For many people visiting New Zealand, Australia, North America or Europe for a good length of time, a campervan is the preferred way of getting around. You can save a lot of money on accommodation, and you have the exhilarating feeling of total freedom on the open road.
But if you’re new to campervan travel then it can be tough to begin with – the fun is balanced with responsibilities and limitations. Here’s the Tinggly essential guide to getting started with a campervan holiday…Rent or Buy
There are many companies that will rent you a camper at quite reasonable rates. That comes with the security of the vehicle being well-maintained and having a speedy response if something does go wrong. But if you’re going to be travelling for a while then it may make more financial sense to buy your own, second-hand. In this case, it’s always a good idea to have the van checked out by an independent mechanic before any money changes hands, to ensure you’re not buying a bucket of junk.
Bonus tip – if you are buying, remember you’ll need to organise your own insurance, tax and breakdown cover separately before you hit the road, and also leave yourself enough time at the end of your trip to sell the van.Go Minimal
Unless you’re driving one of those mega-campers that you see in the US a lot, what you’d call mobile homes, then you’re going to have a limited amount of space available. Being organised is essential – put the things you need the most such as can openers and wash kits within easy reach, and try to keep the amount of stuff in the van to an absolute minimum. You’ll be amazed what you can do without!Food storage
One of the smartest investments you can make for long-term campervan travel is buying some sealed plastic storage containers. They keep your food fresh, and prevent bugs and the occasional curious mouse from stealing your breakfast cereal.
Bonus tip – Shop at supermarkets for everything from on-the-road snacks to de-icer wherever possible. Service station prices can wipe out your budget very quickly.Use campsites
Many countries allow wild camping, but it can be good to reserve a campsite a couple of days every week. That way you can have the pleasure of a hot shower, do some laundry, and importantly, meet other people. Staying in touch with fellow campervan travellers on the road is great for picking up tips on how to survive and where to go next.
Bonus tip – Request a pitch a short walk from the toilet block, and upwind if possible!
Depending on where you are and what time of year you’re travelling, you’ll either want to make sure you have a van with air-conditioning and carry plenty of bottled water, or stock up with warm blankets and hot water bottles.Things that go bump in the night
If you’ve never been wild camping before, then expect to be freaked out from time to time by things going bump in the night. Don’t worry, chances are it’s not an escaped convict or a mountain lion on the prowl. It’s probably just a stick falling from a tree onto your van roof, or an animal going about its business nearby. Probably. Keep your itinerary loose
The beauty of campervan travel is that you’re carrying your bed around with you, so you’re totally free to go wherever you want whenever you want. If you find a place you love, stay a while longer. If you don’t, just pack up and move on with ease. Campervan holidays open the door wide to adventure.Toilet dilemmas
Many campervans come with their own toilet. Now, before you get carried away with how awesomely convenient that will be if you’re the type of people that often need to go at night, just consider carefully if that’s the best idea. If you use it, you need to clean it out, and it can make the van pretty stinky especially in hot weather. Most experienced campers will only use their onboard toilet for real emergencies, like when you’re desperate for a wee but you’re convinced there’s a bear outside!Entertainment
A good stock of entertainment is vital for long drives, and rainy days when you’re stuck in the van and want to avoid killing each other. Luckily modern life provides you with everything from podcasts to tablets, kindles to handheld gaming devices. Charge them in the van, and you have a wealth of entertainment options that will take up very little space.Wine!
Our Number 1 Tip for campervan travel is always, always have a bottle of wine handy. You never know when you’ll encounter an epic sunset.