30/03/2015
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Guide to Motorhome Hire

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Deciding what kind of motorhome to hire.

There are many reasons why it’s a great idea to hire a motorhome, from trying before you buy, saving money on family holidays, to the sheer enjoyment of exploring new places. Buying a motorhome is a major expense and one that you shouldn’t do lightly or on a whim. However, finding out whether a motorhome really suits your needs isn’t as easy as you think. Spending half an hour banging around a vehicle on the dealer forecourt isn’t really preparation for what it will be like trying to hook up to electrics on a dark campsite, or find where all the cushions are to make up the bed when you’re tired. An ideal solution is to hire a motorhome or campervan that’s the same model that you are interested in buying. With a weekend or full week of actually living in the motorhome you will get a much clearer idea of what it’s really like.

Alternatively, hiring a motorhome makes for an enjoyable and much more adventurous holiday alternative to paying top dollar to stay in a damp

B&B. When you hire a motorhome, you can stay at campsites or indulgeA good medium size option in wild camping for a couple of nights.

There are all sizes of vehicles available, from large coachbuilts with an overcab to house children when on an annual holiday, to two-berth campervans that make a compelling alternative to mud-filled fields and overflowing toilets at major festivals.

The key to all this is planning. You need to know what roads you can get down, where the campsites are, how long your electricity and water will last on the road, and even whether you can actually drive the vehicle in question. Let’s get started then, with a step-by-step guide to hiring a motorhome. The first questions you need to answer are what kind of motorhome will suit your needs.

1. How many beds do you need?
It’s the most basic question of all. You need enough beds to comfortably house everyone. Bear in mind whether the beds for adults or children. Children fit into smaller beds and can go in roof-top beds in campervans whereas you might not want to crush four adults into such a small space. So check how many berths the motorhome has. Also check how many belted travel seats it has. You must have all passengers in a seat with a seatbelt, so make sure there are enough seatbelts for everyone you plan to take with you.

The popular island bed format

2. What type of bed?
How much hassle are you prepared to put up with? Do you really want to have to make up a bed from the lounge when you stagger back in at the end of the day? If not, then a fixed bed area might be a better idea. If one or both of you needs to get up in the middle of the night, then an island-bed model, with space down either side would be preferable to having to clamber over the other person. When taking more than two adults, the other bed area is often in the front lounge/dinette area and here having an electronically controlled drop-down bed will save time and effort compared to turning this into another bed area at the end of the day. This all determines the bed format that you should look for.

3. Kitchen and washroom facilities
This is less important that the question of beds, but still needs some consideration. One or two people don’t need a lot of kitchen facilities to rustle up a meal, but try to feed a family of six with a feeble two-burner hob and no grill or microwave and there is likely to be a food riot. Equally, if you are staying on a large, well-equipped campsite with restaurants and fast food outlets or will be eating out every night, then the need for cooking facilities is significantly diminished. The question of the washroom also comes into play here. If you are wild camping you might want a shower facility, but if the campsite has a modern shower and toilet block, then the washroom will be for emergencies or overnight use only. For festival goers in a campervan then having a built-in toilet may be a welcome relief and essential alternative to those on site.

Making space for all your gear

4. How much space do you need?
This is all tied in to the previous questions but you can specify a larger motorhome just because you want more space. Bear in mind that the larger the vehicle, the less fuel efficient it tends to be, the slower it can be and the more difficult it will be to manoeuvre and park. Also some larger motorhomes will weigh over 3.5-tonnes, so check your licence entitles you to drive it before booking. Also, ensure you’re comfortable driving a larger motorhome – take a test drive and see how it is cornering and reversing. A low-profile coachbuilt has less head-wind resistance and better handling than one with a large overcab fitting, but offers less storage and bed locations. If you are a motorhome pro, then a large seven berth vehicle will be water off a duck’s back, but if it’s your first time out it will be much more challenging. It also brings into question exactly where you are going.


5. Where are you going and what are you doing?
If you want to head to a well-stocked campsite and use the motorhome as a home away from home, then a large vehicle will better suit your purposes than a small camper. However if you are intending to explore country lanes, high moors and travel over mountainous roads then a lumbering and large vehicle will encounter lots of trouble. You need to match the motorhome type to the nature of your holiday. To some extent this will already be defined by who is going, but it’s worth making that extra consideration. If you are taking more than two people and are intent on adventuring, then large van conversion will offer an excellent mid-ground between room and sleeping spaces and sheer usability on narrow or steep roads.

 

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