Some models have Isofix fixings but very few, so check first. Also the rear dinette seating in many coachbuilt motorhomes is not really designed for child car seats, so use the passenger cab seat if you’re carrying a child. If you need to use the rear seat, then put the child seat closest to the wall and have an adult sat beside it.
Q4: What do I do if I have to cancel or rearrange the hire?
Answer: If you do this within a reasonable timeframe, you may get back some of the deposit. But take a look at the hire companies cancellation policy which will set out the refund policy. It may also be worth looking into a travel insurance product to safeguard against this. Plus, with all of the uncertainty around Covid and travel restrictions, ask about free date changes or what happens if the UK or Ireland governments impose restrictions closing the depot or introduce non-essential travel restrictions over the dates of your rental.
Real-life motorhome rental experiences
A collection of tales from motorhome renters, with various reasons to hire, including occasional hirers to trying before buying.
Ronald van Wensweem hires a Sunlight T68 to help decide what sort of motorhome he would want to buy.
Serial renter and outdoor writer Robin McKelvie tackles an alternative to the busy North Coast 500 route in Scotland in a Swift Escape 664.
The Honeywoods hire a motorhome for a more luxury festival experience
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